Dad’s suffering finally comes to a merciful end earlier today. After suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis for some 40 years and having heart issues, Alzheimer’s reared its ugly head in the last year or so.
For anyone who has had a loved one struck with that disease, you have my deepest sympathy. For those who don’t know, it is a incredibly cruel disease, especially for the care-givers.
Dad loved his family and sports.
Dad wanted us around as much as possible even when he was working.
He would take us with him on Saturdays and during the summer to ‘’help’’ him deliver milk into grocery stores, convenience stores and even bait shops.
We could leave a few pints of milk and get the worms or crickets we would need to fish later in the day.
One of our stops was the Sunnyland meat packing plant. We would grab a couple of sausage sandwiches.
We would also have contests of pulling Cokes. Coke used to produce small bottles with the city where it was produced embossed on the bottom. The longest distance from Thomasville would win. I don’t think there was anything tangible at stake other than bragging rights.
Often times we would have to guess if Pittsburgh or Chicago was further away. There was no Google back then.
Right after his family his passion was sports, in particular Georgia football and Braves baseball.
He would also take us on sports trips quite often.
It was easy for us to go to Florida State games pre-Bobby Bowden. After listening to a Georgia game on the radio (kickoff was always at 1 p.m. back then), Dad would ask, ‘’You want to go to Tallahassee?’’
We would walk up to Doak-Campbell Stadium 30 minutes before kickoff and get great seats.
Even better trips were the ones we took to Athens to see Georgia. While we went to FSU games, no one in the family actually cared. Georgia was a different story. Oftentimes, the mood of the house for the weekend was set by Vince Dooley’s Dogs.
We went to Athens many times without tickets. For the 1971 Auburn game, Dad pursuaded a ticket taker to look the other way while we entered. For the 1976 Alabama game, we ended up standing on the bridge, looking between the limbs of several trees as Georgia upset the Tide.
But the best trips were to Braves games at old Fulton County Stadium.
We ate spaghetti while sitting in the outfield one night. Another game we were able to go down on the field before the game and get autographs. You can have those kind of promotions when you have the small crowds the Braves were famous for back then.
On another of our trips to Atlanta, we had to dodge a fire in the midtown hotel we were staying in.
It is easy why sports journalism was an easy career choice for me.
Thanks Dad, I love you.