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11-18-05 “You Can Go Home Again”- Memories of Bogart and Rural Oconee

JACK HOGAN About Bogart of the 40’s-50’s: We Bogartians took our religion very seriously. In Bogart, as with many other Southern towns, there were three very important community houses: the churches, schools, and country stores……

     …..Sunday school was scheduled for 10:00 A.M. and Worship Service at 11:00 A.M. We got out at 12:00 A.M. and could go home to fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, onions, corn bread, and banana pudding (we never ate out)…..



November 15, 2005


Going Home in Memories


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


As we age, we tend to look back on our memory bank and remember things that were very important in our lives even though they did not seem so at the time.


I grew up on the “outskirts” of Watkinsville during the era that Jack Hogan describes in his November 8, 2005 article on Bogart.   Many of his experiences and memories are similar to many of us growing up in that era.  It was an era that was Post WWII and before the Anti-War Culture that developed in the 60’s and forever changed the landscape in America.


Jack’s father, Rev. B. C. Hogan, was a friend.  He was an Institution in Bogart and Oconee County.   I sat on that front porch with him on several occasions in my political career.  I treasured his counsel and friendship.


Jack’s article, “I Can Go Home Anytime” is very poignant and reminds us of a time when we were innocent and most of us appreciated God, Family and Country.  Many of us miss those days very much.


From a Former Resident of Bogart


November 8, 2005




By Jack Hogan (BOHS Class of 54)


About seven years ago, Margaret and I moved to Sequatchie Valley, way out in the country, 45 miles from our previous home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I have learned a lot about small engines, tractors, and general maintenance and upkeep of things that run on gasoline or diesel fuel. But more importantly, I have been reminded many times about old-fashion country living that I knew during my younger days in Bogart, Georgia. Although that small community was incorporated, living in Bogart was much like living in the country. After all, we had cotton and corn fields, pig pens, barns, milk cows, pecan orchards, and such like inside the town limits. At that time in the early 1950’s, there were only 350 people in the town limits, and only about 7,000 people in the entire county.


In Bogart, we had a unique life of the rural southern style immediately following the Great Depression Era which lasted for the decade of the 1930’s. In the small southern communities, we also felt some of the depression during and after World War II. Those were good old days when people enjoyed people and had time to visit and cultivate genuine friendships. Those were the days when houses had front porches with rockers and swings in which we actually sat and rocked or swung and talked and dreamed. That’s probably the reason we built a large front porch with a swing at each end plus six rocking chairs when we built our home here in the country. I love front and back porches.


Perhaps the front porch was one of my favorite places in my youth. It covered about two-thirds of the front of the house. As with most houses in those days, it wasn’t insulated, so the house was very hot in the summer. As a result, we often sat on the front porch. The porch was large enough to accommodate the whole family at the same time. So many memories go back to that front porch. It was there that we sat on hot, dry summer days and watched for people who would drive by or people who turned off Church Street onto Elder Street.


 Hogan House in Bogart in 40’s & 50’s –Still standing in 2005




B. C. Hogan, Father of Jack Hogan

See OconeeTeachers.Com




All the roads in town were dirt. And, sometimes the front porch was our playground when it was too muddy or too cold to play elsewhere. I bounced a round ball many hours on the front porch. Those were the days before television and the front porch was used year round. Besides having no television, we had only the air-conditioning provided by the two large oak trees on each side of the house. A lot of nights after supper, the entire family would sit on the front porch and talk. The day was done, the moon and stars were brilliant, and the noises of the night critters and dogs barking in the distance were peaceful sounds. In the summer time, there were “lightening bugs” to catch in a fruit jar and kick-the-can to play.


Over the years, I have been to many states and large cities. I have lived in several places in Tennessee and in the military service. All of them were air-conditioned, but only one had a front porch. In the cities, the stars and moon are not so bright. The night noises are not as peaceful as the call of the whippoorwill. If there had been porches, who would have sat and talked when televisions were seducing them inside? And I must admit that I too have been spoiled by air-conditioning. Perhaps porches aren’t needed anymore. Perhaps it is the stresses of our faster-paced life that draw me nostalgically back to the front porch and the carefree days of youth when family ties were stronger and the front porch was a place where we gathered so many times to be together. Dad and Mom have been gone for some years now, but I can still picture them sitting in the swing, glider or rocker talking and thinking quietly.  I hope that heaven has a front porch and lots of rocking chairs. I’m sure it does. I’ll just look ahead and say to the star-studded sky, “Hey, y’all, save me a chair up there.”


Once while rocking on our front porch here in the country and thinking about the old days in Bogart, I thought of my first grade reader. And, I concluded that most people are still studying that same little book in which Dick, Jane, Spot, and everybody else seem to be running! Perhaps the slow pace of country living that we once knew exists only in memory.


I admit there were times during my school days when I thought about running away. Of course, at some point every little normal boy thinks about running away from home. As a matter of fact, when I was six years old in the second grade, I packed my little black suitcase and headed for the train depot in downtown Bogart. Mrs. Hoyt Watson saw me carrying the suitcase as I was walking pass her house. She hollowed, “Jack, where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to catch the train to Tennessee!” Mrs. Watson immediately caught up with me, grabbed my hand, and led me back up the road to our house. Mom was waiting on the porch with a big smile on her face. Mrs. Watson has long passed from this old world, but I am sure she knows that I finally made it to Tennessee.


At times I longed to escape to the excitement of bigger places, and now, in retrospect I often long to return to my home town and the way of life I knew while growing up. And I confess in my mind I frequently return to Bogart (as I am doing now) sitting on the front porch in the swing or rocker, listening to the piercing cry of the whippoorwill coming from the woods below the grave yard behind the church building, the constant chatter of the katydids, the occasional barking of dogs throughout the town, and the train whistle as it rolled along the Southern Seaboard through Bogart. It’s almost like I am reliving parts of my lifetime experiences that my children and grandchildren will know when they read my writings years after I’m gone. As an unknown author once wrote:


When I was a little boy

My days and hours were filled with joy.

                  My friends were blithe and kind.

No wonder that I sometimes sigh

                  And dash a teardrop from my eye

And cast a look behind.


In retrospect, and ironically we were rich in our way of life in Bogart. Rich in time, rich in faith, rich in being neighbors, rich in kindness, and rich in loving people instead of material things. I am grateful to God and to all the people who were, who are, and who will always be a vital part of my life.


There is one big difference that I have noticed since moving to the mountains of Tennessee. I have noticed there are differences in southern speech, pronunciations, idioms, and expressions from those that I knew growing up in Bogart or in Chattanooga where I lived for 36 years. Of course the differences do not cast any reflections on people here in the valley. I have too much love for them to disparage the way they talk. On the other hand, I learned in college and military service that we Bogartians may also “talk funny” to some people.


“Ya’ll come back ye hear”! To most people, they would immediately come back into the house and want to know what the people wanted. In Bogart, as well as the other rural south, the invitation to “ya’ll come back” referred to a future visit and not an immediate return.


Here in Bledsoe County, Tennessee, people have a unique way of making sure the “you” is understood as a singular or plural by saying “Uins” (pronounced with a long “U” followed by an “ins”).  Someone who just bought a cow might hear this from a visitor, “Uins got chew a new cow ain’t uins?” “Clum” is used instead of climb. “Hep” is used in place of “help”. Why? Because, you probably can get in two heps in the time it would have taken to shout one help. The word “wire” is pronounced “war”. A country boy might buy a roll of “war”. Another economized word is “bob” for “barb”. A man might have a “bob war fence” around the farm.


“It” is made emphatic by adding the “h” sound. One might ask “Is that Uuins cow?” The reply would be “hit shore is”. The difference in “whoop” and “whip” is the difference in the city and the country.  The word “enough” is “nuff”. Also, “isn’t it” is “id-n-it”. And, “was it not” is “wud-n-it”.”Carry” is “tote”, and “sure” is “shore”, and “windows” become “winders”. I could go on and on.  Of course, when Southerners talk, it’s as if we have our mouth full of mush. We generally look for shorter ways and less time to communicate or say something.  Guess that’s the reason Southerners wrote their own dictionary. I am also reminded of the South Georgia way of talking. “Ye-eatyet?” Pronounced as one word, it simply means, “Have you eaten yet?”  Additionally, “yuonto?” means “Do you want to?” All good southerners pronouce "Wash" as "warsh".


We Bogartians took our religion very seriously. In Bogart, as with many other Southern towns, there were three very important community houses: the churches, schools, and country stores. To get a picture of the Church of Christ in Bogart where I attended, one needs to visualize a plain one-room wooden white building about 70 feet long and 30 feet wide with double-doors in the front and four windows on each side. Inside this building were home made wooden pews, a wood/coal stove, and a raised platform for the pulpit. A large steeple was built on the right side of the roof. As a matter of fact, it was originally built as a Presbyterian Church about 1890-95 and purchased by the Church of Christ in 1925.


The struggles of life could be met with greater determinism when the congregation sang

praises to God and to one another. “When We All Get To Heaven” gave us hope of the future. “Blessed Assurance” added strength to our faith. Of course, we lived in an area known as “The Bible Belt”.  People in Bogart were not ashamed of their Bibles. They read them. Preachers preached from the Bible.


We probably didn’t have a lot of “scholarship” in handling the scriptures. However, we were very confident that we indeed had access to the very word of God. Some people from other parts of the United States seem to think that country folks were not as intelligent or as sophisticated, but this didn’t cause us to be ashamed of our God and His Holy Word.


At Bogart, the Church of Christ emphasized regular Sunday School and Sunday Worship Service. Gospel meetings were held each third week in July. Then there was Wednesday Evening Prayer Meeting or Wednesday Evening Bible Study. Sunday was kept much the same way the ancient Jewish Sabbath was observed: all work ceased and people “went to church”. Anyone in Bogart who had the audacity to plow or engage in any other field labor would have been looked upon as a heathen. The livestock could be watered and fed; water drawn from the well; fires could be built in the winter and in emergencies wood could be cut, but generally, work ceased. All of the stores were closed on Sundays.  


Sunday school was scheduled for 10:00 A.M. and Worship Service at 11:00 A.M. We got out at 12:00 A.M. and could go home to fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, onions, corn bread, and banana pudding (we never ate out). After dinner, we would have a long afternoon to play. Games on Sunday afternoons would consist of shooting basketball on the homemade backboard and goal hanging on the tree beside the church building or tossing the football or baseball. It was all right to play on Sunday, but no work! During the summer, many of the small towns had amateur baseball teams; Bogart was no exception. The Patat boys, Gene and Buck, and Judy Bell were excellent baseball players, probably comparable to Single A Minor League today. Sometimes Dad would let me go to the school grounds to watch a game and sometimes he wouldn’t. Swimming or fishing on Sundays was also frowned on by some folks. Reputation and perception were very important in those days, especially for preacher boys.


Church also had a very significant social impact on the town and for those who lived on “farms” outside the community. Men would gather early on the church porch to stand around and talk about their crops, people who were sick, politics, and other problems. The women would go inside the building and talk about their children, canning, clothes, and community problems.


Church began at 10:00 A.M. Following two songs, scripture reading, and prayer, it would be time for classes. Since there were no classrooms, all the classes met in the auditorium. The younger boys and girls and teenagers would go to the back corner of the auditorium. The adult class would be up front and the younger children would meet in another corner, and so on. If your class finished before the other classes, you were expected to sit quietly and listen.


After Sunday school, there would be a ten minute break for fellowship before Worship Service hour. Following the singing of four hymns and prayer, the preacher, B.C. Hogan (my Dad) would then present a lesson (sermon) that lasted for 25 to 35 minutes. (I probably logged about 3,000 hours of listening to sermons that Dad presented over the years). Afterward, the Lord’s Supper, often called the communion, would be served to the congregation. Next, two baskets were passed and people gave nickels, dimes, quarters, and half-dollars. Occasionally someone would give a dollar or even more. In those early days, people had very little to give. The service ended with a song and a prayer. The closing prayer was followed by more visiting until people slowly got in their cars and went home, and most returned for evening worship at 6:00 P.M.


Another indication of the seriousness with which the Bogart folks took their religion was the annual Gospel Meeting. sometimes called “Revival”. The Church of Christ always scheduled the beginning of their Gospel Meeting on the third Sunday in July of each year. The Baptist, Christian, and Methodist churches would not schedule their gospel meeting or any special activity during the third week of July because they didn’t want such to conflict with the Church of Christ meeting. And, the Church of Christ would not schedule any special activity during those times when other churches in town normally planned their meetings.


The Saturday before the meeting started on the third Sunday in July, many of the church members would come to the church building with brush brooms, rakes, hoes, and other tools. They stayed the whole day sweeping the yard around the house and church building, raking and hoeing the grave yard. Additionally, they gave the inside of the church building a good cleaning


On the first Sunday of the meeting, there would be a “dinner on the grounds”. The Bogart Church of Christ had several crude tables about six-feet long made from 1”x 4” boards  placed on top of  “saw horses”.  The tables were placed under the huge oak tree between the preacher’s house and the church building. All of the families brought baskets or boxes of food, and spread the food on the benches. There would be plates of chicken, hash, fried country salt-cured ham, beef, and all types of beans, potatoes, corn bread and biscuits, and good old delicious soggie peppered tomatoe sandwiches made with “light

bread” and mayonnaise.


One part of the tables would offer a wide variety of desserts: chocolate pie, fried apple and peach pies, cakes of all kinds. Hershel Hollis always brought a wash tub, an ice pick, and about 25 - 50 pounds of ice. He carefully chipped the ice in the tub and poured in all the tea that the ladies brought. He then put a dipper in the tub for dipping the tea into glasses. This was another spectacular event that I witnessed. Awesome! There was absolutely nothing like it in the whole wide world! I sinned a lot on those Sundays by simply over eating!


Since there were very few motels or hotels in those days, except for a couple in Athens, the preacher stayed in someone’s home during the gospel meeting. Generally, he would stay at either Hershel Hollis’ house or Lawrence Hollis’ house out in the country. He would be given the best bed and he would be fed …. too much. Families in the congregation would sign up for the days for the visiting preacher to have dinner with them.


During the July revival services, it was very hot and humid, especially when the church building was crowded. The only breeze occasionally came through the windows from the large oak tree near the building. The sweat would creep down our necks and the preacher’s handkerchief would be in his hand wiping the sweat from his forehead. The older and younger folks would find relief from the hot weather by using the hand-held fans that were always in the song book racks. The fans were donated by the Athens and Winder funeral homes. Generally, they would have a picture of a young child or a funeral home building on one side with the address and other information on the other side. I marveled as the people worked their fans, especially the older folks, in an attempt to bring cooler air. Sometimes I was entertained by watching and analyzing the techniques and skills that some people displayed as they waved the fans back and forth.


And, who could ever forget Easter Sunday. Easter was the Sunday many of the ladies showed off their entire family. We all wore our finery. Mom had a new blue straw hat and looked like she had just stepped out of a magazine. I sat close to the back on those Sundays so I would have a good view of everyone’s outfit. For a young teenager, it was like one gigantic fashion show. Even the men’s hair and shoes seem to shine brighter.


I will never forget the time that we were singing “The Old Rugged Cross”. Part of that song goes, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross”. Well, Donald Dial, a couple of years older than me, also loved that old song. However, one time when we were singing it (I don’t know what he was thinking or what in the world came over him), he inadvertently inserted the words “One a hill far away stood an old Chevrolet”! Donald delivered the word Chevrolet very loudly and very distinctly. Everyone turned around and looked, the song leader lost his place, steam came from the top of Dad’s head, some of the older ladies had frightening and threatening looks on their faces, and no doubt Donald received a good lashing when he got home.


Some of the people that I remember attending services at the Bogart Church of Christ on a regular basis during my younger days were: Lawrence Hollis, who generally led the singing, and his wife Hazel, Hershel and Rosa Lee Hollis, John and Mabel Holland, Euraneous and Frances McLocklin, Ann Power, Buck and Flossie Dial, Escus Hardigree, Jim and Stella Dial, Adell Crowe, Carol-Elizabeth-Jimmy-Sandy Luke, Annie Reed Casper, Uldene Ensley, Harley (Hoppy) and Johnnie (Patton) Cassidy, Terrell and Brenda Luke, Willie and Dorothy Luke, Randall-Debbie-Sarah-Laura Arnold, Donald and Louise Dial, Tom and Caroline Evans, Charles (Bud) and Eloise (Sims) Wright, Billy and Barbara Norris, Howard and Jean Pitts, Judson Malcolm, Myrtle Baker, George and Ruby Cartee, Dan and Doris Hardy, B.C.-Jessie-Jack-Donald-Larry Hogan, Annie Lou Kitchens, Norris-Ann-Jody-Scott-Laurie Vickery, Eddie McLocklin, Doris (Wright) McLocklin, and other families i.e., Nunnally, Pattons, Cheeley, Audrey, Mercer. Several families from Athens attended, namely Crompton, Bray, Manus, Callaway and others who escape me at the moment.


I once read this observation, “You can never go home again”. That is certainly true. The community changes. Changes in Bogart and Oconee County have been very rapid over the past 30 years. However, every time I write like this, I go home. Sometimes I want to sing, “I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten”. Yes, I often go home again. When the burdens of life weigh heavy on my soul, I go home again. When the stresses of my tired body get me down, I go home again. You see, I have a home in my memory that I can visit any day or any night. Actually I can go home anytime. The older I get the more frequently I seem to go home.


The people in Bogart were good, honest, hardworking people and this son of a preacher/teacher man says, “I thank God for my parents, my brothers, my boyhood friends, my school mates, and all my friends in Bogart both dead and living whom I gladly acknowledge as my people! I just wish they could all know how very special they will always be to me.”


Talk at Uins again ….later.