The Dawgs and the Tide

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.

Fear of Heights

I’m afraid of heights. I also don’t like flying. I don’t like big crowds and speaking in front of a group of people terrifies me. Funny how things that are simple and basic to some people make other peoples knees turn to jelly.

I don’t know where a lot of these fears came from. Some of them have just developed over the years. Some fears we have always harbored. I have always been afraid of death. I never even wanted to think about it until the last few years. It’s a subject that most of us definitely want to avoid. I think sometimes we feel like if we talk about it, it might jinx us and we will end up on the “mortar board” at some funeral home before the days out. Also, it’s a pretty depressing subject to broach. Nobody wants to be depressed, so nobody talks about it. I can’t remember the first time I thought about it, and was scared. I think it was when I was about four years old. Really, it’s true. As a little kid when I should have been thinking about playing cowboys and Indians, I was mulling over the great unknown. It’s been a bummer over the years.

Lately, I have come to the conclusion that by talking about death maybe we can make it less scary. I am not as afraid of it as I used to be. It’s not the little kid fear of going to hell and burning up in a blazing fire type fear anymore. It’s more of just an apprehension of something unknown. It’s a disappointment that I might not be around to see my loved ones complete most of their journey that they have started. It’s the conversations and contact with my family that I don’t want to give up. The touches and looks of people you love, and who love you. Most of all, it turns out that it’s a selfish thing. Imagine that. I have so many selfish reasons for living that I don’t want to die and give them all up.

I don’t want to give up the beautiful sunny days like the one we had today. I don’t want to give up the good books that I enjoy reading every day. I don’t want to give up discussions with friends, eating out in great restaurants, the rain in my face, rolling up a Snowman. I don’t want to give up Christmas, or New Years. I don’t want to give up the hope of a #1 finish for the Dawgs, or the Falcons. I don’t want to give up seeing my grandchildren play ball, or band, or graduate from School….

But, it’s not what we want that we get is it?

There are so many theories and theological thesis about what happens to us after we die. It’s hard to pin one down and stick with it. One thing that I can assure you though is that it will be different from any of them. I don’t think that man has been given the knowledge, through any type of religion or science of what really happens. It may just be peace. Peace would be nice; I’ll take that over some of what I’ve heard over the years.

I’ve seen a lot of people going through unbelievable suffering, or who no longer know who or what they are who would take peace too. The little old lady who was “rooming” next to my Mother at the nursing home, back in 2010, who was there one day and gone the next. She was in bad shape. She was ready for a rest, and she got it. I think if you could have broken through the wall of her senility she would have told you she was. . A lot of times people outlive the desire to live, and when they do that, they are ready for peace. I am sure she wasn’t scared of it. Maybe welcomed it.

My own Grandfather, who lived the last few years of his life, not knowing who he was, where he was, who we were. My heart ached for him. I didn’t want him to live like that, but I didn’t want him to die like that either. I hope at the very end, when the spirit separated from the body…he once again knew who he was.

As long as we have the desire, then we should “keep on truckin’” as we used to say back in the 70’s. It’s when we lose the desire, due to things that are happening to us physically, that it becomes a hardship to keep on keeping on.

So, I guess as my perspective has changed from that little shivering four year old kid, who shouldn’t have even known what death was, to the more knowledgeable but equally unknowing soon to be 69 year old. I still have my desire to live and hope that I keep it for a long, long time to come. I hope all of you do also. But, when we are ready for peace, I hope we find it and that it turns out to be better than we ever imagined.

Jefferson And Hamilton

I think our politicians of this day and age would be wise to look back in History at the work of some of our prior politicians. For example Thomas Jefferson: America’s early History is a time known for a flurry of political debate as partisan politics came into existence. Perhaps one of the most legendary examples is the political battle between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, which resulted from Jefferson’s belief in strict construction, versus Hamilton’s belief of loose construction. At the time, it was thought that the party differences between the Federalists and Republicans would eventually cause America to fail as a nation. After Jefferson became president it was evident that America would continue to survive and prosper. Therefore it was probable that Jefferson’s success was largely due to his willingness to compromise on several significant issues of the time, rather than align himself solely with the ultra-radicals of the Republican party. Thomas Jefferson’s political flexibility as President was precedent setting. Jefferson was able to squelch the doom sayings of both the Republicans and Federalists while demonstrating that political unity is still a possibility as long as both sides are able to compromise. This is embodied by Jefferson’s quote, “We are all republicans — we are all federalists”; such a profound quote show the truly patriotic values of Jefferson. Although he was staunchly involved in partisan politics, unlike John Adams for example, he was ready to do what was right for his nation rather than only his party. Such wisdom was only matched by George Washington, who warned America about the evils of political parties, yet Jefferson managed to create an environment where both parties and patriotism can coexist. This is very important because if not for Jefferson’s compromises, American politics would have become hopelessly deadlocked, (as they are now, in 2013) and it can only be imagined what would have resulted from such political turmoil.

Diamonds and Stones

Some days are diamonds and some days are stones. However, all days are good days to be alive, even the slightly bad ones, even still the terrible ones. We learn something even from the extremes.

I have had some days lately which have been a little frustrating. A lot of it is me. Something is happening to me….I don’t quite know what yet. I sleep all the time, day and night, and still feel pooped. But that’s no excuse to lose my temper, my nerve, my resolve, my humanity, my tact, my politeness and misplace my love. I forget what I am put here to do, and then remember it when it’s too late and I have already hurt someone I didn’t mean to hurt. Apologies are good things, but you can’t ever take back words once they have come out of your mouth, and someone has heard them. Guess it’s better to think before you speak isn’t it. I haven’t quite mastered that yet, probably never will.

Well then, tomorrows another day as Scarlett O’Hara would say, and I am hopeful I will see the sun rise again, and have a chance to try one more time to get this “living” thing done right. After all, we only get so many chances don’t we?


Another October is fixing to come around. My favorite month of the year. My birth month. The “season changing” month, as we usually have our first frost here in the South during October. It’s a month of beautiful colors, courtesy of Mother Nature and her leaf filled trees. All the russet reds, and every shade of gold imaginable. I can’t count the times I’ve simple just stood at the foot of some large hill, or short mountain and gazed up in awe at the beauty.

I love the smell of burning leaves, and of the sweet wood firing up in people’s fireplaces and wood stoves. It’s a lot of work to do it on a regular basis as your only source of heating though. I tried it for a couple of cold winters back in the eighties, and gained a very healthy respect for our ancestors who used to have to roll out of bed early on those frosty mornings, and stoke up a warming fire! I went back to gas!

I love the bright orange pumpkins laying out in the fields, and the fresh rolled and bailed hay all stacked up neatly. The corn stalks gathered up in big circles, looking like giant teepees.

I thrill at the flights of birds overhead. The Canadian geese, and the blackbirds which still fill the tall trees. I remember as a child, laying in the brown October grass and watching millions of those blackbirds headed South overhead. I couldn’t believe there were so many. Now, there aren’t that many.

There’s Halloween at the end of the month, the day we always used to look forward to most as children. I mean, what kid wouldn’t? Free candy! Tricky tricks! All in good fun for the most part. No store bought costumes for me though. Usually it was some variation of one of Mom’s old bed sheets a’la’ Charlie Brown. (Who by the way, shares the same birthday as me) I suppose I’m more than a little bit like that boy!

October is the gateway to Thanksgiving and then to the Christmas season, which makes me love it even more. My family used to visit my Grandparents more during this time of the year, and I will always remember those days of fun and enjoyment of my youth. Those long ago days, which started in October. My favorite month. My favorite times…

The day the big one starts

I think it’s time to start nuclear drills in schools again. It’s time to start designating church basements, and public buildings which are well built with the signs “fallout” shelters.

You see, back when my generation was in elementary school, we had to do those drills. The teachers would make us get down under our desks, after taking everything off the top, and cover our heads. This was to minimize damage to our bodies from any shocks from nuclear explosions that might occur in our tri-state area.

All of us kids were well aware of the dangers of nuclear fallout, because we were given handouts published by the government on what to do in case of nuclear war breaking out between the United States and Russia. We were frightened by the drills, by the handouts, by the Civil Defense designation or shelters, by the nightly news given to us by Huntley and Brinkley, or Cronkite. Nuclear war was a real possibility then.

Since those days, it has become an abstract idea…until recently.

Now, our country is in deep conflict with several others over nuclear weapons. The rhetoric is extreme, and I believe we may be at the “1961” level of danger for a nuclear holocaust.

So, I believe we should start those programs again from the 60’s. Let’s have the children come home afraid, and suffer the same trauma we had to. Let’s have the parents see the fallout shelter signs go up again. Let’s have the TV stations run more emergency broadcast tests, once a day like they used to. Let’s do all of this and more, to make the possibility and the outcomes of nuclear war very specific, so that today’s generation gets a dose of what the “1961” generation got.

Maybe then we wouldn’t want our leaders promoting wiping other countries from the face of the earth. Maybe we could learn the value of negotiation again. Maybe if people realize that nuclear war is not just an abstract idea, but instead a blatant reality, the whole world might be wise enough to go another 56 years before we have to go through this kind of trauma again. Maybe our people can become wise enough to elect wiser leaders.

Everything you know and love changes if the bombs start to fall. There will never be another “normal” day.

We must find another way to solve the problems of nuclear weapons if we wish to continue to exist, but I’m afraid people just aren’t that afraid of it occurring as we used to be. Either that, or they’re just a lot better at ignoring it.

I still think about how I felt up under that school desk back in the sixth grade. I really don’t want that kind of feeling for my grandchildren. I want them to have a normal, wonderful life….like the one I have had. I’m not at all concerned about what happens to me now. It’s the little ones I’m worried about. With the rhetoric that goes on on “social” media, many days I have to what I did today and just stay away from it, and the “news” too. But, in the back of your mind, you know it’s still going on, and you are just not hearing it. So, you go back to listening and reading.

Perhaps tomorrow things will be brighter. Today has been just a little dark though.

The Baseball Bat

I was a pretty good baseball player. I led the Pony league in batting average for two of the three years I played. Hit some good home runs although if my memory is correct, Tom Brewster, Junior as we knew him then, had more home runs(we were both lefties, and he could pull the ball into the tennis courts better than me. Mine were mostly to center field and had to be “run out” since there were no fences. Several of mine ended up in the Elementary School yard though) Thing is, as good as we were, we didn’t get any trophies. They didn’t give them out back then just for participation. You had to win the league, or the All stars, so….no baseball trophies on my shelf. I didn’t have anything from those wonderful days…at least I didn’t think I did.

I had been cleaning up in my folks house last year before we sold it. I thought I had everything and was making a last sweep of the place. I looked back in the far corner of the closet in the “dark room” and saw the outline of a ball bat. I retrieved it and was taken aback. It was my #34 Orlando Cepeda bat! A bat I had used in many games to hit those low screaming line drives down the first base line. The bat I used to hit a scorching line drive to center field that rolled all the way to that old black pipe water fountain at the Grammar school. I took it outside and swung it for 10 minutes, feeling the balance, and heft of that old bat.

I hadn’t known Dad had saved it. Maybe it was his weapon of last resort for intruders. But, it hadn’t been under the bed…it had been in the corner of the closet. Dad had carried that bat through three moves and had kept it. I wandered back in my mind, remembering how he had been at all my games cheering me on, just as he had later attended all my brother’s football games. Could it be that he had actually been that proud of his crazy acting lefty son? Maybe so, I thought as I took my trophy out and laid it in the seat of my car.


Today I was able to see and speak with each of my children. I was able to kiss my three youngest grandchildren, and tell them I loved them. I had supper with my wife of 46 years, and took the dogs out for a walk. I then took a 40 minute walk around town myself.

Sometimes I gripe about the way things are going in this country, and in this world, but I am so…so very lucky. If I make it one more day, or 30 more years, I am so very lucky.

I am not rich in terms of dollars and cents. As a matter of fact I live from month to month. But I have plenty to eat, and my barky dog located home is paid for. And if that’s all I have to endure, I am so very lucky.

I am not a refugee from war. I don’t live in a terribly repressive country, though some would make it that way if they could. I do my best to not let them because I am lucky enough to live where I am able to do so. I can still get in my car and drive pretty much anywhere I want without being bothered, unless I break a law.

I could, if I wanted to, go to any house of worship in this country and I would not be kept out.

I am so lucky to have been born where I was born. Yes, sometimes I gripe about the way things are going, because I want my grandchildren to feel lucky too when they grow up.

Now, I don’t have all the answers, but neither do any of you other people out there. Together we might be able to put something out there that’s gonna last. Together. With compromise, and compassion, and conversation….other than all this name calling stuff. It serves no purpose.

I am so lucky, and if you are reading this now, so are most of you.

Let’s try a little love. Start with your family tomorrow like I did with mine today. Work your way out from there and mean it!

If you are a Christian, remember Jesus said to love your neighbor….but he also said to love your enemy. The common word is love.

Diathetical Warfare

The power of diathetical (irregular)warfare increases as the means of mass communication expand. It is not limited to countries fighting each other, or to enemies of one another using it against each other.

This type of warfare indeed lends itself easily to the theatre of politics. T.E.Lawrence was one of the first commanders to realize: that “[t]he printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.” This was in 1918. Lawrence of Arabia famously defeated the much stronger Turkish army by convincing them through non traditional means, that they HAD lost.

Lawrence realIzed that he really didn’t need to actually win the war, but instead: “He just needed to decide he had won and convince the world. The struggle was to change the definition of victory, to change the meaning of the events rather than the events themselves.”

Jump ahead almost 100 years to New York City in 2001. Another person…this time named Osama bin Laden used Diathetical warfare, when he attacked the World Trade Center. Using the vastly expanded technology of the internet, he staged an attack on the most powerful country in the world which resonated across the entire world, because of the media coverage of the event. He lost his men, eventually lost his organization and then his life. But he won the battle. The first battle of the technological era of communications warfare.

One person in New York City that day looked at the flames, at the coverage they got, at the fame gained by that event. He decided he could adopt the developing technology of the internet, and then had social media fall into his hands as one of the most powerful weapons ever invented. His name is Donald Trump, and he is a master of diathetical political warfare. He started a long time ago in terms of the life span of social media.

Don’t underestimate him. The Turks underestimated T.E. Lawrence and lost a war. America underestimated Osama bin Laden and lost 3000 lives. We cannot underestimate our current leader, because the freedom of our country hangs in the balance.