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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, May 29, 2012

May 28, 2006; Six years ago

That was the day by a vote of 32-20 I was voted out of the Collinsville Baptist Church. Couldn't even attend Sunday School anymore nor sing congregational hymns in the church where my Mother was baptized and as recently as 86-87 been members. Last Thursday in Centre had a conversation with young woman who went on youth trip in 2002 to Charleston. Had a good trip. one of the then 9th graders is now the Games columnist for the U Bama Crimson Student newspaper. He voted for me May 28 as did the now young married woman in Centre. I am confident Jennifer Cortina was was Miss DAR circa Collinsville HS Class of 2008; and I am confident the pastors son and daw in law John and Susan Weaver Morgan woulda voted to keep me in the fellowship while I had a chance to seek reconciliation with the five or so women who drove my ouster. As the Aught book on fundamentalism made clear, in small congregations it is often women who drive their husbands to maintain their power in the congregation as the neck that turns the head. And bottom line in my case, that's what's happened. I saw versions of same thing happen to my father in S.C. and Tennessee and South Georgia. In February 2002 even by Martha Barksdale's standards I brought a stellar panel to the church; including the biographer of Lottie Moon, the former asst editor of the Alabama Baptist Mark Baggett; and my friend David Currie, the national leader of mainstream Baptists, the point man for John Baugh of Houston Texas, CEO of Sysco Foods. I think Jim Evans sat in the audience. Evans has since preached in the National Cathedral. By 2006 Two of the pastors sons had gone to UVA, one on to Yale Div School and one to Duke. Even the Duke grad said he voted for me and he had come under the tutelage of Duke Chaplain Willimon while a student. But I am off the grounds and five women still have their way in the church; and a fellow who in another state had written for the Sons of the Confederacy or some such group has taken my place in the choir. I remember Norma Rae's pastor in the movie in the late 70's; little could I have predicted 35 years later I would be in the same predicament in my Mother's congregation. Oh Well, Stephens and Giberson have done some truth telling in the last chapter of their Book The Anointed. They follow up on themes of Marshall Frady some 40 years ago about tribalism. In the Old Testament there was the Baal Test. In my experience if you take exceptions for my sometime flamboyant personality it was the Wickerman test and I got Wickered; or the Francis Schaeffer shibboleth and I forgot the password.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Graduation 2012

I graduated from Gaffney High School 41 years ago, 71. The festivities were delayed about ten minutes and I remember future Olympic hurdler Charles Foster just in front of me turning around and saying, Fox Let's get this show on the road, I'm hurdlin out of this town. We were on the tennis courts behind Gaffney's then 5 or 6 year old gym, where proud parents from Grassy Pond, Goucher, Corinth, Elm Street, Daniel Morgan,Hetty Hill, New Street, Granard and various other places inside and out the City Limits were waiting. Wayne Whiteside presented the diplomas that year. I didn't speak, but my sister did in 74; and outside event. I think we all got four tickets as the gym packed out in a hurry. The year before I was a marshall; one of my shining moments, up there with emceeing the Furman Homecoming Show in 73 for Herman Lay of Frito Lay Potato chips and the President of FSU. Maybe I peaked out too soon (ha) But in the spirit of Buckner Fanning of San Antonio Texas Trinity BC where I first heard Tony Campolo sermon on Four Whores in Honolulu; and a graduation Buckner's remembrance of a late 80's foray out to LBJ's Hill Country; which we all know is in the direction of Friday Night Lights, Billy Bob and Lucas and Buzz Bissinger. Lately in a mad dash toward penury abetted by illtimed bout with pollen and breathing maladies, I have been overdosing on The Hart biography of James Dickey and last couple days back to back stellar installments of the NPR Diane Rehm show; plus Girl Child's Tupelo Hassman has become my new best Facebook friend. Yesterday featured Dennis Johnson's Train Dreams with a stellar panel--two of whom are enamored with my friend Ron Rash; and today Eudora Welty's neighbor from Jackson Mississippi Richard Ford. His Canada is strong stuff and I recommend both to all. Ford's reading from the new novel about a father, reminded me of many folks who sat in the gym at GHS in 71; a possible version of my last ten years or so on the earth. But as a friend from Bham said on the phone today as I was contemplating leaving the House for FPayne, Alabama and the internets, or staying homebound; as we both were raised on the cliches and wisdom of Marshall Frady's Baptist faith: "Go ahead, cause you never know what tomorrow may bring.: Charles Petty and Raymond Harrill couldn't agree more; even Wayne Whiteside. P.S. Kathleen Graber's New Yorker poem The Transgression of Noah also informs this little riff, as does the conclusion of the chapter on the Anchorite, the priest and the Colindancia in Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

59 years of Stevie

1953, May 18 was when I was born. In Newport Tennessee where my Dad Baptized Brownlow Sams and Freddie James among others. Took me three trips to get on a computer today, and then I changed from 2 to 3 but here I am. I don't feel well. About every 3-5 years pollen takes me down. Once in Floyd County Ga bout 83 It became hard to breathe and Nanny Fox and her friend Lola Ingalls bout lost me. Then over here in Bama about 94 it was touch and go but the late Dr. Smeltzer of Centre, Alabama prescribed me back into the living. And 1990 was bad. This year just the mullygrubs and I have I can stave it off. Some friends called and texted in, and just a few minutes ago I had fascinatin conversation with a neighbor of Casey Mattox Allied Defense Fund boss, Charles Pickering. Left my email address. Hope to here from them. Neighbor is a nice fellow checkin the HWY 11 Yard sales. I told him about Bonhoeffer and mentioned Judge Frank Johnson on the fly. Frank Harrington preached once about the Man in Full whose success was driven to see the "Light in his Mother's Eyes." Miss Chadwick wrote in my 1971 Senior HS annual: "No need to wish you success; it's a given." Several folks younger than myself whom Ive gotten to know and shared that sentiment make good sport of me on occasion. Didn't quite work out like Miss Chadwick prophesied; but I have had a few moments. Saw the light several occasions before my Mother died and I take some consolation in that. And every once in a while I come across what Padgett Powell called the "divine utterance." And I spoke to James Wood once at the Sewanee Writer's conference and just last week Tupelo Hassman said some kind words on Facebook. Schopenhauer got it right, and then there is Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy and Ron Rash; the testimony of Stewart Newman and Marshall Frady a good brother and sister and some friends along the way. Next year, the big 60, think I'm gonna find some running water and rebaptize myself for what remains. 3:44 EDT; 15 miles North of Collinsville, Alabama, May 18, 2012 Also happy Birthday to Tommy Jones, Pope John, Jane Esselmeyer, Karen West and Tina Fey.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ron Rash, Marshall Frady and James Wood

Rash is author of several books, adored by the NY Times and LA Times and they love him in France as well as Pickens County, S.C. At this site in the archives for Spet 2010 see my interview with him. Marshall Frady is a Baptist Preacher's son, who many say was the greatest social justice journalist of the last half of the 20th Century. That's not me, that's David Halberstam. Frady was recently profiled in the Furman alum magazine. And James Wood is the author of How Fiction Works. I chatted briefly with Wood couple years ago at Sewanee Writer's conference and broached Frady's name. Wood writes often for New Yorker, and teaches at Harvard. Here is my nomination of Rash and Frady for the Wood review. Some sentences. I like these two that caught the eye of Patti in Birmingham a novelist in her own right in a recent blog for CandJ radio. Ron is known for his lyricism and poetic style (he is also a poet), and for me, this novel seemed to contain entire poems in single sentences. When he writes “Dawnlight unshackled high branches from the dark” or or “She looked around the bedraped granite, her washings like leavings from the streams’ recent flooding”, or “.the lack of greenery made the mountains starker, more firmly locked to the land.” Ron Rash makes me believe that the English language is more beautiful than even I had supposed. My favorite is on page 44, fave of The Cove. Will share it soon in the comments to this blog effort. And here is a Marshall Frady sentence from his Penguin bio of Martin Luther King: page 98 "Spread along the last slopes of the Appalachian Mountains about a hundred miles above Montgomery, Birmingham was an Alabama outpost of the steel industry of the North, a burly, gritty, smokily sunlit city that liked to advertise itself as "the Pittsburg of the South." And here is a reoommendation by David Halberstam, the Pulitzer winner for the Best and the Brightest, by way of Doug Cumming who celebrates Frady in the current issue of the Furman Alumni Magazine. From Halberstam's intro to reissue in 2006 of Frady's bio of Billy Graham: "I thought I could almost see the process take place--Marshall deciding what it was he wanted to say and routing it through that part of his brain where his father, Faulkner, and his other literary heroes lurked, and then in time it came out, exceptionally full, as if scripted in the nineteenth century rather than the twentieh, ready, I sometimes thought, to be set in type and printed as spoken." Pardon me, that was Halberstam on Frady, about how he spoke like he wrote. Order a copy of Frady's Southerners his collection of essays. You'll be a wiser person if you do. Frady's last effort for the NY Rev of Books was a review of Leo Frank's lynching, And the Dead Shall Rise; and before that a review of Robert Caro's third installment of his magisterial series on the life and times of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

JFK and LBJ. Caro with Moyers on the Plane

Just a few minutes ago I left a comment at the site of and today's 50 minute interview with Robert Caro, the Pulitzer prize winning author of the LBJ bios.....Here is my comment: Great show. I read the New Yorker excerpt and have been fascinated for several days. The program repeats tonight in Alabama and I will be listening a 2nd time. Just today I confirmed that Bill Moyers was on the plane with President Kennedy's Body and LBJ on the flight from Dallas to D.C. I have a note that I treasure from Moyers, so fascinating stuff indeed. As many across the nation have done and considerably more will do on the 50th anniversary next year; the Where were you on that day question will gain even added significance. I as a 5th grader in Gaffney, S.C; my father a Baptist minister. Later I was to become enchanted by Marshall Frady's coverage of the Civil Rights era. Just Saturday by happenstance within ten minutes, I had two conversations at a flea market in NE Alabama. One with a minister who had a part in a funeral for an Uncle of Lady Bird in Billingsley, Alabama. From that I couldn't help but imagine Lady Bird had some influence on LBJ as he navigated Selma; Selma just about 20 miles from Lady Bird Taylor's Alabama roots. And another with a football player, McClendon, who was on the 63 championship team with Joe Namath and Bear Bryant. He remembered Bear went ahead with practice that afternoon, but the next day the away game with Miami was called off. Our conversation was lightly framed by my reference to Howell Raines 1983 TNR piece Goodbye to the Bear, about Bryant's relationship with George Wallace. Alabama's dilemma continues, and now it is up to Bama Coach Nick Saban to levy some influence on Bama Gov Bentley on the immigration law. To that extent in my world, Lyndon and Martin and the repercussions of Nov 22, 1963 are still very much alive. I may share this with friends from Gaffney, particularly my graduating class of 71 and see what some of them remember later this year and again in 2013 from Central Elementary School and the area. It has already last fall been interesting to see what some of them were thinking, particularly the class of 63 and 64. Gaffney did go ahead with an away game that night against Lancaster, and that year won a state championship, so they had that much in common with Bear Bryant and Joe Namath. All this registers with me as just two months ago for the first time in my stay in Bama I was in Selma for the anniversary of the historic March; and the day after in the mail was the Furman Alum mag and a tribute by Doug Cumming for Marshall Frady, Furman's 63 grad who covered the Civil Rights Transition for major national magazines; A Baptist ministers son who wrote a magnificent biograpy of Martin Luther King; a great bio of Billy Graham and the George Wallace bio on which the TNT movie was based. Jesse Jackson spoke at Frady's funeral in 2004, and there was mutual adoration between Frady and Will Campbell, both appreciated by David Halberstam; who wrote the Best and the Brightest and the book on the Boston Red Sox, The Teammates.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Cole, Bentley and the Ft.Payne Tea Party

Mary Anne Cole whose Brother was active in theJohn Birch Society and Uncle was a president of JSU,isinviting Governor Bentley to another Tea Party Ralley in Ft. Payne soon. Among things you can be certain they will be ignorant of in this ralley, is Bishop Willimon's new book wherehe spells out the flaws in Gov Bentley'simmigration reform book; as wellas the discussion last Monday week ago on the NPR Diane Rehm show. Bill Oreilly is ignorant of that conversation aswell. ForSome reason the Christian folk in Ft Payne can't bring themselves to view the documentary of Robert Parham on Immigration Reform, the One Bishop Willimon hasendorsed. Mary Anne worships with the Crowes. She should have a conversation with their daughter Cherilyn and her network at As Ihave posted at this site, overtures are in theworks to bring Nick Saban's wife into this conversation. Bonhoeffer rode through Collinsville and Ft. Payne on old HWY 11 in 1931. Willimon takes notice of the trip in his New Book. Eisenhower took Joe McCarthy to the Woodshed and he would do the same with Eunie Smith, Mary Anne Cole and Gov Bentley's Tea Party. Jill Lepore has examined their Inadequacies on the Constitution in The Whites of Their Eyes. The Good Folks of Dekalb County can do better than the Tea Party. Their children will know some day; The Bible is clear on that.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sweet Billy's 90th Birthday, May 3

My Dad was born May 3, 1922. Billy Dan Fox; in Alcoa Tennessee. He was the son of Mary Alice Helton and W. D. Willie Dan Shorty Fox. He had a brother and three sisters. He was a Baptist preacher. His friend Bobby Crocker, a preacher in Draytonville Community of Gaffney, S.C. named him Sweet Billy in the late 60's cause Dad was a kind hearted fellow. I was gonna say a lot about him but the day got away from me. I have linked a tribute at in the Faith and Practice section. My Dad was big Boston Red Sox Fan. In fact, that's him, last fellow at bat in the movie Moneyball. About the last week we lived in Gaffney, I made one last trip with him to the Community Cash on the corner of Buford Street and Limestone. There was a Black woman, I didn't know her, on the sidewalk in front of the store. I decided to talk to her while my Dad went in for a couple items. There had been some things in the paper as we had lived there for 16 years. I asked her if she knew Billy Fox; asked her twice. She Said: "I know that man, I know that man. He's a friend of the rich and the poor the Black and the White." And so he was. In 84 or so in the small room my grandparent had made into an entry room and extra bedroom with a Fireplace on Morrison Campground Road we watched video of the Black Gospel documentary Say Amen Somebody. You should see it. Last Song starts out I am bound for Caanan's Land. And so he was and he's there now. Song ends with a recitative of the word Hallelujah. Amen