Recently an elderly couple knocked on the door of MLT’s Content Cottage, one of the bungalows on our six-building creative campus, and declared with childlike glee, “We used to live here!” The couple turned out to be siblings Stan and Nancy Johnson, who lived here as children when it was a residence from 1949 to 1956.
I happily invited them inside to tour their former childhood home and they instinctively shared stories of playtime, school, holidays, and family time. Nancy was moved to tears gazing into “mama and daddy’s room,” which was now my book and paper-strewn wired-up office. They were amazed and pleased that much of the little bungalow’s structure was mostly unchanged. They reminisced over the minute and special craftsman architectural details, “I remember that door and those windows. Look, the base boards are the same.” Stan giggled like a little boy, recalling a tree he used to climb that still stood with over 60 years of more height and girth. He particularly enjoyed MLT’s collection of vintage advertising characters on display throughout the house.
“Clarkston, Georgia in the ’50s was really different from nowadays,” the brother and sister agreed. They shared how the family had the morning and evening editions of the daily newspaper delivered. Neighbors communicated over the back porch or the front hedges, respectful of the boundaries, yet trusting enough to never lock doors. With no television in the home, the family gathered to listen to radio programming and story-telling over meals. Their heavy, black telephone had no dial and was shared on a party line with neighbors on the block. Postage for a letter was three cents and the family could be fed for a week with a $10 visit to the corner store.
As I listened to the Johnsons wax nostalgic, I couldn’t help comparing their unhurried childhood world to our current state of lightning-fast communication. Who has time to wait on the newspaper when we can receive up-to-the-moment news from anywhere in the world on TV or Internet? My four-ounce iPhone in my pocket can connect me with colleagues and family thousands of miles away. I can send a message to anyone on the globe with an email or text. No longer a Mayberry-like setting, the cottage is now wired with alarmed motion sensors and has security bars on the windows. A mile-drive away, we can buy a nice light lunch for about ten dollars and only essential documents are sent through the U.S. Postal Service at 45 cents an ounce.
While Stan and Nancy recalled the good ole days, the fact that their home was now part of a vibrant, creative and thriving business gave them solace. Seeing their old house renovated and outfitted with the latest technology, yet still maintaining its original charm gave the septuagenarians a warm and comfortable sentiment about progress. Thanking me for the hospitality, they shared their pride that the owners/partners of MLT Creative had the vision to build out the little cottages on their block, improve the community and provide honorable careers for decades of generations.
Returning to work (in Mama and Daddy Johnson’s room), I realized I was moved by the siblings’ impromptu visit. I’ll never forget how inspired they were by the progress we’ve made here at MLT Creative. Making new connections, like I did with the Johnsons, enables one to reach back and visualize another era and reminds one to stay encouraged and optimistic about the future.