By Joselyn Watkins
It’s true, many times mighty things are wrapped up in small packages. I found this to be true of Alice Garrard who is now a resident of Chimney Rock, North Carolina. Although small in stature she has lived an action packed interesting life and is not shy about sharing her many adventures with others.
Her story begins in the little town of Washington, Georgia with its graceful elms lining the streets that are laced with antebellum homes. Alice remembers it as a “slow place to grow up” although she was left motherless at the age of five when her mother died.
The Garrard home, her grandparents’ house, was a lovely farm home just outside of town situated on approximately 250 acres where the family gathered on Sunday afternoons. She fondly recalls the names of her aunts: Lillian, Elsie, Marie and Ruth on her mother’s side and Katherine and Mary on her father’s side. She credits these ladies with the great and loving care that she was given as a child. Alice remembers too, all the sounds and smells of the farm as the cattle mooed, the hogs snorted and the roosters woke you early. When she goes back to visit, this very place has bittersweet memories for her. She stayed there until she was sixteen.
Alice’s last two years of high school were spent with her sister who was eleven years older. She dreamed of a life of writing with aspirations of being employed by Good Housekeeping and living in New York City. Ironically, her dream was realized because as a Journalism major at the University of Georgia she did an internship with Good Housekeeping. So, when she went to interview there after graduation she had only to walk in the door. One of the editors recognized her immediately and said, “Oh, there you are. We’ve been waiting for you and we’ve saved just the right position for you.” What a wonderful surprise for this farm girl from North Georgia. Now, after all these years, Alice still has many strong friendships from that employment.
She liked three major things about New York City and they were: 1- that it was full of energy, 2- it had a mix of people from all over the world and 3 – it exuded a great sense of possibility. Humorously, Alice remembers that when she told her Grandmother of her plans to move to New York City, her grandmother said, “Okay, you can go, but don’t you marry a Yankee.” Alice has kept this promise.
In the summer of 1974, Alice with her trusty duffel bag went visiting friends here there and everywhere all over the United States. Upon coming back to NYC she moved from Good Housekeeping Magazine to be a copy editor at Popular Science. But then, she and a companion decided to go to South America exploring many countries including Ecuador and Argentina and finally settling in Quito. In Buenos Aires she taught American English as people there wanted to learn American English and not the British English that they had been taught in school. This wander land lasted two years.
When Alice came back to New York City she took a job with Kidder-Peabody doing formal editing and there she became embroiled in human rights issues such as the dress code for working women. Law cases took her into the New York Court System which was an education in and of itself. She said the dress code case was lost so women could not wear slacks to work.
Adventurous Alice left Kidder-Peabody in 1978 and back packed her way to Alaska. She flew from New York to Seattle catching the Alaska State Ferry that would take her all the way to Juneau. She slept on the deck of the Ferry during passage. Her many experiences are annotated in the first travel article she wrote for the New York Daily News about Alaska entitled, “Why People go to Alaska and why they stay” as well as a magazine article.
Alice didn’t necessarily want to stay in Alaska, but she did want to take a trip to Barrow. She was fortunate enough to have connections with an oil company and hitched a ride on a large oil tanker. When asked if the drivers would take a passenger, one had a jealous wife so he declined, another driver liked to have the seat next to him reserved for his stuff, but the third driver agreed to have Alice as a passenger. The one bit of advice that the driver gave Alice for the three day trip was, “If we lose our brakes, JUMP”. How exciting and scary that must have been, but she called it a “magical trip”.
On coming back to New York she suddenly realized that with all of her many experiences, she had enough material to become a free-lance writer. She created and sold enough articles to become a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
And then a fortunate cab ride put her in touch with a principal from the Frommer Travel Guides. She revised many guides for countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Eastern Canada, Scandinavian countries and wrote a Guide Book to San Diego, California. This meant monthly travel and she became a member of The Travel Journalists Guild. She free lanced with these various companies for twenty years. She also wrote guide books for Disney, but when this division of the company was sold, Alice wandered yet again. This time her direction was to write for The Philanthropy Digest. She described this venture in endearing terms. It delighted her to be writing about,” good people doing good things”.
Having completed many of the “bucket list” items that Alice had thought of, she decided that at sixty she wanted a slower pace of living so she retreated back to her roots in the little town of Washington, Georgia. Taking a year off, she was going to let her future find her. She frequented the library every day and joined a 5 O’clock CLub support group. The not-for-profit businesses greatly appealed to her and also she was drawn to the State of North Carolina, but didn’t want to write anymore.
Alice’s future definitely did find her as she worked with Pavillon in Millspring, North Carolina as support staff for three years. This prompted her to find a small house on the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock, North Carolina which just happened to be right across the street from a certain Danny Holland who had recently been widowed. And yes, you guessed it, “the man who thought he would never marry again” and the woman who “thought she would never marry” now grow beautiful flowers together on the banks of the Rocky Broad River. They also are a dedicated twosome who give many hours to the Flowering Bridge located in Lake Lure, NC. Wandering other lands had led Alice to a true Wonder land.