I brought my family to Stone Mountain from Columbia SC in 1985. My oldest child was only six months old. At that time, Stone Mountain was the bedroom community of Atlanta. The best homes, the best shopping, the best law enforcement…it was the place to be. We had our little starter home built and were happy as could be. Everything we could ever want (shopping, dining) was right in our back yard.
But quickly, and I repeat quickly, it only took two years for the other first-homers to flee north. They kept telling me it was for cultural reasons, which made no sense to me because we were a very diverse neighborhood! This is what made it so appealing to me. Sadly and with great disdain, I watched folks pack up and move and completely desert what we had established. Some fled by totally abandoning their homes! My great little neighborhood was consumed by renters and investors who cared nothing for their properties, albeit they were definitely interested in what was in the others!
As my boys grew, we outgrew the house, and I moved a mere 9/10 of a mile into a larger home, because I love this area. It’s so convenient! Then the restaurants left. I distinctly remember the Chili’s on Memorial Drive. One night there was a 30 minute wait for a table, and the very next day the windows were boarded up. The indoor kiddie playplace was razed and an extended-stay hotel was put in its place. Target left, Kroger moved, Olive Garden closed and Steak & Ale fled. In their places were empty, abandoned properties or pawn shops. There was no place to shop or eat anymore.
It became a vast nightmare for those of us still hanging on to what once was, and what I believe can be again. BUT….it will not happen overnight, and it requires community involvement.
And fortunately, in the face of all this, some continue to try and stay afloat. With the economy, we’re all stuck where we’re at. And this, my friends, is exactly the vehicle we can use to bring our community back to what it once was! I hear people talking about “walking away” from their homes. Not me! I have a nice home in a terrific neighborhood. Where could I get what I have and be able to afford it? Nowhere! The market has tanked so quickly and so deeply no one can recover for some time. Most of us are “upside down” in our homes. So we must simply grab the life jacket and hang on and swim for dear life. That is to say, re-invest in your home. Love it with all your heart. Appreciate the fact that you have a home, and make the most of it.
This is how neighborhoods go down, people lose interest and stop caring, and move on, much akin to throwing out the bathwater with the baby.
But all is not lost, and I encourage you to patronize what we still have. I can personally vouch for each:
* Were you aware the Applebee’s on Memorial is the first and original Applebee’s? Their service is great, the food is delectable and the menu continues to improve. It is truly a neighborhood bar and grille, as me and my boys go at least once a week and see the same friendly faces in this fun meeting place. They even have karaoke on Wednesdays!
* Chick-fil-a continues to contribute to the community, and will always be a friendly and safe place to break bread or take your kids to eat and play. They are
committed to this neighborhood, and always participate in community events.
* Quik Trip wants to expand! This is one place that is constantly cleaning, offers terrific snack and quick food items, and did I mention their coffee is absolutely the best (beats Starbucks by miles) and least expensive!
* Piccadilly Cafeteria…talk about friendly! And the food! Some things never change. I love Piccadilly, and you should too. Their carrot soufflé puts a sweet potato casserole to shame.
*Little Caesers Pizza – where else can you get a mouth-watering pizza for $5, no wait? (OK, I have to admit, I miss the ambience of Pizza Hut…) but this pizza has definitely taken its place.
* Hal’s Package (next to Applebee’s). No friendlier service, and the prices are
So all is not lost. Please, I beg you, re-invest in your community. Stay and play, make this area what it once was, let’s take it back. Get involved in community events. Reach out, smile to your neighbors, smile at other patrons and service workers. Dekalb County workers are some of the most caring and friendly County employees I know. The police department is under new management, and totally community-focused.
In closing, I love this area, and that’s why I stay. I am committed to the community, and to the residents of this great County. I will continue to do whatever I can, be it great or small, to keep it moving forward, not back, in hopes of total restoration. I hope you will consider the same.