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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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Richard Nixon and Me

Couple days ago I heard about the new work by Ann Beattie on Pat Nixon. Then couple days later I read some of it. I think I will read it all soon.
I remember Ann from 77 and her novel Falling into Place. She had some short jeans on, was leggy and I remembered that was the kinda woman I wanted to find. Found couple resemblances, not quite as urbane as Beattie, but even they were out of my price range--not a pickup mind you but holy relationship of some sort where I was part of the funding--so never quite happenned.
But that doesn't mean i couldn't read her work over the years, or keep up with her evolution.
I think Ann confesses she never met Pat Nixon. Likewise I never met Richard but feel like I knew him in some way, was close on several occasions.
In 62 Nixon spent the night in the Daniel Mansion, what is now the President's mansion right outside the back gate of Furman where I was to matriculate in 71.
My Great Uncle Paul Fox, a Reynolds Aluminum VP was sent by Nixon to China and Iraq where he met the Shah.
Furman friend Dick Doody's sister dated Nixon's good friend in Lauderdale, key Biscayne, John J. Alpanalp's son. And at Furman Dolly Dent, the daughter of Nixon's Southern strategist Harry Dent was a coed for a couple years. And over the last couple years I've had correspondence with her sister, Ginny Brant, who memoir of their father's faith pilgrimage has a charming story about Pat Nixon on a Saturday morning in the White House.
May try to bring that one to Beattie's attention after I complete the book.
Then my good friend Jim Pitts, longtime Chaplain at Furman, is the son of Nixon's barber. And the summer of 1970 I was good friends of Roger Milliken, Jr. whose Dad gave more money to CREEP in 72 than any other man in America.
I visitted the home in Spartanburg that summer and remember seeing pictures of Mr. Milliken on the wall as advisor in Cabinet meetings with President Nixon.
So I feel like I know him. Read a couple of the biographies, seen The Watchmen, seen the PBS Frontline Documentaries, and know something about what it is like to have a righteous Mother.
And the Billy Graham connection especially through the eyes of Marshall Frady is a lifelong consideration for me, almost like Knoxville Tn is for Cormac McCarthy.
Oh, I do know Alabama Gov Brewer whose intrigue with Wallace and Nixon is the stuff of political fable.
Then bout two months ago I'm talking to this fellow who is independent Baptist preacher and sales videos at a kind price on Saturday at Collinsville Trade Day--see Rick Bragg in Southern Living.
I'm talking the Nixon/Frost movie and he says he met Nixon at Key Biscayne and swam in his pool.
I called him a liar, playfully. Turns out he was tellin the truth. His dad worked security for Nixon.
Said Nixon on meeting my friend as a child came over to him and in Classic Nixon style shook the then 8 year old's hand and said Son I want you to do one thing for me.
When you grow up I want you to become a Damn Democrat. And then Nixon started laughing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Me and Nixon and JFK

I never saw Nixon or JFK in person though I have seen four other Presidents: Ford, Carter, Bush 41 and REagan. Saw Reagan in Knoxville Tn in the fall of 80 when he was runnin for President on a street Cormac McCarthy made famous in Suttree.
But I have already Digressed. Been musing a blog about Nixon and will do that soon, but two days past Nov 22 came across some other folks memories of the day Kennedy was assassinated.
I was in fifth grade at Central Elementary in Gaffney, S.C. I was in Ms. Goforth's class. Miss Littlejohn was the other 5th grade teacher and she came to our class to tell us something bad for the country had happenned.
When school was out heard a few racial epithets which was not uncommon in those days across the South just a couple months after MLKing Jr had his Dream on the Washington Mall.
My Dad was a Baptist preacher and like many white Baptist preachers in the south his conscience was stirring and days were to become difficult. He was an emotional fellow, wore his heart on his sleeve. I remember him crying a little that Friday afternoon on Anthony Street, 139, best I remember.
I am seeing where some folks in 11th grade that day couldn't remember if there was a football game that night, but others remembered clearly the game was played. I think Joe Wren mighta been in that game; and across town my friend Johnny Dawkins woulda been in the 6th grade on the road with all of us to integration, and he later to star Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the ABC Afterschool special the Hero who Couln;t Read.
And Tim Tyson was stirring in North Carolina later to write about Gaffney in Jumpn Jim Crow.
But in 5th grade things were beginning to register with me about power and justice as it was across the world. And our Dark Prince, the handsome gifted Lothario Catholic President who gave W.A. Criswell something to think about was killed.
I think I may be the only person in NE Alabama or graduate of Gaffney High School who has a note from someone on the plane bearing JFK's body back to D.C. that day from Dallas.
Bill Moyers once sent me a note that said people like me make a differcnce. On some days I have but on too many I was pretty damn mediocre. To my Mom and Dad and others on the face of the earth on Nov 22, 1963, for the less than days, the mediocre ones I apologize.
But I be damned if that is gonna stop me from enjoying every bite of turkey and dressin and giblet gravy I can in good conscience ingest on this day.
Momma and Daddy, and Nanny and Papa and Grandpa Atticus Finch Jordan and Arrie Lula who put a strong dose of what little intelligence I have in the mix; from up in heaven would have it no other way.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Column in the Ft. Payne Times Journal

In the Hometown where SBC President Bobby Welch was Baptized.
Got published as a guest column in the Tuesday, Nov. 15 issue, complete with picture of front cover of Flynt's new book.
Who knows, maybe Randy Owen himself read this and Donnie and Jackie Myers and Martha Barksdale and various librarians across the county, most friendly and some not:

Proud of this one; and I'm satisfied Momma is too:

Letters for Publication
Ft. Payne Times-Journal

The Editors:

I found Henegar's Regina Baker's recent letter to the TJ on Steve Flowers column about Alabama Democrats most interesting. As I remember Flower's piece, he praised the legacy of LBJ for getting things done in the Senate of the United States.
I too read Robert Caro's work on LBJ several years ago but found the upshot of Sidney Blumenthal easily googled piece of 1991 on the 48 Senate Race between LBJ and Coke Stevenson the definitive writing for what is arry in Alabama today. God knows LBJ had his faults but between Coke and LBJ in that race; well as Johnson lore goes, I join the chorus and I'm glad Johnson stole Ballot box 13 in Duval County.
For you see that lives on here in Alabama. Wayne Flynt's new memoir Keeping the Faith champions the legacy of that race as he tells times and again how the Eagle Forum of Eunie Smith and the Baptist activism of her late Bircher husband Albert Lee Smith have thwarted Alabama's chances for progress from Constitutional and Tax Reform to School Reform. At every point the religious right activism of these folks and their kind have distracted and dumbed down the best this state has to offer; at every point frustrating folks from the late Samford President Tom Corts, to the best initiatives of former Governor Brewer, to Auburn Presidents Muse and Philpott to the legacy of former Alabama Baptist Executive Director Earl Potts and his son David.
Now the Eagle Forum as revealed by the Birmingham News was the Jezebel whispering in the ear of Governor Bentley and Scott Beason doing the devil's work on the immigration reform bill. Their affiliation with the Tea Party should be of concern to every New Testament Christian in the state.
Recent works by Darren Dochuk and and Dan Williams shine the light on the legacy of Coke Stephenson and his Texas Regulars to the work of the Smiths in the 60's as they fought the best of the Baptist tradition of Hugo Black on church state issues. And you can see the Eagle Forum DNA now in the Allied Defense Fund of the religious right, dim bulbing the grand work of the Baptist Joint Committee in D.C. which Ft. Payne native daughter Cherilyn Crowe staffs nobly.
Flynt's book should be must reading for Administrative staffs of Ft. Payne and Dekalb County Schools, NACC, and the social studies teachers and promising humanities high school students. Don't take my word for it. I am in grand company with Harper Lee, Rick Bragg, Governor Brewer, Howell Raines and the brightest lights of the last 30 years in Alabama calling on all of you to look in the mirror with me as you read this book.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Furman and Selma; 1963

The first Sunday in March, 2007 my heart was in Selma, Alabama but the car wouldn't start. One of my big regrets was not gettin down there for maybe the Second biggest crossing of the bridge in History, on that day with Barack Obama, John Lewis, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
As Furman History proff John Shelley told the story in a 2002 Alumni Magazine, Herbert Gezork was there for the Selma Bridge Crossing in 1963
Furman has a strong story in former Religion proff Herbert Gezork.
Cut and paste this link

Furman didn't come out very well in that story but Gezork's narrative arc is strong. He left Furman to become President of Andover Newton.
I am still trying to find out if Gezork met Bonhoeffer before Gezork left Germany in 36 or so. He was a youth pastor in Berlin.
Last night I called T.C. Smith a Furman proff in the 60's and 70's, a legend there, who met Gezork at Ridgecrest in 1937. I think Smith was 17 yrs old that year. Smith was a student then at Louisiana College, and Gezork was nearby, his one year at Furman.
Smith was teaching in Berkely in 63, an American Baptist, and with a colleague and a student flew to Alabama to cross the Selma Bridge with Martin King, John Lewis and others when Judge Frank Johnson placed the Federal Courts on their side.
Smith told me he remembers talking to Martin England that day, but not Gezork who another Furman proff, John Shelley, places in Selma for one of the attempts to cross the bridge.
Lot of people that day, and the whole world was watching, so not unusual for Smith to not have seen Gezork.
Retired Furman religion proff Albert Blackwell eulogized Martin England when he passed. Said Martin had "an appetite for justice"; Martin's story told well in a chapter in Stricklin's Geneaology of Dissent, a tribute to dissenting Baptists of the 60's and before in the progressive Deep stream of Baptists who made a difference.
Smith yesterday reminded me Viola Liuzzo was killed that night. Smith says he took and his Berkely companions took the train from Montgomery to Atlanta to fly back to California. On the train they were told to hit the deck; glad they did cause the Klan shot out the windows on their unit. Apparently word got around several people who came from out of state to bear witness on the march were on the train and the Klan reacted.
Today in Ft. Payne, Alabama had a conversation with a woman whose family is well known to have been active with the Klan in those days.
Her Daughter and Son in Law are pursuing Ministry with the Methodist Church. Her grandchildren were with her.
Things change. People like Martin King, T.C. Smith, Martin England and Herbert Gezork; Dietrich Bonhoeffer who in 31 rode in front of my Mother's house on HWY 11 with the then son of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Bham; Make a difference.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Letters, Shorter, LBJ and Wayne Flynt

Submitted a letter to Rome News Tribune today in wake of turmoil fundamentalists have created at Shorter College.
Had a Fox Family tennis tourney there in 72, and cousins have been in its employ on different occasions.
Usman Rahim played tennis there and he and I hit downtown Rome in 83 or so.

Also thinking about a letter to Rome News Tribune on LBJ, the Democrat Party in Alabama and Wayne Flynt's new book.
Furman is hosting a panel discussion tonight on the future of the Dems in S.C.
Look at various conversations at esp SBC Trends if you want to pursue those matters.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Gaffney Greats: W.J. Cash

Was having Email exchange with some of my 71 Classmates from Gaffney who set themsevles apart, achieved notoriety or greatness of some fashion.
May share the list later, as it is evolving, but just dawned on me I forgot maybe the most significant.

Wilbur J. Cash, who wrote the Mind of the South; committed suicide in Mexico City in 1941.
Wake Forest had a celebration of his work and legacy in 1999 best my memory serves me.
While basking in things Gaffney in the afterglow of my 40th Reunion, thought I would make notice.