Opinion Columns & Blogs

Mike Tyson, peaches and mules

Larry Walker
Larry Walker wmarshall@macon.com

Do they still have “fishing ponds” at the carnivals, festivals and fairs where you pay your money, get your pole, drop your line behind a curtain, and some unseen person attaches something (not worth as much money as you paid to “fish”) to your line and you are thrilled with the prize you catch? Well, this column is like fishing at the fair, you have no idea what you’ll get because I have no idea what it will be as I start writing. Here goes:

▪  Two weeks ago I wrote about Muhammad Ali. Let me tell you about another world heavyweight boxing champion with whom I had an encounter.

It was years ago, I’d say at least 15, and Janice and I had spent the night in Atlanta at the Buckhead Ritz Carlton. As was and is my habit, I got up early, and having nothing to do, I decided to go downstairs to the “fitness room.” When I entered the room only one other person was there. I paid scant attention to the other occupant, but as I started my little routine, I glanced at the other man and after several glances concluded that the other person was Mike Tyson!

Shortly after my discovery, he started walking across the room and as he got close, this was basically our conversation: “Good morning champ, how are you today? Fine, sir, I hope you are well. ... I’m fine, what brings you to Atlanta? Well, I’m on my way to London for a fight. Where did you come from? (I don’t remember his answer.) Where is your home, champ? I don’t have a home!”

I was astounded. I have never before nor since heard anyone say, “I don’t have a home.” Perhaps this explains, in part, some of Mr. Tyson’s sometimes erratic behavior.

Another lasting impression of our brief encounter was how polite Mr. Tyson was in our brief meeting.

▪  Freestone peaches are here. Do you know what freestone peaches are? Well, unlike clingstones or “clings,” they are peaches whose fruit doesn’t cling to the seed when you peel and cut them up for eating or cooking.

It is an old-timey peach (it originated in Marshallville in 1870), and I think the Elberta is still the best peach ever. It is a freestone.

I don’t believe Elbertas are grown commercially anymore, but in the next few days you should be able to buy some at William L. Brown’s Farm Market which is about a mile north of Montezuma on Highway 49.

You might want to telephone (478-472-8767) before going to this market to be sure the Elbertas have “come in.” And, by the way, if interested, make your way on over to Marshallville and read the historic marker in front of the beautiful Rumph House on Highway 127. It’s about the peach industry and the great influence Mr. Rumph had on it including his giving us the Elberta (in 1870), and the Georgia Belle. This little side trip will be worth your while.

▪ “Mule Trader. Ray Lum’s Tales of Horses, Mules and Men.” This book was sent to me last week by Honorable Billy R. Wilson, Federal District Court Judge, Arkansas, and I am really excited about reading it.

On the back of the book this is what Shelby Foote had to say: “Story after wonderful story, tall tale after tall tale, Ray Lum tells a southern writer where he came from, and where he ought to go.”

And, in her foreword to this book, Eudora Welty reminded us of these things about mules: “The mule is a sterile hybrid of a female horse and a male ass (the hybrid offspring of a male horse and a female ass is a hinny). ... Mules should not be forgotten ... the mule’s lifetime is twice as long as that of the horse, so we are told ... on Palm Sunday, Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem ‘even upon the colt the foal of an ass’, and thereby communicated to the ass’ back the marking of the cross which is borne there still.”

I know that you readers already knew these things, but, like I say; I was just giving you a little reminder.

If you haven’t seen the Mule and Tenant Farmer statute at the Ag Center in Perry, drop by and see it the next time you are in the area, and don’t forget to read the commemorating plaque.

Thanks, Judge Wilson, for this wonderful book.

Let’s see: Mike Tyson, Elberta peaches and remembering those wonderful mules. I hope you think the “fishing” was pretty good and at least worth your time to read it.

Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry, Georgia. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly, and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com

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