I got a call Tuesday morning from Jeffrey Foster of McDonough. He explained to me he had written a short book entitled “Sandy Britches and Sandy Toes — My Jekyll Island Memories.”
Authors are always sending me books to review, some I read and most I toss aside and forget about. One I read excerpts from several years ago was “The Longest Walk” about a man who had traveled by foot from the tip of South America in Argentina all the way to Alaska, crossing the entire Americas. The writer, George Meegan, contacted me to let me know that during his walk he passed through south Georgia and he thought I would be interested in reading about his visit to the area. He sent me a copy of his book and, sure enough, he wrote that he spent several days in Plains but that was about it.
But back to Mr. Foster. He told me he had written in his book about his many trips as a child with his parents from Atlanta to Jekyll Island, passing through Hazlehurst on the way to the coast. He said he had mentioned things he remembers about Hazlehurst, including listening to WVOH Radio.
Now retired after more than 22 years of fighting fires, working EMS and teaching fire safety, he is still a first responder in the Atlanta area. And he and his wife continue to visit Jekyll Island on a regular basis, retracing the route he and his family have followed for more than 50 years.
Here is an excerpt of “Sandy Britches and Sandy Toes.”
“As a child, Hazlehurst didn’t have much to hold a child’s imagination but in later childhood and early teen years, it did. Mainly what captured my attention was their local radio station WVOH. I remember going through Hazlehurst after my parents divorced. I was twelve and with my mother driving, I would be trying to find a radio station. Anyone that’s been on a trip back in the 1960s thru the 80s, well before satellite radio came along then knows the pain of finding a good station with great music only to lose it a few miles later and then spend the next five or ten minutes trying to find another one. We found WVOH 93.5 on the dial one day passing through Hazlehurst early in the morning and they were telling the local news including the schools lunch menus and surprisingly the local schools absentee list of all students that day. I remarked to my mother, ‘I hope we never move here, I could never lay out of school without you finding out.’ She laughed and said smiling, ‘maybe we should move here.’ The also announced people’s birthdays and wedding anniversaries. The station had a host that had a very distinctive voice that announced local events and commercials. I liked the small town feel of the radio station. The station also carried national and world news through the USA radio network news organization which I later made it a habit of listening to on my computer at home. We later made Hazlehurst a regular stop in the morning because of a great restaurant called Courson’s Country Kitchen now called Papa’s Cabin. They had a great breakfast buffet with bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, grits, biscuits with gravy and the best sweet tea around. This place was always busy, especially during deer season. Leaving Hazlehurst, WVOH would soon fade out and the search was on for a new station.
“We would pass through other towns like Lumber city with their iconic turntable railroad bridge that spanned the Ocmulgee river and a motel that had the greenest pool I have ever seen. The pool wasn’t dirty, it was just painted that way. That place was always full.”
Mr. Foster’s book can be purchased on line if your interested.