My Photo

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, April 28, 2017

Times Journal and Plainview True Blue "Bashing" False narrative

       April 26 I saw the finals of the DeKalb County HS girls softball contest. That was a Wednesday. Today, Friday the FT Payne Bama Times Journal headlined front page it was a "Bashing" by the True Blue Bears.

      That's what they call themselves in Rainsville Alabama. True Blue for their colors. Some of em are nice people but I haven't observed much royalty about them.

      Sure like the rest of the county I'm proud of Heather Mayes, from Fyffe, and what she did with the girls True Blue basketball team this year. In fact I woulda been okay if Jeremy Pruitt of nick saban's staff and a true blue alum had won the state championship.

    But sometimes their attitude sucks.

   For certain they didn't write the headline for the Times Journal, but it is somehow fitting for what many have observed is their snobbishness, a snobbery without substance other than their Mothers seems to keep their uniforms spotless.

   Here is what I saw. After 6 and a half innings of a 7 inning contest, the score was 9 to Five; only a four point differential. The number four team, Momma's alma mater (1940 where she finished with MKat Reed, the first woman to earn a doctorate from the county, not from True Blue Plainview, but One A Collinsville and all 20 something grads that year); So Momma's team is down only four runs against the number one or two team in 3a in the state.

    I don't call that a bashing, I call that guts on the field contest where the Lady Panthers are playing their hearts out for all the Gippers and Gippettes before.

   In the TJ report I didn't see anything about the pitchout by catcher Abigail Ford to our shortstop Trinity that baited the runner on third into an out at home.

     So sterling play from the Panthers. I'm proud of them. I hope Miss Koufax the starting pitcher for Plainview does well in the playoffs against teams whose Mommas starch their uniforms everyday. And Super shortstop as she goes to West Ky, all the best to her on the softball team and their football team with Steve Spurrier's son Steevie assistant head coach.

  Parting shot. If the TJ and True Blue want to look at dominance and bashing, check the basketball tourneys of the mid 90's when Solomon Stanton and Neal Thrash reigned.

    That's what you call a "BASHING!!!!!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Miss Mississippi 1963 and Gaffney SC

   I have aspirations for this blog to be published in some fashion. And I have a postscript in mind. So check back on it in a week or a month.......    

       Last Sept 9 I posted a blog on the Fox Family leaving Gaffney SC in the summer of 78. Since then compliments of a former SGA president of Samford University I've gotten my hands on a copy of Hodding Carter II's So the Heffners Left McComb which I make reference in the blog.

     Red and Malva Nave Heffner were deep rooted in white Mississippi when as progressive Episcopalians they had two white civil rights workers in their home the Freedom Summer of 1964. Within a month these parents of Miss Mississippi 1963 were run out of town.

    The 1965 book a feature of the Mississippi Book festival last August was spotlighted on a sterling panel late summer on Cspan's weekend booktv. The newly reprinted edition complete with magnificent new intro by McComb native Trent Brown is a must item for every personal library of a student of that era, and should be on the shelves of any decent public library in the Southeast.

  As a back cover blurb says of the book, it was a summer of "white apartheid" in Misssissippi. 

    The Fox family in the mid 70s faced a similar though admittedly lesser tension in Gaffney and my father left for a church in Knoxville. My sister brought several groups of mission friends and other friends home from Mars Hill College, one that included a basketball player of color and a white missionary's son and about eight white girls. That got rumored to be my sister's fiancĂ©, the person of color and the end was nigh after too many black boys playing basketball in our back yard.

   And as the early summer of 78 played out I had an unforgettable phone conversation with a former school board member of the late 60's who was enamored with Strom Thurmond and George Wallace's Freedom of Choice School plan as the end of Never had arrived and full school integration was at hand.

    With some of the drama that played out fellow had gotten to the point where he said he "could stand on my toes and beat my ass into the ground!" Apparently I had pushed some buttons. Two years earlier my father spoke at the Black Limestone Street Baptist Church funeral for a friend of the family who was accidentally shot and killed by his Sister. Their sister became the Mother later of Donald Simms the mixed race grandson of South Carolina Governor Dick Riley's best friend Don Gannt as they grew up together.
    Gov Riley stayed in Gant's home on College Drive in Gaffney in  76 when he ran for Governor of South Carolina. That home was bombed in 1956, then home of a Doctor whose wife had made a mild declaration on race. Duke's Tim Tyson wrote that up in the collection Dynamite and the Silent South, in the essay collection Jumpn Jim Crow.

     The Monday after my father spoke at the funeral a fellow at Stephenson Ford asked him, Preacher are you okay. There was a rumor on CB radio around Goucher community over the weekend your house was gonna be blown up.

      See the blog of Sept 9. Read this book, the new edition with new forward by Trent Brown. It is riveting memoir. A concluding excerpt of the new intro follows. This book was a feature of the Mississippi book festival last fall.

      Gaffney was good to me on the whole. The only time I got beat up was by a group of black boys the last day of school my eleventh grade. It was the tithes and offerings of the good people of Bethany Baptist Church that put food on our table for 16 years and statewide Baptists through Furman gave me an extraordinary opportunity with a 15 percent discount as the son of a Baptist minister.

    Johnny Dawkins has been a lifelong friend since the days of integration in Gaffney. A year older than me he finished High School in 1970 two years into full integration. One of two black athletes to stay on the football team, he was a star running back who went on to Mars Hill and then to Southern Cal film school

    He wrote early script for Denzel Washington, and had several credits on St Elsewhere and Ed Asner networked projects. He was nominated for an Emmy with his ABC Afterschool special the Hero Who Couldn't Read starring Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

   Over the years, most open in the last ten, we have discussed Gaffney. He has several great stories about conversations with John Hamrick in the late 60's. Mr. Hamrick a former president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, had a private audience with President Ford in 1974.

    He was also the key strategist, church laymen who gave tireless hours in the fifties to the creation of Bethany Baptist church which my father came to pastor as a mission of the First Baptist Church of Gaffney. 

     In those stories Mr Hamrick whose family and network of other influential men kept the town on the map, comes out pretty good. But those are Johnny's stories to tell, at the same time modified by the chapter in Jumpn Jim Crow of the textile politics of Upstate SC in the 40s and 50s.

    And in the last days of our stay in Gaffney I had a conversation with Joe McCluney. Joe was in the real estate and lumber business and rumored to be influential in the Klan. Some of the property of Bethany Baptist Church--I always understood the land for the parsonage we lived in for 14 years--was given to the church by McCluney.

   Among the many in the absentee congregation my Dad ministered to over the years was Joe McCluney. I asked him what he woulda done had my church tried to integrate Bethany in 65.
    He said I woulda shot him. I asked him what he thought about my Daddy now, in 78. He said if anybody tried to hurt the preacher, they'd have to go through my ass to get him.

   It is all interesting reading, and anybody who wants as much insight as they can have of that era, So the Heffners Left McComb is necessary reading, and necessary acquisition for your local public library.

    This work still in progress; may be submitted to a progressive national Baptist publication for bigger platform

 Trent Brown from Intro of 2016 edition of So the Heffners Left McComb
    .....It has been a hard pill for Mississippians to swallow, but it is nevertheless the truth, that White Missippians had the luxury to notice or not noticing race as the occasion demanded. Nostalgic recollections of the old days in McComb and other Southern Communities can afford to forget Jim Crow because whites were allowed not to think about it. This is not precisely the same thing as saying every white person carries guilt from those years or benefitted tangibly from the subordination of black citizens, although the latter is true. We do not make history in the ways textbooks and popular culture suggests we can. People of McComb went about their getting and spending and lives and religious devotions asking mostly that tomorrow might be better than today and at least no worse. And considerations of responsibility are meaningless if one does not draw a distinction between those people who planted dynamite and those who wished only to live their lives without getting involved one way of another, as surely did the grandparents and the two high school students that summer who would become my parents in 1965. (Trent Brown) .  To demand that any of them should have "done something" about the conditions that prevailed that summer or in the yers leading up to it is to ask more of them than most of us ask of ourselves. But southern whites (of those years and later) must understand that Jim Crow operated in Mc Comb in a direct, visible and often violent way on the black citizens of the community, and the legacies of those years and the failure forthrightly to remember and confront them have something to do with the problems with which we are faced today.

    The Story of the Heffners, then, shows how fragile and how strong at the same time the bonds of white community were in the Jim Crow South. And in many ways, so they remain. In what amounted to an instant, what the Heffners believed about responsibility and belonging turned on them. It is perhaps not to much to ask that in the chronicles of the Jim Crow years in Mississippi it is remembered that the Heffners suffered, too.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Gaffney's Wall of Success

                            U P D A T E   

 It appears my letter was published in the April 19 issue of the Ledger. If you scroll to the bottom of this blog you will see editor Cody Sossamon original piece, the link. Looks like they are already on the right track.    

A few days ago I submitted the following letter to the Gaffney Ledger: 

      Ive only seen the teaser for the proposed Gaffney Successful Alumni initiative but like the idea. But for it to amount to something I think it needs community involvement. To that end would be grand if Gaffney High twice annuallly, in the fall and spring of the academic year have panels  of three on campus, for an assembly or presentation to the honors and  history club; and that evening have a community event with same members.

     Whether they are on the wall of success of just folks like myself who have spent a good time thinking about their experience in Gaffney and how it shaped a lifetime of rumination and anchored explorations,  for biggest bang for the buck involve the whole community including exhaustive followups and reports in the Ledger and the Chronicle.

   I suggest for these events to be informed the community should at a minimum do group readings of Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America, Tim Tyson's easily googled essay Dynamite and the Silent South, Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land--the national book award finalist with a shoutout to Gaffney native WJ Cash; and the essay in Jumpn Jim Crow about the politics of Textiles in the Upstate in the 40's and 50's that shaped the Gaffney I knew in the 60s and 70s.

   In a few days I plan to elaborate on all this at my blog with suggestions there, nominees for Gaffney's Wall of Success.

    Stephen M. Fox, Gaffney native 62-78

     I am not a subscriber to the Ledger so it will be another three weeks until I can see the full original oped.

    Gaffney had a similar purpose about four years ago when they had a formal banquet and honored about a hundred notable folks who've stood out and had ties to Gaffney.

   So they have a good list to work from.

   For the initial class I have these four to five nominees.

      Libby Mitchell, Gaffney grad about 1963, Senior Class President who did well at Furman and married a striver well connected from Arkansas and went on to run for Governor of Maine a few years ago. She is the Aunt of Tim Childers who still lives in Gaffney and was a started on the Clemson National Championship Team of 1981 coached by Danny Ford

    2. My friend Johnny Dawkins Stellar running back of the first two years of full integration in Gaffney. Played football at Mars Hill and went on to Film school at Southern Call and wrote early script for Denzel Washington. Ed Asner loved Dawk and he was regular writer for St Elsewhere, Lazarus Syndrome and other ground breaking shows of the 80s and 90s including two ABC Afterschool Specials The Wave and The Hero Who Couldn't Read which starred Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

    3. Dawkins was one of two people Wayne Whiteside in the summer of 1971  told me and Rajesh Mehra that stood highest among the many notables he coached in his career with Bob Prevatte in Gaffney's Glory Days from the mid 50s to the 69-70 year. The other was Joe Wrenn who had a notable career in the Baptist pulpit from FBC Sevierville Tn, to Summerville Ga.  As Football was king in Gaffney and Whiteside was a legend himself in service to Pope Prevatte, I go with the Vatican on these two nominees for the inaugural class.

    I don't know where you place John Hamrick and Louis Sossamon and his wife Kat, but all three should be in the first or second class as it would be an initiation among equals in my estimation.

     There are many others to come. Off the top of my head Lori Crotzer of the Dance Department at Emory, Dee Gee Dale McElveen Jaeger who with her husband became head of one of the premiere Historic Preservations concerns in the Southeast certainly is among the cream of the successful crop as is Zack McKown, NY architect,  Nat Geo photographer Jaime Bernanke, and College of Charleston honoree, Rahul Mehra, Cleve Callison has made his mark in many arenas,  Jerry Shinn Charlotte Observer Editor; and of course the celebrities Andie Macdowell and Sidney Rice with LJ Peak not far behind.

    Marian Wright Edelman's connections to Gaffney should be recognized advancing her appearance at Limestone a few years ago on ML King Day.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg but the above I would think are no brainer candidates for initial classes.

   Come back to this blog in a few days, or I may do a followup as more is known and more nominees come forward.

   I do hope Cody or whatever committee gets behind this takes my advice about making these commemorations day long or two day events and trot them around several constituencies of the community.



Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Todd Starnes on Cspan BookTV; Reverberations for Elaine Guest and Macedonia Baptist Church

          Update April 6. When I wrote the following off the cuff last Friday I forgot to mention Starnes references on Cspan about this Trump moment as a Bonhoeffer Moment. That's close to blasphemy as framed by Starnes but not surprising as in the last two years or so Ronnie Floyd of the Starnes Network and Eric Metaxas of Trey Gowdy and FBC Spartanburg's Truth for a New Generation conferences have prostituted Bonhoeffer likewise.

     Karen Guth, the daughter of Furman proff Jim Guth attempted to put the train back on the track a few years ago in her Christian Century piece Abuses of Bonhoeffer.

    And more to the point last fall Charles Marsh had this explicit piece on Metaxas fascination with Trump

    I called Trey Gowdy's office this morning and talked to one of his staffers, A Carolina Gamecock grad. Will remind them of this update tomorrow.

      Todd Starnes, a movement fundamentalist of the worst legacy of Paul Pressler and Adrian Rogers was on --easy google--over the weekend touting his new book picking at Hillary Clinton and her unfortunate deplorables comment. More Trouble for Russ Moore and the plethora of stories from the New Yorker and Washington Post in the last six months about the future direction of the Southern Baptist Convention as the devil's playground for Freedom Council, Tea Party, Trump altright base politics.

     Trey Gowdy and his Christian radio promoter Tony Beam of North Greenville College have some explaining to do in this shadowy world of Truth for a New Generation Workshops.

     None of them to my knowledge have engaged Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land, in their political analysis. Bottom line is Oil is the New Cotton in Trump's Southern Baptist plantation economy. And as Ive blogged before she makes great reference in her National Book Award Finalist book to Gaffney's WJ Cash.

    Macedonia Baptist Church is on I 85 just west of Gaffney South Carolina and the Big Peach. Terry Duvall had 40 years of mainstream Biblical ministry there. Now it seems Tony Beam of the world view of Todd Starnes wants to take it into a Liberty Baptist political world. There are a lot of grand people at Macedonia. I went to school with some of them and know others by reputation. It would be a travesty if Beam  and and company do for that church what Nelson Price and his minions from North Greenville did to Shorter College in Rome Ga.  For that story google the inside Higher Ed piece.

      Elaine Guest  Fowler is a good woman who devoted her life to education. She was a dependable and earnest member of my Dad's church in the 70s in Gaffney. She is now a member of the Cherokee County School board.

      Jack Causey is a former pastor of FBC Gaffney now associated with a  group that counsels churches in transition for Congregational Health. As a former President of the North Carolina Baptist Convention, Causey has seen fundamentalism at work.

      My prayer is Macedonia will seek the counsel of Causey and his fine group in this time of transition, and my friend Elaine will see that Beam and Starnes are not the way forward for public education.

   postscript: and for the big picture, the broad perspective, try Jonathan Edwards and "chiliasm".