Neighborhood History
Author: Beverly Roberts Palmer

As a child, growing up on Hansell Street and attending Park Avenue Baptist Church, I had the best of all worlds. "Preacher Smith" and Mrs. Smith and Park Avenue Baptist Church were the bedrocks of my strong faith. Sadly, I have never encountered one package of church and minister that can match the strong Christian faith that he and Mrs. Smith lived. To all who knew him, he was the most Christ-like person I have ever met. I can recall, as a child, his telling us that wastefullness was a sin. He said, for instance, every crumb of bread should be used and suggested we feed the birds rather than waste that crumb. As an adult, I recalled his words of advice when during one particular employment became a Recycling Grant Writer.

Within that Church, our Sunday School Superintendent was also Miss Ira Jarrell, also the Superintendent of Schools for the Atlanta system. I remember her as a very lovely, well-dressed lady who truly cared for children. Vacation Bible School and Sunday School events were always thrilling for me. To this day, certain church songs bring back those happy days of Sunday School and Vacation Bible School.

As a young person, our youth groups continued to worship but also have fun with "Weenie Roasts" held on the backside of Stone Mountain, back when there was no theme park or admission. We'd go there as a group - chaperoned by our leaders, of course, then build a large bonfired, roast our "dawgs" and then marshmallows, and later, climb the backside of Stone Mountain by the light of the moon. We carried flashlights, but rarely had to use them. In the moonglow on that granite mountain, we could see well enough to enjoy the hike. Thankfully, no one was ever injured because we did not venture close to the edge of the front side of the mountain. We had lots of fun, but we also had strong fellowships that enhanced our faith.

My whole family depended upon Preacher Smith for comfort during difficult as well as happy times. He preached at family funerals - for both my Dad and my Mother and our grandparents. He married many of our family - including my husband and me, my brother and his wife, my Dad's second marriage to another member of that church after the death of their respective spouses. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary on November 29th. My brother and his wife will do the same next year. Preacher Smith's marriage ceremonies were very touching and apparently full of the glue of happiness. Just like the Preacher we all knew and loved.