Lake Say-Hi!, Circa 1947, Tifton

It’s hard for some to imagine what an icon of Tift County that this sign is. but if you’re from the area, you understand. Traveling from Tifton to Moultrie on US 319, you just expect to see this sign. According to Don Dorminey: The bottom was an old gas station sign and my Dad got someone to cut out a horse from a pattern he had, the same horse design that was used by riding establishments in Highlands, NC, and Savannah from which the name of the lake was based. The sign was erected on site approximately 1948. Mark Holloway recalled something that many from the area will relate to: I am from Moultrie, Ga. and as a boy, I remember every single trip to Tifton to see my Aunt Betty and Uncle Vernon Ray. We would always have the window on that side down so we could stick our arms out, wave and “say hi”! We always knew we were getting close when we saw the sign! I’m 48 years old now and still go to Tifton on the same road as then., I still wave and “say hi” when I go by! What wonderful, sweet memories the old sign brings every time I go past! The sign is repainted about every two  years and was recently removed while road work was being done, but it’s there otherwise. I think it’s wonderful that the Dorminey family has kept this landmark alive over all these years.


38 thoughts on “Lake Say-Hi!, Circa 1947, Tifton

  1. Moses

    Do you by chance have any pictures of what lake say hi use to look like ?? I actually live here in this neighborhood and been here 25 years and was always curious of what use to be here

  2. Danny Hughes

    Loved fishing in Lake Say Hi. I have a 81/2 lb. bass on the wall to prove it!
    Don’s Mom, Odessa, made the very best peach ice cream! Enjoyed visits in her home. Many great memories of our ministry in First Baptist, Tifton, and so many dear friends like Odessa and Don.

    Danny & Martha Ellen Hughes

  3. Jessica Chapman

    I am so proud to be a part of this lake since February 2016! It has been a huge part of our lives in making some amazing memories! Can’t wait to see the sign returned ❤

  4. Brandi Marlin

    Thank you, Don Dorminey, for keeping this Legacy alive. I am born and raised from Tifton, GA, every time I go visit Tifton, I have to go by 319 and Lake Say-Hi! I currently live in Utah, since my husband is military, but seeing stories like this brings me back home! Thank you.

    Brandi (Bayne) Marlin

  5. Albert Taylor

    This sign was notification to my College friends that they had to make the next right to get on I – 75.

  6. Melanie Mitchell

    I have been missing the memorable sign at the lake, but I still say “Hi” when passing by. Hope you are doing well.

    1. Don Dorminey

      No. Wendell this lake is on US 319 going toward Moultrie from Tifton just as you leave Tifton. My Dad bought the property in the early “30s. It is one of the oldest lakes in the county.. They had to move the original damn to pave the road to Omega .see other comments about Lake Say-Hi for more info.

  7. Mark Holloway

    I am from Moultrie, Ga. and as a boy, I remember every single trip to Tifton to see my Aunt Betty and Uncle Vernon Ray. We would always have the window on that side down so we could stick our arms out, wave and “say hi”!
    We always knew we were getting close when we saw the sign! I’m 48 years old now and still go to Tifton on the same road as then., I still wave and “say hi” when I go by! What wonderful, sweet memories the old sign brings everytime I go past!
    Thank you folks for the great old sign and keeping a bit of the past alive and well!

    1. Don Dorminey

      Mark. it’s time to paint the sign again, been doing it sence 1947…about every two years or so…it’s heavy with paint… thks for enjoying.. Don Dorminey

      1. Lou Engelhart

        I have been sitting here for over an hour just looking at all the pictures!!! Enjoyed them so much and this is one email I will not delete. I was raised in Fort Gaines, Clay Co. and my husband and I were into ‘family history’ and South Ga. ‘Stuff’….I did not see any pictures from around that area and know there is a lot of history and was a lot of old building and homes in the area. Also my Mother was from Greene Co. and that place is still full of history. I have some pictures of homes that my families had and would not take anything for them, as they are all gone now. Loved the song….brought tears (which doesn’t take much now-er days) Thanks again for all the work you have done….and don’t stop. Lou

  8. Valerie

    I grew up around that lake. My dad worked for Jake Watson at Say-Hi kennels and that sign is imprinted in my memory for ever.

    1. don dorminey

      how do you know Paul Smith made the sign? the bottom was an old gas station sign. and my Dad got someone to cut out a horse from a pattern he had. ( actually 2) The same horse design that was used by the riding establishment in Highlands, NC and Savannah, GA from which the name of the lake was based. the sign was erected on site approx. 1948. I have a pic with the sign and my Moms 1948 Dodge.

      1. Lou Hobbs Engelhart

        Don…any kin to Dr. Leroy Dorminey from around Ocilla, went to UGA way back when?

      2. Don Dorminey

        yeah, We are all from the same tree… Edd Dorminey is the one who did a book on us. contact him to know all the saints and sinners !!!!

  9. Hugh Harris West

    I know nothing about this lake and I am retired in Valdosta, GA. I enjoyed every word in those response/replys.

    1. don dorminey

      Marvin, Re: gator, he got bigger and bigger,,, started eating my mother’s ducks, that was it. so called natural resources dept. and they caught him and took him to swamp away from folks.

  10. A.T.

    Wow, I did not know the history behind Lake Say-Hi! I’ve lived in the neighborhood nearby for the last 8 years and I love walking around both lakes with my dog. Very nice, quiet neighborhood and I certainly love it!


    I lived across the road in the house with the smaller lake (pond) in front across the road from Lake Say Hi Rd. I grew up with Butch and Pat, they are great friends still. Pat and I rode horses endlessly. One Sunday coming home from church I noticed from the car window one of the crippled birds stuck in the ice sheet that had enveloped the lake that winter. It appeared from the safety of the car window that the duck was simply within arms reach at the end of the Dorminey’s pier. Not wasting anytime once at home , not even bothering to change out of my Sunday dress I slipped out of the house while mom was getting lunch and Dad rested. There were 6 children so , if one went missing no-one would notice for awhile. I got into the little boat and after determining that I couldn’t reach it from the pier. The duck was freed from the ice but I ended in the water. I remember Mr. Dorminey saved me from the frozen water although an excellant swimmer I’d never experienced the trauma of water that cold. Mrs. Dorminey was so kind and I remember unthawing in a hot bath at her home. They actually saved my life..I will always regret that I never thanked them as an adult for their act of kindness. My parents were notified and Mrs. Dorminey insisted that their Sunday had not been ruined by my mad-cap rescue followed by my folly. I remember that the spanking I received really didn’t hurt too bad, I guess the thaw was just a little shy of complete.

    1. Mike Dover

      Ms. Foster,

      I’m Mike Dover in Valdosta, Georgia, and our law firm is doing title work on the property in Lake Say Hi Subdivision which used to be owned by E. M. Smith, Jr. and Betty Nelson Smith. I believe they were the parents of your friends Pat and Butch who were referred to in the above message. I need to locate the heirs of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in order to see if I can clear up a minor title problem in regard to an easement. I see that Mrs. Smith died in December 1977, and her children were named in the Will. Have you by chance stayed in touch with either of them, and if so could you provide any contact information?

      Thank you very much.

  12. Pam Lovett

    I was on google looking at images of old fishing lures, fishing boats… and decided to see what GA lakes and rivers would turn up. Much to my surprise and delight the Lake Say-Hi sign was one of the images! I live a couple of miles down the road and have always loved the sign and wondered the story behind it.

  13. Butch Smith

    WOW! What memories that sign brings back. I can’t tell you the hours I spent on the lake. Great bass fishing just by the sign in the cypris trees. The white ducks were sterile, but that didn’t stop them from nesting. Don’t walk across the dam when they, there was no way to get away from their attacks. The bedding smells of fish in the spring was overpowering. I could not wait to cut a bamboo pole and go fishing… Another “told memory” of the lake was that durign the early life of the lake several of the churches in the area would use the lake for Baptisms, at least that is what my dad said. Thanks for the memories.

    1. Mike Dover

      Mr. Smith,

      I just posted a reply to Ms. Foster above, trying to locate you and your sister. I had not scrolled down far enough to see you names in the line of messages. As I said to her, we have been doing some title work on your parents’ property in Tift County on Lake Say Hi, and there are a couple of minor situations which we would like to get released from your mother’s estate, if possible. My office phone number is 229-242-0314 and our street address is 701 N. Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA 31601.

      Thank you, and I would appreciate hearing from you.

  14. Pat Smith

    I Was born and raised on Lake Say-Hi. A little red headed girl with freckles and a horse constantly stuck between my legs. I grew up gigging frogs at night on the lake in a little red row boat. I can still smell the fish bedding in the early spring, the strong scent of algea . Early morning and late evening is the best time to hook a large mouth bass with my Mom, Betty Nelson Smith, fishing at my side every day. Just don’t ever be caught fishing in Mrs. Dorminey’s yard on Sunday! That was a day of rest.

  15. Don Dorminey

    thought I’d let you know …the Lake Say-Hi sign has been repainted…Sorry it looked so bad…Try to refurbish it often and some times time sneaks by…I must have painted it at lest 20 times in the last 60+ years…it’s the original sign and horse…about an inch thick in paint… at 73 I guess I won’t need to paint it more that 10 more times.

  16. Don Dorminey

    Edd almost got it right. My Dad, Roger Dormieny bought the farm in the mid ’30s. One of the oldest ponds in the area..They had to move the original damn to make the paved road to Omega. The pond was named Lake Say-Hi in 1947 when we moved from town to the country(and it was country). My family spent some time during summers in Highlands N.C. There was a riding academy there call SA-HI (for Savannah/Highland). Mom & Dad decided to name the lake Say-Hi so there!! the rest of the story.

  17. Edd

    Lake Say-Hi was built by Roger Dorminey who is deceased and he sold the land around the lake for people to build houses upon. His son, Donald Dorminey lives on the East end of the lake and he still owns the whole lake and 1 foot around it (as of 2010) The ancestor of Roger Dorminey was Daniel David Micajah Andrew Jackson Dorminy who was born in old Irwin County.

  18. Adam

    I’ve seen this sign all my life (30 years) on our frequent trips to visit the grandparents in Moultrie. I recently asked my mother about the sign and she said it’s been there all of her life that she can remember (63 years). I always take time to say “Hi” while turning there.


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