Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hapeville: Hometown of Jeff Foxworthy, Chick-fil-A, and me!

When I was growing up the name of my town was often mis-heard by strangers. Did you say hateville, they would ask? No, it’s Hapeville, named after the Hape family. It was, and still is, a friendly small town tucked up against the Atlanta city limits

It was a mostly middle-class community, with our parents working at the air lines, which were just becoming a big industry, at the local Ford assembly plant, and at small businesses or larger businesses in the city (Atlanta).

We had three elementary schools and one high school. Middle schools had not been invented yet. We went to our elementary school from grades one through seven and then transitioned into the high school.

Our town wasn’t a perfect place to live; but it was a great place to call home. Church was a big part of our lives; we had a tiny branch of the Atlanta library; a town swimming pool; parks, and a recreation center. We received a solid education; we learned manners and morals and citizenship. We played outside without fear; and ate dinner as a family. In the Hapeville of my youth we enjoyed a sense of community; of belonging; of knowing personally our classmates and our neighbors.
Kathy B. Garrett, Jeff Foxworthy, Cathy S. Lipsett and Allan Lipsett
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy wasn’t in my class; he is a bit younger. Recently, however, while my Hapeville classmate and friend Kathy Bradford Garrett was visiting me, we went to the Six Flags for its 40th Anniversary. Jeff Foxworthy was on stage for this special celebration. Kathy and I had our picture taken with him after the show and told him we, too, were graduates of HHS. He was very down-to-earth and seemed to appreciate meeting fellow Hapeville grads. I must give a disclaimer as I refer to Foxworthy and Hapeville. He has become a success defining being a redneck. I know he couldn’t have learned this from his classmates or neighbors at HHS.

For an upcoming class reunion, our other local celebrity plays a role. We will dine on Chick-fil-A. The Dwarf House is one of those places of which every Hapeville person has special memories. If you have to ask, “what is the Dwarf House” you didn’t grow up in Hapeville. It was at this small eatery that Truett Cathy created his now famous Chick-fil-A recipe. Back then, the Dwarf House was just a wonderful family-owned gathering place with good food and friendly people. It’s the place we have to return to whenever we are anywhere near the Southside of town.

Hapeville, in many ways, is no longer the same community of my youth. The high school has become an elementary school; and the high school is now a consolidated one in a neighboring town; Eastern Air Lines, where my father worked, is no longer in existence; and the airport has moved to Clayton County. The Ford Plant has closed and there are rumors that the land will become a planned development.

Few of my classmates still live in the town anymore; many have moved to Fayette County or Henry or, like me, to Cobb. We are spread out throughout the country; but wherever we go, what ever become as adults, we are all the better from growing up in a small town called Hapeville.

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