Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 19, 2012

A Boy and the Creek

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Peachtree Street in Atlanta is well-known. Most people assume the name came because of peach trees that grow in Georgia. Actually the name came from a trail known as the Peachtree Trail that ran from east of Atlanta to the Chattahoochee River. And the Trail got its name because it ran beside Peachtree Creek.

But did you know that the Creek was not named for the tree? It actually got the name because of the land where Creek Indians lived called Standing Pitch Tree. The land was named after a tall lone pine tree. The Creeks used “”pitch”” (sap from the pine tree) to affirm vows and treaties. The word “”pitch”” got corrupted to “”peach”” tree. Probably that Georgia accent!

Peachtree Creek is a prominent creek through Georgia. There are actually two forks––the north fork and the south fork. The north fork begins at the edge of Gwinnett County and flows through Dekalb County. It ends as its confluence with the south fork. The south fork begins in Clarkston and flows west to the Chattahoochee River.

That south fork, which is the main stream, ran beside our home. Just above our property was the head of the south fork. The creek is not nearly as large as you find further west. But it was a special place for me. I spent many hours in and around the creek, just as my Dad had as a boy. In fact, he and his cousin had a reputation for knowing the creek well and for that expertise in catching snakes. Now I was able to play in the very creek where my father had spent many hours. It is every boy’’s dream to be able to fish, wade in water, attempt to build a dam, camp beside a creek, and play in an imaginative world. All that, and more, was afforded to me.

The old trestle bridge over the road at Montreal Road allowed for one-way traffic only. Below the old rusty structure was a great hiding place. And when the occasional car would pass overhead, fear would grip me as the noise and vibration made me believe the bridge would crumble.

At one spot was some of the largest bamboo cane in the area. Certainly the wetness from the creek inspired its growth. From those canes we had all the fishing poles we ever needed. As a 7th and 8th grader, I was inspired by the picture and story on the Wheaties box of Bob Richards of Olympic fame. He was a pole vaulter, and though I had never seen the sport, I would cut the large cane to be used as a vaulting pole. The great height of a little over six feet was finally reached. To the Olympics, I would never go!

My old faithful dog, Pug, loved the creek also. She would always sleep beside me as we camped; she would watch with anticipation when I would jerk that cork going under the water; she would walked beside me as I would carry by rifle when we would go hunting. Hunting, and actually killing, some of these “”friends”” along the creek were two different things. The gun gave me a sense of power, but my heart was not into actually firing toward that squirrel or rabbit. There were a few times Pug and I would walk up on a rabbit lying in the brush. If I raised my rifle to fire, it was as if Pug was saying, “”You aren’’t really going to shoot him, are you?”” And I would lower the rifle and just pass on by. The rabbit would even sense our spirit and not jump and run.

Perhaps the biggest news to ever come out of that part of Peachtree Creek was the capture of an alligator. Just below the bridge, a gator was spotted. No one would believe that a gator would be living there. Two men from Grant Park Zoo came to investigate. They did find the gator. They captured it. It was about 8 feet long. What news! What thoughts come to your mind when you know you have played in that creek so much?

How did an alligator get in Peachtree Creek? The Jolly family knew. When my Dad was about 18 years old, he made a trip to Florida. In those days you could purchase baby gators. And my Dad did. As that gator grew, his parents insisted that he turn it loose. And where would he turn it loose? That’’s right! Peachtree Creek. That gator survived, and about 25 years later it was captured, and relocated to Grant Park Zoo.

Peachtree Creek is one of those places in the world that has touched my life. There were lessons learned, and thoughts planted in my mind, that surely have influenced me in ways that I cannot fathom. I still love that creek. There is a new bridge, of course, and apartments have been built on the hill. But in my mind, I will always see those days of long ago! Thank you, Lord, for the gift of memory!

“He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.”   (Psalm 111:4)

Lawson

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