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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, January 29, 2013

I got Boocie

   Boocie is the star of the Etowah Blue Devils of Attalla, Alabama. He came to Collinsville Friday night wearing his Kentucky cap and some of his entourage in the stands say Michigan, number one in the land today in NCAA basketball is talking to him.
    He and his Blue Devils left the L.D. Dobbins gym defeated by a 1A school 59-52; The Blue Devils being a 5A.
   They did get a dunk, however.

 I was very proud of the Collinsville Panthers. One of the best HS basketball games I have seen in some time. Panthers played smart. Jukin and fakin gettin the "athletic" Devils off their feet and then hittin the three as the Devils descended back to earth.

     I called a couple Socon schools to tell them about Deshawn Moore. He was the best player on the court Friday night. The Panthers played their role. It was a team win. Patient and disciplined; not a code word for White Ball, just smart basketball. Two Whites, two ballers of color, a Mexican and a fellow from El Salvador.

    I played trombone but woulda come out of the stands to play for a minute or two if they had called on me.

    To the Etowah fan who Roomed in the early 80's at Auburn with Lionel Little Train I want to say it was nice meetin you, no kiddin. Tell your friend DAvid Thompson was in the stands at the NC State Carolina GAme on ESPN Saturday night, another good basketball game Saturday.

    And as an Auburn grad you need to know Mike Hubbard Auburn former SID is not your friend. I saw the ESPN 30/30 film You Don't know Bo; but I think I know Bo well enough that he will tell you the same thing and I hope he does so soon.

    To my knew friends in the Blue Devil Stands, hope you see this and learn about Jackson Giles, Judge Frank Johnson and William Moore.

   And to Boocie you may have the gifts. I wish you well. I told some of your classmates I saw Sidney Rice of the Seahawks when he was in the tenth grade in a Christmas tournament. After the first round I asked him who was gonna win this thing. He said: "We here, ain't we."

     You got rattled and got outplayed Friday night. But I was pleasantly surprised you handled the defeat without rancor and I'm proud of you for that.

   You look to be the real deal. You're gonna win a lot of games  going forward and I wish you the best.

   Here is L.J. Peake of Sidney Rice hometown Gaffney. Your audience wanted the link:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Gaffney High Band Director, Doug Howard

      My high school band director Doug Howard passed away Sunday. He was 72.
      Mr. Howard came to Gaffney in August 67 and stayed through May 71. He was my band director my four years at Gaffney High and guided us through integration beginning my sophomore year. Most of the white kids quit, Was something like 40 people of color and us ten white people.
      My friends of color weren't that enthusiastic about the change as the Granard High Band was award winning, especially in marching competition.
     So going from Grambling and S.C. State like Showband to the military 6 to the 5 style of Texas A and M was quite a culture shock, a transition for us all.

      But it worked out, we got through it; wasn't a perfect gel but my Junior year we got all ones in sight reading concert performance competition, and my senior year spotlighting the trombone section we played St. Joseph's 76th for some tough judges in the STate Competition on the field near Camden; S.C.

    Not gonna say he was Bear Bryant or Woody Hayes in pre performance speech, but his chat before we went on the field for state contest was as close as I ever got to a version of Billy Bob Thornton's speech in the movie Version of Friday Night Lights. Can you Be Perfect was pretty much the point. We've practiced three hours after school and on weekends and three weeks before school started for this moment. Can you be perfect. I know I was all in when it came time to look the judges square in the face and start out on St. Joe's 76; and it wasn't an easy piece. And I think Grady Sizemore blowin his slide trombone right beside me and Donnell Edwards and the other seven trombone players were all in too.

     Grady became the father of the consensus Best Baseball player in Major League Baseball 2007, of the same name with the Cleveland Indians. Doug Howard was another piece of the puzzle.

      I had a lot of respect for Mr. Howard. He once stood his ground with our High School Principal, legendary football coach Wayne Whiteside. Coach Whiteside was a great freind of my Dad and our family, but Howard stood his ground when there was some smouldering resentments about the Band stayin on the field a little long during halftime and costing a ten yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff. Remember that clearly.

       Mr Howard was an interesting character. I had hoped over the years to find him in the Upstate and talk some more about religion and politics. His was an interesting pilgrimage from near Bob Jones Baptist to Latter Day Saint and back to being a choir director at a Baptist Church outside Union, S.C. in his later decades.

   In the 9th grade Mr. Howard took all us crackers down to Bradenton Florida one spring for a celebration. Some nights I'm still walking across that mile long bridge. Still have the picture somewhere; was a big trip and quite memorable.

    Between my 9th and tenth grade year, my folks sacrificed to get me a new Silver Trombone. He helped them pick it out and arrange the financing. My Mother who played Tuba in her HS band in Alabama was always appreciative about that. My Brother never had Mr. Howard for a Band director, but became an award winning director himself at Blue Ridge HS in Upstate S.C.

    I checked today. In My Senior Annual he complimented me for bringing a lot of personality to the band community those four years and doing the "extra" that made his trials on the whole a little more durable.
   Quoted Matt 5: 33 "This Boy has done Well"

   Lot of stories and the music transcended race but in the remarkable friendships that developed in those days was Howard and Fletcher Smith. Fletcher played the tuba, later went to Wofford and I think was the first Black law school grad at U South Carolina.

   He used to meet Howard at 4 am and they would deliver the Spartanburg Herald.

   Saw Fletcher fall of 2009 after his provocative career as a S.C. State Senator from Greenville. Told him to tell his best story and I'd trump him. He said back in Jan 2008 during the S.C. primary he was on the road from Greenville to Columbia to have a one on one meeting with Hillary Clinton when Barack Obama called him on his cell phone.
    I threw in the towel. Said I got nothin.

   Always wanted to tell Mr. Howard that one, he woulda been proud.

   God Bless Doug Howard. He did well.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Brief chat with Two Pulitzers on NPR

   Last October I was hoping to attend Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch's lecture at Samford; but I didn't make it. His trilogy on Martin Luther King is magisterial, as many have said. In 1987 I remember reading the segment about William Moore in the first installment, and how King's Dream speech in Detroit was within a week of JFK's Ich bin ein Berlinner in 1963. I was  moved to tears by the analysis and comparison of the Detroit to Berlin speech, and like Frye Gaillard in his book on the Civil Rights era  reminded of a terrible God who would ask Abraham to be willing to sacrifice Isaac by the violence perpetrated on Moore and many others during that era. And Moore came right down the Highway through the small town in which My Mother was baptized.
    Reading Branch, I could almost see Moore walking down Highway 11 right in front of my Bama home, though I was going from Miss Farish's fourth grade to Mrs. Goforth's 5th in 1963 in Gaffney, S.C.
     And I saw Isabel Wilkerson on BookTV with Michelle Norris in 2010, then read her Book The Warmth of Other Suns. This first black woman to win the Pulitzer for nonfiction has roots in the Thankful Baptist Church of Rome, Georgia, about a quarter mile from the home where my Mother and father were married in 48.
    So when yesterday both Taylor and Wilkerson were on the Diane Rehm show I had to call in.
    I got excited and called my friend Hillary Beard, a native of Guntersville, Alabama, Bham Sthrn grad now staffer for US Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Selma. Just in case I didn't get on air, was going for a backup and had her send an email. Wanted the nation to know at least two white folks in Bama "get it."
    Was an interesting series of events this week. Had an email exchange with former Furman President David Shi with a note about the NPR story Monday, the 50th anniversary of George Wallace Inauguration as Governor of Alabama. I made a post at Collinsville Historical Association site about William Moore's murder as written up in the LA Times in 2002.
     Shi reported he had just reread Furman 63 grad Marshall Frady's great Penguin bio of King. Frady was the first biographer of Wallace, the bio from which the TNT movie starring Gary Sinise was made.
     And then Thursday, NPR Here and Now broadcast the entire Dream Speech of King, first time I'd listened to the full speech in 20 years or so, best of my Memory.
      So I was all in this year to honor Martin. I hope you will listen to the conversation in entirety. And have your children listen.
      They need to know, and the NPR conversation is a great capsule introduction.
      I know my Momma is proud of me for being a part of it.

      Links to follow


And the LA Times story on the murder of William Moore about 7 miles south of my home in Alabama

Friday, January 11, 2013

A eulogy, Tribute to my 8th grade Teacher Frances Clary

  Over the holidays my friend Danny Parker died as you see in the Johnny Dawkins memory on this blog. Last summer Mike Francis who was in my 8th grade class  with Mrs Clary right before lunch,  died. The summer of 67  Mike Francis, Tommy Jones, Cleve Hamrick and myself took a 7 hour bus ride from Spartanburg, S.C. to Camp Ney Ah Ti on the banks of the Guntersville lake about 12 miles below Scottsboro.
    The last day  of my 8th grade year before the trip to Alabama for camp, I got out of school early; midday to ride with the family to Miami Florida where I saw a movie star in a TV Private series, Billy Graham and W.A. Criswell and remember walking past some juke joint on the way to the hotel after a lot of Baptist preaching and Aretha Franklin singin on that sound system Respect Yourself.

     That last day of school, active member of Cherokee Avenune Baptist Church she was,Mrs Clary came out in the hall to greet my Dad and wish us a safe trip and a glorious inspiring national Baptist Gathering.

    Here is what I posted on the Facebook wall set up by her son and daughter in her honor:

    Gonna take a different approach in my tribute to my 8th grade teacher and talk about the archetypical congregational that was her Baptist Christian Fellowship all her life. Cherokee Avenue Baptist Church was the home church as I understand the story of W.J. Cash to whom Wake Forest University devoted a weekend of scholarship in the late 90's.
It is the Church of such Gaffney legends as Wayne Whiteside and Joe Dean Spencer and all the lore that entails.
And it had a glorious Baptist church choir legacy in its heyday under the direction of Culis O. Hayes.

That is the memory I want to spotlight.

In the winter of circa 67--if that is the exact year, coulda been a year or two earlier--Cherokee Avenue housed the Broad River Baptist Association choir weeklong training emphasis. I remember I was in the Junior associational choir with Pam Foxx, Gary and Tommy Jones and I think Anne Bolin among others. Folks from Grassy Pond, to Bethany, to First Baptist to most likely Corinth and beyond participated.

It was one of the highlights on my Mother's stay in Gaffney from 62-78. In the training finale recital--hope I'm not mixxing music schools here--our Junior group sang Elijah Rock. But connecting the dots the Adult Group, which had some illustrious choir director from Georgia come up, Momma was in the ladies alto or sorprano section of the choir with Frances Clary, FAye Edwards and Ramona Ross.

They went to FBC for the finale Celebration and Sang the Hallelujah Chorus. Usher Bob Prevatte himself opened the doors of the sanctuary of Gaffney's Historic Downtown Churches and let the whole county far and wide hear this Sainted choir doing their best for the Glory of God.

A few years ago cause my Momma wasn't a complete blowout as a parent, there was something in me that got me down to Birmingham to hear the Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Marilynne Robinson discuss her novel Gilead: So to Frances Clary and my Momma and Ramona Ross and All the Saints gone on before I salute you with this passage near the end of Gilead; a Pulitzer rumination a woman born in a shoebox on the skirts of a mill village in Gaffney, S.C. if not smack dab in the middle of it deserves!

The aging preacher in the story is reflecting on his sermon on Pentecost and says: "But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than it seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like Transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only who could have the courage to see it?"

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My Uncle Paul Fox and Bama Senator Shelby

   This morning on NPR a news report said Alcoa Aluminum numbers were coming in today and that should be big indicator of how the government is doing with fiscal cliff negotiations. Then a fellow said governance is the problem. Business doesn't like uncertainty even after a minimal dodge of a disaster New Years eve.
     As anybody who has seen my front yard knows, I'm not much of a businessman. But I have met a few successful people along the way.

   My Grandfather's Brother Paul Fox was a VP of Reynolds Aluminum. Nixon sent him to see the Shah of Iran, Anwar Sadat, and sent him in early 70's to China. He was legendary in Fox Family Circles.
      Roger Milliken, Jr. has been my friend since the summer of 1970 when he came to our home on Sunday lunch break from Sunny Slope Peach Shed. Roger's father was one of the key shapers of the Republican Party in the last half of the 20th Century. See Joe Crespino's strom Thurmond's America if you doubt the weight of that assertion.
    And Bama's Energen Corporation CEO Dudley Reynolds was my classmate at Furman; lived right down the Hall Freshman year. Dudley a native of Anniston was a Rhodes scholar nominee. Senator Shelby and I talked about him with mutual admiration at the Leesburg Town Hall last summer.

     I don't speak for any of these folks and none of them consult me on business matters. But I would be surprised if they are happy with any of the Bama delegation the last couple years save possible Congresswoman Terry Sewell.

     For me EJ Dionne made the most sense in a challenging panel Sunday on Meet the Press that included Carly Fiorina and Newt Gingrich. Gingrich was a wasted panelist, a waste of airtime and panel presence. Next time put Norm Ornstein in there, or maybe Greenville SC mayor Knox White, a Republican.

     Dionne trumps everything Shelby has said to date on the matter. Shelby is not listening to the best and brightest of Bama these days; showing much evidence of a finger in the wind politician. President Obama's direction is not perfect but Ornstein and Jeff Faux join Dionne all say it is about the best realpolitik possible given the recalcitrance and stubborness to put it mildly of the Birch Society inflected Tea Party House.

    And God Help the people of Alabama, National Championship--Does it mean anything really when Kansas Governor Brownback and Kris Kobach jerk the state around--if we reelect Jeff Sessions and Mike Rogers. And if Kentucky Congressman Yeaman can bring himself to do the right thing as he did in Spielberg's Lincoln, maybe Robert Aderholt can become somthing worthy of Bham and Southern and the US House before he hopefully leaves office in a couple years.

   Come on Bama. Do something that would make Judge Frank Johnson proud, worthy of the great football team you worship 17 starters of which are persons of color if you were countin the same team I did. Lets have a fiscal policy that does justice to them and their aspirations as well as all the wealthy who own all the land in South Alabama Wayne Flynt has written so prophetically about.

Top Ten Football Teams for 2012

  While I'm warmin up to write a blog US Bama Senator Shelby's staff is on notice to check thought I would rate this years football season, best program and teams in the nation.

1. Gaffney High School. They won state championship this year and beat everybody in S.C. last year by 30 or more till the final fluke Championship Game. Willie Dawkins flew in from LA just to see it. And they owned the state in the 60's; home of Sidney Rice who will defeat Julio Jones this Sunday in Atlanta.

2. Texas A n M. No Brainer. They embarassed Saban's Tide in Tuscaloosa caused they aren't programmed to death. Still have a little excitement to the game, Resist The Process

3.  Notre Dame.Even though the suffered a setback last Night, the Quarterback is from South Carolina and could be the next Johnny Football Manziel. Plus he will get Django Unchained longtime before Bama Senator Sessions and Deacon Governor Bentley and the Bama Tea Party. And with Coach Sabans priest at St. Francis in Tuscaloosa most likely has a clue about what Jesus will is for Bama.

 4. Boise St. University. They appreciate Russett Potatoes. Smurf turf. Coach makes more than the Governor of Idaho. Unlike Bama Trustees in the Tea Party, no trustees ever a member of Ruby Ridge. Won Fiesta Bowl in 08.

5.University of South Carolina. Javedeon Clowney had better hit in his bowl game than Bama's now long forgotten noseguard that stopped the UTenn Upset a few years ago. And Mr Sossamon from Gaffney was All American there in 54 or so, and Billy Ray Rice starred in the bowl game in 1970 and he came to our church with Becky Kiser.

6.Clemson. Coach Dabo is a Christian and not afraid to show emotion, not a robot. Has the humanity and political skills to live in the same region as Danny Ford

7.The University of Alabama. Ms Saban attends church routinely at St. Francis and Rumor Has it she voted for Obama. Some of the players have been able to survive The Process and maintain humanity; as an example the butt pattin between Barrett Jones and QB McCarron last night after the quibble on national tv. Plus I talked to McElroy on the Finebaum show and he was smart enough to take notes while I was talkin. And the program did have enough sense to let Kenny Stabler play in the 60's one of the greatest human beings of all time up there With Judge Frank Johnson, Rosa Parks, MLKing Jr, Atticus Finch in products of the state where my Momma was born.

8. Furman. They beat University of Georgia in 29 and Norwood Cleveland walked all the way back from Athens to Greenville. Read about it with my own eys.

9.Southern Cal. Great marching Band. Bama never had Stevie Nicks on the field at halftime

10Bob Jones University. That's where the woman in The Ladykillers starring Tom Hanks Said she was sendin her money.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My friend Johnny Dawkins Salute to My Friend Danny Parker

Condolence From: Johnny Dawkins
Condolence: In 1968 I was all set to become the next great starting quarterback for Granard High School until South Carolina public schools were forced to integrate. I was told it was going to be extremely difficult to beat out the young Gaffney High School starting quarterback by the name of Danny Parker. So I switched positions to halfback and soon thereafter received countless tosses, pitches, hand-offs, and passes from the great Danny Parker on our way to the State Championship Game in Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Yes, Danny Parker was a great Quarterback and baseball Pitcher, but an even greater friend and human being. With a big gregarious and contagious smile, Danny possessed all of the characteristics of the great leader that he was. Courageous, yet kind and understanding, Danny was always willing to offer advice or lend a helping hand to others. My father worked with Danny’s father at Musgrove Mills and I know Danny’s father was just as proud of his son as my father was of me; especially when the Friday night lights came on in W.K. Brumbach Stadium. I remember one particular tough game in high school. We had taken the lead on a long Danny Parker touchdown pass to Donnie Ray Littlejohn and thanks to our tough defense got the football back on downs. An excited Danny Parker sprinted into the huddle and said: “Coach Prevatte said run the football but forget that. Ole Joey boy (a la Joe Willie Namath) is gonna throw another one (touchdown pass).” Danny took the snap, dropped back, and threw one of the best interceptions I had ever seen in my life. The DB was on his way for a pick-6 until Robb Sartor or Webb Pierce (maybe both) laid him out near the Indians sideline. Coach Prevatte was furious. He didn’t wait for Danny and met Danny half way on the field spraying tobacco juice in his star Quarterback’s face as he chewed Danny out all the way to the bench for changing his play. Danny and I laughed about that about five years ago, the one and only time I ever saw Danny since graduating from GHS in 1970. When I learned of Danny’s passing from my good friend Steve Fox; I felt a silence; a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more hand-off. We may not understand why Danny left this earth so soon or why Danny left before we were ready to say good-bye; but each day, little by little, we will begin to remember not just that Danny left us, but that he lived. And that Danny’s life gave us all memories far too beautiful to forget. Family and friends, remember that we love and care about you and do know that our thoughts, minds, and prayers are with you during this most difficult time. God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best. Rest in Peace Danny Parker, until we see you again in Heaven. Love and Blessings to all, Johnny Dawkins