LARSON: Looking for some old memories of Gwinnett places

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

I really enjoyed Frank Reddy's story in Saturday's Daily Post about the campground at Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church. How nice to know that this structure, built in 1832 has lasted so long and has served to create memories for so many generations.

I remember a clapboard shack on U.S. Highway 78 going toward Atlanta. A sign above it read "Cactus Jack: It has nothing to do with my personality." Apparently there was some truth to that. A friend who ran a liquor store told me Cactus Jack brought in a small bouquet of his roses every time he came in to make a purchase.

And Chicken Man? Does anyone else remember Chicken Man, all 300 pounds of him in a canary yellow shirt, dishing out grits and greens at his restaurant in on Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross? Any day at lunch time, you'd see customers lined up all around the parking lot. I personally found it well worth the wait and am happy for the memory.

Corley's Seed and Feed on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth was a real trip. Those old-timers used to really tickle me with their homespun compliments. I remember how Mr. Corley used to try to talk me into buying this square green can of Bag Balm to use on my face. He'd read the label and say, "If it can do that for a cow, just think what it can do for you." I took it all in good humor.

A few years later I saw Bag Balm on the cosmetics aisle in the drugstore and thought, hey, he wasn't kidding. I wonder how much less leathery my face might look today had I taken his advice, especially realizing that I'm about as old now as he was then.

I remember when the entire "downtown" of Snellville consisted of a barber shop and a boot store on the corner of U.S. 78 and Ga. Highway 124. When I drove to Snellville, seeing those buildings was the only way I knew for sure where I was.

Then there was Greer-Ivy Hardware in Norcross which opened in 1909 and closed in 2002. It boasted the largest selection of Radio Flyer products in the nation. Back when kids still played with little red wagons.

I know many of you have memories that are much richer that mine of places that were paved over with progress when Gwinnett started growing in the 1970s. Please send them to me. I'd like to include them in a future column, which I expect will be a very memorable one.

Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.