Friday, March 21, 2008

There are Haunted Houses on Ponce de Leon Avenue

Well, I suppose I'm fixing to tell my age, but I guess since I've written about my grown children on this blog its pretty obvious that I've gotten past 30 now. Just a little over.

The thing is I've been doing some computer work this evening. While I've been sitting here at the computer the television has been on. There was the movie The Doors, which I've seen several times but still like. Right after that there was a documentary about Janis Joplin. I've seen that before too, but watched it again anyway while I was working on the computer.

Jim MorrisonI don't know why, but something about that made me think of the haunted houses on Ponce de Leon Avenue. Isn't that strange? I've seen the shows before and never thought about Ponce de Leon in connection with them. There was something about Janis Joplin AND Jim Morrison that made me think of those houses. I haven't thought of them in years and all of the sudden I found myself looking up the houses on the computer to see if they had been fixed up or torn down or who knows what. It IS Atlanta after all so there's no telling if something that is there today will still be there tomorrow.

You probably are wondering what any of those things has to do with the other. Well, you see, I grew up in Little Five Points in Atlanta during some turbulent years. I've been back there a few times since I've left and the neighborhood isn't even recognizable to me now. Its turned into a haven for upwardly mobile, free minded, inner city professional types. It wasn't like that when I lived there. Back then, it was an area in transition (how's that for a nice way to put it! lol). The homes were beautiful and at one time had been grand, but it went through a period of .... like I said ... transition. Now the homes have been restored and rebuilt. The shops are open again selling all sorts of new age mystic gobbly gook. You can buy whatever organic foods you want and crystals and candles to ward away any evil spirits that might come your way. Its very che-che these days. Or at least was the last time I was there.

But back when it was an adventure of an entirely different sort. Tonight the music of The Doors and Janis Joplin took me back, in my mind's eye, to what us teenaged kids thought were haunted houses on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Janis JoplinThere was a row of grand homes along one stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue. We called them mansions. They had once been the homes of the well - to - do, but during those years they were abandoned. I don't know why. One of the adventures we had as teenagers was to drive up the long driveways to those houses and gather up our nerve to go into and explore through them. There were all sorts of nooks and crannies. I remember one chair sat in the middle of a large front room in one of the houses. The story was that the previous owner of the home sat in that chair guarding the houses from kids like us who trespassed just for the fun of it. That was creepy. Of course there were the requisite rats nests in corners, garbage strewn around, leaves blown in, spider webs and creaking doors.

Moonies had taken over one of the houses. We walked in on them one day. The house was kept up better than the others, but we didn't know the moonies had moved in. They invited us in, of course, and offered us food they had fed their gods who had regurgitated it back up so that it was pure and blessed and ready to eat. I passed on that. They gave us some sort of moonie blessing and we left. We bypassed that house in our adventures after that.

I see on the internet that the old houses have been renovated for the most part. It looks like they've been subdivided into apartments. I'm sure that property is much too valuable to leave uninhabited as it was in those few years.

You know how a smell or a song will remind you of a place and time? I think that's what happened. I'm betting that at some point in our travels throughout Atlanta in my ever present Volkswagon bug full of my ever present teenaged friends we were listening to those songs on the radio while we dared each other to go into those houses and scared each other with spooky stories and strange sounds. And so, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart suddenly transported me back to the memory of places and times from my distant past.