It was a night of groovy fun and fond memories as former neighbors and old friends came together last Friday for an old school dance party.
The Blast from the Past Dance kicked off the Piedmont Circle Turnout. The reunion, now in its third year, brings together current and former residents of Piedmont Circle – a public housing complex that is now known as Piedmont Park – and the now defunct neighboring Brookwood community.
At the dance, which was held at Piedmont Park’s recreation center, guests, many of whom sported ’70s clothing, ate food prepared by A Taste of Perfection catering and danced under a disco ball to tunes spun by DJ Koolaide. Attendees greeted their old neighbors with hugs. Reunion Committee Chair James “Buttons” Horne said that one of the event’s main purposes is to reconnect residents from the old neighborhood. In some cases, the reunion has provided one of the last opportunities that some former Piedmont Circle residents had to reconnect.
“One of the sad things … is … since (the reunion) has been going on, there have been about seven people that have come to the reunion that have passed (away),” said Horne.
Horne, who grew up in Piedmont Circle with his mother and five siblings, says that a strong sense of community was alive back then. The reunion is designed to recapture that. Reunion Committee Member Carlton Chisom was part of the community’s heyday. He grew up in Brookwood, which shared the recreation center with Piedmont Circle. He has fond memories of football games, go-cart races and roller derby rivalries between the two neighborhoods.
“Some of the mentors we had that worked right in this center, instilled in us giving back to our community and … that to know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you came from,” said Chisom.
One of those community mentors was Blanche Brown Anderson, who is now 80. Anderson oversaw many activities for kids at the recreation center. She sold homemade treats like cupcakes, held movie night on Fridays and arranged for a church to hold services in the community on Saturday mornings.
Everyone considered her the mother of the community. It was a title Anderson embraced, even though she had her hands full raising her own 11 kids as a single mother. She worked park-time at the Lincoln Theatre, which was once in the heart of downtown. She met her second husband in Piedmont Circle and lived there for nearly three decades.
Anderson attended the reunion for a second year.