Sunday, August 28, 2011


As I begin this post, I am once again saddened that I do not have pictures to go with the memories. Maybe someone reading this will have a photograph or two.
In my defense, before the digital age, picture taking was quite an expensive undertaking.  You did not just go around taking pictures of ordinary buildings and such, after all, you could see them anytime you wanted: the ignorance of youth!

Those of you with deep roots in Hogansville will remember that my Dad, Gordon Cook, owned a service station on the corner of Hwy. 29 and Ware St. He was also the ticket agent for the Greyhound Bus Line. In those days people rode the bus a lot (Coon and I had many experiences on the GREY DOG, but that's another blog).

The south-bound buses would routinely pull along side the two gas pumps that was our entire "fuel island" in those days. I was uncommon the have more than two cars wanting gas at the same time. Such was life in the '60's! The north-bound buses were another matter altogether. If there was a car at the roadside of the gas pumps, the north bus had trouble finding enough room to pull far enough onto the lot so that exiting passengers would not step into the roadway.

Enter Mr. Mac Hopson into the story. Directly across the street from my dad's service station was the ghost of an old "filling station", a place where you could only buy gasoline. It still had the "visible" gasoline pumps, the kind with the glass containers on the top so that you could see the gas that was being delivered to you car. I remember seeing Mr. Hopson operating one of those pumps a few times. Those pumps and the building are all gone now. The pumps ended up who knows where. After all they are priceless. Still it would be great to have one restored and stilling in the corner of City Hall as a reminder of simpler, saner  times. More wishful thinking! Mr. Mac was also reportedly a "loan shark", a term that brings a smile to the face of those that knew that old gentleman. About 5'5", thin as a rail, stooped shouldered, shuffling about, did not fit my imagine of a knee breaker if you did not pay up. Not the Tony Soprano type of money man, Mr. Mac would loan money to every day folks who needed a few bucks until payday.

I'm sorry, I wondered off track as usual, back to the bus stop. There was plenty of room for a north bound bus to pull off the road with stopping in front of Mr. Hopson's store. However, for some reason the wind always seemed to blow from the bus towards his front door, which was always open in most cases. He, like most other folks, used a fan to keep cool. If you have ever seen a big diesel bus on dirt, then you have seen the dust storm they can kick up. All of this raining down on an old man that did not get one nickel out of bus fares. 


Now I am convinced that Mr. Mac knew the bus schedule as well as we did. There would be many times that my Mother (she was our cashier/ticket agent) would call out to nobody in particular, "The north-bound bus is coming!" What she meant by that was she was watching as Mr. Mac dragged, with great effort, a RAIN-BIRD lawn sprinkler, attached to a small stand and accompanying  hose, into position. The position being the approximate place of the door when the bus would pull onto "HIS" side of the road. Not wanting to waste water and run up his water bill, Mr. Mac would stand by his front door, where is water faucet was also located, and wait for "THE NORTH-BOUND!" Usually he could see it coming up the road, turn on the sprinkler, and discourage the driver from stopping on that side of the road.

The event that sticks out in my mind is the time he soaked the bus driver. On that particular day the sprinkler was in place, but for some reason, Mr. Mac did not turn the water on in time. Usually the driver does not get off the bus, unless he has a package in the baggage area. Greyhound to this day ships lots of packages by bus freight.

This particular driver did not know about the "sprinkler guard", especially since it was not on when he pulled to a stop that day. Well about the time the driver raised the cargo door to retrieve the package, the sprinkler came on, and it came on full blast. We could hear the shout across the road, albeit mixed with much profanity, as that water was cold. As that driver came running around the rear of the bus to get away from the deluge, all of us could not help but laugh! He was a mad as the proverbial wet hen. Still cussing and dragging a very large box, he dropped the box, grabbed a towel that my Mother mercifully offered. He wiped his soaked head, said, "Excuse my language, Ma'am, but I am going to kill that son-of-a-bitch!"  My Mother then pointed out Mr. Mac and told the driver that it would not be a good idea, as he was old, frail, small, AND carried a pistol in his pocket. Mother then stepped into Mr. Mac's view and waved her hands over her head as some sort of signal and the old man cut the water off.

The driver was still snorting like a bull and glaring at Mr. Mac, when Mother interjected, "now would be a good time to get back on the bus before he turns to water on again." Needless to say that driver never stopped on that side of the road again. Over time, word spread among the drivers and few, if any, of the drivers every stopped on Mr. Mac's side of the road again.

The amusing side of the story is that it was highway right-of-way and did not belong to Mr. Mac. Even so, I never heard that point raised. Mr. Mac showed me that if a problem arises, solve it and don't worry about the details.

It was a simpler time, a better time!

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