Let­ter to the Edi­tor

The Standard Journal - - Commentary -

Edi­tor’s note: The fol­low­ing let­ter came at­tached with a brief and in­ter­est­ing note from the au­thor, which I have also cho­sen to share.

Dear Kevin:

I am a very re­cent trans­plant to Rock­mart. One of the first noted sights was Coots Lake. Af­ter read­ing your de­light­ful col­umn on va­ca­tions, I just had to share my story of my years (0-10) at beloved Sun Val­ley (not to be con­fused with Sun Val­ley in Pow­der Springs.) I say year “zero,” be­cause my mother was teach­ing se­nior life­sav­ing and went into la­bor… hence my birth lit­er­ally in the lake!

Some­where among the many mov­ing boxes is a pic­ture post card of Sun Val­ley. Un­til I find it, I wanted to share my “va­ca­tion life” with you.

Re­mem­ber­ing Sun Val­ley Park

The rit­ual usu­ally be­gan about five days be­fore school let out in late spring. My brother and I would se­cretly be an­tic­i­pat­ing our smug vale­dic­tion of the warm and mugg class­room as we ven­tured upon an­other sum­mer at Sun Val­ley Park. As the fun be­gan, we were in ab­so­lute par­adise un­til La­bor Day.

Sun Val­ley was owned by Joe and May Mansell and man­aged by our fa­ther, Terry Martin. The park ba­si­cally com­prised of sixty-two glo­ri­ous acres of swim­ming and fish­ing. But that’s just the be­gin­ning. There was a go-cart track, out­door roller skat­ing, and even horse­back rid­ing with an an­nual rodeo. For a quar­ter one could ride the Ole 97. This flashy or­ange, open car train en­com­passed the swim­ming late and trav­eled the one-mile course through lush thick­ets and shady brooks of wel­come re­lief from the of­ten blaz­ing sun.

Mr. Mansell had an in­ge­nious flair with gar­den­ing and had the en­tire park land­scaped in flames of color and sym­me­try. He en­hanced the nat­u­ral or­der of one lake by trans­form­ing it and its gen­tly slop­ing bank into a deer ranch. Pea­cocks, wild turkey and deer abided to­gether with his pair of pet spi­der mon­keys, Pete and Gla­dys.

Then there was the bath­house. My stars, what a cre­ation! It was de­signed by Bill Cunningham and Jim Baker who spe­cial­ized in church ar­chi­tec­ture. Hav­ing the rus­tic color of sea­sonsed tele­phone poles, it was not dif­fi­cult to note the re­sem­blance of the vaulted struc­ture to that of a cathe­dral. The dé­cor held an ar­ray of tro­phies, stuffed rattlers, a host of Brumby rock­ers for grandma, an ar­cade of pin­ball and of course the ever blar­ing juke­box.

Mrs. Whit­mire ran the snack bar and the aroma of her fare hung del­i­cately in the air and beck­oned fam­ished swim­mers.

On Satur­day nights a band would set up on the sand for a beach hop. Johnny Rivers played once and for a few stolen hours we re­gressed into the idol­ized “teenager.”

An an­tique show ar­rived ev­ery sum­mer and the proud own­ers would dot the hills with their trea­sured relics of the past.

As sum­mer came to an end there was one more trip to Sun Val­ley to look for­ward to. Ev­ery win­ter the swim­ming lake had to be drained to en­dure the hard freeze as the po­liomyeli­tis virus thrives in lakes and ponds. The polio vac­cine, athought in­vented, was not by law ad­min­is­tered ex­ten­sively. This yearly event brought forth all the long lost coins, jew­elry and keys from days gone by.

Sun Val­ley still stands in bits and pieces among vast over­growth of kudzu and thorns just south of Al­pharetta on High­way 9. A wood carved sign still hangs. Only now its in­ten­tions are for the small in­dus­trial park serv­ing as a façade for the sum­mer won­der­land be­yond. - Dree Hen­ninger Rock­mart, Ga.

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