Open­ing a stretch of mem­ory lane

When I read about the four-lane be­ing opened all the way be­tween Athens and At­lanta, I won­dered what if it had been that way back in ‘66? The drive would have been a lot eas­ier and quicker. Maybe we would have waited to get mar­ried. And if we had waited,

The Covington News - - Local news -

They opened a new stretch of Ge­or­gia 316, a four-lane high­way that runs be­tween Lawrenceville and Athens last week.

What that means is you can drive on four-lane high­way all the way be­tween Athens and At­lanta now. From At­lanta, take In­ter­state 85 to the Lawrenceville exit and then 316 the rest of the way.

“Athens-At­lanta mo­torists can make the com­mute in un­der an hour,” a re­port said.

Twen­ty­seven blan­kety-blank years too late, I said.

I was 19 and a sopho­more at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia in Athens in 1966. I was also in love, but she lived in At­lanta. We were apart for the first time since the sixth grade.

I had a job in Athens. I worked for The Daily News, a fledg­ling news­pa­per we strug­gled to de­liver six morn­ings a week in com­pe­ti­tion with the af­ter­noon pa­per that had been in town since mov­able type was in­vented.

I worked full time. I went to class, and then I ac­tu­ally worked more than full time. That’s be­cause they couldn’t run me out of The Daily News news­room, a con­verted au­to­mo­bile deal­er­ship. It re­mains the best part of my jour­nal­ism ca­reer.

On Satur­days I would go to the news­pa­per at 2, and I would still be there at 1 the next morn­ing when the Sun­day edi­tion was fin­ished.

Then, I would get into my blue VW bug and head for At­lanta and my girl. Each week we had from about 4 Sun­day morn­ing un­til 10 Sun­day night to­gether. I hated that drive. It was all twolane from Athens un­til out­side Lawrenceville where I could pick up I-85.

It was 45 miles of small towns and bends and curves.

Out U.S. 29 through Bog­art and Statham. And then into Carl and Auburn, Win­der and the in­fa­mous speed trap Dac­ula.

They never got me in Dac­ula, but about 2 o’clock one Sun­day morn­ing the night cop got me in lit­tle Auburn. He was wear­ing his pa­jama top.

But he didn’t give me a speed­ing ticket. The rea­son he didn’t was I gave him the two Ge­or­giaAuburn foot­ball tick­ets in my glove box.

I would fight sleep all the way. A week of classes, study­ing and work can ex­haust even a 19-yearold.

Ev­ery Satur­day night for months, I made that drive. The TLC at the end was worth it, but I still won­der why I didn’t doze off one night and run into a tree and kill my­self.

We de­cided to get mar­ried the sum­mer of ’66. It made a lot of sense. We knew we would marry one day any­way, and I didn’t know how many more times I could sur­vive that drive.

So we up and did it. Mama said, “Just make sure you fin­ish school, young man.”

My pretty blond bride got a job at the pa­per too, and they gave me a raise af­ter we mar­ried — from the min­i­mum $1.25 an hour to $1.30. I would have paid them.

When I read about the fourlane be­ing open all the way be­tween Athens and At­lanta, I won­dered what if it had been that way back in ’66? The drive would have been a lot eas­ier and quicker. Maybe we would have waited to get mar­ried. And if we had waited, maybe it would have lasted.

Nine­teen is too young to get mar­ried. Es­pe­cially if you’re a blindly am­bi­tious, selfish fool. My wife wasn’t the one who was the blindly am­bi­tious, selfish fool.

There is a move afoot to give the new 316 con­nec­tion a name. “Uni­ver­sity Park­way” has been sug­gested.

Some­body else will of­fer “Bull­dog Boule­vard,” of course, and “Dawg Al­ley” must be con­sid­ered, too.

What­ever they name it when I drive it — and I will drive it of­ten — I will think of her and how I blew it and how per­haps a lit­tle ex­tra con­crete 27 years ago might have kept some­thing that was very good in­tact. You tend to think that way as you get older.

All that’s left to say, I sup­pose, is drive care­fully on Nancy’s and Lewis’s Road.

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