The Main Building

This article was written by a former resident, Zimmie Irwin Goings. Mrs. Goings lived at The Home in the 1940’s and gives us a glimpse into days gone by and a building that no longer exists on our campus. In honor of Alumni Homecoming Day, I hope you enjoy a little piece of history.

Zimmie on the front steps as a teenager.

Zimmie on the front steps as a teenager.

by Zimmie Irwin Goings

It is sad that … because of its age and all that it gave of itself to so many children … it exists no more.  It was built in the 1800’s: a tall, three-story brick building with large white columns on its expansive front porch … an outdoor haven from the rain … a place for evening games … with wide brick stairs where we could play “May I,” “Thimble, Thimble,” that went down to the sidewalk where we jumped rope … stitch-starched until we were dizzy … a porch that fronted onto lawns with oak trees large enough to offer secret places for “hide ‘n seek” … or all about them to catch lightning bugs in our hands on warm Georgia summer nights … it saw many children come and go … lives formed … and oh, I’m sure those old walls could have told a myriad of stories.

Indeed, that is where we played many outside games on summer nights … enjoyed a large evergreen out on the lawn close to the Main Building, which was decorated with lights at Christmas for all to see … It was in that wonderful old house that we looked forward to decorating our Christmas tree in the long living room that covered the whole width of the rear of the main floor … where we also looked forward to the day after Thanksgiving when we would huddle around the radio … and yes, I say “radio” … and wait for “Santa Claus” to come … listen to his sleigh bells announcing Christmas … where we also huddled around the same large radio together in the dark and listened to “Inner Sanctum Mystery,” and “The Shadow” and wondered which of us was the most scared.  With radio, you know, imagination could and did play a large role.

It was there that we played board games on Saturday … where in my beginnings at least there were two bedrooms on that floor with eight little white iron beds in each room, lined up side by side … whose mattresses we dared not jump on, but did … whose slumbering little occupants were awakened in the mornings to the banging of radiators and the sound of a bell … not an alarm clock but a large gonging bell pulled by a rope.  And … all before day came.

On Christmas Eve we used to climb on top of the wardrobes in the bedrooms and peek through the transom above the door and wait for Santa Claus to come.  The “big boys” came with gifts to put beneath the tree in the living room, and someone looked like Santa Claus to our young eyes.  I guess we were on the borderline of wondering if it were truly Santa Claus or if it was the “superintendent’s” son … dressed like Santa Claus.  Christmas was large to us because we didn’t have it every day … And one can never underestimate what it means to small children.

On the front door level of the Main Building was a playroom where we were allowed to go on rainy days and some other days to play with our dolls or whatever toys we were fortunate enough to have … always under the watchful eye of our matron, “Miss Lillian.”  In another adjoining room, some of us learned to dance “the Minuet,” taught by someone from Wesleyan Conservatory.  As a matter of fact, we were allowed to dance The Minuet with little boys.  Again, I say, boys!  A little boy named Bobby Clark … with blond hair and blue eyes and freckles across his nose … much like my very own … dressed in a powder blue suit … was my dancing partner.  We were probably seven or eight years old.  We could have been brother and sister to one who didn’t know that we were merely brother and sister of consequence … and spirit.

We learned to sing as a glee club in that room.  We were privileged to welcome the advent of television in that room … black and white television … and were allowed to watch it on Sunday nights … Sunday nights only.

In the meantime upstairs in the wonderful living room sat the old radio where we’d listened so often to “Inner-Sanctum Mystery,” “The Shadow,” and waited to hear the jingling bells of Santa Claus.

Yes, it was different then.   And our memories come from a day that was different in many ways from the today we know.  And we are made better in various and sundry ways because of that time.

– First published in the 2008 Christmas Gateway


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