About this blog
Heydays (noun) • The period of one’s greatest popularity, vigor or prosperity
In 1978, my parents moved to Atlanta and bought a house in a neighborhood just north of Chastain Park. Friends and family asked them “Why are you living so far outside of town?”
Obviously, things have changed. Now, when people learn that I grew up inside the I-285 loop, their most common response is “Wow, a true native.” Yes, I am an ITP Atlanta native. I grew up riding the original Pink Pig at the downtown Rich’s store each Christmas, running in the Peachtree Jr. Road Race and playing in one of the first softball seasons at the aforementioned Chastain Park.
My childhood in Atlanta also included a brief stint as a kid reporter. You won’t find it in the YouTube archives, but back in the 1980s there was a local children’s television show in Atlanta called S.C.O.O.P.S. The focus of the show was Atlanta, specifically activities in the city for kids. And, because my dad was a writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which hosted the show, my brother and I became two of the show’s reporters (see publicity photo). With a camera crew in tow, we visited local Atlanta attractions, such as the Chattahoochee Nature Center and SciTrek, interviewed staff and reported on things of interest to kids.
I have always loved non-fiction stories. I read every book in the biography series for children at my local Sandy Springs library. Although S.C.O.O.P.S was short-lived and probably only seen by our family and friends, it introduced me to the art of storytelling. I was a quiet kid, so I never dreamed of a TV career. But there was something about storytelling and journalism’s five Ws that intrigued me.
In high school, I joined the newspaper staff. I wrote news stories and a column called “Needle in a Heystack” (yes, the play on my last name started early). I headed off to college, became sports editor of the newspaper, worked for CNN, transitioned into public relations and then, of course, started this Atlanta blog. Along the way, I earned two degrees in religion, which often leads people to ask me at least one of the five Ws.
The thing is … I’ve been asking people why they do what they do since I was a teenager. I’ve interviewed sports figures and local leaders, students and humanitarian workers. It seems only natural that I would study religion and spirituality. Traditionally, these are the places where people ask the big questions — why am I here? what is my purpose? how do I relate to others? how do I relate to the world?
These degrees allowed me to do what I had been doing for years anyway – study people’s stories. What I discovered is that stories are not only the vehicles through which we share information, they are also how we connect with each other and build community. Stories are the way people make sense of their lives, express what is valuable to them, celebrate, heal, learn, laugh and remember. Of course, all these insights just made me want to be an even better storyteller.
From S.C.O.O.P.S. to Atlanta Heydays, my life has made one of those interesting full-circle loops. Instead of being on TV, I’m now on the web. Instead of a camera crew following me around, I’m the one taking pictures and telling stories through photos. My audience is no longer kids, but it’s still my fellow Atlantans. And, my little brother is no longer forced to pose for cheesy pictures with me, but he might have to do a jumping photo for his future profile on this blog.
Except for a jaunt to college, I’ve spent most of my life in this city. And, for good reasons: The weather is great. I can easily find a cold glass of sweet tea or a good bowl of grits. People are friendly and interesting. There’s some history but also an ever-changing landscape. I find plenty of things to do – indoors or outdoors.
And, of course, this is home (a short word that’s long on significance).
For everyone who also calls Atlanta home, I hope the photos and stories on this blog might remind you of your favorite parts of Atlanta or lead you to discover something new about this great Southern city.
– Patricia Heys