Q: Whatever happened to Jim Viondi, who was a sports anchor at Channel 2 back in the 1970s.
—Lance DeLoach, Thomaston
A: Viondi is 82 now, living in a retirement community in Woodstock and still working as a stockbroker for several friends, he said last week. “Everything is going great,” he said. Longtime WSB reporter/anchor John Pruitt, who worked with Viondi for several years and remains close with him, helped me track him down. Viondi said he was a sports anchor at WSB-TV from 1968-82 and was the sports director for the last half of that time. Viondi was a broker before going to the station, doing weekend sports before being hired full time. He left WSB after 15 years and he went back to financial planning full-time. “I had a young family and wanted to spend more time with them,” Viondi said. Everybody remembers him as Jim Viondi, but his real last name is Vijande, a Spanish name. “I spelled it phonetically for TV,” he said. “It was just easier that way.”
Q: What’s the history behind Callaway Gardens? How did it begin and how long has it been there?
A: Cason Callaway, a prominent Georgia businessman who owned textile mills, discovered the plumleaf azalea growing in Harris County in 1930 and later bought 2,500 acres for a weekend retreat. Callaway moved his family to the area, but their Blue Springs Farm was destroyed by a flood in 1949, so he began devoting his attention and time to developing Callaway Gardens. He continued buying land in the area and began turning the area into Callaway Gardens. By 1951, Callaway and his wife Virginia had planted flowers and trees, built Mountain Creek Lake and boathouse, Lake View golf course and clubhouse, Overlook Pavilion, an office and a boathouse on Whippoorwill Lake. The gardens opened on May 21, 1952, but Cason Callaway had been hospitalized for a detached retina and missed the ceremony. Callaway Gardens, which celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this year, is famous for its annual Fantasy in Lights, which is in is in its 21st year. It includes 8 million lights in 15 holiday scenes and continues nightly through Dec. 30. For more information, call (800) 225-5292 or go to www.callawaygardens.com.
If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.