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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Randy Owens' Born Country

I read a good portion of Randy's just released autobiography this afternoon.
I congratulate my Dekalb County, Alabama neighbor on a well written exercise. He is much more transparent than I imagined he would be, writing at some length, chapter in fact, on his breakdown from stress and overwork in 94.
For some time I had suspicions about his other career goal to get a PHd in literature, but I can see in this work where coulda easily taught literature at the college level had he gone that route, had that been his fate.Oh
Through mutual friends I am trying to get word to Owen to read my friend Ron Rash's latest novel, Serena. It's about folks Owen and I know well, and as the dj in Oh Brother Where Art Thou says: "It's one I predict you're gonna thoroughly enjoy."
I've seen Randy at the Cracker Barrel on a couple occasions these twenty years we have shared the same county, at a basketball game; and talked to him briefly once at a political event he held in Ft. Payne for Alabama's atty general.
I understand John McCain himself visitted Randy's estate outside Ft. Payne in the Primary season this last election cycle; so he is a national political force, as well as a Trustee at JSU.
Though his politics and mine differ, I am proud Suzanne Martin, an acquaintance and Samford proff, convinced Owen's son Heath about the merits of Constitutional Reform for Alabama.
More about that later.
I will have a few otherOwen stories on this blog by Monday,so checkagain later. Info about his new book is easily googled up and I encourage you to take a look at this well written true story.

Though I only talked to him once, I feel like I know Greg Fowler, a songwriter for the band, manager, fellow Randy calls the fifth member of Alabama.
Fowler was raised in Florence, South Carolina, around the corner from Charlie High, a man my Dad Baptized in Erwin, North Carolina.
So it is a small world three or four different ways.
I got to tell Fowler couple of stories about Charlie and his son Ricky--Ricky, bout the same age as Greg and myself--and we had a few laughs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bob Jones U changes Policy on Race

My Dad was a student there, as was my Uncle Prentice for a couple years.

One of my Mother's best friends from Collinsville was a graduate and became the first woman from Dekalb County Alabama to get her Doctorate, Penn State.
Mary Catherine Reed was her name.
I have to believe Mary Catherine woulda voted against some of her extended family when they voted me off the church property May 28, 2006; she had come a long ways from the more isolationist views of the Bob Jones she studied at.
Mary Catherine always impressed me as a woman who appreciated convictional dissent.
Even so, she did vote a couple years earlier to stay in the SBC cause no denomination is perfect. However, if my Mother had lived and they coulda studied Susan Shaw's book about Shaw's Mother's Bible Study class at West Rome, I think she and Martha Barksdale woulda done the right thing and had the courage of their convictions to express reservations about the fundamentalist turn of Southern Baptists.
But I digressed.

The story made the Chronicle for Higher Education and

Here is the testimony of one of the current students from the Chronicle, with a previous one from a violin player who graduated from BJU and now teaches at U Chicago.

I am a senior at Bob Jones and it is apparent that there exists many myths about what campus life is like today.
First, evolution is taught in biology courses. So, to the idiot that made the remark that it isn’t is, well, an idiot. The vast majority of students that attend Bob Jones have a specific goal in mind: To enter the ministry. Yes, we could go to seminaries ( I plan to, afterwards) but this is the only university that has really accepted me and my beliefs. Because I believe in Christ, I was often ridiculed at two other state universities. “Research Universities” are not exactly the most accepting to those that might not adhere to their secular humanistic beliefs. I entered Bob Jones and found a place that was friendly, people were actually nice, the professors (outside of religion courses) were great. I learned the same calculus at Bob Jones as I would at any other university. The history professors were great. They all gained their doctorates from other institutions, some public some private. I will go to a respected seminary (I’ve already been accepted) and then on to a career as an Army Chaplain.I will be serving God and my country. I need no one to tell me about Bob Jones University for it has been very good to me and to many others. Most students here want to go into the ministry. Oh, and Latin and Greek are taught.
It’s amazing how much misinformation is posted here. It is “information” posted not as a result of actually looking at where our professors got their degrees or what courses are offered (other than religion) but on nothing other than a deeply ingrained antipathy toward religion, in general.
Sorry folks. “BJ” is here to stay and it is as fine an institution as any other. It is one that actually allows a person to practice their religion without being scorned and ridiculed.The best decision I have ever made….Bob Jones University. A career as a military chaplain.
— student Nov 22, 04:24 AM #

Friday, November 21, 2008

Martha White Self Risin Flower

Serendipitously I caught NPR Fresh Air today. A repeat show of a Terry Gross 2003 interview of Earl Scruggs of Flatt and Scruggs.

Great show I hope most of yall will listen to online. Got a kidney doctor acquaintance friend West of the Mississippi who with his two brothers and their counselor friend Steve of the extended family are fan of all things Grand Ol Opry. So to them and my Great Grandmother Helton and Waymon and that extended branch I celebrate this link.
Gross had never heard the Martha White ditty before and got Scruggs to sing it for her. The duo also had played Dawson Gap or Geraldine, Alabama and I have discussed them there.
With this once removed connection to Flatt and Scruggs, that brings to three luminaries I know personally who have been on Fresh Air.

Brett Morgen
Charles Kimball
Randall Balmer

I got a feelin Gross may interview Ron Rash by end of 2009 so that would bring me up to 4.

On this fine day had a short conversation with some Collinsville politicos about what coulda been with the fundraisin of the Collinsville Public Library.
They raised a parable of Jesus and I raised another one, all in good humor; and we'll let it stay at that for today.

Link of the day:

And Dr. Killian's link

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Struggle for Soul of Alabama continues

I found it interesting that Judge Roy Moore would have an opinion piece in Bham News the same Day, Nov 16 Brandt Ayers would have a stellar piece in the Anniston Star:

What does that say for the direction of Collinsville, Alabama? I don't know.

I do know I invited Hugo Black's grandson Stephen to speak at Collinsville High School in April of 2006; couple months after what I consider a whitewashing got me permanently ousted from the Collinsville Public Library.
And just a month later I was voted off the property where my Mother was baptized back in 1933.
Black along with Wayne Flynt are to have a break out session when the Baptist Covenant initiative meets in Birmingham Jan 31. More than likely the librarians pastor John Morgan will not attend, though two of his children flourish in that world.
The Librarian and her sister made certain they introduced themselves to Black that day.
What these parameters mean for Annie Lucas Brown and the state Library conversations with Mart Gray and the like I don't know; hard for me to square the circle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

George Wallace's Daughter and Lee Atwater

Following is a link to a discussion I have started at

If you click on the title, many other links will appear where you can read Wallace's Daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy's endorsement of Obama's Presidency. It was published in Bham News Sunday as well.
It is remarkable indeed, of Biblical proportions, sweeping in its historical testimony.

Of equal significance worth your time is David Remnick in current New Yorker on Obama and race. Strong testimony near the end by a Katrina survivor, as well as statement by Charlayne Hunter Gault, the first black woman to integrate the University of Georgia in 1961.
She is 66 years old now.
And new twists on the torment of John Lewis leaving the Clinton camp to join the Obama camp during the Dem Primary this year.

Remnick places much significance on Obama's speech in Selma Bloody Sunday of March 2007. I was set to go but the car wouldn't start. My bad luck. I coulda been there, but the gods did not smile on me that day. I'm glad they smiled on our country nevertheless.

George Wallace's Daughter and Lee Atwater
by Stephen Fox on Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:30 am

Also here is the link to the Lee Atwater documentary shown last night on PBS nationally.

Jonathan's Story; for his Collinsville PMmers

Jonathan of Indiana had some intense Personal message exchanges with some of my detractors in Collinsville over the last couple years. They were wrong in what they told him half truths and bogus analysis, but he listened anyway.
How sad.
In any case he has shared a remarkable story at and I thought I would share it here on my blog. The locals may want to copy and spread it all over town like they have in time past; out of context that suits their political agenda.

Jonathan's story:

It was just another Thursday in China's industrial heartland. The place where most of the electronics you purchase is made, where most of your name brand athletic clothing is stitched, where most of the plastic, ceramic, and flat wear used in your local diner is produced (this is also where much of the rest of the world's lead based paint is used, where a great deal of the illegal and dangerous substances have been added to a number of consumer products over the varying degrees of injury and death of the end users). And it is where some of the world's most well equipped labs that have been built for the sole purpose of producing the latest of each generation of performance enhancing nutritional substances that will likely be banned after the next Olympic games. In other words, if it can be made, it is likely made within an hour or two of where I was yesterday.After another long 12 hours at the factory and another hour in the daily conference call, I'd had enough...not just of the day, but of the trips (I'd lost many hundred of nights spent here without my beloved family? How many months of my children's lives have I missed?), the job (Is it me, or have I gotten too good at the wrong job?), the constant battle inside (and outside) the plant....and, I was hungry.As a rule, I avoid fast food. But this evening, I was hungry but was not in the mood for the usual sit down presentation that is the standard for the common Chinese joint. So, I stepped out to grab something from a KFC. My mind was full of grumbling (first about my job, then about length of the trip, then about how sore my neck was, pretty much a self-centered pity party). Around here, when darkness falls, folks gather on the street, trinket sellers spread out their wares, prostitutes work their corners, food booths open...and beggars are everywhere. As compassionate as I like to think I am, I tend to get a bit bored and irritated at the hassle, and started to walk a bit more quickly. As I passed a group of beggars, I noticed a man playing one of those roll up keyboards and sitting beside him, was a young boy who I guessed, was his son. I've learned not to look or stare lest I draw a crowd of hands, cups, and bowls in my face, so I walked on to get some chicken. After getting the glorious chicken wrap and a Coke Zero, I made my way out of the restaurant. Immediately, I noticed that the music had stopped. The man (who may have been the boy's grandfather...he looked quite old), was leaning over to the boy, who was leaning back towards the man. I took a closer look. The man's legs were in no condition to walk and all of the boy's limbs were misshapen to such a degree that I doubt that he was able to care for himself. But the smiles on both their faces were amazing. The man's smile was the one of the loving parent, the boy's was one of the content and secure child. So what was the man doing that was so important that he needed to stop playing his keyboard? I looked closer...the man was using a small piece of cloth and was, very carefully and lovingly, clearing the dirt and sweat from the eyes of his son...or at least where the son's eyes were supposed to have been. The boy's left eye socket was empty and his right eye was completely pale. But that smile!..almost a laughing grin. I had stood there for far too long. The man turned towards me and smiled briefly and then returned his attention to his boy.

I walked on, back toward the hotel in which I had spent more than 500 nights since my first trip here, called my wife, told her the story and we both cried.Then, my wife said, "Be sure to make a Skype video call when you wake up...your son wants to see you." Yeah, I wanted to see him too...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wedding Number 250 in the Daniel Chapel

at Furman was my Nephew, Chad Fox, who marriedKasi Arms tonight.

I Made a new friend there, Carroll Huff, neighbor of my friend Jim Pitts. Left them both some Alabama pecans for Thanksgiving Pie.

Proud of my brother and his family for getting Chad married off. My Mother woulda been proud of the musical selections at the wedding, and the general aesthetic.

I may have some pictures later.

Good lookin couple.

UncleDee wishes them all the Best.

I hit the dance floor to Sharped Dress Man. May UTube it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My historic vote in NE Bama for Obama

I voted in Collinville, Alabama this morning about 7:40 CDT for Barack Obama.
I was number 67.
Collinsville is the most ethnically diverse town in the state, or was when the Center for Public Television of the Univ of Alabama in Tuscaloosa did a documentary on the town shown statewide in 2003.
I think Obama may get as much as 49% of the vote there, where my MOther's family goes back to the 1850's and where she was baptized and where my Grandfather Jordan ran as a Lincoln Republican for Dekalb County School board Superintendent in the 19 teens.

I was proud of the poll workers. They were all quite gracious. I did ask one clarifying question about straight ticket voting. Some states do not count the Presidential vote in a straight ballot, but after some discussion the poll workers including the Pastor of Collinsville Baptist Church who received his Doctoral of Ministry from The fundamentalist President of Southern Seminary. an edit; after that discussion there was consensus with substantiation a straight ticket vote in Alabama is a vote for the candidate for President of whichever Party is chosen.
His son, a Yale Div grad has been passionately campaigning for Obama in NYC.
All were gracious, including three of Collinsville's millionaires who I am convinced voted McCain.
Had good chat with one who is one first name basis with about every politician of any status in the state.
On Sunday had interesting conversation with a grandchild of former GOP US Senator from Alabama. The person said her Dad was voting for McCain and her Mom for Obama.

In my mind this vote is not about race, it is about the candidate who brings the most promising qualities to this moment in our nation's history. For me that is a no brainer; It is Barack Obama.
I encourage all of you even post election who haven't done so yet, to see the PBS Frontline Profile of both candidates; fascinating indeed as they have been for the last 20 odd years now.
That said, I publicly and with a great deal of affection congratulate in particular two black friends from Gaffney High School, where we were the of the first nationally integrated classes.
To Johnny Dawkins, who is an Emmy award winning Screen Play writer; and to Fletcher Smith, 16 year SC State Senator who earlier this year in the heat of this year was called by Barack Obama on his cell phone, on Fletcher's way to have a one on one 20 minute conversation with Hillary Clinton in Columbia; to Fletcher and Johnny I extend my joy and celebration with you for what looks like will be the Phenomenal outcome of this 2008 Presidential election.

To paraphrase and Revise Jeremiah Wright:

Not God Damn America
But God Bless America.

And with apologies to my strict Separationist Church State friends in the Baptist Tradition; on this Day at Least, IT is Indeed In the Bible; or for sure in The Bank, as it were, In North Carolina.

Let's Have a Year of Jubilee in America, like the Soldier in Glory

Monday, November 03, 2008

Annie Lucas Brown, Jennifer Wilkins, Lucy Lawrence and this POTUS election

I have been toying with a speculative piece on how this presidential election may be seen through these women.
Ms Wilkins is the Collinsville Librarian and an active political person in Collinsville politics; or has that reputation according to the family of former Mayors.
Annie Lucas Brown is 2nd in command in Alabama's State Library Program; and a positive formidable presence. With that I agree with my friend Mart Gray who has visitted Collinsville on several occasions and now serves on a state advisory board of some such with Ms. Wilkins. I understand Ms. Brown has some influence on that board, but I am not clear as the the particulars.
Lucy Lawrence wrote a paper on Collinsville several years ago as part of her Master's or Doctor's degree at the University of Alabama. She emailed me this summer saying it is her understanding Ms. Wilkins has a copy for public viewing in the local library.
The late Peter Jennings of ABC News in his book of Picture Essays In Search of America in the late 90's had a full page picture and small commentary on a section of Collinsville's Trade Day, and the "independent" headset in these parts.

Ms Lawrence now teaches at a small school outside Asheville, NC, Warren Wilson with Ron Rash friend and my acquaintance from Furman Tommy Hays.
In 2002 or so it is my understanding it was at Ms. Wilkins suggestion, Ms. Lawrence interviewed me for her paper; and later a similar confluence placed me in small interview for the 2nd statewide documentary on Collinsvillle.
I did not mean to have so long an introduction, just wondering lately if the larger picture merits a book of some kind on Collinsville, in a similar framework to Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign my Name; or Susan Shaw's look at her Mother's Bible Study at West Rome.
Without too much of a reach, it could even cover Collinsville's connection to the New York Knickerbockers.
Whatever the merits of such musings, I think lot of folks inside and outside Collinsville would find a transparent discussion among these three women about what they bring to this Historic Presidential vote fascinating indeed.