Family Stories: Remembering the Families on Smoak Avenue

smoak ave map

Family Stories

Remembering the Families on

Smoak Avenue

Smoak Ave sign Piggly Wiggly

Smoak Avenue Post

smoak ave street

I moved to 1321 Smoak Avenue in Perry, Georgia with my parents when I was five years old… about 1957. We moved from Union Point, GA… when I had lived for the first five years of my life; Smoak Avenue would be home for about seven years… and was always a neighborhood alive with children.

Take a walk with me and my memories of Smoak Avenue…

1323: Jack W. Peavy: Let’s begin on my side of the street at the corner with Mr. Peavy and his daughter Jackie, who was about five years older than me. I never remember hearing my parents refer to him as Jack… it was always Mr. Peavy. I believe Jackie babysat me at times, but the memories are faint of that. What I do remember most about Jackie is how she teased me about my playhouse. It wasn’t more than a one-floor playhouse, but it was my hide-a-way up in the holly tree that sat on the line of our yards. She liked to tell me that it was her tree… and I’d run crying to my mother… telling her how Jackie said it was her tree. After one too many times… mama had had enough… she told me to go tell Jackie that if it was her tree… to dig it up and take it home. I’m sure I made a bee-line back out to tell her just that… and I think it finally ended the teasing! Catching up with Jackie on Facebook one day, we both mentioned the holly tree and she  laughed about how she’d often teased me about that tree!

1321 Smoak Ave

A recent photo of my house… it’s been sided and a new front door added… still looks like the same awnings we had. Seeing the tall trees still looming from the back yard… I’m assuming the tall pecan trees are still there. Mama tied a rope to her waist one day when she wanted to paint the trim on the outside of the window up top… she said the neighbors yelled to her that she was going to fall… but she painted that window!

1321: My home – The Bryan’s: My father had gotten a job at WRAFB in Warner Robins and bought our house on Smoak Avenue about 1957… we had been living in Union Point, Georgia… where I was born. Mama remembers that he bought the house before she even saw it… he began work on the base and lived there before moving us. It was a small two bedroom house, with a living room, dining room, small kitchen and an addition of a den, just off the kitchen. I still remember the kitchen table there… a small porcelain rectangular table, with drop down sides and drawers on both ends… which held the silverware. The kitchen window faced the street… great for mama to keep an eye on me. Not long after we moved in, mama bought me a chihuahua… supposedly they were good for children with asthma. My parents were Clayton and Helen Bryan… my mother worked at Perry Beauty Shop for Clara Dykes.

Besides a treehouse in my backyard, I also had a playhouse… which originally was just a large crate that daddy brought home from the base. Mama cut windows and doors and even made curtains… sadly no picture has ever surfaced; it sat under the back window of my bedroom. My windows faced the backyard and the side small area between our house and the Ogletree’s next door.

Just outside the back door of the den was a huge Ola Lilly that mama had brought from Union Point. There were two tall pecan trees in the backyard… we always had pecans. I’d climb and shake the tree limbs… helping them to fall. What I hated most about that backyard was how there always seemed to be “sandspurs” lurking there… and I always found them whenever I went barefoot, which was often; I never remember finding them anywhere else! Sandspurs are tiny pod-spurs of cactus hiding in the grass… and hurt like cactus spines!

Our chihuahua, Teddy Bear, thought the backyard only belonged to him… it was where he buried his bones, or one of mama’s leftover biscuits. I enjoyed teasing him and often dug them up as soon as he walked away; Teddy Bear usually only played that game a couple of times before chasing me… nipping at my heels. I also liked to tease him in the house as well, especially when he hid under the quilts at the end of the couch… he’d quickly chase me out of the den.

Riding bikes was very popular on Smoak Avenue for all the kids, and it was one of the first things I discovered when we moved there… discovering that they all rode bikes… but no one had training wheels like me! That was my first introduction into being laughed at, as I still rode a baby bike with training wheels. I did get revenge one day, as when they were riding and laughing at me, one of the girls, Pam Perkins, hit gravel and down she went… splitting her head open. It was my mother who picked her up and took her inside to patch her up. That was the end of the bullying over who could or couldn’t ride bikes. Mama took my training wheels off and within a few days of falling into every bush… I learned to ride that bike! They didn’t laugh anymore after that.

My mother interacted with all the neighborhood kids… even racing a few of the boys once… and beating them! She was Barbie’s seamstress to the girls… we’d go inside while she sewed and put our orders in…. returning later in the day for pickup. I still have two Barbie skirts she sewed, along with a couple of faux Barbie mink stoles.

Around the corner was the local tennis court, which was located in a small grass triangular park area; the high school tennis club often used it for practice, but in the summer it was our skating rink! I always loved to skate, and spent many mornings down there with my skate-key dangling around my neck.

1319: The Ogletree’s: Mrs. Joan Ogletree lived there with her daughters, Lisa and Julie, and son Bud… I think his name was Robert, but we only called him by his nickname. Lisa was my age, and Julie was a few years older. Out of all the kids on the street, I probably played with them the most…. maybe because they lived next door. My mother even babysat Bud for awhile until he was old  enough to go to school. It was often a problem when I came home from school and wanted a Coke… I’d have to spell it out so he wouldn’t know. He quickly learned what I spelled, and soon began yelling that he also wanted a COKE; having Bud in our house was like having a little brother. Bud liked to taunt me by standing in front of the TV set, waving his hands, so I couldn’t see… and of course I’d yell… mama would come and yell at both us us.

I remember how I loved to be invited for dinner at their house… as they never drink iced tea with their meals, they only drank Coke. There were always cases of Coke in the kitchen closet and I was so jealous of that. I liked the bottle tops, as there were prizes that were printed under the tops. As we very seldom had Cokes in our house, I’d bring a few bottle tops home from there when I ate dinner there. When mama found them in my room one day, she got really mad at me for taking them… telling me that I stole them… and making me return those bottle tops! A silly thing like that… I’ve never forgotten!

I loved those crazy Georgia rainstorms…. making it rain in one spot and not in the next, it was fun to run in and out of the rain from one yard to the other.

There was a wire fence that separated our backyards and in the summer we often camped out right alongside the fence together… until we all got scared and ran inside. Summers on Smoak Avenue was fun…. so many games played in my front yard… kick the can, mother may I, red rover, school games, Dairy Queen runs with everyone piled in my mothers back seat… no seat belts needed, and ghost stories told by my mother… as we all sat on quilts; mama often had to walk everyone home afterward.

Our yards there were filled with fireflies… or lightning bugs as I often called them. I remember gathering them in a jar and sitting them on the headboard of my bed to watch while falling asleep. I imagine my mother released them after I fell asleep!

We played a basketball type game called “horse” in their backyard… they had a hoop, I didn’t. The big Friday and Saturday night games for all the kids was “kick the can”… playing after dark so we had lots of hiding places. I never liked the dark, so I’m sure I scared myself in hiding, but I wasn’t going to be left out. I remember many times of running to kick that can!

1317: Rex Ivie: Funny how I remember the name, but can’t remember the people or even if they had children.

1315: L. C. Todd: I only remember one boy in this family, Terry Todd. He was a few years older than me, so he didn’t give us younger girls the time of day, but I remember watching him play basketball at Perry High School. High school basketball was very popular in Perry… and his class had the best players… they went to state championships almost every year; the basketball games were exciting, even my parents came.

1313: R. J. Perkins: Pam Perkins lived here with her parents, and I’m now told she had an older sister, but I don’t remember her. I vaguely remember playing Barbie with Pam, probably not often, as I don’t have strong memories of it.

1311: Unknown… possible empty lot

1309: Unknown… possible empty lot

1307: Unknown… possible empty lot


1305: Chas J. Norman: Found name listed in the 1963 Perry telephone book. I believe this might be the man who drove the Gordon’s potato chip truck that I remember always in his driveway. While I don’t remember any children, Jim remembers two children in this family… Joe was a year older than Jim… and there was a sister Jean, who was several years older. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

gordon chips man

Mr. Norman lived on my street!

1303: Unknown… possible empty lot

1301: C. I. Murray: They had a son and daughter a little older than us. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

Other Side of Street:

1322: The Kersey’s: They had two or three kids I think, but I don’t remember any of their names. I played Barbie with one of the girls, but what comes to mind most was the huge Mimosa tree in their front yard… with its beautiful cotton candy pink fluffy flowers. Besides climbing the tree, the most fun we had with it in the summer was gathering the green seed pods that hung from the flowers. We strung the seeds with a needle and thread … turning them into necklaces. Those green seeds were soft enough to string through, and later after drying, they turned into hard brown seeds… making the best necklaces. This was probably my first introduction into arts and crafts… and no one had to run to any craft store for supplies; my mother probably supplied us with needles and thread. One afternoon those little green seeds sent me to the Dr…. don’t ask me why but somehow I stuck a seed up my nose… I have no clue as to why I would have even thought of doing such a thing… maybe it was a dare!  I don’t remember when the Kersey’s moved here, as I didn’t find them listed in either the 1963/66 telephone book that I have of Perry. Imagine, I actually saved two old phone books  from all these years! In 1963, Delbert L. Holton lived at 1322, but they weren’t there in 1966. (Jim Beall told me their names were Billy and Ann, they were near our age… and there was also an older sister)

1320: The Lampley’s: Fred and Mary Lampley lived directly across the street from us, along with their son, Freddie boy… as he was called by everyone. Freddie was about ten years older than us and all the girls liked to hang around him. I remember him having a few animals he kept as pets and I think one was a snake; we were always inquisitive about them. Miss Mary… mama always made me address adults as Miss or Mr., I could never just call them by their first name… it was rude. Mama and Miss Mary became good friends from the very first of us moving there, she’d often walk over and sit on the stoop with mama. My first experience meeting Miss Mary was when I just walked into her house, without being asked in… I think I wondered in looking for Freddie boy… she promptly told me to never do that again and to knock next time. Another instance I remember was when she had brought over a jar of cream to my mother and I wanted to smell it… she somewhat stuck my nose in it… I guess she was telling me not to be so curious.

Miss Mary and Mr. Fred had a summer cottage at Alligator Point, Florida;  we went a few times with them to spend the week. I always thought for sure that I’d see alligators walking around there, because of its name, but I never saw any. The beach behind their cottage wasn’t a beach for swimming, but it was the best beach for seashells that I ever saw. Mama and I picked up buckets of shells and the prettiest white sand dollars… I’ve never found them again on any beach. I guess daddy and Mr. Fred went fishing there as he never came with us to the beach; fishing was his thing. I found out later that Alligator Point was so named because of an aerial shot… the point is shaped as an alligator.

1318: Carl W. Grant Jr.: I didn’t remember the name of this couple until Jim Beall reminded me… they were older with no children that I remember, but I do remember them having a small pekingese dog. The kids always wanted to pet it but they’d tell us to not pet it on the head as the eyes might pop out. I guess we believed it… as I was always afraid to actually pet it. Well that’s one way to keep kids from petting your dog! (Jim remembers them having a boy named Mike, a few years older than us.)

1316: J. M. Hamilton Jr: I’m only reminded of this family by Jim… they had one boy, Jimmy, one year older than me. Several families lived here for awhile, but I remember the Hamilton’s there. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1314: Jack Davis: Another family I didn’t remember, but am told by Jim Beall that their names were Paul (1 year older then us), James (3 years older), and Helen (6 years older).

1312: B. E. Dennard: I don’t remember much about this family except for one boy, David, who lived there. He might have had another brother, but I don’t remember anything about his parents. He rode bikes with us all the time and that was the biggest summer thing that all the kids did together. We had a big group of bike riders… riding up and down the street… often we even tied ropes to our handlebars… pretending our bikes were horses; we even took playing cards and clipped them to the spokes to make noise. Our street crested at the top of a somewhat hill heading down toward Hwy 41. If we felt like riding back up, we’d coast down for a nice breezy ride. (With Jim Beall’s help, he reminds me that there was also a brother named PeeWee and an older sister Pam.)

1310: The Bealls: Tom and Polly Beall lived here with three children, Priscilla, Tom and James (Jim)… and for the life of me, I don’t remember James “Jim” Beall when he lived there, but he must have played with us… as he remembered me. I guess us girls played together more. He seemed to have not been in any of my school classes or surely I would have remembered him from school. We hooked up on Facebook and have exchanged many Smoak Avenue memories.

Smoak Ave pic3

Mrs. Beall at the top of the street… photo looking down toward my side of the street. I can see my house in this photo. The neighborhood was still new here… notice no tall trees like today. (Photo courtesy of Jim Beall)

snowman on Smoak2

Snow arriving on Smoak Ave. about 1954… a few years before we moved there. I can just about see the chimney at my house of 1321 Smoak Avenue in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Beall)

1308: C. Boterweg: Two girls, Connie, and Ann… both girls older than me. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1306: J. W. Jacobs: Clint Jacob’s grandmother. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1304: Jeff Roper: Beverly Roper was near our age… several brothers and sisters. (Remembered by Jim Beall) I remember a Beverly Roper, but she wasn’t in my grade, maybe a grade up.

1302: G. T. Pierce Jr: Name listed from Perry 1963 telephone book.

1300: E. H. Odom: Sharon was a bit older than Jim and I. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

Smoak Avenue was a fun place for a child to grow up… it was a time when children played outside with no worries of anyone bothering you. All the parents looked out for all the kids… and quickly disciplined you if you needed it. No one contacted that parent if they had disciplined their child… it was just the way it was… it was growing up in good times. We played outside… all day! We played until supper… then played again until dusk… often playing until we were finally called in for the night!


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About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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