Thursday, November 17, 2016

A family history tour in Marietta--7.17.16, day 6 in Georgia

Thanks to the wonderful world-wide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we were able to go online and find a chapel located just a few miles down the road from the condo. We decided to attend the ward meeting at 11am and go back to the condo for lunch before heading out to Marietta to show the kids where I used to live way back in the day.

We attended Sacrament meeting in the Hamilton Mill Ward. The building reminded us a lot of the new stake center in Forest Grove, Oregon--just smaller. The chapel was full and there were people sitting in the gym as well. It felt weird for me to be in church, on a Sunday, not having already attended an early morning meeting and to not have a bag (or two or three) with me. I felt strangely empty-handed. After we arrived and found a seat, there were a handful of ward members who approached us in the few minutes before church started. They were a little bummed once they found out we weren't new, only visiting. But they were tenacious and told us if College Station didn't work out, they'd love to have us :) It was nice that we didn't go unnoticed.

After Sacrament meeting we went back to the condo to grab a bite to eat and then got back in the car to drive to Marietta. Seems like every place we wanted to go was about an hour away. Marietta was no different.

On the way over I told the kids all sorts of how when I was 14, I threw Smokey the cat down the huge staircase in anger because we found one of Aunt Shell's finches in her mouth and the other one dead on the floor under the bird cage. The cat lived, of course. I told them about our other pets (how our pug dog Sniffles died, about Kelly's black lab Psycho--very appropriately named) and that they're buried in the backyard. I told them about the boat we kept up at Lake Lanier and how spent many awesome days there skiing and eating picnic lunches. I told them how we got our kitty, Max, from the people who stored our boat at the lake and that I got to hold her the whole way home and she peed in my lap. A few years later, Max had kittens under the office desk one morning when Michelle and I should have been going to school. I told them how Aunt Shell and I walked to school and back every day and how I won 1st place in a multi-school 5th grade writing contest. I told them about the Shuttle mural on Uncle Mike's bedroom wall and how he, as a 5 or 6-year-old, used to make cat traps out of his stuff and would successfully trap our cats with them! I told them how Aunt Kelly took me to Six Flags each summer after I earned a free pass for an academic award. I told them how I used to play tennis in the gross humidity and in the evenings, the neighborhood kids would get together and play tag or kick-the-can in the street as we ran around all the yards. I told them how I used to capture lightning bugs and put them in a jar and that my friend, Sandy, and I would play loud music (usually Madonna or Chicago) from her boom box and we would dance on top of the big green electrical box in her front yard. I told them how there was an enormous weeping willow tree in the front yard that my siblings and I would climb, though it was a bit of a pain to mow around the roots. I remember my dad building remote control airplanes and taxiing them from our long driveway. I told them how I sat next to a girl in 6th grade and her name was Ashley Hough. Whenever we had a substitute teacher, they would pause at her name and make a funny face before they attempted to pronounce her last name. But Ashley always beat them to it and would exasperatingly say, "It's HUFF." :) I told them how my room was at the front of the house and one time Grandma had an evening church meeting, but when she came home, realized she was locked out. I was already asleep, so she had to go to our neighbor's to borrow a ladder and knocked on my bedroom window on the second floor to wake me up--scaring me half to death in the process.

I lived in Marietta, Georgia from June 1986 to June 1992--ages 9 to 15. I grew up in Bountiful, Utah before that, so it was quite the geographic and demographic leap. I had just barely gotten my learner's permit before we moved from Georgia, so I wasn't able to drive much, which meant I was not able to familiarize myself with roads or landmarks. But it wouldn't have mattered...the area was so much bigger and had changed so much over the last two decades. It wasn't until we got near the closest cross streets (Post Oak Tritt Road and Johnson Ferry Road) by my subdivision that I actually started to see things I vaguely remembered. It was almost like being in a distant dream. 

It was completely surreal to drive into my old subdivision--Chimney Springs. The houses hadn't changed at all. Funny how they looked "dated" to me. I guess it HAS been 24 years since I had been in the area and most these homes are around forty years old. At the end of Alpine Road, it 'T's at Revere Circle. My friend, Sandy, lived in the house straight ahead. We lived right next door on the left.

The first thing I noticed was that the huge weeping willow was missing from the front yard. It blocked the entire right half of the house. Now there was a tree blocking the left side of the house. I don't remember a tree being there.

The next thing I noticed was how run down it looked :( My parents would have never let it get like this.

My goodness--the house has the exact same paint, trim and shutter colors! I felt a little intrusive as I got out and took pictures. I didn't want to be pegged as a snoop or trespasser, so I decided to go to the front door and knock to see if the owners wouldn't mind me taking some pictures in the back yard. Jared and the kids were in the suburban across the street, waiting while I went to the door. I knocked and an older, short woman answered. I smiled and said hello. I told her that she didn't know me, but that I lived in this house over 24 years ago and wondered if I could take a couple pictures in the back. Her eyes grew wide and she said, "We bought this house from your parents! He was the pilot and you moved to Alaska. How are they?" I was stunned. I would love to live in one spot for ten years, let alone twenty-four. I couldn't believe it was the same people! She called her husband over and filled him in. We shook hands and she said she would invite me in to see the house, but it was a little messy. I told her no worries at all. I didn't even expect anyone to be here. But she quickly changed her mind and told me to come in, she wanted to show me something.

I learned later that Jared and Jake saw me talking to this couple at the door and then all of a sudden, without me looking back or anything, I entered the house and the door closed behind me. They started to think about disturbing episodes on shows like "Criminal Minds" where victims were locked in people's basements being tortured to death and they decided to give me five minutes to come back out before they would go banging the door down :)

In the meantime, JJ and Cooper were having fun.

As soon as I entered the foyer, remembering that my mom's large grandfather clock would have greeted me, I felt like I was in a time warp--as a GIANT. The house had somehow shrunk by two or three sizes. What happened to the high ceilings and the huge staircase? How was it possible that I could take two steps and be in the living room or dining room? What happened?? The house was SO MUCH bigger when I lived in it. And cleaned it ;) But seriously, I was not expecting the house to feel so miniature. I was 15 when I left--probably as tall as I would get. I got married 5 years after that. It wasn't like I was a young girl in elementary school when we moved away. It was fascinatingly strange. 

The next thing I noticed was that the house wasn't "a little messy"--this woman was a hoarder!!! I couldn't see the living room because of all the stuff she had shoved in there.

The owners led me up the not-so-huge, super small staircase (the condo we were staying in had a steeper and longer staircase than this house did) with blue carpet. That was "new."  We had cream colored carpet. At the top of the stairs was the main bathroom. To the left was Kelly's old bedroom with the big walk-in closet, down the hall was the master over the garage with a walk-in closet the full length of their bedroom and a secret staircase that lead to the laundry room and kitchen. To my right were two more bedrooms. The first one was Mike's old room. The woman said to excuse the stuff piled in it (does it make one a hoarder if they acknowledge it?) as she opened the door and there was the surprise. The entire back wall was still covered in the wallpaper mural with the Shuttle on it. She said that this was her son's room and the mural was one of the biggest things they loved about the house. (Seriously? It's wallpaper...)

Then she led me to the second room (not that it was far to go...two steps really) and opened the door. She said, "I'm guessing this was your room." She guessed right! Mine and Michelle's. (She told me not to get the messes in the pictures if I could help it. I tried.) It also had the same exact wallpaper, chair rail and paint from 1986 or 1987. I'm not an expert, but I think my parents did one heck of a decorating job. That wallpaper looks amazing after thirty years! I'm surprised the owners haven't changed it.

As we headed back downstairs to the front door, I thanked them profusely for allowing me a peek inside the old home. Before I left, I did ask them about the weeping willow. It died, they said. Apparently those trees need lots of water (I don't remember my parents specifically watering it) and the year they bought the house (or the year after) there was a drought and it never recovered so they had to cut it down and remove it.

This is the side of the house in the back. Those steps lead up to the covered back porch. There was also an uncovered patio attached to the porch. My dad would read his morning paper out on the back porch before any of the rest of us woke up. He'd quiz me on my spelling words and the states and capitals on that back porch. Sometimes there were raccoons or opossums that would come eat the kitty food on that back porch.

A view from the back. I didn't know what bay windows were until we moved to Georgia. There was one in the kitchen on the right and one in the family room on the left. We also had a walk-out basement with a huge play room, storage room and office in the finished downstairs. We had all of our toys down there. And a ping-pong table. And a pinball machine and bumper pool table (thanks to local garage sales!)

Some of the back woods. Very wooded. I didn't ever go in there. We always made Mike go in there to retrieve any lost balls or toys for us. :)

This is where our trampoline used to reside. We couldn't take it with us to Alaska though. We gave it to our neighbors, the Mann family, across the street. We couldn't take our boat either. That was heartbreaking. I definitely shed tears over that. Our pet cemetery is back here somewhere. Sniffles, Psycho, a bird or two. Maybe a cat.

The owners mentioned that the Snodgrass family still lived next door. They moved in just a year or so after we did. They had a daughter named Alison who was my age and we had a lot of fun together. I walked over to their house to see if they were home, but no one was. I made a note to myself to send them a card when we got home to let them know I stopped by and to see how Alison was doing. I found her on Facebook the next day. 

Apparently the tree I don't remember was a cherry tree and it was the small tree that was in our yard when we moved. Now it's all grown up. Just like me :)

I had made arrangements a couple of days before to meet my friend, Sandy, at the old elementary school. Her parents no longer live in their home on Revere Circle either. We had a few minutes to spare before our rendezvous time, so we drove past the school and down Post Oak Tritt a little bit more so I could remind myself of what things lie beyond in the distance. We turned into another neighborhood that seemed, many years ago, so much more ritzy than ours. East Spring Lake or something like that. Except that the lake was not beautiful anymore. It was green and gross. And the neighborhood didn't seem any better than ours. 

But we did find a weeping willow tree so I could show the kids what used to be in my yard. 

There is a new subdivision development going in adjacent to my old subdivision. Starting from the $800s!!?? Whoa. You've got to be kidding me. Which means that old 1979 home of mine, run down as it was, is valued around $440,000. Excuse me while I vomit. And I thought the housing market in College Station was on crack. I cannot believe the cost of homes in Marietta! We lived in East Cobb county and when I was younger I nicknamed it East Cobb Snob Hill. I remember feeling that people cared more about money than about you. Back then, even as a pre-teen and teenager, I felt the heavy pressures of how much money you did or didn't have and how it decided your place in society (or school, in my case). For example, there was a girl who was a part of the group I ate lunch with. She got $400 a month in allowance. $100 a week. It was so ludicrous I had no reason not to believe her. She certainly dressed and accessorized and acted like she had that much allowance. I got two fifty a week. As in $2.50. One day in high school, a girl came up to me, checked the tag on the back of my shirt and said, "Jenny, if it's not Calvin Klein, don't bother wearing it." We weren't poor, but we didn't just toss money around either. My parents were very wise and careful with their financial resources and taught me to do the same. And now, they're enjoying the fruits of their prudence and successful money management. Fortunately for me, I knew of my divine worth and that I was one of God's daughters. I've never forgotten those things, but I didn't let them bring me down or define who I was. I won't lie, though. I was really excited to move to Alaska the summer after my freshman year! 

We drove back up the road to Tritt Elementary (where I attended for 4th and 5th grade) and Sandy had just arrived, having traveled from Woodstock to see us. I couldn't believe we were actually meeting again! It had been a few lifetimes since we had seen each other. I introduced her to my crew and we talked a little bit about the area and where her family was. She said this area is exploding and a hot market (we definitely noticed!) She only lives about a half hour away and hardly recognizes Marietta anymore.

Sandy told us a little about her job and her little baby boy, Logan, she had about 8 months previously. She hasn't changed a bit! It was about a ten minute visit, but since I have no idea when or if I'll be in Georgia again, I'm so happy we were able to make it work.

On our way to the elementary school, before we ventured further down Post Oak Tritt Road, we drove the exact path from my old house that my sister, Michelle, and I walked to and from school every day. Uphill. Both ways. And in the snow. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tellus Science Museum--7.16.16, day 5 in Georgia

Saturday morning we drove to Kelly and Steve's house. While there, we did a quick sweep of the house. JJ lost his little metal canon "Puncher" that he bought at the national park in Vicksburg, MS. It was no where to be found. Fortunately, JJ hadn't realized yet that it was missing.

We followed Kelly and Steve to Cartersville, GA (about an hour away) to visit the Tellus Science Museum. Steve was especially excited about this and we were excited to have him with us for the day!

We arrived a little bit before it opened, not knowing what traffic would be like on the roads or at the museum. We were in good shape in both respects. Kelly and Steve came prepared with fruit and cookies for a snack when we got there. That was also when the Aunt and Uncle extraordinaire pair presented each of our kids with $20 to spend in the gift shop when we were done. So incredibly generous of them!! The kids were excited! The parents were excited for the kids :) Apparently, Kelly had told this "secret" to Calvin a day before and swore him to secrecy or it wouldn't happen. Amazingly enough...he kept the secret!!

Then we took a little walk around the grounds. There were three or four gigantic trucks spread out along the edge of the parking lot. They were quite the sight to behold!

Across from the parking lot, we walked along the grounds, closer to the museum. Very pretty!

Once inside the entrance of the museum, we spent some time watching this big thing!

Here's an explanation straight from the museum wall that will do a far better job than anything I could say! There was something hypnotic about watching the pendulum and waiting to see if it would knock one of the blocks over the next time it swung by. :)

There was also a planetarium where you could purchase additional tickets to one of the presentations for an extra fee. Steve was gracious enough to get those for us. There was about an hour or so until the planetarium show started, so the first stop was, where else? The dinosaur bones!!

This Apatosaurus is sooo big, I couldn't get the whole thing in the camera frame.

But first, we had to stop and see how pennies roll down this funnel. 

Behold--the Megalodon Jaw!

And tooth!

A dinosaur patty! Only a quarter of the normal size!!

We went to the planetarium show titled "The Night Sky" after we visited the dinosaur section. About 5 or 7 minutes into it, however, JJ decided he had had enough of that, so he and I exited the room (with no return) so he wouldn't be so disruptive to the other guests.

The space stuff was totally awesome!

Brought back to Earth by astronaut Dave Scott from Apollo 15. 

Astronaut JJ 

Astronaut Calvin 

Astronaut Karcyn

 Astronaut Cooper

I will be the first to admit, we did lose track of all of our kids at one point or another during our trip to the museum. Herding cats comes to mind. Jared took some pictures of JJ so he'd stay in one spot! :)

Standing in front of a 7 foot by 5 foot amethyst geode. One of the largest in the world!

And now...for the digging!! Our kids could have stayed here Did you know that the tool of choice for paleontologists is a paint brush, not a trowel, when digging for fossils? Everyone got to go home with a sand shark tooth!

But there was even more (wet) fun to be had in the panning area! We got to keep as many as we found!

Fossils of sand shark teeth and the gemstones that Karcyn, JJ and Calvin found (left to right). Calvin found the most gemstones. He was completely addicted!

We headed to the children's play area before wrapping it up at the gift shop and eating our picnic lunch under the pavilion.


The Beynons and Houghs. A monumental family history moment for sure. I this picture!!

We decided to stop by Bass Pro Shop on our way back to the condo.

Ahhh, the party boat!! Dream on, everyone!

JJ and Cooper trying to shoot ducks with their suction cup arrows!

Dream on, JJ!

Jake had his eye on a compound bow :)

This little guy went the better part of five days before having a mega meltdown. He had a few moments, but under the circumstances, he was an awesome trooper! Mom had to take him out of Bass Pro Shop because he saw a big truck he wanted (join the club, son) and was upset when I told him he couldn't have it. He screamed, cried himself to sleep and still managed to have a pout on his face. But there was a thunderstorm brewing so that was a bonus for mom--she could watch it from the car!

Back at the condo, Karcyn and Calvin began the very delicate operation of excavating a baby dinosaur from it's "egg." Woo doggie! It was super duper messy (red dust but I loved that they were working on this together!

We had a wonderful day (no Atlanta traffic!!) and were looking forward to slowing down (the Beynons are party animals!! :) just a little bit and giving Aunt Kelly (especially) and Uncle Steve a break from the Houghlings on Sunday ;)