My life changes!!

We returned to Georgia in 1967 and soon after bought the mill started spending lots of time and energy there. In 1970 we bought this house, which had been rented for years, and needed work. ( Spent three years on it- actually, it's a work in progress even now.)
We also got more into collecting old things. Jim started with old wood-working tools. (He grew up the son, and mill hand, of a saw-milling family.) I got involved, and soon we had at least six of everything and needed to sell some of it!! We started going to outdoor festivals and setting up a table and having lots of fun. We added quilts and baskets, etc.
At this point I was a stay-at-home mom, active as a Sunday school superintendent, member of a book club, doing quite a bit of entertaining as a professor's wife And , of course, the house and mill were always needing attention. I was having the normal challenges, ego and otherwise, of being the mother of teen-agers!! Life was full, and good, and predictable, I guess.

Then my life changed --- slowly, but BIG TIME!!

In 1975, two young men with long hair and nice degrees from North Carolina and Notre Dame decided to start a flea market in an old factory building in downtown Athens.
I was tired of hauling heavy iron tools to festivals, and rented a small space in which to sell my "authentic American artifacts" .

End of "dull" life!!!

Soon I was good friends with Al and John and having a great time at the Athens Flea Market -hereinafter known as AFM!!
We had lots of really neat items for sale in various booths, and business was good. Some of our wares included vintage clothing, jeans, tools, antiques, used furniture, hand-tooled leather, plants, used books, pottery and art from various local artists, even a sandwich shop called The Loose Goose!!! Over the years the shops varied, but they were always full of interesting stuff and staffed by really neat people.

CANTRELL'S COUNTRY CORNER -- 1976

UPGRADE IN 1979

Vernon helping me put real windows and a door on my new space.

A LATER VIEW

Here's my "shop" and part of the AFM floor in l985

AND THEN ------- SPARKY'S IS BORN!!

In l976, John, Al, and Pam, aka Sparky, decided to open a seafood restaurant in one corner of the AFM building. That turned out to be a really good idea!! The food was good -- hand prepared and fresh - done Savannah style - the place was a big hit immediately.

Two of Sparky's chefs - 1981

OTIS AND ???

The kitchen on a really busy night in 1989

KEVIN AND SHANNON

Sparky's grew rapidly. From a small area in the corner of the building, it grew to include more seating and a bar. We closed in August several years in a row, so as to build more rooms!! Pam left to work on a ship off the Keys, diving for Spanish gold , and Ed came in to endure the joys and sorrows of co-owning a busy restaurant. (I need a photo of him, somebody out there!!) He "done good", too.

A view of the bar

Randy and Al

Shuckin' on oyster night

Jerry and Tim

I watched Sparky's being "born", and was soon helping out. Somehow I evolved into the lunch hostess. The title of "den mother" was added somewhere along the way. The young people with whom I worked all ended up being like family, and my years with them were very special to me.

Part of the crew in l987

Sparky's came into being at a special time in the history of Athens and music, and the creative people of Athens made Sparky's and AFM one of their gathering places. And their work place, as well-- so many of the cooks and waits were musicians and artists -- the whole place was alive with creative energy. The B-52s were around, REM was around - Randall Bramblet, just to name the most famous. -- If I tried to list every name this thing would REALLY be too long.
I will throw out a few venue names, just to shake some memories out there: The Chameleon, Tyrone's OC, Rockfish Palace, Forty Watt -- (send me more??!!)
And I won't try to list all the famous people who played on Sparky's little stage, with its baby grand piano.
The famous came to eat, also. We put their photos on our bar wall -- but I don't have any to post here, nor will I try to list them all.

OUR HALLOWE'EN PARTIES WERE AWESOME!!

Leif Thonnessen and me-1977

Another Hallowe'en shot

Do you know these people??

And one more -- what fun!!

A FAMILIAR SIGHT

Workin' ???

I spent lots of fun years working at Sparky's and running my little antique shop.
Sometimes I did this kind of work, too.

AND A GOOD THING MUST END

in 1989 "progress" reared its ugly head, and the building was sold and razed to make room for the Athens Civic Center.
We had one final reunion party before closing the restaurant, as well as the entire AFM.

SOME SHOTS TAKEN AT THE LAST PARTY IN THE BUILDING

   

OUR ANNUAL REUNIONS

As I mentioned, all of us, through all those years, were like family. Each year since Sparky's closed we have had a reunion of everyone who ever worked there. We get together here at our house in early December. Attendance varies from year to year, depending on who can get away to be here. There is always a crowd. We have wives and husbands and children now, of course . (Some of the couples met while working at Sparky's) It's always good to see them all.

A FEW SHOTS AT VARIOUS REUNIONS

      

Al opened a restaurant called Pearls, and several of us moved with him. When that was over, I worked as lunch hostess at Lulu's, a place with great vegetarian food., again, with friends from Sparky's. Then a misguided time at Wishbone's --
Finally I quit the hostess thing, and I still miss it a lot!!
As I said, I moved my little antique business, much smaller, to the space in Madison.

Thus ended an era in my life:

AND NOW, BACK TO THE PRESENT

PAGE THREE ------


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