Ninety-five-year-old Cecil Alexander said he wants people to read his book and realize they can change perspectives.
“I want them to take away that they can go away from being prejudiced,” the Buckhead resident said, “and to being very free-minded and taking people as they come, and not judging anybody by the color of their skin.”
Additionally, Alexander said, “I want them to take away a feeling of security when they see a Marine.”
His book, “Crossing the Line: The Awakening of a Good Ol’ Boy,” and co-written by Randy Southerland, was published in May and is a two-part memoir beginning in 1918.
Part One is titled “The Awakening of a Good Ol’ Boy,” and Part Two is titled, “The War Years 1941-1945.”
The book depicts his entire life, from his privileged childhood growing up in a prominent Atlanta family, to his experience as a Marine Air Corps flying dive-bombing missions in the Pacific during World War II, as well as a Harvard architecture student.
“Even though Cecil grew up privileged, he was a man of such humility,” said book editor and friend Fred DuBose, of New York. “He draws a vivid picture of what it’s like to be on a Pacific island in Micronesia in the Marshall Islands, and having to fly all these bombing missions to neighboring islands, where he was always in threat.”
After the war, Alexander married his first wife, Hermi, and rented a house on his uncle Henry Alexander’s property — where Phipps Plaza in Buckhead stands today, DuBose said.
Alexander played a major role as one of Atlanta’s civic leaders who made Atlanta “too busy to hate” in the 1960s, he said.
“He was a very close friend to Mayor Ivan Allen, who sort of made Atlanta happen,” DuBose said. “Cecil was right there by his side. That is when Cecil really got his education and his awakening as a good ol’ boy.”
Alexander also designed architecture around Atlanta, including the Coca-Cola headquarters, the first Georgia Power building and the Round House on Mount Paran Road, where he now resides with his second wife, Helen. The Round House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
His daughter, Judith Augustine, described her father as a “remarkable man,” and said his book offers a balance between humor and tragedy.
“There was the death of my mother Hermi, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1983,” she said. “Then there are funny stories and observations.”
And DuBose said anyone would enjoy reading Alexander’s book.
“He had a life that is so incredibly interesting,” he said. “And he has the most amazing sense of humor. He just tells stories in such a lively, funny way.”
Alexander said, “I’m just an old loud mouth. That’s all.”