"Right about here," I tell my son as we stand in the parking lot of the new Kroger strip mall. "First base was right about here."
I have called the Loganville area home for almost 30 years now. I consider it my hometown. Seen a lot of change in that time. Change is good, I guess. After all, if something isn't growing, it's dying. Loganville certainly isn't dying. This is good. Then again, there is the danger of too much growth. In a suburban town that makes almost no effort to preserve what once was in favor of flashy and new, I'd say we run that risk around here.
It's not my intention to grumble about the short sighted "vision" of, say, bulldozing a 1920's era train depot in favor of yet another strip mall. Oops...just did. I'd wager you might not have even known there was a rail that passed through our town for many years. Or that an overgrown strip of weeds behind that abandoned old house on C.S. Floyd was once the runway for the "Loganville International Airport."
It's a recurring theme here in the sprawling burbs of Atlanta: Abandon local history, then pave over it. The only history that gets preserved around here is in cemetaries, and even that is subject to conditions. Graves can be moved.
Don't get me wrong... I shop at Kroger, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. I don't begrudge change; sometimes I just don't like it is all. You may not realize that I'm not a native of this area. I moved to Loganville when I was 9, from an area that was championing growth and celebrating the completion of the new "perimeter highway."
That area grew, alright. Once the new super highway was done, everything changed. At first it wasn't so bad, and as a kid I thought the new K-Mart was nice to have. Then came Richway. Zaire's. Food Lion. A new store based out of Arkansas called "Wal-Mart." Resturants...EVERYWHERE. Motels, then the apartments, pretty soon it was liquor stores, check-cashing places and Title Pawns.
Too much, too fast. No planning beyond spot-zoning the next whatever store. The result? You tell me. Get off I-285 at Glenwood Rd and drive east a mile or so. Lock your doors and behold the tattered remnants of "progress."
So there I am, age 9, in this new, green place called Loganville. Living in a house my dad and uncles built across from a cow pasture and within walking distance of a mansion owned by Burt Reynolds.
Within a year, I knew all the kids I went to school with. Now this...THIS was change I could believe in. I became accustomed to this rural, quiet, don't-bother-to-lock-your-doors lifestyle.
As I grew, so did the town. I remember the day the volunteer firemen burned down the Ginny Lan Motel. They used it for training; it was doomed to be torn down anyways, make room for the town's first franchise resturant.
Six months later, I donned my boy scout uniform and in that very same spot, raised the American flag for the first time at the McDonald's grand opening. When people stopped going to Sparks Grocery in favor of the new Ingles, I was there, bagging their bread and milk. When the new traffic light was installed at 78 and Cown Dr, I was there. Skidding through a 180 in my ugly old Buick because the new light was red and I forgot it was there.
I think we all have this love/hate relationship with change...we really do hate to see the old ways go, but hey wow this new place sure is convenient and look at those low, low prices! Besides, change is inevitable. This is cold, hard truth...And if a town isn't changing, well...