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Back in the Day, Chattahoochee a Refuge for Summer Heat

Before Norcross became "electrified," folks gathered their camping gear and headed to the cool banks of the river.

This week’s blast of heat sent folks running to splash in the fountains at Lillian Webb Park, sip an iced latte at the 45 South or just hide within cooled homes and offices. Although the heat was extreme early in the season Norcross, folks can, for the most part, found some modern way to beat the heat. 

Not so fortunate were those souls of Norcross’s early days, before electric fans or air conditioning were invented--Souls who spent the summer months sweltering. Before Edward Buchanan built the stone house at the corner across from Thrasher Park in 1910, residents had no "Edification," that is to say no use of Thomas Edison’s inventions.

Buchanan built the home for his adoptive mother and was so keen on giving her "all the amenities" that he began the first electric power connection here in Norcross just for that house. Neighbors who could afford it were allowed to "hook on" and slowly our city came to know the benefits of electrified homes.

Those not so fortunate who suffered summer before then found refuge from summer sweat by heading over to either the banks of the cool Chattahoochee, a cow pond like Hopkins Mill or to the first pool in Gwinnett County, which was hand-dug behind the Warbington place on Lake Drive.

The dirt-sided pool offered folks all-day respite for just a dime. Grandma Warbington had two bath houses for changing and often offered up jelly sandwiches for neighbors dropping by to dip in the spring fed "pool." Large stones in a rectangular formation can still be spied along the banks of the creek.  Beware of snakes, though, when diving in here.

No cement or vinyl lining and absolutely no chlorinating pump purified this water hole or any of the other ponds or lakes that offered a cool break on a summer afternoon.

Most popular, indeed, was the river. The Chattahoochee, just a few miles from town was, as it is today, was downright cold.  So enjoyable were the grassy banks that folks "camped" there for days at a time. The Simpson family, early settlers to Georgia, had a big farm along the icy waters and let folks walk or roll onto their property to get away from the heat.  Families packed up wagons full of food, cooking utensils, tables, chairs and quilts looking to spread themselves under the low-hanging trees to camp.

Canvas tents covered the furniture they’d pulled from their homes, no Bass Pro Shop, REI or Dick’s sporting goods stores were around to purchase "gear," after all. Outdoor living needs were China plates and silver ware stashed in wooden boxes, loaded on a horse drawn wagon or stowed in the rumble seat of early automobiles.

Old timers around town vividly recall those dog days spent fishing for river trout, wading in the rapid waters with bloomers raised, and fanning themselves with magnolia fronds.

Ah summer, welcome back to Georgia.  

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