Driving Back in Time
“Clippity Clop, Clippity Clop.” The sound of horses can be heard approaching. A scent of country cooking catches the nose as a pleasant breeze passes by in the early afternoon. Life in the countryside is serene yet exciting on this second Tuesday in January. Eddie and Sally Walker’s Beauregard farm house is warm and welcoming as a spread of Boston Butts, black-eyed peas, collards, potatoes, cornbread, egg custards and lemon pound cake are displayed invitingly. Outside the house, beyond the pasture, in the bend of the road, a horse-drawn carriage peaks into view, followed by 10 of the same — an unlikely sight in today’s bustling culture. Neighbors exit their homes to watch the caravan pass by. Some wagons pull over and invite friends for a ride, while others mosey along and wave for an occasional photograph. Pastured horses run to the fence to see the traveling site.
Eleven carriages with 44 riders on a 20-mile journey through rural Lee County approach the Walker farm for lunch as The Old Time Driving Club conducts its scheduled leisurely ride. Founded in the early 1990s, this assembly of horse lovers, retired professionals and farm families gather on the first Tuesday of each month for a road trip. They harness their horses and rig their buggies to create a traveling fleet through paved and dirt roads across rural Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
“Most of these men grew up on a farm. The oldest member is 87 years old, and the youngest is 59. Many of them remember using horse and wagon as a means of transportation when they were children,” says the day’s Wagon Master Michael Guy, who joined the group in 2007. “The driving club is a continuation of this horse-and-wagon love affair. It’s a way to keep the history alive for their kids and grandkids.” The group consists of approximately 32 members who participate in the caravan come rain or shine. The assigned Wagon Master is responsible for hosting the driving club members, along with their animals and buggies, as well as arranging the day’s trail, and of course determining plans for chow along the way. The group occasionally makes overnight trips and has ridden to areas such as the Talladega National Forrest, Roanoke River, Luthersville, Ga., and Powers Crossroads in Newnan, Ga.
“There’s nothing like moving along a road at 10-to-15 miles per hour and taking in the beauty of God’s creation while enjoying friends and making lasting relationships,” explains Guy. His buggy friend and mentor, Robert McConnell adds, “We have camaraderie in the driving club. It’s like a family. We go out riding, and we all take care of each other. Just like people did in the older days.”
The club portrays a glimpse into yesteryear by driving a variety of buggies. Variations of wagons include a Doctor’s Buggy — a black covered wagon used to transport physicians; a Buckboard Wagon — a four-wheeled cart that protects the driver from a horse’s “buck”; an Open Chuckwagon — a carriage that moved food and cooking equipment through the prairies; a Meadowbrook Cart — a two-wheeled buggy pulled by a single horse or mule, along with others, including homemade wagons and training wagons.
“No matter the type wagon, these relaxing trips allow club members and their guests to see beautiful farms and scenery at a much slower pace,” shares Guy. The Old Time Driving Club conducts excursions that bring back the livelihood and purity of horse and carriage. They take pleasure in driving back in time and enjoying life in the slow lane.