Life’s Lessons

It’s gone!

By Helen Guilford - For the Expositor

I was two months short of 12 years old when my family moved into the Fulton County Home in Ottokee, where Dad and Mom would be superintendent and matron for the next 24 years. At the time, of course, we didn’t know or even question the longevity of the relocation.

What a place for a girl that age to explore! The building had a full basement, main floor, second floor, and full attic. The basement housed the kitchen and dining room for the employees and other utility type rooms. On the main floor were another kitchen and two dining rooms for the residents, two residential wings, administrative office, and living room for employees. The second floor held bedrooms for employees and two wings for residents. Then, the attic.

There was also the beautiful, massive entryway. Up about five or six steps the stairway divided, one set of stairs going right and another going left. Here, church services were held, as were Christmas parties for the residents as well as our family Christmas Day festivities.

But that’s just the main building.

Behind it was another brick structure. When we arrived, and for a number of years thereafter, one elderly man lived in that building because he preferred his own company. That gentleman must have been quite dismayed when the pre-teen daughter of the new administration discovered “his” building! But discover it, I did!

When the courthouse was in Ottokee, this building was the county jail. It still had eight cells in place, one of which was home to the building’s lone occupant. The cells were back-to-back down two hallways . There were also two large open rooms. I always wondered about their purpose. Dormitories? Was one a day room where “prisoners” could visit, play cards, maybe even exercise a bit?

This building was eventually restructured to be a convalescent wing and was attached to the second floor kitchen by a ramp. We called it the hospital wing. The first floor was divided into two apartments for married employees.

In the early 1990s the county home structure was razed, but the old jail remained and was used in various ways for several years

Just the other day, though, my sister-in-law, who lives right across the road from the property, asked if I knew the old hospital building was gone. No, I didn’t, but I soon made a trip around the property to see its new status. If not for the memories, I wouldn’t know either building had been there!

I guess, with Carol Burnett, I have to say, “Thanks for the memories.” They are precious. Where others my age reminisce of hours spent baking cookies with their mothers, I reminisce about county home days. Wouldn’t trade places for anything. But it’s all gone now.

One thing remains steadfast and unchangeable, one thing that will never have the “It’s gone” epitaph, is our sure hope of eternal life if we have accepted Christ as Savior. We will never look at that and say, “It’s gone!”

I recently visited with a gentleman whom it’s quite possible I won’t see again in this life, as he is nearing the end of his journey. I wanted to be sure, “Ray, you do know Jesus, don’t you?”

With a beautiful smile, his eyes sought mine as he replied, “Yes, Jesus is my Buddy!”

If Ray is gone the next time I stop in his room, I will have that assurance – that he knew Jesus and went on ahead of me. I’ll know the truth – “he’s gone” to heaven for it is a surety for those who know Jesus.

It’s gone!

By Helen Guilford

For the Expositor

Helen can be reached at

Helen can be reached at