Monday, March 18, 2013

Allman Brothers Band...The Big House, Rose Hill Cemetery and Other Points of Interest


Both my mother and father live in Florida...my mother in Cape Coral and my father in Key Colony Beach in the Florida Keys. This year I began driving from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Florida on Saturday, 02-09-13 and drove 16.5 hours. I stopped for the night about an 1 1/2 hours north of Atlanta. 

Back on the road early on Sunday I made it through Atlanta and then got to Macon, Georgia. When I planned my annual trip to Florida I hadn't thought about stopping in Macon, but everytime I drive through there I think of the Allman Brothers. 

Last summer I read Gregg Allman's, My Cross To Bear, which made me think more about stopping while on my way down. Too bad I didn't plan ahead because I arrived in Macon around 09:00 am. The Big House wouldn't be open for another two hours. I parked in the church lot across the street at 2306 Vinville Avenue with the church bell ringing. Years ago Dickey Betts wrote "Blue Sky" at the Big House..."Good ole Sunday mornin', bells are ringin' everywhere...". I got out and walked across the street to The Big House at 2321 Vineville Avenue.  The gate was closed to the parking lot...I took some images of the gate and of the house itself. I stayed for about 45 minutes before I decided to head on south to Florida.

The day before I was going to drive back to Minnesota I decided I could stop in Macon for a couple hours. I started doing some quick research and made some quick notes on a couple places I should see.

On Saturday, 03-02-13, I left Cape Coral, FL for Macon, GA. It looked like it was going to be a 7 1/2 hour drive before I got there. Once there I first stopped by Duane's crash site at the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Barlett Street. Then I drove over to The Big House...oh, so much to see and not enough time. I took a lot of photos on the inside. Once I was home and looked at then I wasn't going to post any because there were a lot of reflections from all the glass and lights.  What I'll probably do is do another blog post with the images. If so, I'll come back and edit this post with the link.

The gate to the parking lot at The Big House. This was taken on my way down to Florida on 02-10-13. 
Signage in the back...taken on 03-02-13.

 This was just a background for the stage in the back yard at The Big House...I cropped it way down....
 The Big House at 2321 Vineville Avenue taken on my way to Florida on Sunday, 02-10-13.
 The Big House taken on Saturday, 03-02-13. A much cooler day...
 This was the intersection where Duane Allman crashed on his motorcycle on 10-29-1971. He died a few hours later in the hospital. This was my first stop in Macon when I was coming back north. It was 12:15 pm and the temperature was a cool 44 degrees...and windy, making it feel even cooler. Especially after the warm temperatures in the Keys. It took me 7 1/2 hours to get there from Cape Coral, FL. It would be about another 20 hours drive time to Minneapolis...
A view of the intersection as Duane would have seen it...I really should have backed up more to give a perspective of the decline toward the intersection. There isn't anything marking the crash site. I've read where the roadway was pour concrete sections back in 1971 so the road was a little more bumpy because of the joints at the sections.

The following is a post that the wife of the truck driver involved in the crash with Duane Allman posted on the Allman Brothers website/forum...

"posted on 12/20/2006 at 11:52 AM by windsinger
Oct. 29, 1971

I was in my kitchen, when my husband came in, white as a sheet.

He was clearly in shock. His normally Ga. Tanned skin was totally devoid of color.
My husband was a construction worker. I had seen him, almost in this condition, several times before, but never this bad.

The other times, it was when he'd heard of some construction worker in the state being buried alive in a pit cave-in. He wasn't a person to get rattled, easily, but the one thing he seemed to fear, above all else, was the idea of being buried in a pit cave in. The company he worked for, was non-union, and there were no shoreings in the pits he usually worked in, up to 15 feet deep, operating a heavily vibrating boring rig.

Other times when he'd come in, pale, were when he, himself, had had to frantically go scrambling up out of a pit as the walls began to collapse.

This time, he was even more upset.

I was over 7 mo. pregnant.
My baby's life had been a constant worry since I first learned I was pregnant, shortly after being exposed to German measles. I'd almost lost my baby several times. I had another child, 5, from an earlier marriage.

I asked my husband what was 'wrong' ?
He didn't seem to hear me, at first, he just stared off into space like he was watchiing something I couldn't see, but when he did speak, it was to softly say "A kid.......a kid ran under my truck...........and he's dead.......!"

I sat down heavily in a kitchen chair. a child was dead ?????
I pictured a toddler, darting under my husband's truck, unseen, until it was too late.
My heart was suddenly in my throat, I felt faint, but I wasn't the fainting type.

I finally asked him how 'Old' the 'kid' was ?
He shook his head, as if to try and clear his mind of something, so he could answer me.
"24"
24 ? but that was my husband's age !!!
I was confused.

I wanted to hear what had happened, so he told me:
He had been in ( a company truck) waiting for the hill to clear ahead, so he could turn onto (the road where the co. he worked for, was) when the hill was clear, he finally made the turn, but well into it, he suddenly heard a crash, (back in the intersection).

He stopped his truck, and jumped out to run back to see if he could help in some way.

He hadn't felt any impact, so it never crossed his mind he might be involved in any way, he was just trying to help who-ever was. He said the 'first' thing he saw was a bike "racing like crazy" so he reached over and turned it off. Then he saw 'the kid'.....the thing that stood out in his mind, the most, was "long hair, and so much blood"

Before he had time to think, beyond that, a car crested the hill, and stopped, and "a girl came flying out of it, toward me, crying, and screaming "you killed my husband !!! You killed my husband!!"

He really didn't tell me anymore than that. Just added that the police had told him to come home, and inform his family, and they wanted him back at the station later that evening.

When we went over there, there was a metal, spiral stair, going up through the floor, to the police station.
My husband told me to go ahead of him, so if I lost my balance (with my ackward pregnancy) he could catch and steady me, from behind. I remember my head clearing the upper floor, and seeing the officers sitting around, they looked toward me curiously, but as soon as i assended far enough for them to see my condition, they scrambled to provide a chair for me.

Then they saw my husband, behind me.
All of a sudden they were falling all over themselves to assure me everything was going to be okay. They told me/us that they'd gone over my husband's truck with a fine tooth comb, and there was absolutely NO evidence of impact, of any kind. They said the driver behind my husband, had told them that he'd (my husband) had waited to make his turn, Only when that hill was absolutely free of traffic.

They told me/us details of how D. A. happened to be, where he was, when he was, going as fast as he was. (the speed limit on that road is 35 mph...it could afford to be even lower, due to it's dips and drop-offs) they said they estimated that D. A. was going in excess of 55 mph, when his bike lost contact with the pavement, on (that last drop off) and he apparently became airborn. They said a car, going the speed limit, would have hugged the pavement, but the (lighter bike) going faster, couldn't.

They said that my husband's truck, (for the most part) had cleared the intersection enough that a car could have gotten around him without getting into the other lane, but a car, going the speed limit, wouldn't have arrived at that point, until the intersection was well clear, in any case.

(oh yeah, re. the pot holes ..yes, they were definatly there, in the road he turned onto...But he was 24 and in a Big truck....he knew those pot holes well,.....and he was Not afraid of them..he Didn't 'stop' , when he did, because of pot holes.

He stopped, because he heard the crash behind him, in the intersection, and he needed to stop, in order to run back to help. I won't try and say he was a saint, but he was the kind of person who never hesitated to stop to help when he saw a need.....he seemed to relish being able to help, like it made his day better, somehow. It never would have crossed his mind Not to try and help. Maybe someone else would have just kept going, not wanting to get involved, but he just couldn't do that, it simply wasn't in his nature.)

The police indicated that at first it had been believed that D. A. had turned his wheel to try and avoid impact with the truck, but further investigation revealed he had been airborn, and likely never had a chance to (think along those lines) and that the wheel turned aside on it's own, when it re-made contact with the pavement, below the hill.....They indicated that was common in bike accidents where a bike loses contact with the pavement, and then returns to it

They assured us, that there was nothing to worry about. They had found no proof that my husband had been guilty of anything more than "being in the wrong place, at the wrong time" and there was nothing for them to press charges on him for.

They sent us home with words of encouragement, not to worry. They had even found some treat for my 5 yr old, while we were there, but I no-longer remember exactly what that was.

In the weeks that followed, I tried not to follow the evening news reports. We didn't get the local paper, the Macon Telegraph. But my husband had opportunity to see it, at work, and brought home some clippings which I still had up until about a half doz. years ago.

The girl who'd run at him screaming about her 'husband', filed a lawsuit, claiming, as his wife, she was entitled to (money.)

His real (ex) wife stepped forward, and said his relationship to the girl, was not a legal one, that she was his common-law-wife, and she (the ex) didn't feel (his girlfriend) should be entitled to Anything,........however.....her own daughter, from her legal marriage to him, should be entitled to (money) based on her father's projected future earnings. The sum one of them wanted ( I forget which, perhaps, both) was 3 million dollars...........

Even though my husband and his company were absolved from any blame, the insurance company, paid off 100,000 to/for the daughter's future needs. To this day, I fail to understand why they'd do that, unless they feared the cost of the whole thing getting drug out for years, and it costing them more, to prove they shouldn't have to pay, anything.

My baby was born Christmas Day.
My husband, a work-aholic Illinois Farmboy, never lived to see his own 30th Bd.
(his son will be 35 on Monday)
My husband died, in a traffic accident, on I-16, on Nov. 11, 1976,....exactly, 4 years to the day, from Berry Oakley's accident.

'Accrosstownbar' was right. He was a 'straight arrow' a family man.
There was a song that was popular at the time, by Glen Campbell, and he was always singing it to me, when it came on the radio,....I don't remember the name, but the line he always sang to me was "and if the good Lord is kind, you'll be the last thing on my mind" in the months after his loss, I cried every time it came un-expected on the radio. Eventually I just turned off the radio.......was I the last thing on his mind ? Yes, I'm sure of it.

It's my understanding (from his accident report) that there were a few moments before he died, when he knew he was going to...(the driver said, on the accident report, he'd fallen asleep, at the wheel, and woke up to my husband desperately trying to wrestle the wheel out of his hands, and turn it from the interstate bridge support they were heading straight at)

The driver survived.
The accident report said they'd had to wait til he regained conciousness, to ask him if his passenger had been black or white. There wasn't much left to cremate, but I had followed my husband's wishes about that, (expressed 2 years earlier) and scattered his ashes in a lovely place in the N. Ga. mountains he'd loved so much. The place is still safe and beautiful, and will remain so for as long as I, and his son, live.

I eventually re-married, but not until after my youngest left for college, earned by himself, from scholarships .

My present husband is a good man. More alike than he knows, to the one I lost. He doesn't live with a ghost. He lives with a legacy that he understands needed to have gone, before, in order make me the person he fell in love with, and make me determined not to marry, again, until I'd found a man as good for me, as the one I lost, or better.
He understands.

Today, he came home, and announced "There was an Allman Bros. song on the radio, when i was coming home.......I always liked that one"
.....funny, i didn't think I knew any......but it turns out I knew many, I just hadn't realized I did.

I hope I've set some of the record straight, filled in some of the places it was sketchy, or downright wrong.
BTW the only 'peaches' that truck ever 'carried' were in a brown paper sack in the front seat.
Windsinger


[Edited on 12/20/2006 by windsinger]
*********************************************
I did a search for that song Chuck was always singing to me. No wonder I couldn't find it under Glen Campbell's name ,.......it was Paul Anka's song,....I'm So embarrassed. We listened to a LOT of Glen Campbell in those days,...so it was a natural mistake. As to Chuck's reference to "so much blood',.....He HAD said it,.....but I'd assumed he ment on/around Duane. (He was still in shock and making vague references to what-all he'd seen) I've since learned that where Duane actually fell,...there was little of that to be seen. But Chuck got to the bike before he discovered Duane. In Sott Freeman's book 'Skydog' there is a photo of Duane's bike against the low curb. Beneath it is a clearly flowing puddle of SOMETHING,.......there is a time, in early morning and late evening,...when the sunlight is all but gone,...and 'colors' become cold tones that are often impossible to identify. I THINK that the 'blood' Chuck was referring to was, in fact, that dark liquid around the bike. In the low late Fall light,....I believe he likely mistook it for blood, since he was looking for a missing rider after he turned the engine off on the bike. But in his state of shock he never distinguished between what he saw around the bike and what he saw when he found Duane. He DID say that 'the kid' had lost his helmet and he saw (a lot of long blond hair).

I've also (last April) learned that Duane had bought a helmet, he really liked (from a friend of the man I was asking in Macon, about the accident) and as Duane was leaving the shop,....he complained that he didn't like the color of the straps on the helmet,...and so, as I understood it,...he removed them from the helmet after he purchased it. The man I was talking to, voiced the question of wondering if That was the same helmet Duane lost in the accident,.....i.e. Duane Was apparently wearing one,...but he lost it.
Maybe he lost it because it wasn't strapped on,...or was missing the straps. Does anyone know what became of the helment ? If it was missing the straps,...it was likely the same one I was told about. If so,...that would help explain it's loss at the time of the accident.

Ann. I'm not trying to re-hash all this.
Just trying to clarify some things.
I've been told by mutual aquaintances that you're a great lady and we'd likely like each other under other circumstances. I hope we can someday get those.
Wind"

Allman Brothers Forum where the above information came from....and more!

                                       
These are the steps that once led to the Allman Brothers "First House" at 309 College St. Now only a vacant lot. 
 This mushroom is on the sidewalk in front of the address of 309 College St.

Right next door to 309 College Street is the "The Bell House" at 315 College Street. The Allman Brothers had their photograph taken here for the cover of their first album.
                             
Another view of 315 College Street.
                             
Duane's apartment in 1969 at 1125 Bond Street.

These are in the concrete in front of 1125 Bond Street.

One of Gregg Allman's places at 847 Orange Terrace.

Right next door to 847 Orange Terrace is another one of Gregg's places...here at 839A Orange Street.

Next I drove to 586 Orange Terrace...the map I got from The Big House said this was Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks place. I punched the address in Google maps, but when I got there all I saw were empty lots. Either that or I missed it! The little voice on my phone kept saying...your destination is on the right. Maybe it's still there...or maybe not. If I was going to spend more time in Macon I would have looked closer, but I still wanted to go to Rose Hill Cemetery. While I was at The Big House the volunteer said, I don't know what kind of vehicle you have but be careful if you drive in. The roads are very narrow and in some areas they're in pretty poor condition. Oh, I'm thinking to myself...I drive a Suburban!  
The main entrance to Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.
                                       One view within the cemetery....
Another view within Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia. Duane Allman was buried in an area called Carnation Ridge. The sign just about in the middle of the image says Carnation Ridge. Duane Allman and Berry Oakley of the Allman Brothers Band are buried just to the right of this image...
 Duane Allman (left) and Berry Oakley (right) are buried next to each other....there is now a wrought iron fence around the grave sites so this is as close as you can get
                                                    Another view....
 "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Napier)"...

from Wikipedia...The original studio recording of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" is the fourth track on the group's 1970 album Idlewild South. Composed by Dickey Betts, it is the first instrumental written by a bandmember. The original Rolling Stone review of Idlewild South said the song "just goes and goes for a stupendous, and unnoticed, seven minutes."[1]
The song is named after a headstone Betts saw at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia,[2] a place frequented by band members in their early days to relax and write songs. Considerable legend has developed about what Betts was doing at the time, some originated by a possibly put-on interview Duane Allman gave Rolling Stone.[3] The cemetery was later memorialized by the band as the final resting spot of both band leader Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley. In recent interviews, Dickey Betts has confessed that the headstone bearing the inscription “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” was the rendezvous point for himself and a woman he was having a clandestine affair with. According to Betts, the tune is really about his affair with this woman, but in order to protect the woman’s identity, Betts called the tune “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" rather
than using the woman's name"

                                       
"Little Martha" Ellis...a song Duane wrote was "Little Martha"...some say it was named after Martha Ellis who died at a young age...others say it was about Dixie Lee Meadows, who Duane was living with at the time of his death. Duane used to call Dixie, "Little Martha"
 The Bond Monument at Rose Hill Cemetery...things have changed to this site in the 40 plus years when the Allman Brothers had their photograph taken for the back cover of their first album.

Well, I spent 3 1/2 hours in Macon and I decided I should get back on the road. There were a lot of other places I would have liked to have seen, but I had lots of driving left to do. I plan to go back soon so I think I'll plan on spending the day so that I don't feel was rushed.

If you're an Allman Brothers fan and your near Macon, Georgia I highly recommend stopping at The Big House. If you plan to visit the grave sites I think my images will help you find them. If you know what your looking for sure helps, especially if your short on time.

Another site with more information than what I posted: Duane Allman Info 

Allman Brothers Band



Charles W. Ryan II (Facebook)


CIIcanoe (Blog)

Chuck Ryan Photography (Model Mayhem

2 comments:

Jessica Walden said...

Nice blog. For a Macon music history tour check us out at rockcandytours.com. Cheers!

Unknown said...

I went to college in Macon in the mid 70s and there was no fence around the graves. The grave site was a regular place to go and hang out with friends while discussing life and the heavy things all 18-22 year olds ponder. Frequently, visitors left items in homage to their beloved departed musical idols. Not all items were legal! You can use your imagination on that one and likely you will be right. I have often thought of going back to Rose Hill to see the graves. I hate that you can no longer go right up to the graves, though I understand the need to protect. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.