Summer is a real roller coaster - Kathy Jefcoats

I had no idea how much school being in session impacts my commute to work until last week when classes were out for spring break. As my readers know, I drive back and forth to Henry from Fayette County every day. The two-lane Jonesboro Road is not a bad drive but I really got spoiled last week. I can't wait for summer.

Aw, summer. It will be here before we know it, right? And summer to me always means Six Flags. I guess most women my age – which we won't discuss until October when my birthday rolls around again – don't care for the theme park but I love it. My grandparents took us to Six Flags over Mid-America in St. Louis when we were kids. Then we moved to Georgia and got to go to Six Flags in Atlanta every summer. I will never forget my first ride on the Scream Machine. All of us from church had gone, loaded up those church vans, packed Cheetos and Thermoses of Kool-Aid, peanut butter sandwiches in plastic bags and headed north from Macon.

We always left early in the morning and it seemed to take forever to get there. One year, I got permission for my friend, Rosa, to spend the night with me so she could go with us. We had a blast. But the first year was my first ride on the Scream Machine. I rode with Gates Winters. I babysat with his kids and he coached at my junior high school, in addition to being a youth leader.

I kept my face buried in his arm during the whole ride; I was scared to death. Of course, when it was over, I felt exhilarated and wanted to go again. We went again and I buried my face in his arm and screamed the whole time. Repeat that scenario a few more times and that was my first year at Six Flags over Georgia.

I eventually learned to love roller coasters and am now able to ride one without burying my face in someone's arm and screaming.

I love the Six Flags commercials that are running now, with the dancer dressed up as an old man with outrageous black-framed glasses. I think the music makes it even more fun. Drive that bus to my house, I'll go with you to Six Flags.

I always enjoyed church outings. I am the oldest of five kids – we never had any money so we didn't get to do much, especially after we moved to Georgia. When we lived in St. Louis, we always went camping in the Ozarks but that's another column. Getting together with kids from church was great. I didn't go to school with most of them so we didn't see each other all the time, which I think made the get-togethers even better.

I think my favorite memory, though, involved mailboxes and fast food trash. My longtime friend, Ken, the ringleader of our church youth group, came up with an activity called "hitting" a mailbox and it had nothing to do with baseballs. It sounds corny to explain it but it was great fun. Whenever someone in the group couldn't go with the rest to an after church outing, that person's mailbox would get "hit" that night. That is, we'd sneak up on the mailbox and leave empty fast food containers or napkins as a remembrance. We'd write notes on them, of course, teasing the person for not being able to make it that night.

The next morning, calls went all around, letting the others know how it went and what happened.

One summer night, I couldn't make it and my folks, who were always involved in what we were doing, decided to stake out the mailbox and catch Ken in the act. We lived on a corner lot where we could see all around us. We turned off the lights in the house and waited. Suddenly we saw Ken's car turn onto the road. He drove to the end of the street and got out. Butch McMichael was with him. I had such a crush on Butch so I was thrilled to see him sneaking down the road to get to my house.

We all hid in the yard and watched them. When they got to the mailbox, we all jumped up, Mom and Dad included. "Gotcha!"

That was great. It was also cool because it was the only time Ken ever got caught and it was cool because my parents were the only ones ever involved in stuff like with the kids. Everyone talked about that for months.

Kathy Jefcoats is the public safety reporter for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at kjefcoats@henryherald.com.