Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Eve.

I'm just gonna go ahead and put this out there, in case the world comes to an end after Election Day.

No matter who wins, God is still in control.

And He's neither Democrat or Republican.

He's on His own side, and we'd be wise to join Him.

Not only does He not belong to any political party, but I'm pretty sure He doesn't play favorites. At least not based on social issues.

He's like a lion. He doesn't need defending--just open the cage and He'll take care of Himself.

Our perception of God's identity is so warped now that He can't do anything right. Funny how He gets the blame for so much and credit for so little.

We have so much to be thankful for and are so ungrateful.

However the election ends up I plan to keep doing what I've been doing. I know that the Lord watches over me every day and whatever I have all comes from Him.

Either He's watching over everything or He's not watching anything at all. There's not a lot of room for the in-between.

Is there a purpose with which to vote? Absolutely.

Vote your heart, not your wallet.

Vote your convictions, not your comfort.

Vote for your descendants, not for your desires.

God has a plan, and He's revealed it to us in His Word and through His Son. What we do with that plan is up to us.

I have no control over what someone else does, but I have complete control over what I do.

So, in the words of that great theologian Indiana Jones--choose wisely.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Go Braves.

The season is winding down, and I have been to two Atlanta Braves games this year.

Once back in August with my son, Carder, and once this past week with Mama, Susie, The Queen, and The Princess (who had never been to a real major league game...only Spring Training events).

I reconnected with some old friends at the first game. Here's a picture:






Yes, that's me with two of my close friends--Phil Niekro and Charlie Liebrandt just before the game started. Of course, once I arrived at the Plaza most people wanted my autograph, and when this picture made the Web I received countless emails wanting to know who those two guys were with me.

The Braves lost that day.

Last Wednesday we saw the Braves sink the Marlins, and Chipper Jones played. I doubt I'll ever see him in person again, and I tried to stay in-cog-ni-to in order to let him have the spotlight. It worked.

To use a dated and apt quote, A Good Time Was Had By All.

My sister Susie loves the Braves. Always has, always will. Ask here anything about the Chop Boys and she can tell you. My joy last week was watching her enjoy watching them.

Traffic to the game? Terrible. We missed the top of the first inning.

Parking? A chore.

Watching someone I love have a ball? Priceless.

Go Braves.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't Know If You Heard This Last Night at the RNC.

I watched the Republican National Convention for a few hours last night, mainly to hear Paul Ryan.

The Queen and Princess thought he reminded them of the Guy Teacher on "Glee". I said he reminded me of Harrison Ford's character in "Air Force One".

He was articulate, passionate, emotional, and forceful. All good things for a politician.

He made some valid points which the Democrats will pick up on and call lies before they accuse him of assault or murder. All is fair in politics.

It's not even September and I'm already worn out from the process. And I have this queasy feeling that it will get worse before November.

I don't know if anyone else caught this in one of the speeches last night but it merits inclusion here:

We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

As a country, we do have a destiny, and I believe it comes from a much higher source than politicians lead us to believe.

As citizens, we have to take the "long look" instead of settling for the short-term.

If you missed the speech quoted above, there's a reason.

That's an excerpt from a speech which was scheduled to be delivered almost fifty years ago on a November afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

If only John F. Kennedy had lived another hour or so.

Amazingly, he sounds a lot like a current-day Republican.

Or is that a patriot I hear in that speech?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Left The Building.

My sweetheart had a chance to be an usher at a Macon Elvis concert back in the mid-70's when she was in college but passed on the opportunity.

If she had only gone we might have met sooner...

Today, on the 35th Anniversary of his death disappearance, over 75,000 people have descended upon Memphis and Graceland. A good friend of mine is there and is keeping me updated on events.

As I've written previously, I've been an Elvis fan all my life.

Every woman wanted to be with him, every man wanted to be him, and I thought I was him.

I could curl my lip, move my hips, and even sound a little like him.

And now I'm older than he was when he went away. But he never really left, did he?

I've been to Graceland, walked in, and knew where everything in the house was located (the infamous bathroom is right above the front door).

I've been on the beach at Daytona and had someone mistake me for Elvis.

I've answered the phone and made people think they were talking to the King.

I'm not making any of this up. Scary, ain't it?

I don't wonder what would have happened if Elvis had stayed around because, again, he's not really gone.

He's on my desktop, in my YouTube account, on my DVD player, and in my iPhone.

There's not another one like him, but I might as well admit it--he's gone.

Emily asked me when she was very young if I thought Elvis was in heaven.

Oh. Yeah.

Singing in the choir.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stupid Me. I Thought Mama and Daddy Did It By Themselves.

I've never been overtly active in a political campaign before this year.

Granted, I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, and my Mercer classmate Phil Brock and I were there in Atlanta for the Victory Celebration, right in the front, holding a sign with a grinning peanut on it. It was the opening video for Channel 11 in Atlanta for the next year.

But, this year, I'm ridiculously active.

If I hadn't been before, last week would have made the decision for me.

The Chicagoan-In-Chief made some Off-The-Teleprompter remarks about small business owners that just really set me off:

"You didn't get there on your own," Obama said. "I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Somebody else made that happen.

You know, he's right. Somebody else DID make that happen for Mama and Daddy.

As I wrote earlier this year, Daddy opened his Amoco Service Station in May 1972. But a lot of "somebody elses" helped make that happen.

To answer the President...

It wasn't because Daddy thought he "was just so smart". He did have a wealth of wisdom, however.

It was because he worked hard. It was because he had a "great teacher" somewhere in his life--his mother, who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Lumpkin County, Georgia, until Daddy had to quit in the fifth grade to work on the farm. 

It wasn't because "somebody invested in roads and bridges". They lived on a dirt road, off another dirt road which led to a dirt road which went to town. A road the farmers built because they had to.

When Daddy was trying to open his station, the government did its part. The Small Business Administration (SBA) allowed him to get a loan. He applied four months before he opened and got it after he'd been in business nine months. So much for start-up money. He lovingly referred to them as the "Sonsa Bitches Administration".

He opened at 7am, closed at 7pm, six days a week, running everything by himself. Then he'd come home and Mama would do the books after supper. For seven years.

He helped the government back--paid Sales and Use Tax, Income Tax, Federal and State Excise Tax, license fees, etc. 

Yep, he had lots of help. Just none from the government. Just like today.

I can't stand four more months of this nonsense, much less four more years.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RIP, Andy Griffth.

As I've said before--many times--I grew up in Mayberry.

While I may not have lived between Mt. Pilot and Raleigh, Barnesville, Georgia, was close enough.

It was a place where you could leave your doors unlocked and the keys in your car. Your one car.

The Andy Griffith Show was a part of our lives, and still is thanks to the proliferation of reruns on any number of networks.

And now the good Sheriff has died at 86 years old.

I remember Opie killing the mama bird, Aunt Bee's award-winning pickles, Barney Fife's one bullet, Gomer's working at Wally's Gas Station (followed by Cousin Goober), and Floyd's Barber Shop.

I remember Juanita down at the Diner, Thelma Lou and Helen, and the Fun Girls from Mt. Pilot.

I remember the theme song (titled "The Fishin' Hole"). We had the guy who whistled the song for the show visit Gordon Grammar School when I was a boy.

I remember Andy never wearing a gun, always in church on Sunday, being smarter than anyone from the city, and his Wellington boots (I had to have a pair).

I remember...

It always seemed like there was a lesson involved in almost every episode, subtle or not. I couldn't name many of these, but I know they helped me.

And doesn't it seem that if you grew up on Andy Griffith that frequently something will happen which reminds you of something you saw on the show? And you wonder WWAD (What Would Andy Do)?

He was the Television's Conscience, and always chose to do the right thing for all involved.

Wisdom seems to be in short supply today. Now, don't get me wrong, there sure are lots of "smart" folks out there who are more than willing to let you know exactly how brilliant they are.

But spouting opinions and espousing wisdom are two entirely different things.  Andy knew the difference.

He was Every Boy's Dad, and the kind of man you'd want your daughter to marry. Helen Crump got to him first.

Barney moved to Raleigh, Gomer joined the Marines, the Darlings went back to the hills, but Andy--and Mayberry--remained constant.

I'll miss Andy. And I miss Mayberry more every day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Mickey D's.

I missed writing about it by a month, but May 15, 1972, was a red-letter day in my life.

On that Monday morning at 7am Daddy opened Berry's Amoco Service Center.

It was on the corner of Forsyth Street and College Drive.  The other three corners were occupied by the US Post Office, Milam's Gulf Station, and Swint's Standard Oil Station.

I'm not sure our little town needed three "full-service" gas stations, but we had 'em.  And as far as I was concerned we sure needed one--the one Daddy owned.

I'd been buying "White Gas" (Amoco Premium) for as long as I could remember.  It powered everything from lawn mowers to Coleman stoves, which is what you used outside to cook fish on.  Fish caught from all over the place--Mr. Smith's private pond down off Highway 41 towards Forsyth (where he would make a special place for my Granny, who was in a wheelchair, to fish;  she always caught more that the rest of us combined) to Johnnie Caldwell's pond outside Thomaston, where my buddy Frankie Rogers lost his Senior ring when a channel cat yanked it off his finger.  I am not making this up.

But...back to what we all just called "The Station".

Mr. Nelson Newton owned the place before Daddy bought it, and it was a...mess to clean up.  Apparently he had sold moonshine out of the back room and who knows what else.  We cleaned up for a month, every day after Daddy left the Ford Place, until it was ready to open for business.

It was at The Station that I did my first oil change.  Daddy asked if I was sure I knew how to do one, and me being me, I assured him I did.  I'd seen him do it enough.  I could handle it.

I stood under the car and loosened the oil pan drain plug, looking straight up at it, until it popped out and five quarts of black, used oil covered me from head to toe, as well as the floor of the service bay, which Daddy was proud to say was "clean enough to eat off of".  Just not that day.

It was at the station that I detailed my first car (Mr. Smith's '65 Mustang coupe, and I loved Mustangs, so I offered to do it for free).  Once I finished I showed Daddy what a good job I did.  He pointed out the glass wasn't clean, so I cleaned it again.  And showed him again.  Whereupon he showed me that the tires weren't clean either.  After going through this for the glass, tires, chrome, wheel covers, the list goes on, I finally said in exasperation, "But, Daddy, I'm doing it for nothing!"  He replied, "Even if it's free it needs to be right."  He was right.

It was at The Station where in December every little old lady in town would drive through and get her box of Chocolate-Covered Cherries, Daddy's "present" to his elderly female customers.  I didn't realize until later how much that little box of candy meant to those women.

Christmas also brought Mama's potent Egg-Nog, emphasis on the Nog.  Nobody left unsatisfied or thirsty.

It was at The Station where I learned that the secret to having a good business was to be honest, treat people fairly, and believe in what you sell.

We had the most expensive gas in town and were the first station where gas hit $1.00 a gallon.  One of our "credit" customers pulled in one morning and Daddy went out, removed the gas cap, and started to put gas in his truck.  "Humph," he said.  "I ain't ever gonna pay a dollar for a gallon of gas."  Daddy stopped pumping, removed the nozzle, and said "You'll be walking in a few days, then."  The man stuttered and stammered until Daddy told him to come in and pay his bill for the month to that point, because he'd never buy another gallon of gas from Roscoe Berry again.

It was at The Station that I learned that sometimes in business you have to "push back", not be intimidated, and be unafraid to say "You can't have that".

It was at The Station that I had the best time of my life restoring a 1955 Crown Victoria that I thought we'd never finish but once we did it outran everything in town. It starred in a movie, Return to Macon County, and allowed me to get into a fight with Don Johnson.  He was a Hollywood Wuss.

It was at The Station I learned about character and integrity firsthand.  Daddy used to say he slept well at night because he didn't lie in the daytime.  I use that phrase almost daily.

Once he passed away The Station meandered on for a while, I guess until it outlived its usefulness.  While I was in Florida they tore it down and built a McDonald's on that corner.

Somehow "Would you like to SuperSize that?" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Welcome to Berry's Amoco.  How can I help you?"

Paradise paved.  It's everywhere.  And once the paving's done, the paradise can't be found again.