Hi y’all. It’s me. Yes me, Coleen Brooks. I’m back and happy to be here … here being writing a column once again in my favorite small-town newspaper, the Calhoun Times.
A brief history in time … when I first moved to Calhoun to begin a career in education, there were very few apartments available. In fact, none were available when my roommate and I moved to town.
Mr. Peek, the principal of Eastside School and a relative of my roommate Alice, found us a two-bedroom trailer that we rented from the Mashburn’s who owned a building supply place out on 41 North. It was carpeted with red shag carpet. We thought we were uptown Saturday night. For the first time in my life, I was living on my own, in my own place paid for by me.
That little blue and white trailer, a single-wide, was still there the last time I drove past that area. Mind you, I’ve lived in Calhoun for close to 50 years. It wasn’t brand spanking new when we moved in. Oh, be rest assured that I did not plan to stay in Calhoun. I came down to teach for a year and move back to Tennessee.
Life has a way of changing your plans. Yep, it does. Little did I know that a sort of blind date with a young man who drove a Corvette would change my life in a most positive way. In truth, I had been engaged to this young man’s good friend, but the good friend and I parted ways and that opened the door for all kinds of possibilities. He called me three times before I agreed to go out with him. He later told me that if I turned him down on the third call, that would be it.
I didn’t and the rest is history. I didn’t really know this Bill Brooks, but my boss and principal of Calhoun Junior High School told me all about him along with the fact that he came from a really good family. Okay, then. According to Mrs. Strain, this was something of great importance.
On our first date, he greeted me with “I have $10 and a full tank of gas. Where do you want to go?” This was instant “like” at first glance. He was not only majorly good looking, he had a winning personality.
We went to Underground Atlanta, the old, old Underground. We listened to great jazz and I had my first ever mixed drink called a Singapore Sling. It was good, fruity and I was drinking it like it was Kool-Aid, with a straw. Bill advised me not to do that since he seemed to know that I was an alcohol imbibing amateur.
He was a wee bit late in his advice and I felt quite mellow … a little too mellow. He told me I had pretty hair. It was long and blonde back then. I looked at him and said in my best Southern drawl, “Why thank you. It glows in the dark.” And I giggled. Lord have mercy! I giggled, and I think I hiccupped. Then, I realized what I had said and was beyond horrified. He laughed.
To make a long story short, we were inseparable for the three months before we married and have been together ever since, 48 years and counting. I was blessed with a wonderful second family of in-laws, and we were later blessed with four children and later on two beautiful daughters-in-law and two handsome sons-in-law. We also have five grandchildren: Jeffrey, River, Alex, Evelyn and Hatcher.
Oh, it hasn’t always been sweetness and light. We learned Bill suffered from PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder —because of his stint in Vietnam and the horrors he witnessed. We struggled for a good many years, but our children always tell us that they had a fantastic childhood. They are all successful adults, three as graduates of the University of Georgia and one from Georgia State University. We are so proud of them. They are good people.
Like many longtime couples, we have weathered everything that life has thrown at us. We have laughed together at the antics of our children and the antics of ourselves. We have grieved together at the loss of loved ones and held each other up in our grief. We have had each other’s backs and each other’s hands to hold onto. We have said things in anger we never meant to say, and we have said things in love we always meant to say. But through it all, the one constant is that we have had each other.
So here I am writing a column for the Calhoun Times once again after about five or six years. It feels right to be doing this. Coming here as a very young woman, fresh out of college, full of hopes and dreams, giddy with excitement, and ready to take on the world, my life has been a great adventure so far. It has certainly never been boring. People who know me know I don’t “do” boring. And besides, this wonderful little area in Northwest Georgia has become my forever home. I just didn’t know it back in ’69.
Oh, and one more thing. A lifetime dream of mine was to become a bonafide writer. Dreams do come true.
Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be reached at email@example.com.