Meet Juanita! Juanita is an ambitious researcher and writer, who has been dubbed Woodstock’s City Historian by the City Council! Juanita grew up in Dalton, Georgia but eventually settled in Woodstock in 1965 with husband Homer Hughes Jr. and their three daughters after multiple moves with Homer’s job. When Juanita and her family came to Woodstock, the population was around 750, and they rented the Dawson House, which is now better known as Tea Leaves and Thyme! Juanita spent a few years as a stay-at-home mom, then after some clerical jobs and a couple of semesters at Kennesaw Junior College, Juanita began a 20-year career with the Cherokee County Public Library System, from which she retired as branch manager at the Woodstock Library in 1999. In 2001, Juanita became the first docent/tourism director at the Woodstock Visitors Center at Historic Dean’s Store. The visitor’s center has grown a lot since then, and you can still find Juanita there often continuing her research as city historian! Juanita has also authored three books, dabbles in music, and has been writing columns for The Cherokee Tribune since 1988! Juanita’s main focus now is on the work being done by Preservation Woodstock– a group working to keep our heritage alive amid all the growth and changes. The group welcomes new members, even newcomers to the area who might have a love of local history! As you can imagine, Juanita is an absolutely remarkable person to have a conversation with. The breadth of Juanita’s knowledge, insight, and humor is stunning, and I feel so privileged to have forged a connection with such an extraordinary woman!
Thank you so much, Juanita, for being so generous with your time and with your stories for this project. Woodstock is truly indebted to you for how you have shared your unique gifts to preserve this community’s history and to help us have deep roots from which to grow.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: I have had more than one career. Currently, I am a columnist for the Cherokee Tribune. Ialso do freelance proofing. Previous “careers” included seven years as an accounts receivable bookkeeper in a doctor’s office and 20 years with the public library system where my love of reading was reinforced. It was like throwing Br’er Rabbit into the briar patch! For over 15 years (2001-2017) I was the docent/tourism person at the Woodstock Visitors Center at Historic Dean’s Store on Main Street. Another briar patch!
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
A: Tea Leaves and Thyme. I love this tearoom for many reasons. One is that it is the only restaurant in town (aside from fast-food chains) that does not sell alcohol. But also, my personal connection with the house (known as The Dawson House) dates back to 1965 when my family moved into the house where we lived for 16 months until moving into our new brick ranch on Dobbs Road which is now the oldest house in Dobbs Estates located off North Main just behind Chattahoochee Tech. The Dawson house has a long and interesting history, and Kim Jordy, the owner of the tearoom, has kept that history alive by naming the dining rooms for women who owned or lived in the house since it was built in the early 1900s. Photos of the women are displayed in the rooms. The dining area of the front porch is called Mary’s Porch to honor our daughter Mary who died in 1998.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?
A: We moved to Woodstock in 1965.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
A: This question seems to be directed to someone who is new in town. Over the 53 years that I have lived here, countless interesting persons have peopled my life. Perhaps the most interesting one was Alice Dean Felton who was born and grew up in Woodstock but lived in Atlanta after her marriage. She inherited Dean’s Store at the death of her father, Linton Dean. Her love of Woodstock’s history and heritage was my inspiration. She was without a doubt the smartest lady I ever knew. She was a polio survivor, strong in her faith, a lifetime learner, and a devoted member of the Dean Family. Another important person in my life was a Woodstock native, Elaine Hubbard, whose untimely death in 2016 left a void in many lives. But to name someone who arrived long after we came, I would say that Polly Craig fits the question. She is quite a character. Made a name for herself in Hollywood, and even in her nineties, still acts in TV commercials and keeps busy with writing, having authored a few novels and a wellresearched biography of Dr. Mary Walker. I nominate her!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: Just one more trip to the pier at Panama City Beach where my husband and I spent many hours fishing and walking the beach. Purely sentimental. I am so blessed to have been to some special sites … I’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge, stood on the stage at Red Rocks, and gazed at the Pieta. I’ve dangled my fingers in the Adriatic Sea in the shadow of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. I sat in the audience in Oberammergau in awareness of the Holy Spirit and in awe of the performance. I walked among Roman Ruins and marveled at the Coliseum. And I photographed the swans who posed for me in the lake where the VonTrapp children toppled from their boat into the water. Love of country has surrounded me in spots like Boston and Philadelphia, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, our own Cyclorama, Andersonville, and Civil War battlefields all around us. NY’s 911 site, the Kennedy Library, The Air Force Academy in Colorado. And even Columbine where words cannot describe. I stood in awe as I looked upon the floor of the Grand Canyon through the glass platform jutting out into thin air. And the opposite, those icy glaciers in the waters off Alaska. (Then I saw the world come to Atlanta as I served as a Field Marshal at Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Shared the stage with such folks as Celine Dion, BB King, Mark O’Connor, Gloria Estefan … close enough to touch!) And, always and ever, I have come home to Woodstock. There’s no place like it.
Q: What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
A: The first movie I saw in a theater was “Song of the South.” It has since been banned if I’m not mistaken. I lived “in the country” and schoolchildren were taken by school bus into town for the movie. My favorite movie is “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A. Go home! I’m being facetious. But with my hearing loss, I don’t like crowds.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: To organize and index my columns. There are over 1000, and many are not on my computer since I began writing in 1988. I want them to be indexed by subject, alphabetically. My daughter is working on this, but it is a monumental task. I also am working endlessly on family tree projects, and in conjunction with that, I hope to instill in younger family members a desire to continue to research our heritage and keep the tradition of family reunions.
Q: What is your favorite music/3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: Southern Gospel is my favorite music, aside from regular hymns. As for popular music, give me Glenn Miller, and those magic voices of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Eddie Fisher. Or better yet, country/western. We loved Nashville, went to Grand Old Opry, even as a child, and many times with friends and family over the 60 years that my husband and I were married. Saw many big names, including Vince Gill, there and/or in concerts. Woodstock claims Mark Wills since he has lived here for many years. His father and my husband are first cousins. Their mothers were sisters. I love his style. He does country music proud. I must admit to a love of some classical music as well. I even went last year to see and hear “Carmen”. Wow!
Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
A: The Woodstock Visitors Center at Historic Dean’s Store, which is as much a part of my story as my own home! I also get sentimental about Morgan’s Ace Hardware, Edwards Tire Sales, and the Woodstock Funeral Home. These three businesses were well established when we moved here in 1965, and they are still operating today. Mike Morgan’s parents were our neighbors. We loved them very much. I am always thrilled when one of our historic homes escapes demolition and becomes a thriving business.
Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
A: I would love for City Clerk Rhonda Pezzello to come to my home for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to munch on while we talk. Rhonda was last year’s recipient of Georgia’s City Clerk of the Year Award, acknowledging what we already knew …. that she is The Best. She loves our City, and too often we take for granted how valuable she is in keeping City Hall on an even keel. I cherish our times together, which are few and far between. (I’m a firm believer that lunch should be for eating lunch, and conversation time should be a separate period of time.) We go back a long way. She remains my strongest tie to the city government.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: At Enon Cemetery!
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I was born in Denver, Colorado. And I play the accordion, in addition to the piano.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Family, an open door, and tradition.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your costar, who would you choose?
A: My great-grandson Gerit. His paternal grandmother is a professional photographer, and Gerit has been posing on a regular basis for all of his six years.
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, which would you choose? A Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: Housekeeper who could do secretarial work as well, and maybe cook a little.
Juanita in Community
Check out some of Juanita’s work with the Cherokee Tribune here! It is sure to provoke thought and delight!
To learn more about Preservation Woodstock, check out their facebook page! They’re always accepting new members!