After many years, Ron Strayhand returned to his childhood home on Sharon Street just east of Chicamauga. The home was purchased by his parents George and Cleater Strayhand in the mid 1950’s. During this time, George was working for a rail company, Railway Express. His mother, Cleater, was a homemaker, and she was phenomenal in the kitchen. Some of Ron’s favorite dishes prepared by his mother were Squash Casserole, Country Fried Steak, Mac N’ Cheese, and her “World Famous Yeast Rolls.” But those recipes were all kept in Mrs. Strayhand’s head. . .no recipe records exist.
The Strayhand family also regularly attended church. Ron continues to study the Bible, in fact, when I met him, he was sharing the gospel with his neighbors.
Former home of Dora McDonald
Ron says life was good growing up in Hunter Hills. He and his friends played baseball, softball, and hide ‘n seek in a nearby field or at the park. As a young boy of about 8 years old, Ron also liked to sit outside on the front steps of the house to watch the goings on in the neighborhood. He remembers notable residents of Hunter Hills such as Hank and Billye Aaron, Dr. McClendon, and the Scott family. Almost every day, a young preacher would stop at 1321 Sharon Street to bring correspondence to his secretary. The young preacher would smile and wave at young Ron. The preacher with the friendly wave was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the secretary at 1321 Sharon Street was Ms. Dora Edith McDonald. She was Dr. King’s trusted confidante. Ms. McDonald sold her home in June 2000 for $58, 000.00. Last year the same 2- bedroom home sold for $180, 000.00. Ms. McDonald passed away in Atlanta on January 13, 2007, but not before writing her memoir, Secretary to a King.
West Hunter Street Baptist Church
Ron’s family also had another interesting connection to the Civil Rights Movement. The church the Strayhand family attended was none other than West Hunter Street Baptist Church located on the NW corner of James P Brawley and Hunter Street (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and pastored by Dr. Ralph David Abernathy. Dr. Abernathy had a weakness for Ms. Cleater’s baked goods, specifically her German Chocolate cake, Coconut cake, Pound Cake, and her Lemon Cheese Layer cake. Dr. Abernathy would personally stop by the Strayhand home to pick up the cakes for his family to enjoy.
Ron attended EC Clement Elementary, Booker T. Washington High School and went on to Morris Brown College. He moved from Hunter Hills at the age of 24, had a career with Delta (where he would ship those world famous yeast rolls around the world), and started a family. Ron returned home about ten years ago to care for his mother and he has been here ever since.