A week ago today, I was in church services at Perry United Methodist as guest soloist Kim Abston beautifully sang the gorgeous song “Holy Ground.” It was followed shortly by our choir’s outstanding rendition of “Midnight Cry.” Strong. As I like to say, “strong as new rope.”
Oh how the memories flooded my soul. Inexplicably, first it was my long ago memory of that local production from rural Colquitt, “Swamp Gravy,” and their, at that time, customary ending with “Amazing Grace,” accompanied by uplifted, lit candles and with patrons saying, “I remember (name).” The spoken memory I most recall is, “I remember Bear Bryant.” Then, as the “Swamp Gravy” memory slipped away, it was people that I loved and cared for that crowded my mind.
So, today, let me share with you some of the folks I remembered last Sunday morning, on holy ground, and others I have remembered this past week, on regular Perry ground. While you read, I hope you’ll have memories of your own.
I remembered my grandfather, David Walker, Papa, and I can see him hitching up the mules and building a rabbit box for me. He was small of stature, small of importance, a Renaissance man.
I remembered Denny Groover — what a lawyer, what a legislator, and what a man. World War II, Black Sheep Squadron. Denny Groover.
I remembered Tom Murphy and that money he gave to the young waif on the street in Victoria, Mexico. Complex, big-hearted Tom Murphy. He did a lot for Georgia.
I remembered Miss Ruby Hodges. She ran her business and other folks, too. She was a great political friend to me and a bad political enemy to some.
I remembered Joe Hodges and our working together. I was probably 15 or 16, and he was a grown man. He taught me things I didn’t know but needed to know. I liked Joe Hodges.
I remembered Janice’s mother, Judy. How could a little country girl from rural Alabama have such a good mind and big, generous heart?
I remembered Roy Rogers. He was probably my first hero. Roy did his business the right way. Too bad he is not around today so we could make him president of the United States. We need someone like Roy Rogers to straighten out our messes.
I remembered Celestine Sibley. There was nothing pretentious about Celestine. She was real, and folks of all kinds and from all over Georgia loved her. I was one of them.
I remembered Joe Grant. He lived on Daddy’s farm and worked there and at “the tractor place.” I don’t think I’ve ever known a finer man than Mr. Grant. I’ll bet his equally fine wife, Arlessie, would agree.
I remembered Herman Talmadge. He and I became good friends in his latter years, and I really enjoyed him as we quail hunted, visited and talked politics and Georgia history.
I remembered Mr. Glea Gray. He was funny and fun. He was the first adult that treated young Larry Walker like an adult. I hurt deeply when he died. Very deeply. I say he was a “character with character.”
I remembered Billy Bledsoe. Billy was my friend. It’s hard and was hard for me to give up my fishing partner. I think of him often.
I remembered Bobby Jones (“Jones”), Jerry Horton (“Do-Tricks”) and Jerry Wilson. These were three wonderful guys. I remember them every day. We were all close to the same age. Why they are gone, and I’m still here, is hard for me to understand.
I remembered Mr. Mike Whitman — no, I actually remembered Daddy’s talking about Mr. Mike Whitman and the Angus calves Daddy bought from him for his FFA boys to show. Daddy thought Mr. Mike was a good man. I do too.
I remembered my grandfather Gray — Charles Powell Gray. He was probably Houston County’s first Republican, and maybe its only Republican at that time. He was always neat with his dark suit, tie, white shirt and shined shoes. Indeed, he was a neat man.
I remembered Ed Sell Jr. He was a lawyer’s lawyer, and I could always rely on him for good advice — kind of an original Atticus Finch. He beget a good son and my friend, Ed S. Sell III.
I remembered Richard Horne. Richard worked for our law firm for several years and was an excellent worker. It was only in his latter days that I learned he had been a Navy frogman, now known as a Navy Seal. That makes him an American hero in my book.
I could go on and on, but let me close by saying it’s wonderful what a good, spiritual church service can spawn.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly.