Yesterday I hopped on a bike and decided to ride, no place in particular just wanted out of the house. Before I really knew it I found myself 40 miles and fifty years from home. I had decided to go to the place where I was born.
That’s it now. My dad built that house in 1955. When I say he built it, I mean he built it…he didn’t have it built. When he and my mother got married he was gifted that one acre plot by my great grandmother, who owned the surrounding 99 acres. My dad built his first house on it, the house was maybe 500 square feet.
On Christmas Eve 1957 my mother went into labor and was taken to St Joseph’s Hospital where at 4:54 AM on Dec 26th, the doctors lost the heartbeat of her unborn baby and did an emergency C-Section. A few days later They took their first born, one Michael Thomas Strother home, and thus my life began.
I hadn’t seen that old house in many many years, I wasn’t even sure I could find it, but I did. I remembered the hunting dogs we had, chickens too. I remembered a rooster that used to chase and terrify me.
I was standing in the driveway of that house the first time I ever fired a gun. I was 5 years old. The place was in a very rural area, there were lots of quail, squirrels and rabbits. I was hunting with my dad shortly after I was old enough to walk.
It surprised me how much I remembered even though we moved away the summer before I started elementary school. I remembered the names of his bird dogs, Lucky, Jewel, Fritz and two mutts named Blackie and Sheba. They lived outside, there was no such thing as indoor dogs, these dogs would sooner have run through a half acre of burning field than set one foot inside that house. These dogs were my playmates, there weren’t any neighbors. I remembered watching “The Popeye Club” on the old black and white TV that was in one corner. I remembered Officer Don and the games always starting with “whose gonna win the boy or the girl?”
Obviously now the house is overgrown with weeds and kudzu and probably hasn’t been lived in for many years. My dad sold it when we moved. I guess I was surprised to find it still there but everything about it seemed so much smaller than I remembered it. But the house didn’t change, I did.
The house was on a dirt road, now paved, called County Line Road, one side of the road was Dekalb County, on the other, my side, Henry County. County Line ran off of a paved road called River Road, named because it ran adjacent to the South River.
That’s the South River, the first river I had ever seen. When I became much older and started working in adult I named my company South River Video, The person who had been instrumental in bringing me into the business was Rick Savage and his New York City Based company was named East River Film Works. So when I needed a company name it just made sense to me. As kids we would slide down those rocks into a deeper pool at the bottom. It’s a wonder we never hurt ourselves, but it seems to me kids were a lot tougher in those days, or maybe it was just the tough ones that survived.