Thursday, March 17, 2011


Some people come along in life that mean more than others.  This is about two such people.  What sets them apart?  They believed in me.  There are others but these two really stick out in my mind.  My second grade teacher Mrs. Kimbrough has always held a special place in my heart.  I tell everybody she was the first person who believed in me.  I have wanted to locate her for many years and tell her thank you and let her know that she made a difference.  Thanks to facebook, I now talk to her on occassion.  I promised her a painting and a trip up to see her sometime in the near future. 
I have a lot of memories of Mrs. Kimbrough.  This one is still talked about to this day.  I've always been somewhat of a free thinker.  One day in the second grade, the thought began to cross my mind to walk home from school.  It was a nice day, and I didn't feel like riding the school bus.  I saved my lunch money so that I'd have money to stop by the store and get a Coke to enjoy on the 6 mile walk.  The bell rang for school to let out and I started walking.  I didn't make it very far, probably a quarter-mile or so, until one of the other second grade teachers Mrs. Caraway saw me and picked me up.  She asked me who my teacher was, so I told her Mrs. Kimbrough.  She took me back to the school and turned me over to Mrs. Kimbrough who told me she would give me a ride home.  Mrs. Kimbrough knew my mom.  My mom volunteered on Tuesdays at the school.  We got to my house, and Mrs. Kimbrough came inside and talked to my parents for a bit.  My dad was just staring at me.  I knew what immenent danger awaited upon Mrs. Kimbrough's departure.  As soon as Mrs. Kimbrough had the van cranked and in reverse.  I took off to my favorite hiding spot in those days, under the bed.  My dad was right on my heels pulling his belt off the whole time.  I shot under the bed and got all the way up in the corner near the wall so he couldn't get me with the belt.  He tried several times then I saw his feet going thru the door.  I'm thinking to myself, that was easy.  Moments later I saw those two feet come back in.  He had gotten the broom.  He started gouging me with the broom until I gave up and came out.  By this time, my mom had intervened and Daddy decided that my brother Stanley was the one who really needed the whipping because he saw me walking up the road and didn't say anything.  I could ramble on for hours about Mrs. Kimbrough.  Anyone who was in her class will tell you, she was the best teacher ever. 
I've recently been humbled by another friend. We've never even met in person up until this point.  That will change tomorrow, and I 'm so looking forward to it.  She believes in me.  I don't know of a better feeling than to know that someone believes in you.  She has gone way out of her way to help me get really rolling with my art as a business.  She is a great artist, and I tell her all the time that I'm going to have her teach me how to paint.  We're planning on doing some collaborative work together in the near future.  Thank you Sandy Hall for all you've done.  It really does mean a lot. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crocodiles and a Cowboy.... A Tale of Young Love

Love is many splendored thing, or so they say.  The truth is I've never been real good at it.   This story begins with me and one of my best friends, Travis Hill.  He had hair back then and did not look like the 5 time winner of the Charlie Brown Look-A-Like Contest that he is now.  Travis and I were doing some part-time work after school and on weekends doing yard work.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and we decided to grab some lunch while we were between jobs.  He happened to notice two girls that he knew from school walking down the sidewalk.  We stopped and talked and gave them a ride home.  Plans were made for a double-date the next weekend.
The weekend came around and Travis and I went to pickup our dates.  I was driving a white Ford Escort back in those days.  Dinner and a movie were the plans.  We go to pickup my girl first.  She was a very attractive girl, a little on the skinny side and very shy.  Still the kind of girl you like to be seen with.  Our first stop was the movie theater,  Crocodile Dundee II had just came out.  I'm sure the movie was kind of awkward with her being shy, and me being well, awkward.  When the movie was over, we proceeded to what was at the time one of the biggest eating establishments in Griffin.  You guessed it, we went to Shoney's.  Dinner was fun, there was a lot of laughing and acting crazy, but with me and Travis, that's pretty much the norm.  The date was over, Travis' girl had to be home by midnight, so we dropped her off first.  My date lived on the way home anyway so we had already decided to drop her off later.
I have always considered my self much more suave' than I really am.  I walked my lovely date to the door and gave her the usual "had a nice time, hope to see you again" blah blah blah.  This time I really did want to see her again, though.   The front door was on a small porch and had a wrought iron rail around it.  I decided to sit on top of the rail with her in front of me and continue to pour every line of bull crap I could give her.  It's late, I'm getting ready to leave, and I decided to lean in and try to get a kiss.  She had a different idea and reached in and goosed me on the side.  I am a very ticklish person.  I always have been.  Anyway, back to the story, she tickled me and I flinched.   Now get the visual.  I am perched on top of a wrought iron rail with my feet on the bottom rail on a porch that was about 4 steps up.  My lovely date is standing directly in front of me just between my knees.  Directly behind me is a large, rather neatly manicured holly bush.   I lean in for the kiss, she retaliates with a tickle.  I then proceed to flip backwards off of the porch into the holly bush.  It seemed like the bush just swallowed me whole.  The pain was unimaginable.  By the time I manage to fight my way out of the holly bush, I'm standing there bleeding and crying but still trying to be as cool as ever.  She is on the porch trying her best to hold back a giggle.  I look at my car and it looks like it's having coniptions.  Travis is laughing so hard the whole car was shaking.  I tell the girl that I will give her a call tomorrow.  When I dropped Travis off 15 minutes later, he hadn't said a word, he was still laughing even as I backed out of his driveway.
There were several other incidents during our brief relationship, like the time she wouldn't get out of the car to help me catch a dog.  Our last date is something I will never forget.  I go to pick her up at her house and arrive as her parents are leaving to go celebrate their wedding anniversary.  I go in and my lovely lady is sitting in the living room on an ottoman.  It was one of those over-sized ottomans that a couple people could sit on. I sit down next to her and we start talking, when i notice she has tears in her eyes.  We sit there and talk, not about too much because I never did figure out what she was crying about.  I just stared into her eyes as we talked.  Anyways, I finally after about 2 months of trying got my first kiss from her.  I still remember it well.  She still ranks up there as one of the best kissers I've ever seen.  An hour had passed and kissing led to some other things, and was about to most likely lead to some most serious things.
I was beginning to think that I was going to get lucky, but my luck was soon to change.   The front door swings open and it was her parents.  Her dad was normally a likeable fellow.  This time however he was not.  It seems he had gotten drunk and been kicked out of the local Moose Lodge.  I remind you, he had only been gone an hour and it was their wedding anniversary.  He was a gunsmith and a gun collector.  I was a goofy kid who just happened to be dating his beautiful daughter.  Details become very fuzzy at this point.  The  only real memory I have is of a lot off angry cursing aimed in my direction and the yielding of the largest, shiniest, most spectacularly intimidating cowboy gun that I have ever seen.  I figure he brought it out for his anniversary.  Dirty Harry would have been proud to have owned this thing!  I realize that it is time for me to immediately get the hell on.  She figures it best for her to stay.  I tried calling her a couple of times after that but nothing.  It was for the best though.  I can't imagine what kind of shotgun he may have had in case their needed to be a wedding.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Favorite Foreigners and Fried Green Tomatos

Rene and Julie Zankl are two of my favorite people in the world.  I met Julie years ago, she was my internet spades partner going back to the mid 1990's.  They live in Calgary, AB Canada.  I've been to Calgary to visit them twice.  I'd live there if it weren't so darn cold.  I remember talking to Julie when she was in labor with her youngest son.  I also remember talking to her when my mom died.  Truly been good friends, even though many miles are between us.  I jokingly refer to them as my "Favorite Foreigners."
However, this story occurs on their one and only visit to Georgia.  They are the most gracious of hosts and always have a full itenerary scheduled for my visits.  Even when I call them the day before and tell them, "I'm coming up there tomorrow."  I had no clue what to do to entertain them in boring little Meansville, GA.  I had told them about the "World's Largest Peanut" down close to Plains.  Once they saw the pictures on the internet, they felt no need to go see it in person.  I did introduce them to Waffle House which made breakfast planning very simple.  This was back in the days when you could still smoke in restaurants.  Rene asked if he could smoke in there, I told him that you were kind of expected to.   I did have to stop him from trying to order his eggs boiled though.
One day we decided to go riding down toward Macon so I could show them some of the cool houses and figure we would hit a couple of places on the way back.  My best friend, John Wilson, tagged along with us that day.  I had decided that it was my duty to introduce them to some of the finer southern foods.  They had already tasted grits.  I smuggled a bag across the border on my first visit.  I decided it was time for them to taste some Fried Green Tomatoes, so we pulled off the interstate and headed for Juliette.  If you're not familiar with Juliette, GA, it is the town that was used in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes."  So where better to feed someone fried green tomatoes that at the WhistleStop Cafe.  It was miserably hot that day and humid.  The weather had been unseasonably nice for August in GA during the previous part of their stay.  So I was glad that they got to experience another Georgia tradition of uncontrolable sweating.  Next time I'll take them a little further south and introduce them to gnats!
Now we are getting to the part of the story that some consider legend.  It was nice and cool inside the Whistle Stop.  A refreshing break from the miserable August heat outside. I (believe it or not) had to go to the bathroom.  Unlike previous stories there was no government cheese involved.  I opened the door to the bathroom and thought I was in the kitchen.  It was an add-on bathroom with a tin roof and was not serviced by the air conditioning just outside the door.  I have never been so hot in my whole life.  I did the business that I was there for as quickly as possible which still seemed like a half an hour.  I walk out and I am sweating profusely.  The whole restaurant was staring at me.  I sat down at the table and began to explain everything.  When I was done telling about the tin roof, no A/C and whatever else I could think of to complain about, I began to chuckle.  When they curiously asked what was so funny, I told them "I fudged the bowl."
We briefly looked at the idea of trying to market shirts and thought of doing a tour where we'd go around fudging bowls at other famous landmarks.  Maybe when I retire.
Next time you're riding through middle Georgia, swing by and see the Famous Whistle Stop Cafe.  Eat some Fried Green Tomatos.  But if it's above 80 degree's stop and use the bathroom somewhere before you get there.  But I will always fondly remember (since I am frequently reminded) the day that "I FUDGED THE BOWL AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE!"