By Sheila Ross
Since 1944 James Holloway's half-acre garden has helped him make friends and help others.
Still spry at 84, Holloway works daily in his garden patch behind his Forest Park home. With the help of his 1970 Massey Ferguson tractor he plants tomatoes, squash, okra, banana peppers, cucumbers, corn, bell peppers and green beans. Some he sells on the honor system while more is given away to charities and individuals in need.
And when he's not tending his garden he makes an occasional trip to Cordele to pick up watermelons and cantaloupes that he delivers to Earl Lyle, produce manager of Wholesale Food Outlet in Forest Park.
"He's a very hard-working man," Lyle said of his produce partner of 12 years. "He's dependable, dedicated, fair and reminds me of my own father."
Gardening is hard work and Lyle admits to making a "rewarding $2,000 a year" through his "hobby."
"I enjoy it," he says, "I come out here and pick what needs to be picked."
And he goes the natural route using Mother Nature's own insecticide in the form of a variety of birds.
"I have mocking birds, brown thrashers and blue jays that help me out. They consume all the worms before they can get to the vegetables," he said.
Holloway has visited almost every state transporting fruits and vegetables. He's trucked Christmas trees during the holiday season and pumpkins in the fall and also has maintained space at the Georgia Farmers Market in Forest Park. Traveling is how he met his lifelong friend and fellow produce trucker Ralph Boatwright of McDonough. Boatwright, 78, became his traveling companion on many trips.
"He's helped me out a lot," Boatwright said. "There's been times I've been going down the road and see him pulled over to the side needing some help. We have just always helped each other out."
Holloway, a World War II veteran with a purple heart was a sergeant for 38 months with the 12th engineering battalion of the 121st infantry - 8th division of the Georgia National Guard, brought him face to face with none other than George Patton. He says other than his affiliation with the guard, he has never drawn a real pay-check. In his travels he says he has met President Gerald Ford, and was once asked if he'd be interested in the office of Secretary of Agriculture by Carl Mosley. Holloway said he passively turned the opportunity down.
Holloway considers himself a very giving person. He doesn't hesitate to give fruits and vegetables to people who need them. "I like to make friends," he says. "Friends are sometimes better than your own people," he said. "That's the way I've always done business and that's the right way."
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