Monday, June 04, 2007

I Get My Kicks on the Dix(ie Hwy)

Those mid-westerns and westerns had their Route 66. Route 66 left Chicago and went to Los Angeles. There was a TV series about two men cruising up and down Route 66 in a red Corvette getting into adventures every week.

And we had our Dixie Highway. Leaving Chicago was Highway 41, a.k.a. The Dixie Highway. The Dixie Highway went to Miami.

Our trips up and down The Dixie Highway were not done in a red sports car, but a Chevrolet sedan.

Every so often we would need to go to Atlanta, via The Dixie Highway, for something Marietta didn’t sell, which meant usually Rich’s Department Store. Or we would go north. My mother’s mother and some of her siblings were sprinkled from Dalton to Chattanooga and they were a close family, although they did fight a lot.

Our trips north and south in the 40s and 50s were done on The Dixie Highway. That was before the I-75 was even thought of.

I understand that several times in the 30s and 40s Chicago famous gangsters would drive through Marietta on the Dixie Highway going to Miami. Sometimes they would be caught speeding and had to spend a night or two in jail. I heard that some of Al Capone’s men got caught speeding through Marietta and were locked up. To make a long story short and the fact I don’t know the details anyway, Scarface sent a message to the Cobb County Sheriff’s to release his men or Marietta would be shot off the map, one bullet at a time. I’m sure something was worked out, Marietta is still here.

In Smyrna, Georgia, just south of Marietta a few miles on The Dixie Highway were several Motor Inns, some were made of rocks. They looked nothing like the motels of today. Usually there was an office building then behind that were small unit houses, and not very many compared with today’s standards. I think maybe between four and eight units.

Going north I only have a vague memory of the 41 until Calhoun. From then on it seems there are plenty of rock-made houses and businesses, along with ceramic yard objects for sale. In the middle of Calhoun where the 41 crosses another highway, 225 I think, is a bronze color statue of an Indian. Onetime in my youth I was told it was a statue of the Indian Pontiac. But reading The Dixie Highway brochure I read that it is Sequoyah, the creator of the Cherokee alphabet.

In Dalton, or slightly north a lot of little roadside stores sold chenille bed spreads. I think Dalton’s chenille industry probably was the birth of Dalton’s carpet industry, which is known world wide.

Back in 2001, in November, not too long after the 9/11 tragedy, Bluto, a friend from California, visited. One day we went to Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. When going up the I-75 when I saw the Calhoun exit on impulse I exited and got on the Old 41, a.k.a. The Dixie Highway to take us the rest of the way.

I was amazed. Things had not changed that much on the old highway. Still was lawn statues for sale roadside and it seems there were no zoning codes. A dumpy rusty old trailer might be next door to an expensive house… a lot of junk in a lot of front yards. A lot of the old Southern Cross Confederate Flags fluttered proudly in the wind.

I think I am going to start making plans to return to the Dixie Highway. Maybe I will get on it in Acworth and go on up. I might plan to do it in four segments – so it all won’t blend in and be overwhelming.

While making this posting for the spelling of chenille I went to my distant cousin D.K. P’s website. Our common family is the Petty family. She has a really good website she named Southern Muse about the south - especially in the northwest Georgia area – a lot of history also…. Good art too! Check it out!



Blogger kenju said...

I remember roadside stands in WV,VA and OH that sold chenille bedspreads in the 40's and 50's. They were so ugly and tacky to me. I can hardly believe that chenille became popular again in the 90's and people were upholstering chairs with old bedspreads. Ugh.

11:52 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Beauty and Ugly - they all add up in the memory department.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Is it just me, or do all the infamous highways start in Chicago?

3:18 PM  
Blogger ET said...

All roads lead FROM Chicago.

5:02 PM  

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