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Column: 60 years an eternity in Buckhead
by Thornton Kennedy
Northside Neighbor Columnist
October 09, 2012 06:44 PM | 3358 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
When the Class of 1952 attended North Fulton High School, there was a riflery range in the basement.

Given the state of our schools with metal detectors and zero-tolerance policies, it is almost inconceivable students would not only be allowed but encouraged to use weapons on school grounds. In the wake of the Korean War, ROTC was “pretty much mandatory” said Jere Goldsmith, a member of that class. Talk about a different time.

This Saturday night, the North Fulton High School Class of 1952 celebrates its 60th high school reunion at the Capital City Country Club in Brookhaven. Among the topics on the agenda are Rusty’s, the hamburger hangout that used to be near Peachtree Battle on Peachtree Road; the big rivalry with Decatur High School and Georgia Tech football, the version in which people dressed and Tech was the only game in town.

North Fulton remains where it has always been, an architectural gem that few get to admire. It is just a few blocks off of Peachtree tucked back in the Garden Hills neighborhood. Designed by one of Atlanta’s favorite architects, Philip Trammel Shutze, the high school located on North Fulton Drive is today home to Atlanta International School.

When the building opened in 1930, North Fulton was the northern-most high school in Fulton County. At the time, the communities to the north were in Milton County, which merged with Fulton two years later. Until 1952, Buckhead was not in the city of Atlanta. The city stopped at Palisades Road, which is in the center of the Brookwood Hills neighborhood. Students from as far north as Roswell attended North Fulton.

Six decades ago it was not unusual for people living here to grow their own vegetables and keep a few chickens. Goldsmith’s family lived on Club Drive. Not only did his family plant vegetables and raise chickens on their postage stamp-sized lot, they had rabbits, ducks and a horse.

If you had a date, you took them to one of the downtown movie theaters and then stopped by the Varsity afterwards. The car hops, most likely Flossie Mae, would jump on the running board of the car, take the order and deliver the food, the very definition of “fast food.”

These were the days of blue jeans and crew cuts, when mischief equated to harmless pranks and few worried about crime or safety.

These generations laid the foundation for what Buckhead and Sandy Springs are today. I say it often in these pages, but that doesn’t make it any less so. At its heart, this is still a small town and that is largely because Jere Goldsmith and his classmates prefer it that way.

Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at

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