What Was Life Like for a Historic Brookhaven Kid in the 1950s?

Bradsher Hayes Recalls Kids Roamed and Played in the Streets

Old maps can tell us street layout and former names, but have you ever wondered what it was like growing up in Historic Brookhaven 70 years ago? According to Bradsher Hayes, who was raised in the neighborhood and had family live here for over 50 years, kids roamed and played in the streets and neighbors could ride their horses right down Club Drive.
There were no bushes around the perimeter of the Capital City Club golf course and balls would roll across the road, straight into neighbors’ yards. Kids would sled down the fairways on trays on snowy days.
Bradsher grew up at 3936 Club Drive. While the house has since been torn down and replaced, the sprawling front yard and creek bed remain much the same. One of his best friends was Jimmy Hanger, who lived at 36 West Brookhaven Drive. Another of Bradsher’s friends was golfer Danny Yates, who grew up at 40 West Brookhaven Drive.
The boys would catch the trolley car known as Oglethorpe 23 at the intersection of Club Drive and Peachtree Road. The driver would let them ride for free to the last stop at Oglethorpe University. On some days they would take the trolley down to the Fox Theater or over to Bagley Park – all at age 8.
Four Historic Brookhaven families had horses at the time, says Bradsher. His family had two, Polly and Freckles. They had a tack house and stall at the back of their property, along with a jump in the backyard so his sister could practice her riding skills. In addition to riding on neighborhood trails and streets, kids could take their horses about a mile down Peachtree to ride through the seven acres of undeveloped land that now houses Lenox Mall.
The neighborhood boys had a clubhouse on the Hanger property. It was essentially an underground cave or hole that they accessed through a dug-out tunnel. The girls had one in the Yates’ yard.
At one point, the boys and girls went to war for three weeks. “The boys were in the bushes, the girls on horses,” he says. “We flooded their clubhouse. They flooded our cave".
“The boys bombarded the girls with magnolia and pine cones. The girls retaliated with squirt guns filled with red dye,” Bradsher notes. When the kids started throwing firecrackers, Mrs. Hanger demanded a cease-fire.
Bradsher isn’t sure why they fought each other. “Probably because they were our older sisters who liked to boss us around,” he states.
Editor’s Note: I met Bradsher Hayes at an Atlanta Writers Club meeting. He thrilled me with stories of growing up in Historic Brookhaven and told me he plans to write a book about the experience. Another of his best friends was “Mack” McKellar, who grew up in the house that stood on my property until it was torn down 25 years ago. I still occasionally get their mail.
Bradsher has already published three books, all about baseball. He is an avid Atlanta Braves fan and is the author of 150 Years of the Braves and 150 Years of Braves Trivia. You can learn more about Brad and his books at https://150yearsofthebraves.com/.