It’s Monday, Memorial Day, 2017. I’m sitting here, on our sofa, where I usually sit when I’m writing my weekly column, and I’m thinking about lots of things. So, I’ve decided to write about what I’m thinking about. Perhaps, it should be what I’m thinking “of” rather than “about,” but I think about things, not of things, so that’s what it will be. I hope that some of my memories cause good or important memories for you.
First, I’m thinking about Martha Ann Rhodes and that wonderful homemade vanilla ice cream I ate at “Foster’s Cabin” last night. Martha Ann is an excellent cook, but she’s at least equal to that in making delicious homemade ice cream, of which I ate way, way too much!
I’m thinking about what I heard Bear Bryant say to Joe Namath when the ‘Bama team came to Sanford Stadium to practice on the Friday before the Georgia game in 1963. Ask me, and I’ll tell you about it.
I’m thinking about some that went way too early: Dennis Fesmire, Hugh Lawson Jr., Stephanie Pitts, Joneal Lee, Leroy Williamson, Marvin Ragan, Larry Harkins, Ann Hunt, Pete Hunt, Charles Bridges, James Dean, John F. Kennedy, Jeff Knighton, Jean Norman, Jerry Horton, Tommie Sandefur, David Hartley, Bobby Jones, Jerry Wilson, Lee Cotten, Bobby Griffin, Janie Brockie Watson, Phyllis Anderson, Freddy Lampley and Billy Stubbs.
I’m thinking about the 95 yard run by Pierce Staples with less than two minutes in the game that enabled Perry to beat Hawkinsville 13-7 in 1959. I handed the ball to Pierce. I think that was probably my “football playing” highlight!
I’m thinking about Tom Murphy and what he did for Middle Georgia and how he never got the credit for most of what he did.
I’m thinking about seeing and talking to Muhammad Ali in New York, at the State Capitol and at the old downtown Marriott Hotel in Atlanta. And, watching him spar, though he was well beyond his prime, and how his sparring partners showed him respect and exhibited forbearance.
I’m thinking about Bobby Rowan and how he made me laugh when laughter was the only cure for hurt.
I’m thinking about having to pick cotton, when I was a boy, and how much I despised it, but how much the picking and how much the other pickers in the field taught me.
I’m thinking about Janice Knighton moving to Perry when she and I were both in the 10th grade and how that was the most important thing that ever happened to me.
I’m thinking about Stan Carey, Uncle Ned, Liberace, The Lewis Family, the Washington Redskins, the black cat on Channel 13, and how all of this was a part of my early television.
I’m thinking about Teen Town at the Perry National Guard Armory and some of my early awkward and nervous dancing with some really nice and pretty Perry girls.
I’m thinking about Grandma, Papa, Granny and Grandbuddy and how much I loved my four grandparents and how I felt that they loved me.
I’m thinking about June 11, 1963, and being in Selma, Alabama the day George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door,” being in Meridian, Mississippi, that same night when Byron De La Beckwith Jr. shot and killed Medgar Evers and living just off the TCU campus in Fort Worth, Texas at the same time Lee Harvey Oswald did. I think a lot about the summer of ’63. It was a tumultuous time.
I think about eating dirt, actually clay, that was dug out of one of Papa’s tenant farmer’s wells, and spitting it out, but how some of my playmates ate the clay and swallowed it.
I am thinking about Mr. Glea, Billy Bledsoe, Bill Lee, Celestine Sibley, Coach St. John, ‘Fessor Staples, Miss Ruby Hodges, Sara Kezar, Ed Thompson, and others who enriched my life in more ways than I can recall.
I am thinking about David, my brother, and what a good man, good example, and good law partner he has been and how it would be difficult to “go on” without him.
I am thinking about mother, now 97, and what an inspiration she is to our family.
I’m thinking about showing cows, catching fish, eating fish, shooting quail, watching Georgia football, playing basketball with two PHS greats, Dwayne Powell and Lee Martin, eating steaks as a boy with “the men” at the Perry Café in downtown Perry, going to Brazil with Connell Stafford, shooting doves in Uruguay with Clark Fain, fishing off Miami in the Intracoastal Waterway with Allan Stalvey, going all over the country and much of the world with Steve Lakis and the State Legislative Leadership Foundation, and how great all of this was.
I’m thinking about my four wonderful children and nine grandchildren and how all of them make me proud and how they are so important to Janice and me.
And, lastly, I’m thinking about it’s time to quit, although I’ve still got lots I’m thinking about.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.