Home Sweet Home.
I was raised until I was about twelve years old east of Chatsworth, GA, very close to Fort Mountain. We lived in an overcrowded cabin-like house that could get really cold during the winter nights. Owing to so much clamor and disorganization at home among my siblings, with nieces and nephews thrown in at times, I only wanted to be somewhere else.
My dad always worked, but was seldom there on weekends. He drank most of the time he wasn't working. I will comment more about him later own.
My mother was a very nervous woman who would not discipline any of us, leaving us to run havoc on the place. When. someone would come to our house and knock on the door, she would often scream out of fear of bad news and run to the back room. This could be partly understood since she did have two sons serving in the Military during war. There was an incident in the yard that should have caused her similar fear, but it didnt: Dad had hired two men to dig a well near the house. One day one of the men brought the other in front of our porch holding a knife to his throat. Instead of being frightened, and running to the back room, my mother thought it was funny, and laughed. I don't remember any bloodshed as a result of it. The man yielding the knife that day would later be on the receiving end of a knife by a young man he was beating on the ground. The young man would later be killed in a cave-in in the talc mine on Fort Mountain.
My friend Zach almost ended his days climbing a vertical cliff on Fort Mountain.
Zach (not his real name) was an older boy that I grew up with and look up to. We did lots of things like fishing, swimming and killing songbirds with flips (slingshots). When he reached puberty, his interests were elsewhere. From that time on I only saw him occasionally.
One day Zach came up to me in town where I stayed mostly as a run-away boy, and told me that he and his friend were going to climb Fort Mountain. He invited me to go with them. Being younger, and looking up to them as older boys, I went with them with an empty stomach (as usual). We made our way from Chatsworth to the base of the mountain. From there we worked our way up to the last third of the mountain , and started climbing up a precipice that is nearly straight up. Zach was climbing on a different area of the cliff that offered little to hold onto. He yelled, help! help! I looked over at him and saw that he was holding on a very small pine sapling that looked like it was going to break or pull out of the rocky side of the cliff. I suppose it wasn't Zach's time because somehow he managed to stay attached to the cliff, and made it on to the top.
After we reached the top of the mountain, we rested a few minutes, then started our trek back down the mountain a different route away from the cliffs. On the way down we passed several camping sites. I can still remember the smell of chicken and steaks being cooked on the grills as we made our way by them and on down the mountain. With hunger pangs, and near exhaustion, that was hard to endure.
Years later after I had retired from the Navy, I took a church group of boys up that same mountain - in February. It was so cold that it was all we could do to get a fire started about half way up the mountain. We took a slightly different way up the cliffs, working ourselves around and under icicles as long as twenty feet. Somehow we made it to the top with all the boys intact. Looking back on that outing, I surely must have been somewhere near insane to attempt a trip up the mountain in such weather conditions.