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In Search of Old Friends

In Search of Old Friends
By Joe Phillips Dear Me
In Search of Old Friends
By Joe Phillips Dear Me

Just how? My annual solo road trip went the way of the last two but, this time it got to me. Some years I have been able to meet with an old friend for coffee, but this year I just could not connect — with anyone.

Most of my growing up was in small towns in south Georgia. I feel connection to all of them.

The drive to south Georgia is a mind and emotional clearing event.

Many spots drag up memories; a wreck here, an old house there.

There is something about the air in south Georgia. It has a different smell and feel. That might be because the ocean is, not close, but not far away either.

The early morning and late afternoon air is like taking an emotional air bath.

I hate to whine about how much better old days were, and we know they were not.

What is not better is finding people. If I’m in a hurry, it is just too bad, but with some patience I have found scores of old friends. I use public records and searches on the Internet.

I’ve found many people by finding their parents’ obituaries.

At one time finding people was as easy as using the “phone book,” and I still have a few. Many libraries kept phone books of other towns.

With no phone book to narrow my search, the only remaining trick is to either write a slow-mail letter and hope they open it, or to just make a cold call on the front door. Few people answer a knock on the front door; they all live in the back of the house.

I visited the Ladson Genealogical Library in Vidalia, GA, looking for a distant south Georgia relative, Robert C Giles. He and his wife were divorced for decades but buried together.

The library has picture books of unidentified subjects. I ran across an image of a woman wearing a Delta Air Lines uniform. I could have looked her up by her husband’s name and made a call but no phone book.

My contemporaries used to hang out in the local watering hole, and every town had one. On a weekend night you could be elbow to elbow with old friends, but the folks being watered today are the adult children of those.

Where are they? In South Georgia folks tend to migrate to the coast, to “the lake” either permanently or for weekends.

Many of the people I want to see are now at “Pine Crest,” “Rose Hill,” “Harmony Cemetery,” and after spraying my ankles to prevent chiggers, I walk through mumbling at old friends as if they are able to hear me.

I’m lonely for my old friends.

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