Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Litter and Art by the Tracks in Vinings

Vinings, Georgia, was a little village-like community in the southern part of Cobb County, next to the Chattahoochee River. It has some huge hills or small mountains that overlook the river and the Atlanta skyline. When I was in the Boy Scouts in the early 1950s we went to a Boy Scout Jamboree named Bert Adams Camp in Vinings. . Someday I’ll have to write more about how our troop 132 brought terror and crime to the Jamboree with the leadership of our new member Jimmy Pat Presley.

Up in the high hills and in the foot of the valleys were some very nice homes. It was an upper income community for upscale country-gentleman type of living.

Now, I think the houses are still there, but we were on the main roads recently and the area zoned for business is swallowed by office parks and sky scrapers. Home Depot’s home office is there.

There is a railroad track that goes through Vinings. A childhood friend of mine, Sandy Hicks, was killed in her car at the railway crossing back in about 1960. She lived with her family at the foot of Blackjack Mountain in Marietta. Just a couple of years ago I ran into her father Buck Hicks, a retired deputy sheriff, at a funeral home in Kennesaw. Buck also died not too long ago too.

Now, they have a fancy outdoor pavilion of some kind near the railway crossing. Back then they only had the railroad crossing with the big white striped arm that came down and red lights clanging.

In about 1969 or 70, before the huge glass buildings and office suddenly became part of Vinnings I noticed more than once while driving through of a unpainted house by the railway tracks. The trees were decorated with all kinds of decorations – at first sight you would think it was expensive ordainments but if you slow down and take a closer look you would see it was just litter tossed out of cars and then someone came along and delicately placed the object, whether it was a beer car, an empty Winston Cigarettes package, honky sticks, or etc. One person’s trash was another person’s treasures.

One day as I was riding by the house I saw a lady hanging clothes on the clothesline. She was an elderly black woman. I could not resist meeting her. I pulled into her dirt driveway and she was glad to see me. She talked and talked about the Lord. She was very religious and very positive – and agreeable.

At a closer look of her garbage-art in the trees I saw that most of the things were attached by wads of gum. I wondered if it was her gum, or did she find the gum too?

I just happened to have my camera in the car and I asked her could I take some pictures and she said, “Of course you can!” And I took some pictures. I hope I can find those pictures or negatives in one of the boxes that I am systematically going through.

She invited me in for some tea. Inside her house was just as artsy as on the outside. One room was a shrine for the late Martin Luther King. The room was mostly dark with Doctor King’s picture was on a table with either a candle or a table lamp illuminating the image and also in a frame was a quote by him, I forgot which one, I think it was “I had a dream”.

I think she was probably the only person at that time in history that had a clothes line in Vinings and the only person with an unpainted house. I think her house was covered with that sanded shingle kind of material.

Here and there in the house were pictures of Jesus and some of his quotes framed.

I doubt if anyone but me wishes she was still there by the railroad tracks with her roadside trash -art instead of the yuppiedom that Vinings has become.

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Blogger Brent said...

I believe you are remembering Nellie Mae Rowe (1900-1982).

Here's a recent entry about her by Karen Towers Klacsmann, Morris Museum of Art, from New Georgia Encyclopedia, at

A search on Google with her name yields additional, even local, results, including Atlanta galleries etc. Quoting: "Results 1 - 10 of about 31,800 for Nellie




1:11 PM  
Blogger ET said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:58 PM  
Blogger ET said...

You are right. Thank you for telling me her name and the article about her. I can't wait to google her to see what I find.

2:08 PM  

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