Friday, September 27, 2013

Dad's at the Mall

Back in the days before Mom's health deteriorated significantly, Mom and Dad loved to go to the mall. In the 60s, it was Greenbriar Mall, which was on the way to my grandmother's house in College Park. In the early 70s, it was Cumberland Mall in Marietta. In the later 70s, it was Riverbend Mall in Rome (a remarkable mall, and a place that I still miss... it was the first mall that Susan and I visited from opening day until its final days as a mall). In the later 1980s, it was Town Center Mall in Kennesaw. In the 1990s, it was Mount Berry Square in Rome.

Dad loved to go to the mall; he loved to "window shop," even if he had no plans to buy anything. Mom was the same way; they could while away a pleasant hour or two just wandering the mall, enjoying the ambiance.

Yesterday, my dear niece Jessica sent me a surprising photo that she took at Mount Berry Square.

Thought you'd get a kick out of this. Mount Berry Square remodeled the interior a while back (maybe within the last year), adding historical photos of Rome. I've seen a lot of the pictures before, but somehow missed this one until today.

The photo is a wonderful shot of Dad, a 28 year old reporter at the Rome News-Tribune, chewing on a cigar while working away at his typewriter in the very cramped news room of the original Rome News-Tribune building on (appropriately enough) Tribune Street, just a block off Broad Street. (He gave up cigars a couple of decades later, and gave up pipes as well once Mom was diagnosed with emphysema.) I remember the office in every minute detail, because I spent scores of hours there. As a child, I could think of nothing much more fun than to spend a few hours with Dad at the office when he was working late putting together high school sports reports for the next day's paper. Many of those other reporters may not have known it, but I spent a lot of time hunting and pecking on their typewriters (in the evenings, most reporters were at home, but the sports department--which was Dad and Orbie Thaxton--spent the evenings typing up incoming info on high school football games and the like, since the Rome News-Tribune was first a foremost a local paper for the Rome/Floyd County area, and high school sports were important to the community).

I had no idea until now that there was a picture of Dad prominently displayed on the wall of Mount Berry Square as a part of Rome's history, but I'm quite happy about it. Dad loved Rome, and he dedicated his life to the city, to the county, and to the young men and women who participated in Rome sports. He organized basketball tournaments, he worked closely with the Rome/Floyd County Recreation Department, and he was friends with virtually every coach in every high school in the area. He was an important part of Rome history, to be sure.

Likewise, Mount Berry Square was an important part of his life. He and Mom spent lots of time there. During the years when Susan and I had the farmhouse on Horseleg Creek Road, we'd often meet Mom and Dad at the mall for dinner, and then we'd all just look around for a while. After Mom died, I would frequently go with Dad to the mall during one of my mid-week visits; we might buy something, or we might buy nothing at all, but even then he just loved looking around. Every now and then, he'd see a little knick-knack or a decorative pin or a framed print or somesuch and he's smile thoughtfully and say, "Your mother would have liked that." The mall was a place for him to revisit pleasant moments in the past.

And now Dad's back at Mount Berry Square. I find it strangely satisfying...


Anonymous said...

Hi Cliff. You don´t know me but I worked with your dad, Orbie and everyone else at the RNT in the early 70ś. I was Ernestine Westś assistant in the ¨society¨ department...and a part-time proofreader. I was there with Cliff Green and Chris Frazier when Charlie Graves was city editor and Coleman Prophet was managing editor. Great times, and great folks!
Pat (Gaines) Ebbe

Pam Jackson said...

Yes, he was important. What an awesome pic to come across and better yet to be hanging in the mall. Thanks for sharing. I will tell mom to read it also. Pam Montgomery Jackson.