Revisiting the past via a trip to Waleska
by Chris Collett
June 27, 2014 10:19 PM | 2529 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Collett
Chris Collett
There have been many opinions about the demolition of Bell’s Store that was once as big of a part of Canton as Main Street. I guess it’s inevitable that changes will come. At the same time, I can appreciate the people who want to hold on to the history of our great county.

While this has been in the news, there has been another story of a similar store with a much different ending.

Although Waleska is a tiny dot on the map, it is filled with great people and a history as compelling as that of any other city.

There was a story in the paper about the re-opening of Cline’s store. Mike Cline has opened the store with the hopes of holding on to some of the history that has been passed down by his family and his community. Mike is the son of Bill and Dot Cline, who are cornerstones in the Waleska community.

While eating lunch this week, I ran in to Mrs. Cline. We talked about her recent visit to the nursing home and all of the people that we know there. She then told me that she reads my column. It is very humbling to know that she, and hopefully a few others, make it part of their Saturday morning routine. I felt small.

I have had the privilege of knowing some of their other kin folks in Waleska.

One of those is Marguerite Cline, who has been the mayor of Waleska, Cherokee County School superintendent, well-known author and civic leader. She is a true southern belle who has played a significant role in shaping Cherokee County into what it is today. As gentle and caring as she is, she isn’t shy in stating her opinion. Unlike many, she will look you in the eye when she does it. If you can’t respect that, something is wrong with you.

Another is James Cline. It wasn’t that many years ago I couldn’t ride through Waleska without seeing Bill and James sitting in front of the old store. They would just be talking and waving at those that drove past.

Unfortunately, James is spending a little time in Canton Nursing Center right now. But the Cline family didn’t take him down there and drop him off. Bill, Dot and Marguerite are there daily to check on him. I had the chance to talk to him this week, and it made me wish I had stopped by the store more often rather than just throwing up my hand as I drove by.

Bill and Mike Cline had careers with the Department of Natural Resources. Bill rose to the rank of major and is still referred to as Major Cline by many who know him.

Major Cline is well known all over the state of Georgia in the law enforcement community. He is respected because of his dedication to his profession.

There is no telling how many careers Major Cline has given a jump start. There are many who are in debt to him for lending his name to their resumes. The Cline name is a good one in Waleska and many other places in Georgia.

The entire time I worked in the law enforcement field, Major Cline always referred to me by my rank. He did it out of respect and I knew it.

But there were times it made me feel small coming from a man with such influence.

No matter what rank I achieved, I knew that my circle of influence would never measure up to that of Major Cline’s.

I appreciate what Mike is doing by preserving the old store. There is no doubt the people of Waleska feel the same.

But the true treasures of the community are Major Cline, Dot Cline, James Cline and Marguerite Cline. The store will be a wonderful place to step back in time. But it will never match the opportunity to sit and talk to these loving people and listen to their stories of days past and gone.

They won’t always be there to share their stories and the history of their lives. But they are there now. And there are many including me that owe some or all of them a debt. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about gratitude.

We get busy and we forget. Thanks to Mike, we can re-visit the good old days. But they can’t replace what we should be doing now.

Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.

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