USAA branch comes to Buckhead


USAA Financial Service Center

USAA, the well-respected financial institution that serves members of the military, veterans, and dependents, is opening a service center in Atlanta.  The bank typically serves its customers only by phone or online.  This strategy has allowed USAA to offer high interest rates on savings and checking accounts, low fees, and low car insurance premiums.

At the new branch, customers will be able to buy car insurance, open an account, make deposits or withdrawals, and get help with financial planning and military transitions like changing duty stations, deploying, or retiring.

The Atlanta USAA Financial Center will open on March 28.  It will be located at the corner of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry in Two Buckhead Plaza (near Chops):

Two Buckhead Plaza
3050 Peachtree Road, Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30305

I’ve been a USAA member for years but have never had the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face.  This will be a great service option for military families in the Atlanta area!

Local Marines display 100 years of history


Two Marine veterans are displaying their collection of historical military gear around schools in Henry, Spalding and other counties just south of the Atlanta area.  They will also come to your location if it’s not too far.  This seems like it would be a great opportunity for boy scout troops, ROTC programs, and history classes to take advantage of.

The two men assembled their collection from shops and flea markets.  I hope they accept donations–I’d rather give some of my old gear to them than leaving it on the curb!  The Henry Herald reports:

Veterans give military history lessons from personal collection

By Johnny Jackson

Mar 4, 2016

McDONOUGH — Students marveled at the walkie-talkie — a stamped steel, two-way radio shaped like an 80s cellphone receiver, but twice as large.

The device stood atop a table of artifacts dating back 100 years, pieces of a personal collection owned by McDonough residents Lamar Scott and Buddy Simpson. It was part of their exhibit displayed this week in the Navy JROTC wing of Eagle’s Landing High School.

Scott, 68, and Simpson, 78, are veteran Marines who served during the Vietnam War-era and want that history to be told and memorialized.

Over the past decade, they have collected hundreds of pieces to display in visits to area schools, churches and senior centers. The exhibit covers military engagements from World War I to the Vietnam War.

“I’ve been collecting for about 11 years,” said Scott. “I started off with just a little bit of a collection. I went from a few shelves in the bedroom to a 6-by-12-foot trailer. And now we have an 8-by-20-foot trailer.”

Scott has managed to collect most of his items through flea market sprees in the North Georgia area, while Simpson has built his collection buying from shops across the Southeast.

“We do it to teach students about history,” he said. “If you forget your past, you have no hope for the future. We’re preserving history through wartime collection.”

He and Simpson have loyal friendships in Russ Vermillion and Terry McClure who volunteer their time helping show the historic pieces.

Both wartime veterans have a vested interest in the military histories. Vermillion served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1968 to 1970, and McClure served in the Army from 1972 to 1974.

Vermillion keeps the group lively during exhibits with intermittent jokes, breaking lulls of seriousness with jest.

On Thursday, a cloud of chatter filled the Navy JROTC wing of Eagles Landing High, where the men and a few JROTC cadets spent seven hours setting up cabinets, table displays and mannequins.

About 50 mannequins clad in antique uniforms dwarfed the men as they answered questions from students passing through.

“These mannequins represent men and women that died for our freedoms,” said Scott. “The best representation is Jesus Christ that died for all of us. But if I can get four or five of these kids on the right road, I’ve done my job.”

Simpson said he regularly receives donations from people who might otherwise toss the historic items in the trash…

A glimpse beyond Sugar Creek Garden


Overlooking the floodplain toward Sugar Creek Garden in Decatur, Ga.


Oakhurst Park isn’t the only green space in Oakhurst.  Sugar Creek Garden is nestled off of East Lake Drive behind Oakhurst Presbyterian Church.  Drivers can park at the lower level of the church’s parking lot.  Pedestrians can too, or they can enter the long way through a gate on 3rd Avenue.

While visiting the community garden today on an unseasonably warm 72 degree December day, we spotted oregano, dill, and thyme.  There’s an outdoor sink to wash vegetables and a solar-powered pump.  The garden is funded by the Wylde Center, a Decatur nonprofit.

Beyond the garden is a floodplain maintained by the City.  When it’s dry it would be a good spot for Frisbee or pick-up soccer.  The glade sits between the backs of the homes on 3rd and 2nd Avenue.

Running alongside the gardens and the glade is tributary in a flume that feeds into Sugar Creek.  (Sugar Creek feeds into the Ocmulgee and Altamaha River to the Atlantic.)  A berm juts upward on the other side of the flume behind the long backyards of the homes on 2nd Avenue.  There are a couple benches on top of the berm if you’re creative and spry enough to get up there.  The tributary leads underneath 2nd Avenue southwest into Atlanta and another Wylde Center Garden, Hawk Hollow, not so far away.

The southern edge of the glade borders 615 3rd Avenue, an old brick apartment complex owned by an Ethiopian businessman.  Between the apartment complex and the flume are some holly trees and a fence with signs warning people to stay out of the park during floods.

If you’ve never been to Sugar Creek Garden, this is a good time because there’s a Christmas tree lot behind the church near the garden.  If you buy a tree or wreath, proceeds go to the boy scouts.