Most of you probably reading this know me from my Ramblin’ Rhodes weekly music column which, God willing, will have its 39th anniversary on Oct. 31.
When The Augusta Chronicle’s Features Editor Tharon Giddens approached me about writing a regular blog, I wanted to do something a bit different than the music column.
I immediately thought it would be a good opportunity to utilize my extensive knowledge of useless facts in another area: local history.
For several years growing up in the ‘50s, my family lived in Evans in two different houses on Belair Road and one concrete block house north of Evans on Washington Road.
Evans was a far different place then, with Belair Road just two lanes, and Wheeler and Hereford Farm roads still dirt. My family attended Marvin United Methodist Church at Bel Air and Wheeler roads where a pew still bears a metal plate noting that it was donated by my parents, Ella and Ollen Rhodes.
Terri Gibbs, long before she became famous with her 1981 hit single "Somebody’s Knockin’," attended Marvin church along with her large extended family that included her uncles who sang in the Master Workers Quartet often on WJBF television. They were local stars to us.
Augusta was like another world, where we would venture to a few times during the year, especially at Christmas, when all the major department stores were on Broad.
Our world pretty much revolved around our schools, our church and, of course, Garrett’s and Roper’s grocery stores, located on different corners of Bel Air and Columbia roads. The Garretts (Fred and Mary) went to our church, and my mother was best friends with Mary. We often were over at their house on Belair Road near Marvin church.
The Stricklands, Tankersleys, Nichols and other long-time Columbia County families were all a part of our weekly lives.
Just like today when people ask me if I’m related to Austin Rhodes (we’re not but have known each other for several decades), people back then asked me if I was related to my classmate Foster Rhodes. I wasn’t, but I did get to spend some nights on his family’s farm on Stevens Creek Road which became Rhodes Hill subdivision.
It’s strange, but after more than half a century I still talk often with David Roper, now a Columbia County superior court judge, and Beverly Courson (Fred and Mary’s daughter).
When David ran for judge, it tickled and delighted me that among his attributes he cited “family values gleaned from a childhood in his parents' family grocery in Columbia County.”
After the ninth grade at Evans High, my family moved away. And yet fate would being me back to the area in the late ‘60s when the U.S. Army sent me to Signal Corps school at Fort Gordon and finally back again in late 1971 when I moved up from Savannah to begin working as a reporter for the afternoon Augusta Herald.
It’s been said many times that nobody appreciates an area like an outsider. I don’t really agree with that. I know a lot of families whose ancestors go back generations in this area, and they have the same deep love and appreciation for its history just like I do.
Anyway with this blog I want to focus on the weirder and less publicized historical tidbits of this area that you may or may not know about.
I’ve always seen my journalistic role as an entertainer, educator and overall conduit of interesting and accurate information.
So, let’s see what happens.