Discarded Purple Madness

Occasionally, as I’m out walking, I come across items people have misplaced or forgotten, which I chronicle in a series on my Instagram account (gmatt63) entitled Discarded Items. Typically, I’ll identify the item as “Discarded” then describe what it is, usually with a color, such as Discarded Green Shorts. On 15 September 2017, I first encountered what has become the most daunting discarded item of all, what I initially tagged as “Discarded Purple Warmup Top”, but, which I’ve since been labeling “Discarded Purple Hoodie”. The story unfolds, in pictures and with my original Instagram captions below. I am including alternate shots, when available, which don’t have captions.

15 September 2017, Discarded Purple Warmup Top, South Peachtree Creek PATH, Atlanta, GA.

My criteria for assessing a discarded item is that it must be totally unattended, with no one around who might be the owner. For instance, I noted a runner one morning stopping by a seat and taking a sip of water from a bottle that had been left there, with two others. I assumed, from this, the runner and a companion left them there for this purpose, so I could not classify them as discarded items.

15 September 2017, A first, ladies and gentlemen! A recurring discarded item. When I came back by, someone had moved the Discarded Purple Warmup Top. But, the mystery deepens, as you shall soon see.

15 September 2017, Behold, viewers, a second Discarded Purple Warmup Top in a different location, which appeared after I passed the first time. It would appear there’s a Serial Purple Warmup Top Discarder on the loose! Be vigilant.

17 September 2017, The saga of the Discarded Purple Warmup Top continues. Here, we can see it’s clearly a Discarded Purple Hoodie, which someone keeps moving but won’t take away. I am bound by honor not to disturb discarded items found in the wild.

After the above photo was taken, I witnessed a man skulking around the trail marker, like he was trying to read the information on it. I had a sense, however, he was eying the Discarded Purple Hoodie. If you’re behind this, sir, be assured, I saw you. I can’t remember exactly what you look like, but I saw you. Oh, yes, I did.

24 September 2017, The saga of the Discarded Purple Hoodie took a disturbing turn today, when someone moved it to the entrance of the trail.

While still hanging around, the Discarded Purple Hoodie was, nonetheless, moving in the right direction, that is, toward the dumpsters.

Of course, I haven’t been here every day, but every day I’ve been here, I’ve spotted it. It will settle somewhere, then next time I’m around, it’s in a new location.

26 September 2017, When I did not see the Discarded Purple Hoodie at the beginning of the trail, I thought the nightmare was over. It’s obvious now, someone is trying to drive me insane.

​​​Here’s a short video I made about the most recent sighting of the Discarded Purple Hoodie.

Eleven days, folks. That’s how long this item has been floating around the trail. The first one I noted disappeared quickly and hasn’t been back, but this one just keeps popping up. Maybe it’s trying to make it back to the woods. Who knows? I shall continue to document its progress as long as necessary.

Zebra Finch, Chamblee, GA, July, 2016

While walking around Century Center in Chamblee Monday, I encountered an odd looking little bird I’d never seen before. Investigation on the Internet uncovered that it’s a male zebra finch, which is not native to North America, but the species has been introduced, possibly as pets or for research.

I’m not sure how this one came to inhabit the area it’s in, but it seems fairly acclimated to humans, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

It’s probably also a good thing it didn’t show up while the heron was hanging around last month.

These are some photos and videos of it I posted to my Instagram account, gmatt63.



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The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #7

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Cedonia & Brice Browder 8-1916

In 1920, closest to the date of the carving, Cedonia F. Browder, age twelve and her brother Brice, age eight, are found in the household of George M. Browder, age thirty-one, and his wife Dell A. age thirty-four. Both Cedonia and Brice are identified as “Meyer” instead of Browder and there’s another individual in the house called Durling F. Meyer, age seventeen, listed as a “step-son”. Ten years earlier, on the 1910 census, Frances Browder is the only child listed in George’s household, with wife Ada, age twenty. Durling is listed in the household of Fred H. Meyer in 1910 with his mother, Della, so it appears Ada died and George remarried, and the census taker mistakenly listed Cedonia and her brother as step-children.

In 1920, the family is living in Montgomery, Alabama and George is listed as an assistant manager in produce, not a profession that lends itself to carving names on a mountain nearly two hundred miles away. George, Ada and Frances are listed in Montgomery in 1910 as well, and the census tells us their address was 312 Goode Street. Since Cedonia would have been eight in 1916 and Brice four, it’s likely their father did the carving, in all probability during a family vacation.

George is listed in a directory from Montgomery, AL in 1915, as a ship clerk and his wife is identified as Ada F. Browder, so he must have married Della later, meaning Brice and Cedonia had the same mother. The directory listing has them on Early Street, which is where they are living in 1920.

The family appears to have moved to Miami, Dade County, FL by 1930. Both Cedonia, spelled Sedonia, and Brice are still in the household. George is listed as a farmer, “working on his own account” and they’re listed in the 48th Ward at 3352 S.W. 4th Street. The Florida Death Index lists George’s date of death as 1948. A Social Security claim lists his date of birth as 20 August 1888 and his date of death as 7 December 1948.

In 1940, Cedonia, listed as “Cadora Wright” is in the household, but the census says that in 1935, she was living in New York City. On a Florida state census from 1935, however, Cedonia is listed in Dade County with her husband, Chauncey Wright. There’s a record from 1940 where Cedonia Browder divorced Chauncey Davis Wright in Dade County, FL. F. Cedonia Browder married Chauncey D. Wright in Dade County in 1930 and in 1956, Frances Cedonia Browder married William D. Black in Dade County. She does not have a profession listed in 1940, but in 1930 she’s listed as a saleswoman at a candy store. The Florida Death Index lists her date of birth as 9 September 1907. She died in Dade County, FL on 4 May 1990, at age eighty-two. On the Florida Death Index, she’s listed as Francis Cedonia Browder.

A passenger listing from Texas shows George Brice Browder, age 48 arriving in San Antonio, TX on 12 July 1959 on American Airlines. His birth date is listed as 21 May 1911 and his place of birth is Montgomery, AL. He lists his residence as 1812 Lynnhave Road, Ft. Worth, TX, and he was arriving from Mexico. In 1940, George Browder, age twenty-eight, is listed as a lodger in the home of James A. Smith in La Grange, Cook County, IL. His place of birth is listed as Alabama and he’s divorced. His occupation is plant maintenence.

George B. Browder married Pauline T. Martin in Miami, in 1947. A city directory from Fort Worth shows him still at Lynhaven Road in 1958 and his wife is listed as Pauline. City directories show him in Forth Worth as late as 1969. The Social Security Death Index lists his date of death as January, 1984 in Fort Worth. The Texas Death Index lists the date as 16 January 1984 in Tarrant County.

I was unable to find an obituary or Find a Grave listing for Cedonia or Brice.

Bizarro Atlanta, Summer of 1996

World Athlete's Monument

Midtown Atlanta, with The World Athletes Monument in the foreground, 4 September 2009.

“The world is coming to Atlanta!”
—Ad for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

For seventeen days in the summer of 1996, Atlanta entered the Bizarro World, where the downtown connector was clear, MARTA was packed, and the world stopped by for a visit. Less than a year before, Atlanta had been thrilled when the Braves brought home their first and only World Series pennant since coming to town, so spirits were high as ’96 dawned. Atlanta had worked hard to get the Olympics, under the watchful eye of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, or ACOG as it was more commonly known. They were responsible for everything from seeing that the city was ready for the influx of international athletes and spectators, to giving the Atlanta Games the worst mascot in the entire history of sports in the form of Whatizit, or Izzy, the blue blob in sneakers which had absolutely nothing to do with the city’s past, present or future. The Paralympics, held a month or so afterward in the same venues, got it right with their mascot, Blaze, which was based on Atlanta’s symbol, the Phoenix.

Whatizit, or Izzy

Whatizit or Izzy, the much-maligned mascot of the ’96 Games. Really, ACOG?

At the time of the Olympics, I was serving as Membership Vice President for the Atlanta Junior Chamber of Commerce, or Jaycees, to which I had been elected a few months earlier. Like everyone else, our activities were somewhat hampered by events around town so most of us contented ourselves with accomplishing what we could while taking in as much of the Olympics as possible. Apparently, I tried to get a job working concessions at one of the venues, as I have an ID badge from Aramark. I remember going somewhere to get the ID but don’t recall why I didn’t follow through on the job. It’s possible it was a volunteer fundraising opportunity for the Jaycees — where we worked and the organization got paid — that didn’t work out.

GML Olympic concession badge

My ID badge for Olympic concession work which was never used.

Authorities had been warning residents of potential traffic problems for months so the terrifying specter of twenty-four hour gridlock haunted the waking hours of most commuters, sending them to seek out suburban park and ride lots to hook up with public transport while the Games were in progress. This brought about a completely different reality than the one foretold, as suburbanites, frightened into not driving, crowded onto MARTA, leaving the highways far less crammed. I lived in East Point at the time and had to commute through town to North Druid Hills for work. To say I was pleasantly surprised to encounter rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta that was moving fifty-five to sixty miles an hour is putting it mildly. Driving through town I passed the Olympic Stadium every morning and evening, making it one of the few times I’ve driven in town as an adult where I actually enjoyed the trip.

To finance the building of Centennial Park, ACOG sold bricks where one could have his or her name imprinted. I purchased one in memory of my father, who died in April, 1995. The brick is located in Section 63, making it easier for me to remember where it is, as that’s the year I was born. Right next to my father’s brick is one commemorating Jim Morrison.

Brick at Centennial Olympic Park in memory of my father.

The relationship between city government, ACOG, and the International Olympic Committee was often tense. A number of construction projects were being finished just as Olympic officials started arriving and news reports were full of stories about haughty officials or their families demanding special treatment or otherwise being rude. Other countries’ delegations complained about the rampant patriotism on display at venues, particularly the indoor gymnastics events, where deafening chants of “USA, USA!” made it difficult for athletes to concentrate. Despite all the hiccups, the mood around Atlanta was festive and lighthearted as everyone looked forward to the best Games ever.

All that changed on the evening of 27 July when a bomb went off in Centennial Park, killing or contributing to the deaths of two people and injuring a hundred and eleven. The death toll would have been much higher, had it not been for the actions of a sharp-eyed security guard named Richard Jewell. While 911 operators argued over the address of Centennial Park after receiving an anonymous bomb threat, Jewell spotted a suspicious backpack, notified his superiors and began evacuating the area. His reward for what may have been the most remarkable achievement of his career was to be crucified in the press after an overzealous FBI leaked his name as a suspect. While he won a court case against the news network and was eventually vindicated with the arrest and conviction of Eric Rudolph some years later, it’s doubtful his reputation ever fully recovered. He died on 29 August 2007 at age forty-four.

The morning after the attack, I had a ticket to see Olympic tennis at Stone Mountain. I woke up, dressed, and hopped on MARTA without turning on the television, and did not learn of the details of the bombing until I arrived at Kensington station and saw the front page of the Journal/Constitution. I had been hearing rumblings along the way of beefed up security, due to an incident, but didn’t know the full extent of it until I saw the paper. In addition to that one morning of tennis which stretched into the late afternoon due to several lengthy rain delays, and which featured Andre Agassi and Monica Seles, other events I attended included one night of track and field at Olympic Stadium, and one afternoon when I drove to Athens to see the finals of rhythmic gymnastics. I had been invited by a colleague to see the first match-up of the US versus Cuba in baseball, but we failed to hook up at the venue and since he had the tickets, I couldn’t get in.

Before the Games began, I managed to see the torch relay at three separate locations around town but only specifically recall two of them, once on Roswell Road one evening with some friends, and once on Clifton Road in the afternoon, in front of the CDC, where I was working. Someone who worked on my floor was one of the torch bearers and I was able to have a picture taken with the torch. I believe the third was on Peachtree Street close to the intersection of West Peachtree, near where the Jaycees had their offices. This one was by chance, as I’d gone to the location for another purpose and just happened to find myself in close proximity to the relay.

GML with the Olympic torch

Me, posing with the Olympic torch following the relay; July, 1996. Photographer unknown.

One of the enduring landmarks from the Games is the statue in Midtown entitled The World Athletes Monument but which I’ve always called The Statue of Five Naked Guys Holding Up the Globe that Prince Charles Gave Us During the Olympics. A few years later, when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident, the statue became the focal point in town for remembrances of her, which is ironic considering she and Charles had been divorced for a number of years by that point. There were numerous other arts projects, part of the Cultural Olympiad which coincided with the Games. Plays were written and performed, statues erected, giant murals were painted, many of which were painted over in the intervening years or demolished when the buildings on which they were painted were torn down to make room for something else. There are, still, a few remnants of the Games around, Centennial Park and Turner Field the most visible, but many of the venues were broken down, packed up and shipped elsewhere once the Paralympics were over.

The Atlanta Jaycees had a membership meet and greet scheduled for Lulu’s Bait Shack in Buckhead for the Tuesday after the Olympics closed and it evolved into our “Farewell to the World” party. I recall that Tuesday evening in Buckhead as being packed like a Friday or Saturday, as residents who’d had to stay home to avoid the traffic and hassles of having the Games in town turned out to let off steam once they were gone. A festive atmosphere was evident as we reveled in the fact that we’d survived it all. It must have been reminiscent of how folks reacted when Sherman packed up and headed off to Savannah in 1864, notwithstanding the fact that for us, most of the city was still intact which was one thing for which we were all grateful.