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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 www.clsnet.org 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.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"From what ground did the hagiographic lillies spring?"

   I'm gonna bust a gut on this one but put up the rough draft so come back in a few days cause it may have a little more sheen.

    As the Baptist world goes I've inveighled my way into some robust company of late in some facebook conversations about the legacy of  Billy Graham, this Trump moment, memory and the insights of Molly Worthen. I'll drop a few Baptist names, Joel Gregory the short term associate of WA Criswell at FBC Dallas, Brad Creed former provost at Samford now President of  Campbell College and some onlookers including Randall Balmer, recent biographer of President Carter, now at Dartmouth.

    Just this morn I reread in print Molly Worthen's great piece in the Atlantic about the independent mindset of evangelicals historically in America, though conceding they do have a bent to become enchanted with demagoues. Balmer and many others most recently Robert Wuthnow of Princeton with his book on Criswell's fundamentalism in Texas, Rough Country are two of the best. And Molly cites my fellow Furman alum Ole Miss proff Darren Grem and his look at Chic Fil A of how Trump and Nixon, and I would add Trey Gowdy,  Senator Lankford on Ok are part of America's political drinking water as well.

    In Alabama there is a toxic dose of Rick Bugess, and the Yellowhammer News Network intermingled with some very "inerrant" mega churches including the 14 campus Church of the Highlands and its stepfamily at Church of Brook Hills and FBC Gardendale and its own special drama.

      So time to throw in the Kennedys. Also by coincidence and I would say serendipitously my morning print reading took me to Tom Fallon in the New Yorker and reviews of several recent books on the Kennedys. Half disclosure I remain enchanted by the vision of the Profiles in Courage awards though as we all know Ted Sorenson probably wrote the first installment.

    And I thought President Obama was Lincolnesque in his acceptance speech a few weeks ago.

    But if the "liberal elite" can raise doubts about Jesus was really talking about and say my salvation and baptism at Truett Memorial Baptist Church in 1959, dipped by own ordained Daddy, then what is your average white pipe fitter and or son of a textile worked in Gaffney SC or steel mill worker in Bham Alabama to make of the reworking of General Lee, Bear Bryant and Billy Graham?

    Even the best and the brightest--or they got me fooled--of good will and open mind like Creed and Gregory struggle with what to do with what tithes and offerings come their way from solid souls who want to be part of something bigger than themselves but hold up Billy Graham and Nixon to more scrutiny than should be allowed in your average Sunday School class on any given Sacred Day.

     But 84% of these well meaning people voted for Donald Trump.

     And the Kennedy's were complicated too, thus Fallon's phrase from whence those hagiographic lilies sprang.

    Obama was on to it when he said all dogmas are on the table.

     That's as far as I can go this morning. But I will link these musings in the facebook conversation and stay tuned.

     For the moment, Marilynne Robinson is my experience is the best light through the tunnel after reading Grem and Worthen and Balmer; but that for later while the Provosts and the  "enlightened" preachers catch up.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Barbaro, MKat and the May 16 Girls Softball team of Collinsville 2017

     Barbaro is a horse, MKat is Mary Katherine Patton, valedictorian of Momma's alma mater Collinsville HS class of 2017 and a top five Coker.

    I always wanted to give a commencement address somewhere but nobody ever asked me. My sister beat me out by 40 years and counting as she spoke for her High School graduating class, 1974 at Gaffney High. I was there but didn't make it to my brothers.

    Mary Kat Patton according to her loved ones once considered the Methodist ministry but looks to be leaning toward anesthesiology now. She has a scholarship to play juco softball.

    Last weekend, she and her Collinsville Panthers conquered Tuscaloosa Alabama, not losing a game in the state semifinal round. They went on to Montgomery May 17 in the state finals. with 7 other teams.

   They were in the winners bracket.

     But as the 7 inning came in the first game against Horseshoe Bend, they hit a brick wall and lost 3-2. Were a threat in the top of the 7th but couldn't get a runner across the plate to send into extra innings.

   And early afternoon  they hit a thud and a shellacking. Lost to ignominious Leroy, Alabama 16- 1. I haven't seen the details of that game but it must not be pretty. As Lupe said last night at Jack's "They only got one run" with her index finger held up for emphasis, just one.

   That's why I'm calling them the May 16 girls.

 To hell with May 17. On May 16 the Panthers were in team full of aspiration, excitement anticipation with hopes of bringing the state Trophy back to town. May 17 never happened. Always live with the expectancy of May 16, that's the key.

   Class of 2017 is a good bunch. From my stay in Collinsville they rate with memorable groups Class of 91 and 93, 97 and others with outstanding characters and students sprinkled through other classes. Before I got to town folks said a lot about the class of 83, but that's just hearsay.

   I witnessed the others in some fashion.

    When I went to my first state tennis tourney in Columbia SC in May of 1970 I was awake all night. Got up early for the ride down. Won two matches on fumes, the only winner on our team and got a headline in the Gaffney Ledger. Whole team got to stay overnight and we went to see Little Big Man. Next day Bob Brearly, a Presbyterian Minister's son who later married Mary Anne Kesecker took me out 6-3, 6-0; and that on a good nights sleep.

     That's why I remember the first day and Little Big Man. Bob Brearly never happened.

    Ted Kennedy said when he was Eleven he and a friend abandoned a schooner in the ocean. His Dad was not pleased at all. Ole Joe Kennedy in the face of Teddy's tears sent him back out the next day to get the boat. He and his buddy brought the boat in.

    Ole Joe said: Let this be a lesson. Always do the Best you Can and Then To Hell with it!

     The Collinsville Girls played their hearts out this year week in and week out. The whole town got excited and followed it all especially the last three weeks. I got to have some good chats with Bobby Welch's friend Munsey Box in the stands , proud grandfather of the sterling pitcher Emma Barkley. Even Thomas Barksdale came out for a game and he goes back to the Bear and Bobby Bowden.

    My nephew is graduating in Easley SC. He and friends Reagan the singing Baseball player and top five, and the Gifted  pre engineer , Pace, with the full ride to Mercer and Caroline Sargent whose politics differ from mine but may be the first female Governor of South Carolina though I'm backing Ben Branham, Eagle Scout up the Street.

   I'm going up to see bloodkin take the walk and eat some bbq and see Mac and Little Billy and Parks, maybe take a photo opp at Furman in Memory of Leon Russell.

    Passing the Torch as it were. My friend Dick Doody in Ft Lauderdale texted his approval.

   At one point I thought I had a speech worthy of an Episcopalian baccaureate. You know the frozen chosen are a tough crowd.

   But I do have this thought. In horse years the Kentucky Derby is a good metaphor. Three year olds roughly on the human timeline of 18 year olds, graduating High school seniors.

    Barbaro was supposed to be the next Secretariat. Won the Derby going away and then came to a tragic end at the Preakness.

     They asked the owner what was his favorite memory. He said the announcer at the Derby on Barbaro's glorious day as they rounded the last turn and coming down the straightaway where Barbaro had passed the field was in first place and pulling away.

   The Announcer said: "And Here Comes Barbaro!!!!!"

    That's where you are now. Around the last turn in the first big race in the prime of life. Take it in. Delight in it. Bruce Springsteen said Aint No Sin to be Proud you're alive.

    Proud of you all and God Bless

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

After Much deliberation Official Nominees for Gaffney Hall of Success

      You don't have to scroll down far to see my original post on the Gaffney Hall of Success. I now have a link to Cody Sossamon's initial piece in the Gaffney Ledger about this initiative, and since my post my letter has been published in the Gaffney Ledger.

     I think the inaugural class will conist of 16 folks. I am nominating ten, for me at least no brainers. In this age of Trump, I have enough hubris to say matters will be suspect if this group is not in the first class.

   As I understand it new inductees will come annually but after this in the neighborhood of four, or as Delmar would see somewhere in the vicinity of Gee.

   If seven of my nominees make it, and it is a public event and not out of my price range including travel costs, I hope to be there cause God knows it is unlikely I will ever see them again in this lifetime in the same place.

    A Diverse Group and all well deserved in no particular order.

     1 Rahul N Mehra of Tampa Florida. Rahul is a GHS grad 79 on tennis team and the brother of my classmate of 71 Rajesh. A Doctor in Tampa Florida his Mehra Vista Clinic is known statewide for its good works especially with the mental health of Children. Rahul just last year was inducted into the Hall of Fame at College of Charleston.

    2. Jaime Bernanke. A photographer for National Geographic out of NYC he was in the HS beta Club with me. His First cousin Ben Bernanke was President Obama's OMB or some such. His High School English teacher was a Furman grad in  Dillon and recently profiled in the Alumni Magazine.

    3. Johnny Dawkins. A Gaffney Legend running back who helped ease High School integration staying on the football team in late 60s when most of the black players from Granard quit. Dawk went to Mars Hill and then film school at Southern Cal and wrote early script for Denzel Washington; and then Kareem Abdul Jabbar for the ABC After School Special Hero Who Couldn't Read.

   4. Joe Wrenn. Another football great of virtue and character, pastor of several First Baptist Churches including Sevierville, Tn and Summerville Ga. With Dawkins a nominee of Wayne Whiteside who told me in person the summer of 71

   5. Zack McKown. NYC architect. Cody has mentioned him and Bernanke so I think they are in.

    6. Andre Stanley. Another Sossamon Ledger Nominee with which I concur

     7. Sky Foster, GHS 73 cousin of Gaffney Olympic Hurdler Charles Foster Montreal 76 Sky is on the President's Council of South Carolina State and has been long term administration at BMW in Greer. BMW sent Sky to South Africa early days of Nelson Mandela. She went to a plant and said: Take these pictures down, my people can Read!

    8 Dee McElveen. Dale M Jaeger with her husband is CEO of one of the best Historic preservation concerns in the Southeast. Find the Website. It speaks for it self.

    9. Libby Mitchell. a 59 or 60 GHS grad and 63 grad of Furman she ran for Governor of Maine a few years ago.

    10 Jerry Shinn. Mid 60 GHS grad a progressive voice on the editorial pages of the Charlotte Observer.

    There are many to come, but I think this is 3/5ths of the inaugural class right here. Looking forward to how this plays out.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I'm proud to be a Furman Paladin

       Yesterday about 2:50 I'm sittin in the house and I hear a voice, a conversation on NPR about  Confederate monuments coming down in New Orleans. I think this could be Vernon cause I know a South Carolina accent when I hear one, Mrs Reaves and Mrs Sossamon of Gaffney among the best.

   Sure enough Clemson proff Vernon Burton had just completed a 3 minute and change interview on monuments and Civil War History and what it was fought about. Vernon is a 1969 graduate or Furman. He left two years before I got there and six years after Marshall Frady graduated.

      I got excited and left messages for Ansley Quiros, Vandy doc who is a Furman alum and Harvard history proff Tomiko Brown Nagin, 90s Furman grad from Greenwood, SC. I don't roll in those professional circles but figger everything else they know they should least know what I know.

     Vernon got it right. Instead of takin all the monuments down, put more up. For instance the only thing written in stone on the grounds of the state capitol grounds in Columbia South Carolina recognizing a person of color is a recent etching to the statue of Strom Thurmond naming his mixed race daughter.

     My nomination for the first full statue is Marian Wright Edelman who summered in Cherokee County where her grandfather was a Baptist Preacher at Thicketty Creek.  Marian Wright showed Bobby Kennedy the face of poverty in Mississippi. Her statue should go up before Sidney Rice, even Joe Frazier; and God knows how much I join everybody else in Gaffney South Carolina claiming Sidney Rice as my best friend.

        Here is what Vernon said. Listen closely

       http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/05/11/jefferson-davis-statue-new-Orleans

     In that vein also google Hal Crowther's great piece in the Oxford American few years ago, The New Mind of the South. Will help you see the Daughters of the Confederacy in a New Light.

    Another person I called was the son of Nixon's barber, Jim Pitts, who with LD Johnson in the 60s was Furman's prophetic voice in the Chaplain's office. Alester G Furman the III or IV loved LD and often sought his counsel. Furman wept when fundamentalists forced Furman to break with South Carolina Baptists.

    A few months ago Pitts told me the story of Benjamin Mayes coming to campus the winter of 68. He worked hard to drum up attendance for the event. Only 20 showed, but one of them was Vernon Burton, who later drove Mayes to the airport and became a lifelong friend.

    A few months later Martin King was assassinate and hundreds of Furman students drove to Atlanta to witness the historic funeral.

    As Maya Angelou said at Coretta's funeral: I opened my eyes to the Lawd, and we shall see What the End will be!!

   Amen.

    I paraphrased. According to reports Angelou said:

     I open my mouth to the Lord, and I won’t turn back no. I will go. I shall go. I’ll see what the end is going to be

           

Friday, May 05, 2017

In Honor of Momma and In Recognition of the Collinsville Class of 2017

      Tuesday was a beautiful day in Collinsville Alabama. I got my seersucker Jacket that I got a good deal on at Banana Republic about 17 years ago and a clean shirt ready to make early break at Collinsville HS cause I thought I had a photo opp lined up for a presentation to the Class of 2017.

    But the assistant principal had opted out on this memorable event and I got flustered and rode into town and signed up to be on the agenda next time State Senator Phil Williams comes to town.

    I did later have a conversation with the head principal who called our newly elected Republican School Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett, PHD U Bama. It turns out Dr. Barnett has a copy of my friend Sam Hodges For the Love of Alabama on his bookshelf in his office.

    Hoping Sam's book will be in every public library in DeKalb County by mid summer. NACC has a copy but I checked today and the main library in Ft Payne doesn't have For the Love of Alabama nor any other public library in the county: Collinsville, Henegar, Geraldine, Crossville, Ider nor True Blue Plainview. To their Credit Ft Payne and Collinsville do have Sam's novel B Four and his tribute to his exponentially great Civil War Grandparents, Letters to Amanda on their shelves.
    
   At my invitation Sam came to Collinsville in October of 1999 to talk about Letters to Amanda.

    About 20 women should up and the preacher and me and his son John Morgan III, a UVA grad. Mary Catherine Reed was there and delighted to make Sam's acquaintance as Sam got to meet one of my Mother's classmates.

   So it looks like I'm okay now. Right now I'm leaning toward giving this autographed copy to Martha Barksdale and the Local Historical Museum for display and inhouse reading only.

     One of the celebrated journalists, Ron Casey, in Hodges book; Ron's mothers is from Collinsville apparently a contemporary of my Mom of the Class of 1940. I think between Sam and Martha and myself, and Jennifer Cunningham Barber, we can find out who this woman was.

   So this is a good read and from here on out no excuses for Top Ten grads at CHS not to know who Jackson Giles and Judge Frank Minnis Johnson were and their greatness and significance for Bama. When they learn that they jump to the head of the class wherever they take their higher education as 80 percent of the staff of the Bama delegation to DC have no clue.

   And that is sad.

   Countin on Martha cause she makes things happen; Countin on Martha then forthwith to get two copies of Sam's book to the HS library and at least one for the Jennifer Wilkins local public library so she can tell her Auburn friend Mark Wilson next time he comes up.

   Wayne Flynt, Wilson's good friend, who has spotlighted in the NY Times over the weekend will be so proud of all, and Ms Wilkins can act like she thought of it herself.

     Even my friend Rebecca Clayton from her and Roger Dutton's historical facebook wall  will like one essay in this book, about how the Yankees come up short from Rebel women ingenuity to save the family heirloom in the chicken coup when the marauders come through North of Tuscaloosa circa 1863. She can even go down and find the family graveyard where they are all buried.

   Enough fun for now.

   Come back later to see my official subscription in the book.

   There was a picture taken Weds Night at Jacks with a group of grads who happened to be around, including two of the top five grads and a prospect for Berry College. One top fiver opted out and another senior took pause as well.

   Thanks to Emma Box Barkley, the fast ball pitcher who may take the Lady Panthers Softball team to state for taking the picture.

   Her Grandfather Munsey III was great stompin ground friends of Bobby Welch but will take that later.

    Come back later this afternoon for the Official Inscription.