Pearl Robison comes from a fractured family line going back before the Civil War. And her life resembles a jagged line. She is related through her father, Jason Jones Robison (1946- ) to Ruby Robison (1843-1933), who was the sister of Marcus Walsh Robison (1936-1897) Pearl’s great-great-great-grandfather. Ruby was a prostitute in Shreveport who gave birth to a Civil War soldier’s child, the first Pearl Robison (see songs, “Fannin Street” and “Levi Motts is My Name“).
In 1973 our Pearl was born in Conyers, Georgia but we meet Pearl when she is managing a dollar store in Macon. One January day, sitting in her car before going opening up she decides to just leave town and head west on U.S. 80 (see song, “Between Here and Gone“).
She ends up in Shreveport, Louisiana, when she stops at an all night diner and Jake McLemore enters her life. They live together for five years before Pearl’s wanderlust overtakes her again and she leaves again, this time heading for Dallas (see song, “Pearl + Jake“). She does not know at the time that she is pregnant, but when she does discover this fact, she does not intend to tell Jake that he is going to be a father.
She gives birth in 2015 to a baby girl whom she names Ruby Robison, after her aunt but also looking back to her prior Shreveport relative, Ruby Robison and Fannin Street.
Conyers is the only city in Rockdale County, Georgia. The city is twenty-four miles east of Atlanta. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 15,195.
Between 1816 and 1821, the area known as Rockdale was open for settlement. John Holcomb, a blacksmith, was the first settler in what is now Conyers. He settled where the current Rockdale County Courthouse is located, in the middle of Conyers on Main Street.
Eventually, there was pressure for a railroad to cross Georgia; the railroad was intended to run from Augusta, through neighboring Covington to Marthasville (now known as Atlanta). John Holcomb was against the railroad and refused to sell his land, and threatened to shoot anyone from the railroad who came onto his property.
Dr. W. D. Conyers, a banker from Covington, eventually persuaded John Holcomb into selling his land for $700. Dr. Conyers then sold the land to the Georgia Railroad. What is now Conyers began as a watering post along this line, named after Dr. Conyers. By 1845, the railroad was in full operation. By 1854, nearly 400 residents lived around the watering post, and Conyers was incorporated.
Conyers has been nearly destroyed several times by fire. It is said that it survived Sherman’s March to the Sea thanks to a friend of Sherman’s who lived in the area between Conyers and Covington. The story goes that the houses were spared because Sherman was uncertain where his friend lived.
Snowed all day in Macon
When Pearl left for the last time
Alabama Mi’sippy Louisiana
Georgia felt far enough behind
Creosote cottonseed Shreveport
Hit her like a cinder block
Lights of an all-night diner
Pearl coasted to a stop
Jake behind the counter
White apron, little paper hat
Slid some coffee before her
Quiet as an alley cat
Pearl pulled a pint from somewhere
Tipped it over her cup
Jake lit a cigarette
The sun came up
Loving’ her is what he meant to do
Even if it broke his heart in two
He played life like a game of horseshoes
Loving’ her is what he meant to do
Jake bought this diner
After selling McLemore’s
Pearl was stranded in Macon
Managing a dollar store
They met on Jewella Avenue
Both lookin’ for a new start
Jake gave her some food
And his hidden heart
Loving’ her is what he meant to do …
Jake didn’t want to come home
Stinkin’ of cigarettes, beer and perfume
Five years flash by
As he walks from room to empty room
Pearl was running away
That first day he met her
She’d been leavin’ ever since
Jake fin’ly found a way to let her