The Dawgs and the Tide
My Daddy and I went fishing up by the Trion dam one day back in early October of 1965. It was kind of a cloudy, cool sort of day, but we were going bass fishing.
It had been a summer of good fishing at the river. For some reason there were a lot of nice size bass in the Chattooga river back that summer and they were biting. Daddy usually used a “black worm” lure to try and entice those fish to bite. These were made to look like spring lizards.
All the old “millworker” guys back in my youthful day were pretty good fishermen. My Daddy Gaines “Tarp” Bowers, and my Uncle James “Pinky” Bowers were two of the best fishermen I ever knew. Uncle Pink was so good, he could practically talk a fish onto the line. They were raised during the depression when an empty line might mean you didn’t eat meat that night, so they had to be good. I was never able to get anywhere near their level as a fisherman, but then again I had never seen a day where I didn’t at least have “beans and taters” in the pot, along with some brown crusted, tender on the inside cornbread.
The water up next to the dam was clear and had some deep pools where those bass would lay around and wait for food to come by. Daddy owned a 1960 Ford Fairlane back then. I loved that old car. It had a sleek look, with the big old fins spreading out at the back and a grill that looked like the car had a huge perpetual grin. Ours was this weird green color. I don’t know where the Ford designers came up with the idea for that paint, but to make up for it, it also had a 292 V-8 motor which would run as fast as you wanted to go.
Daddy parked as close to the dam as possible and left the radio on, with the volume turned up as high as it would go. It was the day of the Alabama –vs-Georgia football game, and my Daddy was a Bulldog fan.
Alabama had been National champions the year before and Daddy didn’t think that Georgia had much of chance, but it was the first game of the year and he wasn’t going to miss the chance to hear it, even while bass fishing. Joe Willie Namath had led them in 1964, and in 1965 it was Ken Stabler.
Georgia drew first blood with a field goal and then an interception brought them to a 10-0 lead. The fishing poles had been put up by then in the back of the ever grinning Fairlane, and Daddy and I were sitting in the front seat listening to the game. Alabama made a comeback, and were ahead by 17-10 late in the game. “Dang it, they are gonna’ lose it” Daddy said. But then came “that play.”
Georgia quarterback Kirby Moore threw a pass to Pat Hodgson, who was quickly surrounded by defenders, but…he had inexplicably thrown the ball out to a running back named Taylor, who caught the ball in full stride and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. My Daddy was whooping and hollering so loud that it echoed off the stone walls of the old dam. A tie against the reigning National Champs would be as good as a win! But Coach Vince Dooley wasn’t going to settle for a tie. He called for a two point conversion, and in the ensuing play Pat Hodgson caught another pass from Kirby Moore for two points and a miracle win against Alabama. The “flea flicker” play and the two point conversation had taken down the mighty Crimson Tide! This time after the play, I was whooping and hollering right along with Daddy. Two Georgia boys sitting in a funny green colored Ford fairlane, alone at the end of a little dirt road, at a tiny dam on an insignificant river…..feeling like lottery winners.
Alabama went on to win the National Championship again that year and Georgia ended up losing three games. It didn’t matter though.
I was 14 years old, two weeks away from becoming 15, and my Daddy was 37 years old that year. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Georgia and Alabama are playing a game in Athens again this year this coming weekend, and I may have to listen to it on the radio since we may be on the road. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I will remember that day in 1965, and cherish it.