Buckhead Tales: The Canyon

We called it “The Canyon.” Growing up in Buckhead in the late 1950s and early 60s there were not many places kids could go to escape the world of adults. But a short walk through the woods from our family home on Wieuca Terrace led to one such place. 

Kids far and wide knew about the Canyon. Riding their bikes, they would come from Stovall Boulevard, North Stratford Road, and all the nearby neighborhoods to reach the green kingdom. It was a land of magic separated from the customs and rules of grownups. We could spend entire days back in those woods doing child things. Sometimes we did nothing at all, which is the most childlike thing one can do. We might dam up the creek or just flop around in the maze of nature and daydream. Sometimes we made up games. Sometimes we just stared at clouds. It was a world away. 

In all the time I spent there I never saw an adult. There were no meetings, no agenda, no next steps or action plans. 

The Canyon was a cathedral to childhood.

It wasn’t always fun, adventure, and secret handshakes back in those deep woods. Sometimes there were fist fights and once I fell and slid down the side of the canyon wall and scraped up my side pretty good. I must admit I was proud of that wound and showed it off to my buddies that night at Sunday night services up at Wieuca Road Baptist Church. Tommy Fuller was most impressed.

Time seemed to expand and contract in the Canyon. An hour could seem like a day and a day could seem like an instant. The afternoon could go on forever. It became was our jungle, our Shangri-La, our sanctuary

In1962, when I was in 7th grade, we moved to Millbrook Drive over by Chastain Park and I never saw the Canyon again. I don’t even know if I took one last look over my shoulder as I left the last time. I didn’t think about the Canyon for many years and thoughts of it had all but disappeared in the tide of life. For some reason, in the past few months, those memories and images have returned through the haze of time. The creek, the little waterfall, the sandy beach where we caught salamanders. 

Is it possible to return to the Canyon of youth? I guess it is easy for the artists among us to make their way back. All they need to do is pick up a paintbrush or strum a guitar. 

If there is a passage back to the Canyon, I haven’t found it. The trail, now overgrown, is hidden from my view. It is like a movie I saw a long time ago. The path, once abandoned, ceases to exist. Sometimes we are the needle, sometimes the thread, and sometimes we are just lost in the seam.


Jim Tate
Author, Buckhead Tales
jimtate@charter.net