“Memories of New Jesup Road...”
...The section that connects to Pennick road darts off New Jesup, then rejoins it miles later, but it's only used by residents going home, so it is in the state it was in the 1940's-- narrow concrete two-lane, and poorly maintained-- I mentioned the trees growing together overhead in places.
A lot of this part of Georgia is bottom land- swamps and rivers, creeks and ponds-- and when the original roads were driven through- often with chain-gang labor-- the didn't always get the best route the first time. Indeed, when my Dad traveled this road many years ago it was “corduroy”- dirt with railroad ties laid across it to lessen bogdowns.
The section of Old Jesup...
What I remember about traveling New Jesup is far different than what you would see now if you were to drive it...
Today, it is a broad, four-lane, low and wide with ample shoulders and a median so broad and low that even today's new, low-slung cars can cross and turn around on.
I used to travel this road on business in Atlanta, at least four, and sometimes eight or sixteen times a year, back in the seventies and eighties.
Back then, it was a two-lane, no median, and the shoulders? Well, they were elevated- remember what I wrote about “bottom land?” All were narrow, and featured a drop-off to the sides ranging for a few feet to over thirty.
Yes, 30- feet, down to that bottom land. Usually in to water. It wasn't a place you wanted to pull over, or break down on.
You knew when you were starting out for The Big Evil City when you hit that stretch of road, and you knew you were finally getting near “home” when you got back on it coming back.
Bridges and railroad trestles and piney woods-- houses and ranches and farms- some with windmills-- in the distance on the sides.
At night, lights, like Fairy Lanterns, sparkling and twinkling far away. Little houses with asbestos siding- remember that? sitting alone with lots of land surrounding them.
I will never forget the time, coming home in the handicap van with that first wife, from the Atlanta markets, buying for our stores, when we were behind a car in the dead of night.
Tired, so tired, from walking the Market for days & days, glad to be on that home stretch...
There was a “bang!” ahead of us, and something-- I could not tell what it was-- dark & big flew up in front of that car...
It commenced weaving and jinking all over the highway, and suddenly pulled over on that narrow, high shoulder with the precipitous drop to water, and stopped.
As we flew past, I caught a glimpse in the headlights of the van what had happened-- his hood had flown open, and up, blinding his forward vision.
How he got it stopped- on a few feet of shoulder-- without plunging over the side- was a minor miracle.
We couldn't stop to help-- remember, there was no median to turn around on, and I doubted I could whip the van around over both shoulders without risking plunging to the bottom ourselves...
But he did get his car stopped safely- what he did after that?
It's all changed now- neat, homogenous, road like you find everywhere across America-- but it wasn't always like that.
For us in South Georgia, it started with Jimmy Carter's ( “Wee Jimmy-- He's like a Real President, only smaller... ) Corridor Z, the next major east-west road south of New Jesup. New Jesup is 341, Corridor Z- the old Waycross highway-- is 82. It was much like New Jesup, high and narrow, long and straight, cutting through the swamps and pine woods, until it got homogenized.
Now, they all look alike...
And much has been lost in the translation.
Like that asbestos siding.