I never had the privilege of either meeting or knowing the man. I never knew his name until this Saturday morning while returning from my usual attendance at the monthly country breakfast, American Legion Smyrna Post 160. However, as with countless others within Cobb County, I well knew and have admired his garden for many years.
Anyone over the last twenty years who has ever traveled or traversed Church Road to and from South Cobb Drive, Smyrna, Georgia, knows of this man’s garden. One could not help but notice and gaze upon this sizable plot of land surrounded by thick woods upon which stood a grand tribute to gardening the old fashion way.
There stately stood planted rows of every type vegetable to include tomatoes, stalks of corn, and okra. There was an undeniable symmetry of design and purpose, clearly reflecting someone’s dedicated toil and sweat to create from the earth to bring forth a harvest of plenty. Someone had tilled and prepared this soil the year round no doubt with great affection and love. Seeds of quality had been chosen, planted, and then nurtured from meager sprouts to full grown mature plants for harvest and the Lord willing, a time of plenty. Since there are no apparent water resources or evidence of specialized modern garden equipment of any kind all indications pointed to creations by human hand.
I always wondered as to the identity of this gifted gardener that had so tirelessly created this planting masterpiece so robust of fruits and produce? There had been a few rare occasions when passing when I happened to notice a mature gentleman of years weeding or working the land. I kept saying to myself that I must stop or pull over on the limited grassy road shoulder to meet and learn more about this esteemed gardener.
Unfortunately for me, the perceived press of reaching some other destination or purpose would always postpone for another time or day. Sadly for me the opportunity was to pass unfilled forever. On Saturday morning, I found instead a large wreath of flowers in small tribute to this man and his garden. I would have the privilege instead to meet his daughter, who with her mother, was now working by hand to fulfill her father’s desires for this year’s garden – to perpetuate for at least one more year the garden he so loved.
Only then did I learn his identity:
Mr. Roy L. Hall age 81 of Smyrna, passed away Monday, April 9th. Funeral services will be held 11:00 A.M. Thursday, April 12th at Carmichael Funeral Home Chapel in Smyrna with Rev. Dawn Britt officiating. Internment will be in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. A native of Sand Mountain, AL. Mr. Hall had been a longtime resident of Cobb County. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He was employed by Lockheed as a Supervisor for over 42 years before retiring. He was a longtime member of Tillman United Methodist Church. Roy had a garden on Church Rd., in Smyrna for over 20 years and was known throughout the community for his outstanding produce. People came from far and wide to take his tomatoes back to their homes around the country.
Though I never met or knew Roy L. Hall, both I and my Mom (a local resident of 91 years young who had passed this garden almost daily for the last twenty years), not to mention countless others in Cobb County, knew and admired his garden. Such the pity since Mr. Hall and I had quite a lot in common (e.g., a love and appreciation for working the soil to produce from one’s own labors, feeling and being imbued within all aspects of Nature, and both being veterans of military service during a time of war). As shared by his daughter, that as well included being members of Smyrna American Legion Post # 160 (Concord Road) and both enjoying their monthly early morning country breakfast events.
Roy Hall left a legacy and memory engrained in countless souls throughout Cobb County – the commanding architecture and beauty of his annual garden. By his labors of love and gardening expressions he would stimulate and touch innumerable metaphors, analogies, and seeds for thought among us all.
What greater tribute to a man than his creations within this garden?
Within a religious context, mankind itself was created and sprang from the Hands of God within Garden of Eden. It was within the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus would be transformed According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, Gethsemane is the garden where the Virgin Mary was buried and was assumed into heaven after her dormition on Mount Zion. The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for early Christian pilgrims which continues to this very day.
The very foundations of this country and our noble traditions emanate from men of the land, who planted, and harvested. Their restored homes and gardens are lasting tributes to those special men, their ideals, and grace achieved from working and being part of the land: e.g., George Washington (Mount Vernon); Thomas Jefferson (Monticello); James Madison (Montpelier); James Monroe (Ash-lawn Highland).
Roy Hall was a father, husband, a military veteran who served his country in time of war, and a gardener who has touched so many in so many ways. Such is a shining legacy for which his family, friends, and admirers should all be proud for it endures time itself being implanted in our memories to again be shared with so many others.
Such is my humble tribute to a man I never knew. I only knew his garden. Perhaps we all should ponder how our garden grows? One thing is certain. Roy Hall and his garden have left positive legacies for all of us. May the Lord bless and keep Roy Hall and his surviving family.