Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Nancy Hanks.

I don't tell her often enough or quite well enough, but I really do love my Mama.

She and my sister Susie are "one-of-a-kinds"--sweet with a backbone of steel, sensitive and blunt, they're everything to me.

I don't know what got me thinking about this today, but some of my fondest childhood memories come from riding the Central of Georgia Railroad's Nancy Hanks from Barnesville to Atlanta.

Every now and then Mama and I would board the train at the Barnesville Depot and make the scenic haul to downtown Atlanta.  Once off the train we'd go to since-forgotten places like Rich's, Davison's, and the S&W Cafeteria.

It was on the Nancy Hanks that I saw a steward in the Grill Car pour a six-and-a-half ounce Coca-Cola (the only genuine Coke) into a glass without producing any foam or spilling a drop.  This was done by flipping the bottle completely upside down almost to the bottom of the glass and removing it as the Coke filled it up.

It was Ice-Cold, delicious, and I haven't had any Coke since that tasted as good.

As for the glass-pouring Coke trick, don't try this at home.  I tried it to impress my children, I didn't, and Coke is really sticky when it's all over the glass, the counter, and the floor.

I can still smell the aroma of burning diesel, hear the conductor say "All 'boooarrrrd!" and feel electric motors whirring, causing the clackety-clackety-clack on the iron tracks as we sped through places like Aldora, Milner, Griffin, Southside, Jonesboro, and finally rolling into Atlanta.  Whistles blowing all the way.

We'd walk from Terminal Station up to Rich's.  I can't remember one thing Mama bought there, but I do remember riding the Pink Pig at Christmastime and falling in love with books while at Rich's. 

The Charl-Mont restaurant was in Davison's, just up Peachtree Street from Rich's.  Probably the best hamburger I ever had came from there, and Mama drank coffee from the first clear-glass coffee cup I'd ever seen.  She didn't even "saucer" it before drinking it.  My Mama, what a lady.

Sometimes we'd cross the Mezzanine at Rich's (site of Atlanta's Great Christmas Tree) and go the the S&W Cafeteria.  The only thing I remember eating there was dessert--well, not really dessert.  I had some cake with whipped cream on it (real whipped cream, not some pasty-foamy mess out of a spray can or tub).  I told Mama I thought I could eat a bowl of that stuff and she got the waiter to bring me some.

Food for thought--not only can you NOT drink an entire gallon of milk in an hour (don't ask), you also CANNOT eat a bowl of genuine whipped cream.  I know this.

At the end of the day we'd get back on the train and watch the sun set on the trip back to Barnesville.  I'd rest my head on the best pillow I've ever known--Mama's shoulder--and sleep all the way home.


Terminal Station was demolished in 1970, Amtrak took over the railroads, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But I can still see the horseshoe seal on the engine car of the Nancy Hanks.  And I still have my memories...and my Mama.

But oh, for one more train ride.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Baptist By Any Other Name.

Looks like my former beloved Southern Baptist Convention is considering changing their name.

I'm reminded of that great theologian Lewis Grizzard who once had to comment on the Dixie Redcoat Band at the University of Georgia changing their name in order to become politically correct:

That prompted my stepbrother, Ludlow Porch, the famous radio talk show personality, to fire off a letter to the editor suggesting the following: "I applaud the dropping of 'Dixie' from the name of the University of Georgia band, but let us not stop there. 

"How can we allow the word 'red,' which stands for communism? And the word 'redcoat' itself is an affront to the memory of all those Americans who fought against the redcoats of England in the Revolutionary War.

"And 'band.' Pancho Villa had a 'band' of desperadoes and we had to send brave young soldiers to Mexico after him. So 'band' should go, too, and that just leaves 'The,' which is a dumb name for a large number of musicians, so I guess they're just out of a name altogether." 

So, using that set of parameters, let's change the name of the SBC.

"Southern" definitely has to go.  The SBC has churches on every corner of every town in the South and has been making inroads on every corner of every town in every other part of the world for years.  "Southern" no longer applies.  And it's politically incorrect since the first thing the word "Southern" reminds me of is The War of Northern Aggression.  And let's face it, I'm probably the only unbiased arbiter of politically correct definitions you'll find.

"Baptist" won't survive, either, since most SBC members (especially pastors, paid staff members, denominational employees, etc.) have been fighting (see "Southern", above, for clarification) over what it means to be "Baptist" for years.  Theology doesn't make you Baptist.  Cooperation sure won't make you Baptist.  Attendance doesn't qualify you, since, ministerially speaking, SBC church members comprise the largest Protestant denomination in the world.  But you can't find most of 'em in church on Sunday.

What's the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist?  A Methodist will speak to you in the liquor store.

"Convention" will never make the cut.  Sounds too much like politics (see "Southern", above, for clarification).  SBC churches hold State and nationwide "Conventions" once a year, but that doesn't qualify them as a true convention.  How do I know?  I looked it up.

The primary definitions of "convention" are Noun. 1. A way in which something is usually done, esp. within a particular area or activity.  2. Behavior that is considered acceptable or polite to most members of a society.

I've observed Southern Baptists for years, both from the inside and outside.  Trust me on this one...only Number 1 comes close to defining them ("That's the way we've always done it" is the National Motto for Southern Baptists, see "Southern", above, for clarification).  They've never even come close to Number 2.

So, that leaves the former Southern Baptist Convention with "The", which, to paraphrase Ludlow Porch, is a stupid name for a large number of church people, so I guess they're just out of a name altogether.

Not to worry, though.  SBC folks are a resilient, stubborn bunch.  It won't be long before they'll be arguing over how to use "The".

Two Methodists, two Presbyterians, and two Baptists were stranded on a desert island.  The two Methodists promptly started the First Methodist Church.  The two Presbyterians started the First Presbyterians started the First Presbyterian Church.  The two Baptists started First Baptist Church.  And Second Baptist Church.

I have a suggestion for a new name.  Believers Untied under the Term "The".  Or "BUTT" for short.

That oughta fix things.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Boycotting Georgia.

I know y'all thought I'uz dead, but no...I'm not.

On that note, I read in the AJC today that the filmmaker Michael Moore is telling folks to boycott Georgia over the execution earlier this week of Troy Davis.

I've been boycotting Michael Moore the entire time he's been making movies.  I hope it hurt.

He also ordered his publisher to pull all his books from Georgia bookstores.  I didn't know he could write.

He also told all who would listen not to travel to Georgia.  He's apparently a big proponent of any vehicle which is a hybrid and not made in America.  For the record, I've never seen a Prius on any road besides an Interstate highway, and they've never been going less than 90 miles an hour.  I understand they have great acceleration.

In addition, Mr. Moore (Daddy told me to always show respect to all people, even idiots) directed his followers not to buy anything made in Georgia or do business with anyone in Georgia.  This will eliminate all those who heed the call to boycott IBM, Kia, cotton, chickens, and most vegetables.  The results are predictable.

I, for one, have resolved to continue my boycott of Michael Moore.  And Alec Baldwin.  And most of the Hollywood elites.

But I do issue a personal invitation to them to visit Georgia, the North Georgia mountain area in particular.  We're a hospitable, gracious people up here.

And we own a lot of guns.  And land where we can hide things that will never be found.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Move.

My son Carder and his sweetheart Megs moved from St. Petersburg to Duluth over the weekend (for the uninformed, that's Florida to Georgia, not Russia to Minnesota).

And I helped.

Thursday, September 1, 6:30pm--we leave Georgia and head south to the Sunshine State.  Traffic's not too bad.  On this Labor Day weekend Atlanta would host the following:

--Georgia vs. Boise State
--Georgia Tech vs. the Lorraine Girls' School
--the Falcons vs. Lamar County High School
--the Braves and Dodgers (the hated Dodgers)
--the AdvoCare 500 (this was once the Atlanta 500) at Atlanta Motor Speedway (which is actually in Hampton, Georgia, but I suppose the Hampton 500 would sound like a motel race)
--DragonCon (Trekkies, Star Wars, a virtual plethora of Science Fiction fans)

In other words, a traffic nightmare.  We left just ahead of all these events, but would return in the middle of them.  More on that later.

7:38pm--we stop to eat at Cracker Barrel, the Indigestion Pit Stop of the Interstates.  The Princess observes that there is a marked difference between "Southern" and "Country".  This is based on the folks sitting across from us.  They are Country.  We are Southern.  And yes, there is a difference.  It has to do with the volume and content of conversation.

8:21pm--gassing up at WalMart (we'd already gassed up in one sense at Cracker Barrel.  This would become very apparent in another hour or so.).  The Princess had me clean off dog-slobber from the interior windows of her Focus.  I'm surprised Jackson the Wonder Dog has any fluids inside him after cleaning the rear windows.

11:13pm--we stop at the Berry Memorial Exit 5, Lake Park, Georgia, to get gas.  Again.  The pumps aren't working properly, there's only one guy working the entire store, and it takes over twenty minutes to get nine gallons of gas.  This does not bode well for the remainder of the trip.

11:42pm--we leave Georgia, enter the Sunshine State, and immediately raise the I.Q. in both places.

Things were pretty uneventful until we reached Wildwood, Florida, home of the Truckstops of America Truck Stop.  Welcome the Department of Redundancy Department.

The restrooms were upstairs...upstairs.  Don't know what you'd do if you were on crutches, etc.  We got snacks and such and as we were paying for them the Princess noticed that for sale, at this location, was "Something Truckers Love"--a small bottle of a solution called "Rock-Hard Weekend".  I am not making this up.  And I don't know why only Truckers would Love this Something called "Rock-Hard Weekend".

And you had to ask for it.  Couldn't just pick it up and put it with your other stuff.  Yes, I'll have a bag of chips, a Coke, that hair comb, and oh, a bottle of Rock-Hard Weekend.

We laughed all the way to St. Pete, where we arrived at 3:48am September 2.

Friday we loaded the Y'all-Haul, including "Mom's Attic", a little space just above the cab.  Don't know who's Mama would choose that over a normal attic, but apparently someone's did and hence, the name.

Friday night we went to the Pub at Tampa, a pretentiously British bar and grill (as if there's any other type of British anything).  I ordered a beer, they brought it, and it was room temperature.  At that point I understood why the Princess thought beer looked like bull urine.

I sent it back and demanded a cold one.

Saturday, September 3, 9:22am--we leave St. Pete.  I could've thrown a rock in one direction and hit Tropicana Field, where Carder worked for the Rays.  I could've thrown a rock in the other direction and hit St. Pete Beach, where the Princess loved to go.  Alas, I could only look at both.

Carder asked if the load on the truck would shift.  To answer his question I revved the engine up, threw it in Drive, lunged a few yards, then threw it in Reverse and slammed on the brakes.  No, the load will not shift.

5:48pm--we arrive in Duluth at the new Berry house.  I like to make things as easy as possible, so to unload the truck I decided to simplify, simplify, simplify.  I opened the rear door (nothing had shifted), pulled into the driveway opposite Carder's, and backed across the street at around 60mph, slammed on the brakes, and Voila!, the truck was unloaded.

Three days, two states, four vehicles, two houses, and we're back in God's Country.

All in all, a good weekend.