Fall is by far the best time of year.
As the evenings grow shorter and sounds of crickets die down, life settles into a near-perfect rhythm moving between school, football and the fall parties and festivals. We only get to enjoy the optimal weather for a month or two before our attention turns to the nuttiness of the holidays and the air develops a bit of a nip.
Our son Thornton, 10, is playing NYO football, and Friday nights we are at Lovett watching the Lions when they are home. My father, Alfred Kennedy, claims to have played the sport at one point in his life, probably when he was very little, but he didn’t encourage his three boys to play; therefore the sport is a bit foreign to me.
Case in point: in high school my father and I were having dinner one evening at Café Prego, a reliable little Italian restaurant that used to be on Roswell Road in Buckhead that is now closed. Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton was sitting a few tables away. I quietly told my dad that a famous professional athlete was sitting nearby. He looked around oblivious and we went back to eating. When Fran walked by our table, he stopped and said hello to my father. They chatted for a minute. I asked him if he knew who that was and he said that was Fran Tarkenton, who he knew through business. Somehow my father had missed that whole Minnesota Vikings thing.
Growing up, our family enjoyed fall Saturdays in Athens with my grandparents, watching my grandfather’s beloved Bulldogs when the expectations were high and Georgia always seemed to live up to them. I’ll never forget Pa Pa as we called my grandfather, also Alfred Kennedy, coming by our house on West Wesley Road in Buckhead a few days after Georgia won the national championship in 1980 with six-packs of commemorative Coca-Cola bottles for each of us. Those bottles are still around. One of them is on our son’s desk.
In the fall we played backyard football games with the neighbors and jumped in piles of raked leaves with reckless abandon. We bought our Halloween costumes at Richards Five and 10 (now Richards Variety Store) at the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. The prepackaged costumes consisted of a plastic mask with an elastic band and a matching top essentially made out of flimsy plastic bags.
While there were a number of children in our neighborhood, there were far more elderly folks in big scary houses way off the street. The neighborhood children knew them by last name only and had only heard rumors of their existence. We still managed to make it home with enough candy to satisfy a small army.
Over the next few weeks, the leaves will change and fall, and the immaculate weather will hopefully shift slightly colder. Those bookends — the heat of the summer and the chill of the winter — are what make autumn that much more enjoyable.
Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at