LAUREL of Northeast Georgia June 22

Page 84

Just Thinking

Lovin’ the Journey By Mark Holloway

A father and son friendship.

The bike trip

The thing about social media is you learn stuff.

Clayton is an intentional father to his daughter Karen and 62 year old son Kevin. He was an intentional husband to Vanita who passed away in 1995.

Kevin and his 93 year old dad Clayton have a relationship as rare as gold in the Tallulah River.

I asked both men to share a favorite memory and almost simultaneously they geared up for a cycling tale.

Kevin’s internet posts about his dad caught my attention. So getting them together to talk for the Father’s Day June issue made as much sense as warm butter on a hot biscuit.

In 1976, the Croom family joined seven other Clayton Baptist friends for a ride they’re still talking about. Mrs. Vanita drove one of the support vehicles while the nine adults and youth pedaled from Clayton to New Smyrna Beach, Florida on heavy steel Schwinn ten speeds. Yep, the then 47 year old, stepped away from his Bunsen Burners and beakers to saddle up and pedal, untrained the nearly 500 miles with teenagers. Kevin marveled then and marvels now at his dad.

Right from the jump, Kevin choked up while sitting next to his father trying to explain his love for his dad. The tears did the talking. From the living room of Kevin’s childhood home in the shadow of Screamer Mountain, they unpacked just a sample of their friendship. You simply can’t distill 93 years of abundant living into a few talking points. Clayton, Georgia needed Clayton Croom. Clayton Croom answered the rural Georgia mountain need for teachers and transplanted himself and his young family from Hendersonville, North Carolina in the 1950s. His four-line poems written for his Rabun County physics and chemistry students were just his classroom bonus. Evidently each day with Mr. Croom was an event. Kevin reveled in sharing about having his dad as his science teacher.

“We covered 120 miles a day for four days, sunrise to sunset, riding the roads and highways from here to there. McDonalds fed us for free at their restaurants along the route,” Kevin explained. “But having my dad along side us on his Schwinn is still such an incredible memory. And he nor any of us gave up, even when we hit the strong head winds along the beach for miles and miles. And we made it!!” Clayton has been proud of his son from the absolute beginning. “When I was standing at the baby nursery looking at Kevin, in comes this couple and they say ’look at that thing over yonder. Boy, he’s a whopper.’ And I said, ‘That’s my son’.”

Mark and Carol Holloway own PropertyStewards.com and are passionate about delivering excellent care to the homes and property of their clients. They are outdoor adventurers and love the thrills of rock climbing and hikes to waterfalls and exploring all of God’s creation. Mark can be reached by calling 706-490-7060.

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