Victimized or Triumphant in a Gray State

Yes, I am A. Gray, but we are all in a gray nation now. It is a nation of 75 million aging Baby Boomers and the massive pressures the simple math of that portends. It is a nation where the polydamnticians and manipulators want to hide the clear and simple truths found in the Bible and the Constitution of the United States in a gray fog. We find the rule of law being covered in a gray burial shroud by the very people sworn to uphold it. Swirls of gray dust billow out from our imploding institutions to cover us in what would be shame if we even pretend to be a civilized people.

These words were crafted from a perch 20 feet up an East Central Georgia pine tree overlooking a sparkling lake. One vigilant squirrel had just alerted the entire squirrel network all of whom chattered, “HAWK!” in unison, lest even one fall victim. The squirrel feeding under the white oak below scurried next to a hollow log. It was a good thing, too, for the hawk eye had picked him as prey. The sharp talons grazed his back just as that tree dweller popped into safety in a knothole. So it is with us. We have waited perhaps too long to escape danger. THIS is agraynation, but a bright future beckons those who join in a network vigilant to the dangers lurking in the gray state we are in. Here in agraynation, we are going to wrest ourselves from being prey, laughing all the way at the polydamnticians, gold dome cowboys, exposed manipulators, crazy schemers, cozy crooks, devilish democrats, and especially the Pharisee Republicans who have gotten control of Georgia.

A Bad Hare Day?

The Jaws of Penny

Originally posted on CityStink
September 9, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

Red and Georgette were the plug-eared rabbit’s nemeses out on Owens Road in Evans. It was an age in which there was no Rhineharts on one end of the road and an Academy Sports on the other. Only 5 years separated those days from the time Owens road was dirt. Beyond the by-then-abandoned old Owens Place, the families along that stretch were folks named  Strickland, Fleming, Thompson, and Cone.  The term “Brandon Wild(e)” might have been figured as some punk rich kid from the Augusta hill throwing a drunken party brawl at the American Legion lodge over by Reed Creek. There were plenty of those.

Sometime in mid-1968 a red and white rag top Ford Bronco pulled down the drive to a new home for the beagles and their aging mentor, Penny. One can sense the wonderment of those three, because the trip was not in hunting season and the beagles never went hunting with Penny, as much as she might have fancied herself a rabbit huntress. Moist noses would have been held high, trying to get a olfactory clue of where they were. Maybe they detected fresh asphalt, a smell alien to their former abode down on Stevens Creek Road. Perhaps it was the fragrance from all of the broomstraw and blackberry vines across the road. Whatever it was, it spoke of a new life in a new place.

As happy-go-lucky and adventuresome as beagles are, Red and Georgette were soon poking noses in brush piles, trying to roust out a cottontail for a chase. Old Penny was another case. Penny was a lemon and white English pointer who had roamed free alongside her siblings for nearly a decade. The move was traumatic. Penny slept every night for two months under her reliable companion, the Bronco. It was her security blanket – one supposes she figured that when that wagon left, she was going with it.

Eventually she decided to get as close to the family as possible which meant a position in the garage near the kitchen door. That garage opened to the rear of the house onto a large parking area which also served as the neighborhood basketball court. Alongside the home were the obligatory shrubs of hated holly (trimming was torture), pittosporum, ligustrum, sasanqua, azalea, gardenia, and boxwood. In places they were several tiers deep. Snakes, lizards, and birds loved the habitat.

The first time the plug eared rabbit was seen he was tipping around a pile of freshly-cut saplings from clearing the yard. Later it would be found that the brush pile was one of his hide-outs. Curiously, that particular brush pile was closest to the dog pens. It was almost like Plug Ear had his very own sense of daring. Most of the time the beagles ran free, but that rabbit did not know when those times were.

There is no substitute for experience and those beagles got plenty of it chasing Plug Ear and his relatives. The next winter Red and Georgette would team up with Jinks and Blue for some sizzling races down below Girard, Georgia. Practice on their home boy rabbit might not have made perfect, but it made for very fast beagles. The poor rabbits down there in Burke County paid dearly for trying to escape over some hill. Unlike Plug Ear back home, they didn’t have ponds to swim or culverts to run into when the chase found the bugling beagle foursome nipping at their heels. The teamwork between the hounds in pursuit of an open field quarry was stunning in speed and effectiveness.

At heart, old Penny was a rabbit dog, too. Our family of quail hunters had to be greatly disciplined with her rabbit pointing. One could tell when it was a rabbit that she had pointed, for her tail would have a pronounced crook in it. If it was really, really twisted, that meant “snake,” not “rabbit.” One didn’t dare reward Penny by shooting a rabbit she had pointed, especially early in the day, for if you did, she would spend most of the day pointing rabbits instead of quail.

Back home, Plug Ear was getting more inventive with his escapes. Red and Georgette had started strategies to cut off his pond swims, runs on smelly asphalt to hide his scent and bolts through Mr. Cartledge’s hog wire fencing. He came to run up to the house, slip and weave among the shrubs, and hug the foundation. He got by with that one day.

The next day he didn’t.

The hounds struck Plug’s trail down where he got a sip of water coming out of the Cartledges’ pond overflow. He shook them for a moment at the fence, allowing time to scoot into our pond’s far side. From there he jumped in, swam to the dam, crossed over, and ran a flanking trail down the cane break. Plug doubled back on his trail and leaped over the creek. After crossing the dam again on the near side, he made a run up to the house and tipped along the base of the wall. Then he stopped in an opening to listen for Red and Georgette.

It was in front of the garage.

A lemon and white energized bundle named Penny lunged at Plug Ear from his blind side, but the combination of pointer toenails on asphalt and one intact bunny ear provided salvation. The gaping maw of Penny’s mouth snapped at Plug’s head, but caught his fleeing tail instead.

It was a shame that Red and Georgette were still down by the pond when Penny made her charging lunge. They would have screamed approval. Plug Ear survived. If he were seen after that day, one would have branded such a species as a Plug Earred Nothingtail.

There is a human moral to this tail.

 Sitting on your haunches gloating is not Penny wise.

Originally posted on City Stink.

Short Story: Fat Pitch Wood Ignites Laughter

The Fat Lighter Stump Rattler

Sunday, August 5, 2012
Lincoln County, GA
By Al Gray

An indispensable material in country life, a role that will accelerate its current reprise as the economics of energy demands, is the fat lighter stump.  Fat lighter is also known as “fat lighter,” “lighter wood,” “rich lighter,” “pine knot,” “lighter knot,” “heart pine,” and other similar descriptors of resin-rich pine wood. The stump is the most concentrated area of the tree to be left full of pitch, albeit not the only section, as trees with cat-faces, like this one, are also great sources.

Our modern homes are increasingly equipped with wood stoves and heaters, creating current demand, but strips and splinters of fat lighter have been used to start fires in the Southern United States for eons. One can imagine the nostrils of the earliest Americans flaring to take in the pleasant aroma of pine pitch as they stacked their own kindling to make camp fires or cook fires in their lodges.

For this aging scribe, that smell brings back memories and more than a few laughs.

Back in 1966, my great Uncle Land Rhodes set out to find some hunting land to rent in the Shell Bluff community of Burke County, Georgia. He found a willing partner in Bennie Gilchrist, who had about 250 acres off of Georgia Highway 23. The place had a couple of peanut fields on it for dove shooting, a few covies of quail and some briar patches full of rabbits. Mainly, though, the place was situated in close proximity to vast public lands of ITT Rayonier, Continental Can, and other private lands where the family could hunt.

In the midst of the first season the clan decided to camp out in an old tin-roofed shanty with just two rooms. One room had a working fireplace. The other did not. Naturally everybody with two legs slept in the one with the fireplace, for it was a brutally cold winter.  The greater number of the hunting party was better dressed for the cold and slept in the second room.

The Cherie Quarters Cabin. Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.

To get the fire started, they picked up some fat lighter over around Youmans Road on the way back from the first afternoon hunt. The splinters of that fat wood produced a rich, wafting odor of pine resin. Soon the fire was crackling, the stories were being spun, and before long, the tin roof was buzzing from the snoring from both rooms. No alcohol was involved, because John Rhodes was a teetotaler and adamant about that.

The morning of the second day was a quail hunt, with plans for a grand rabbit hunt after lunch. John, Land, and Andrew were the morning hunter contingent as the bigger party for the rabbit hunt was still up on Stevens Creek Road in Martinez. It was a good morning, too, for the uncles bagged 22 bobwhites before the hunting prowess of Bronco, King, and Nell.

Upon their return to the camp they found that Buster, Hugh, and Junior arrived. We won’t engage in a round of overstatement about the fare being sumptuous fried quail, cabbage, corn on the cob, cornbread, and a helping of Aunt Francis’ peach cobbler, because it was mostly saltines, sardines, and Vienna sausage. Afterward came a nap in front of the fireplace.

No one was asleep when a knock came from the front door. It was Alvin Needy, a local inhabitant who worked on farms part time. Old Alvin was known to drink moonshine and he had been into it early that day.  “Hey, fellas, y’all kill many birds this mawnin?” Buster said “Yeah, I wrung the neck of one of the yard hens for Hattie Mae just before we drove down, but you got to ask Land here if they got any quail birds.” Land said “Yeah, we found a big covey, got 5 on the rise and 3 more single birds. We knocked around and got a really nice mess of birds.”

By this time Alvin was inside, peering all around. “You mens got some licca you can spare for old Alvin? “ John spoke up and said “ I don’t drink. I suspect these other boys do, but not when I am around.” “WHAT?” exclaimed Alvin. “Six white mens down heah in dis sandy place in a shack on dis cold day and NO Booze?” By this time he had rumbled and stumbled to the door to the back room. He wasn’t taking no for an answer, believing he was being put off and mislead. Alvin reached for the door knob. One of the uncles said “I wouldn’t do that if I were you……”


Too late, Alvin had opened a Pandora’s box. 16 beagles overran Alvin. Old Bo headed for the front door….John grabbed him and said “Oh no, Bo, not time to go.” Polly, Prissy, Peaches, Jojo, Jesse, Freddy, Hap, Annie, Mabel, Jinx, Rebel, Tom, Fanny, Lucy, and Missy were milling around a still-muttering Alvin. “OOOO….WEEEE..lookit all de rabbit dawgs!”  He turned to flee and tripped over Mabel. Then the licking started.  Imagine 16 beagle butts turned outward while lathering attention on a drunk.

Word has it that Alvin was in church the next Sunday and didn’t touch moonshine for a very long while.

That day was one for the books. The afternoon was crisp and the thunder of 16 beagles in fully cry carried for nearly a mile. Alvin was long gone by the time the pack returned to that back room of the shanty.

35 years later your scribe went on a hunting lease exploration up at Old Anderson Plantation in Warren County near Norwood, Georgia, much like Uncle Land’s in finding the Gilchrist place. The plantation manager – let’s call him Jim Doe – met me at the hunting camp. At the time the plantation was about 20,000 acres and it had a central area of about 1500 acres that was open to bow hunting only. Jim was very gracious and we spent a lot of time, not just doing the obligatory cruise of the roads and fields, but a lot of actual strolling through the oak stands on the property. About half-way through, Jim spotted a fat lighter stump that he wanted, so we uprooted it and threw it in the back of my pickup truck.

Eventually I had seen enough to conclude the excursion and return to the camp. We were approaching a creek bottom on the paved highway, when Jim yelled “Rattlesnake!,”  pointing at a reptile nearing the centerline. “Kill him” he commanded.I complied, despite having to cross the double yellow line, then slam on the brakes as we crossed the snake’s body. The rattler was slung to the edge of the pavement.
 We backed up and parked. The snake had somewhat regained his senses to head for the high grass. Jim said “Shoot him.” That brought the response “With WHAT?” There was no gun in the truck. The only thing available was the old fat lighter stump. It was about 3 feet long and perhaps 8 inches wide at its base, but it was solid. While Jim was busily cutting a stick to dispatch the snake with the Gerber folding saw from my hunting pack, I grabbed that stump, walked over to the rattlesnake, and dropped it on his head. The rattle was buzzing furiously. The assault with the fat lighter piece stopped the advance toward the tall weeds, then Jim’s stick finished the job.

Jim said “Let’s take this snake back to Rooster back at the camp. He likes to make hatbands from rattlesnake skins. This is a good one because it isn’t full of birdshot or buckshot holes.”

Rooster had left camp. I was left with the snake in the back of the truck near the tailgate, as I had my cooler and drinks forward against the tool box.

The trip back to Augusta began.  When the on ramp to I-20 at the Camak Exit was approaching a sudden bout of thirst struck for one of the Diet Pepsi’s in the cooler. I pulled off on the apron at the top of the ramp, got out of the truck, reached for a can of Pepsi, popped the top, and started to drink. Out of the corner of my eye, there was movement and something red. At the bottom of the ramp was a fiery red Mustang GT, with the trunk raised. Walking toward me was a guy dressed in an Atlanta Braves T Shirt and jeans. There had been a big game early that afternoon in Atlanta. Obviously there was car trouble.

I pulled down the ramp and rolled down the window. “Hi,”the man said, “I‘m Charlie Reed. My buddy, Dan Potts, and I were driving back to Augusta from the Braves – Giants game, when we hit a piece of metal that blew out a tire. We cannot get the lug nuts off of the wheel because the #%$%$# lug wrench handle is too short to apply enough leverage. Do you have a 4 way lug wrench?” “Sure do,” I replied. “I have a length of pipe to slide over a lug wrench as an extended lever, too!” We located the wrench and pipe in the tool box.

Charlie was a talker, one of those incessant gabbers, to whom you cannot get in a word edgewise. We were about 150 yards from the Mustang.

Charlie said “It sure is hot, could I ride back to the car in your truck?”

I replied “my passenger side seat and the floorboard are filled with tree stand paraphernalia”

He said, “That’s OK I will just hop back there and ride!” The man never stopped flapping his jaws to look what he was doing.

I stammered “No…no!….”

Charlie said “It’s OK, I am not choosy.”

Me: There’s a……”

Charlie, stepping up on the bumper, lifting his right leg high over the tailgate: “I ride in the backs of trucks all the time.”

Me: “I wouldn’t do that if I were You……..”

Charlie, looking down in mid-giant-stride, his leg perpendicular to the ground 5 feet below: Aiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Charlie bailed out in mid stride and catapulted to the ground. No bones were broken, only his stream of talk.

I have that way with people. I go to find a little fat lighter to make a fire. Somewhere along the way, be it to a county commission or just a hitchhiker in a Braves shirt. I will advise “I wouldn’t do that if I were You……..”  They then ignore me but they come to their senses screaming.

I did that recently, warning about how the TSPLOST transportation tax in Georgia was going to bite them. They promoted it anyway.

It went TSPLAT.

They should have banged the TSLOST to death with a stick of fat lighter.  Now they have to bail out and land on their rumps.

I will laugh my large Gray-family-inherited buns off.***



The Neva Hex

Burke Hero Herman Lodge Debated the White Kid

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The winter of 1977 was brutal on East Ninth Street in Waynesboro, Georgia.  The Georgia Department of Labor had become beneficiary to $millions in Federal funds under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), with a portion of them being released under CETA Title III. This program was administered locally by a consortium of 13 area counties. Nobody seemed to know what on earth to do with the Title III Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker program.  They did what came natural – they threw me into doing it – all the time muttering something about a need to “chill out.”  Those words were prophetic.
All of us have heard about bureaucrats being shuffled off to a desk in a closet with nothing to do, except being paid.  Sadly that wasn’t the case with this assignment. A nice closet would have been just fine. Instead the office to which your then-naïve apprentice bureaucrat was directed was “somewhere on East 9thStreet, down yonder in Waynesboro. You will be fine. Just think, with this job out in the farms, you can probably line up new places to hunt and, if you start early in the morning, you can even catch some afternoon hunts!”  You did catch the descriptor “naïve,”  didn’t you?
Imagine my chagrin when the office building was in a rusting galvanized tin-roofed, wood frame, old school on a weathered paved street where it intersected with a dirt road. This picture tells it all.
When one rolled his office chair across the floor, the roof would rattle. Heat? That was swiftly gone with the wind roaring through the cracks.
One particularly cold day found James Williams, Alton Spells, and your humble scribe huddled around the gas heater in the office. Get the picture. One mustachioed black dude in a suit, another in jeans with an enormous Afro, and one very white, then-skinny white boy from Evans in Columbia, County, all hunkered down – arguing politics, as usual.
That old building was also the informal headquarters of the Burke County NAACP. President Herman Lodge, destined to be Burke County’s first black commissioner, was a frequent visitor.  Between doing program enrollments in the field, this, the only white fellow in 5 Waynesboro blocks would, at age 25, would do battle with his elders, generally combatting the notion that everything was a total conspiracy. Sometimes they would shoo me off. A disbeliever in Whitey-Is-Evil and a social program skeptic made them uncomfortable.
Then there were the program enrollees. There were more than a bushel basket of problems with folks down on the farm.  Then there were the self-inflicted problems. Take the Reverend Benny Lapp’s interview.
Me: Rev. Lapp, employers are fickle about job applicant’s employment histories. I notice a gap between 1969 and 1972. Can we explain that?
Rev. Lapp – I were in-car-cer-ated…….
Then there was Shirley McCorn, a poor white gal living in a single wide with 5 kids down in Midville.
Me:    Shirley, that looks like a DOG Collar around your calf….isn’t that a rabies tag dangling from it?
Shirley: It certainly is.
Me: You wouldn’t wear that to an interview would you?
Shirley: I would.
Me: Why? What does it mean?
Shirley: Everyone kept calling me a bitch, so I decided to be true-to-life.
James Williams and I rode all over those counties, trying to find jobs for migrants and seasonal workers. There were sad sacks and there were happy faces. There were farmers who told us to get off their property, but more who were happy to take federal funds bounty for doing what they were going to do anyway in terms of employment. James always dressed to the hilt and drove a new Audi, of which he was most proud.
We were the enforcers.
In that day, in Burke County, Georgia folks still practiced witchcraft. We enrolled a person like that, named Neva Doodis. Neva was short for Geneva and she came from Gough….or maybe Vidette……those two towns always get mixed up in the cobwebs of time and a 3-score-aged brain. At anyway Neva’s enrollment was, well different.
Me: You enroll this one, she is a rootworker.
James Williams: Say wha…
Me: She is a witch, a root doctor.
James: Nobody believes in that these days. What can a root doctor do?
Me: I don’t believe in that stuff, either. Just don’t leave Neva around your open beverages.
James: Why not?
Me:  If you let somebody who says she is a root doctor feed or serve in a drink a root potion conjured up by a root talker, then what the root doctor can do to you is supposedly unlimited. She can have you by controlling your thoughts, even to the extent that you might bark like a dog or even jump in old Walter Wimberly’s hog parlor to slop with his hogs on your next visit to Shell Bluff. Besides that, she can put a hex on you so that physical things so bad on you at inopportune times, even if you don’t drink or eat anything she got hold to.
James: I can handle her.
Me: Ok
Neva got into our training program. She was civil enough, despite being a lover of the moonshine that flowed freely into Waynesboro.
However, Neva was getting paid to attend class. She was missing too many from being hung over or maybe it was from howling at the moon. I finally had enough and drove over to her house during class times. There Neva sat in a rocker, bleary eyed, with a milk jug on the screened porch.
Me: Neva, this is a class day and you have missed it. Didn’t James warn you twice already?
Neva: Dat Williams? Naw, he hain’t been heah tellin me nuttin.
Me: He gave you the notice required to terminate you the last time and you signed for it.
Neva: Missah Ah-el, you ain’t gonna cut mah check off, you can’t do that!
Me: Why not?
Neva: I gots de powah on you.
Me: I made sure not to drink anything. Sorry, Neva but we gave you 3 chances. Like baseball, you got called out on strikes –your sit-at-home strikes against training sessions.
Neva: You gonna be sorry.
Me: James Williams will drop by your last check.
The next week James went out and dropped off Neva’s last check. He came in laughing.
Me: How did it go?
James: Rough, Neva threw pine cones at me – after I handed her check – but she was so drunk she missed. Let’s me and you hope she misses with her hex.
Me: Checks? She won’t be getting any more of them.
James: Clean out your ears, I said “HEX”….H……E……X.
Me: Hex? What hex?
James: On mine, she mumbled something about “your ideas gone bad”…and one yours she got to cussin’ about “whitey wot goes huntin’ meetin’? up wid Mr. Rattlesnake up ‘round de ‘Geechee Rivah.”
That year passed pretty quickly. I hadn’t met “wid Mr. Rattlesnake” just yet and James was packing up his office stuff to leave. He rolled his chair across the floor, causing one last celebratory rattle of the tin roof, got up and shook my hand. “ It was a lot of fun working with you Al, but you didn’t do any hunting much after work!” The gang here – Miss Dorothy, Alton, and Miss Alicia – you all have been wonderful. Even the clients were OK.  Hey, what happened to Neva Doodis, I wonder? Remember that silly hex about my “idea?”
James,” slapping him on the shoulder, I exclaimed “You accused me of bad hearing. I figured out what Neva said was ‘your Audi going bad’!!!” Remember? It wasn’t 3 days after you took her that last check and got bombarded with pine burs when your Audi’s engine blew on the side of Highway 56 and I had to take you home.
James grew pale “Holy Moly, you are right!”
What happened to Neva, we will never know. What we do know is this piece of good advice. Don’t snicker at the root doctor. There are forces in the world that are dark. If you imbibe or eat of their concoctions, you might end up howling at the moon, crawling on your belly like a snake, or have your blinders ripped off and see the very real conspiracies that my old debating adversary, the late Herman Lodge, warned about..

I like to think that I influenced old Herman a little. After all, we are the sum total of the experiences and people that we meet.

Seeing is believing. James Williams knows.
The Audi blew up on the way to fabulous wealth and power. You cannot convince him otherwise.
I know.
You will read about them as they are revealed.
No imbibing or feasting on offerings of the rootsayer needed or allowed. The guardian angels don’t approve and I will need them again.***


Trucking Broncos and Sour Mash Victims

Old Bronco Bit Hard

By Al Gray

 English Setter “Jake” circa 1978

Calla Jean produced one fine litter of pups in the spring of 1960. In dog breeder parlance, Calla was the dam and Pal was the sire.  When the pups arrived, Stevens Creek Road had been paved a scant 4 years. Eisenhower was still President. Folks in Augusta knew the Old Fruitland Nursery. The Masters was dispensing tickets to all. Down the hill there was Bowen Pond, but no West Lake, only about 850 acres of Rhodes family and friends’ land which would become the pups training ground.

Nell, Bullet, Rock, Sand, Penny, King, and Bronco were lemon and white English pointers from a long line of the breed that had served the Rhodes family for decades. They came up during what was perhaps the heyday of quail hunting in East Central Georgia.

Penny turned out to be ours; or rather we were hers, especially my father. She was the first respectable quail dog he had owned, despite having a father, Allie Gray, who loved quail hunting about as much as he did gospel quartet music.  I would never say this to my father, but Penny had a couple of faults. First, she fancied herself a rabbit dog and you never wanted to encourage her by shooting a cottontail, because that would mean getting rabbit points the rest of the day. You could usually tell when she was pointing a rabbit, because her tail would have a crook in it. If it really was pronouncedly crooked, that probably meant a snake. If you didn’t encourage Penny to snake and rabbit hunt, she was a very good quail dog, too.

Her brother, Bronco, would turn out to be the stalwart bird dog of the litter. He belonged to my great uncle Land Rhodes, who did more quail hunting than anyone else in the family and even most anyone in the state. He took Bronco all around, starting with the usual trek from the gate into Bowen Pond, up to Mr. Skinner’s old hog farm, over to Baston and Furey’s Ferry Road, where his cousin Sterling Rhodes ran a small store. (This is the corner where the First Citizen’s Bank now sits.) There Bronco and the other bird dogs could be watered while the hunters took their own refreshments while gossiping with Sterling.  The return trip carried the party back through what is now Watervale subdivision and on home on Stevens Creek Road. It was a half-day hunt. In that day, the hunters could bag a couple of dozen on that hunting trek.

Other hunts took our family of hunters to McBean, Girard, Stoney Bluff, Millen, Hephzibah, Vidette and Sylvania. Mostly we hunted out of my father’s mechanical Broncos from the Ford factory.

Land Rhodes with Junior Gray (looking back from Bronco window)
Bronco, the English Pointer, purely loved to hunt. He was also a wizened master of the hunt and nonverbal communication. Many were the times that we made a turn, missed seeing Bronco, then found him standing expectantly at the corner of an adjacent field on the other side. He would be ‘saying’ “I got ‘em down here in the lespedeza patch, fellas, where did y’all go?” After he knew we had seen him he would dutifully trot back and remake the point that we had missed. Sometimes we would not even have to turn around, because Bronco would stand unmovable at an intersection of a field with his head high, until we noticed his resolute beckoning style and hunted his way.

Those were the days. Moonshining was not remotely dead in rural Georgia in the early 60’s and thrived until growing marijuana displaced it. Liquor stills were in the middle of the densest parts of the woods along branches and creeks. It was not uncommon to encounter one quail hunting. Old Bronco was part of one visitation. He had pointed a single bird on the edge of a corn field in sparse blackberry briars. Uncle Land was up to shoot with this writer as back up. The bird erupted from the broom straw and sailed into a high, twisting flight over the top of the more towering blackberries close to the creek. BAM! The quail tumbled out of sight. We gingerly walked around the briar patch until we found a path – a recently used path – that led to the fallen bird. After stooping under vines and briars for about 20 yards, we came to a clearing, in the midst of which stood an operating still. Not wanting to tarry, the search for the downed quail resumed in earnest. Turning to leave empty-handed, Land spied the quail – belly up in a vat of sour mash!

The years passed and Bronco began to lose a step. His range, never great, diminished. Along came the trio of Go Boy, Rusty, and Freedom, all of whom had greater range and complimenting abilities. The day came in which there were hard decisions on which dogs to carry in the aqua Bronco, with Bronco the Hunting Fiend increasingly relegated to the half-day hunts. The old warrior became a yard dog, an old, decrepit relic of glory days past.

He didn’t like that one bit. He did not hide it well either.

He liked it less when he was left behind even on those short hunts. He was left pacing the yard twice, I think, before The Day. It was early one morning, shortly after daybreak, when we pulled into Uncle Land’s yard. We began to load Go Boy, a young pup and Rusty into the bog box with Freedom and another dog of mine, who had already settled in for the next leg of the ride. I left the passenger side door of the aqua wagon open to load coolers, guns, and ammunition.

The implausible happened. There was the sound of loose gravel. I turned to see a lemon and  white blur LEAPING through the air and through the open truck door! Old Bronco had had enough. He was going today, thank you very much. The old boy clambered atop the dog box from the inside, laid down, and had his graying head facing the front. I made a motion to grab him by the collar.

He growled.

It was a very serious growl in Bronco’s life-long history of nonverbal communication. It said “Sonny-boy, we go way back. I remember when you got on the school bus every day. You didn’t want to make that trip. This trip is different. I am going hunting today…..or do you want to lose your face?” Yep, all that came out – loud and clear – in that growl.

I backed out and called for help. Uncle Land, Bronco’s master, was ready to go and wasn’t going to tolerate nonsense from a canine retiree occupying the space where the cooler was supposed to go. He reached up a grabbed Bronco’s collar. Well, it is a good thing the dog was dull and gapped toothed because Bronco was in no mood to be trifled with. He bit Land hard.

Old Bronco went hunting that day. The cooler got strapped onto the tailgate.

After then, it got to be a game. We knew to avoid leaving the door open and we knew to block the doors into the dog box, but yet again, Bronco managed to leap through. We learned that you could not let him even get onto the tailgate, for if you did, you had a snarling fiend on your hands.

After the season, we redesigned and rebuilt the dog box to prevent a dog from wriggling to the top of the dog box from the outside.

Bronco the English Pointer, who morphed into one very mad dog when it became necessary, set the example for the other dogs and was indispensable in training them. Eventually even the headstrong Go Boy and Freedom learned the trick of coming back for misdirected hunters. None other ever went to such lengths to go hunting as old Bronco.

We should all be like that, never giving up the hunt, leaping at opportunity, and hanging on for all the glory we can embrace.

Sometimes this old scribe has occasion to journey to some of those hunting haunts of so long ago. In places, the fields are much as they were 40 years ago. The last time I was down below Girard, upon turning down the River Road, a glance out of imagination saw a statuesque lemon and white pointer, head erect, saying in his old style “Sonny-boy, there are quail down in the broom straw field………”
The next time I will make sure I am driving this vehicle of mine.
The 1969 Ford Bronco in July 2012
One day maybe Bronco will bring along these two fellows in my vision.

Land Rhodes & Junior Gray approach a pointing bird dog circa 1978
That will be one fine day, even if Bronco bites me.

The Legend of Squaw Alice

Squalling Tires Braking for Wildlife on the Winston Circuit?

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Augusta, GA

By Al Gray

The first time anyone met Alice Babe it was unforgettable. Alice was gruff. Alice was tall. Alice had big arms – with tattoos in a time in which you just didn’t see women with tattoos, especially a contracts payable clerk in a Fortune 50 corporate accounting setting.

Alice was a biker chick in an outlaw motorcycle club, who spent her weekends riding from Winston Salem over to Wrightsville or Myrtle Beaches, generally in the company of her husband, Butch, and a crowd of others who were most certainly not accounting types. Every Monday she would come in with her eyes looking like red-rimmed slits of malevolence. The woman had me intimidated so badly that I avoided her until Tuesdays.

The tattoo on Alice Babe’s arm was of a fierce Amazon warrioress astride a stallion clutching a bow. She muttered something about being of Cherokee descent on one of the rare instances she did more than grunt or issue profanities. Maybe it was from working with contractors, who knows. At any rate the tattoo, her size, and her bouffant hairdo were really domineering.

Photo by Henry Orr on Unsplash

If you had to pick which one of the apparel group accounting clerks who would have really turned outlaw, it would have been Alice Babe, but that dubious honor went to her friend, Windy Hawley. Windy set up a dummy bank account in the name of one of the company’s vendors. She then would take accounts payable checks to deposit into the fake account. This rocked on pretty well for Windy, until one day she encountered a replacement bank teller who knew that the company, payee to the checks, did business with Wachovia, not First Union. After a few visits from the company Certified Fraud Examiners, guys who fittingly always seemed to have 5 o’clock shadows and were from New York, the story came out that Windy had stolen $775,000 and had a very large boat docked in Fort Lauderdale. Alice stormed, “You mean that witch had a yacht down in Florida and didn’t invite me once? I hope she rots!”

Windy went to prison. Alice was aghast, only because she was wondering, “Why haven’t I had the nerve to try that?”

Strangely, we got to be friends. She and Butch lived around the corner off of Reynolda Blvd. in a white, wood-framed house with an enormous garage full of Harley motorbikes. I didn’t visit much, because they were gone nearly every weekend and I was on one of three mega project sites during the week.

Alice reveled in her tough woman persona. I was actually intimidated by her and Butch. After one weekend war, Butch came home all sliced and bruised up, without part of his left ear, lending credence to their braggadocio about being outlaws.

All of that intimidation vanished in a flash. Late one Sunday night in May 1993, my phone rang. It was Alice. She was screaming in anguish, hysteria, and genuine fear. “HELP!!!!!!” she yelled, “there is some horrible MONSTER in our house!!!! You are a woodsman guy, right?” I admitted to being prone to visit the woods now and then. “COME OVER AND DO SOMETHING with this AWFUL ANIMAL!” Alice squalled.

I threw on some clothes and took off for the Babe house. When I got there, Alice and Butch were quivering in the yard. She prompted me to enter the house. I said, “Where is this creature?” She said, “In the bathroom.” I had a big stick, but really didn’t now what to expect, for surely anything fierce enough to turn Butch and Alice into tubs of jelly was something to be respected.

When I saw what it was, I started laughing.

Photo by Mikell Darling on Unsplash

The monster in Alice’s bathroom was a possum! I used to catch possums in my rabbit boxes as a kid, so I knew to grab him by the tail, but be wary that he would turn up on his tail and bite me if I let him. I threw the critter into a corrugated box, so I could release him over at Wake Forest University across the way, where wildlife fits right in. (‘Demon Deacons’ is right!)

Out in the yard, Butch and Alice were visibly relieved.

Something got lost, though, and it was my sense of intimidation from those two.

Turning to face them, putting my hands on my hips, I looked and started laughing. “Just look at y’all,” I said. “You had me fooled into thinking that you were tough people who could hurt me just as soon as look at me. Now THIS! Y’all were afraid of a lil ole possum? You, the fierce outlaws?” I laughed all the way to the car. I am pretty sure Mr. Possum was grinning, too.

Warrior Queen Alice existed no more in my eyes. Her frizzled hair wasn’t that way of of being deliberately unkempt, it was that way because of fear. The possum magically reduced her from an Amazon woman to the point that she was seen as a squalling basket case. Squaw Alice of the Hawg Rider clan she came to be for me. I never dreamed a possum could have that much power. Hoping for a reprise, though, I turned Mr. Possum loose at the trash chute of a girls’ dorm.

It never hurts to try to prolong one’s fun.***


Trickery Backfired on a Lincoln County Road

Sneaky Snakes and Mars Rocks


Saturday, July 7, 2012
Lincolnton, GA
By Al Gray
Have you ever read a story about Mars rocks being found on earth, like this, and think, “How do they know it came from Mars?” and then wonder if it was some prank?
Some years ago, after an afternoon hunt in the Ogeechee River Swamp, your Arrowflinger was walking down a clay road through some South Georgia live oak forest – after dark, with a powerful light, but one which quickly drained its battery. He would shine the road, then cut his light off and walk a ways. The Arrowflinger had just flipped his light back on when a shuffling noise came from right over his right shoulder. When he swung the light around it rested on the form of a monstrous rattler, which apparently had slid down the road bank upon his passing.
After regaining his composure, old Arrowflinger started looking all around for a stick to kill the snake with. The road had been freshly graded, leaving only bare ground and some dirt clods. (Do you remember what a dirt clod is?) Nearby was a clod about the size of a basketball. It was beyond belief that this was the only thing available to kill the snake, who had probably crawled over his bow and arrows getting there. The clod was sun-baked and was sufficiently hard to break the snake’s spine. There was only one problem – the object was too big to hold with one hand and the other hand was needed to hold the light.
In the meantime, the rattler began to crawl away. Kicking some loose clay on him succeeded in getting him to stop and start rattling vigorously. Holding the light between his legs, your nervous Arrowflinger hoisted the dirt clod to his chest, then heaved it toward the reptile. It missed, shattering into fragments, leaving the larger piece about the size of a volleyball. Fortunately this piece had rolled away and was no longer within striking distance. The intensity of the rattling at this point was unnerving enough, when the unthinkable occurred. The 150,000 candlepower light was down to its last 50,000 candles and those were fading fast! After kicking his “weapon” away from the rattlesnake to retrieve it, and trying to focus the dying light on what was a tremendous snake, the Arrowflinger prepared for his final toss. This one found its target, breaking the rattler’s spine. A third attempt permanently disabled it. Then the light died completely.
Your near-snakebite-victim pulled his deer stand out of the edge of the woods and sat on it there, alone in the dark with his scaly friend, waiting for his brother-in-law to come and pick him up. Every minute or so the rattler would start a faint buzz with its tail. Eventually some headlights appeared in the distance. It was Robbie, coming down the twisting road. He immediately pulled the truck in position to shine its headlights on the animal. Upon jumping out of the truck, he exclaimed, “This snake is not dead-only stunned!” Upon retrieving a piece of pipe from the truck, he promptly dispatched the reptile.


Next to be picked up on that dirt road was John, a guy with a tremendous fear of snakes. Robbie said, “Put that twitching snake right there in the corner by the tailgate on John’s side of the truck.” That done, the truck of hunters headed off to get John. Sure enough, John went to set his beltpack inside the truck and felt the still-moving scaly reptile. He let out a shriek, followed by a stream of less-than-adoring or complimentary description of our ancestries.
The snake stretched from one side of the pickup tailgate to the other. We took several pictures of it upon our return home. It was late, so there was no time to dispose of the carcass.
The Arrowflinger was hunting the next morning in Lincoln County, about 100 miles to the north. At the time he owned a tract of about 100 acres there. Upon going in the gate, it was realized that the dead snake was still in the truck bed. It was before daylight. He started to toss the snake in the bushes, then had a thought, “Maybe I can have a little fun with this snake!
You see, there are almost no rattlers, other than pygmy rattlers, in that part of Lincoln County. This snake was really big! There is little industry in the county and most of the residents have to leave early to get into Augusta to work. So there were going to be a lot of cars coming by in the next half hour.
Your Arrowflinger picked the snake up and stretched him across the outbound lane, then hid in the bushes by his gate. Action was not long in the making. A car came around the curve, went WHUMP-WHUMP as it passed over the snake, and flashed its brake lights. They must have been late for work. A minute later Car No. 2 made the WHUMP-WHUMP noise, squealing its tires shortly thereafter. The driver stopped for a minute, then proceeded on. The driver of car number 3 must have had his morning coffee. It was an old, dark-colored Thunderbird. The driver slammed on the brakes to kill the snake, sliding by it in the process. Slowly he backed up until his headlights rested on the snake. He stopped the car, got out, and pulled something from the backseat. 


The engine was still running, so he could not hear your trickster laughing. Then the arrow flinging practical joker heard a metallic noise as he approached the front of the car. Suddenly the Arrowflinger realized that the joke was on him! This guy was going to shoot the snake and guess who was in the line of fire! The Arrowflinger!!! Quickly diving for cover just as the trigger was pulled – BLAMMM! – he heard bird shot ring through the trees over his head. Then the man picked the snake’s body up, put it in the trunk, turned that car around and took the snake back home. The shaken bowhunter dusted himself off, plucked numerous briars from his flesh, wiped away the blood and went hunting.

Well this story was not over. Your wayward archer was working on his fence the next July, when an old, black Ford Thunderbird pulled off onto the shoulder of the roadway. An old fellow got out and said:


Mistuh, You sho bettuh be careful aroun’ ‘dis place. My bruther whut live down ‘dis heah road, he killed de biggest, meanest rattlesnake what ever been killed up heah in Lincoln County! One mawnin – Ah do believe it wur las Septembuh – he whur headed fo wuk down to Shapiro’s meat packin plant down yonder in Augusta when dis here rattlesnake crawled into dis road rightchere. Bo – he be my bruther – slammed on his brakes and tried to kill Mr. Rattlesnake, but dat only made him madder’n a wet hen! Dat snake threw hisself into a qurl and started to singin. Ole Bo he be lucky he had his ole 410 in de back o dis car. He shot de snake in de hed and brung him back to sho me. When he opened de trunk Ah dang neah went into a swoon. Dat snake he were a MAN! He looked lik he been eatin plenty o possums and rabbits. Ah do believe he wuh big enough to swaller a coon. So mistuh, ole Jake don’t wanna tend to yo bidness none, but you sho outta be careful around dis place heah. Dat ole big snake has a momma ‘roun heah fo sho’, ‘an you sho don’t wanna be bit by no snake dat big!

Fighting back tears, the Arrowflinger thanked Jake for his advice. He got into his car and drove away. It was hoped that he did not look into his rear view mirror. The Arrowflinger collapsed, howling, before he got out of sight. The sores on his tongue went away after about a week. He never thought that a dead snake would cause such an uproar and exaggeration. The Arrowflinger even heard about, “Dat big rattlesnake ole Bo kilt up at the local store one morning.”
Could this be what happened with the Mars rock?***

White on Black Climb, an Execution Stayed

Photo by Quinn Buffing on Unsplash

I Called The Bug Babe, But She Laughed

Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Lincolnton, GA
By Al Gray
Most homebuyers know to require a home inspection, including a termite report. Well, you need to know there are lots of pests that many folks just don’t think about when they sign a real estate contract and close on a house. Another thing is that there are critters that the pest control firms shy away from. Ask the Bug Babe of Augusta’s Advanced Services. Some things make her laugh.


Your tale teller’s house is in Lincoln County, Georgia, situated on 38 acres on the southern end of the county near Clarks Hill Lake. It was purchased at a very reasonable price from a guy who had been transferred to his employer’s Atlanta office. (How’s that for a change in lifestyle!) This previous owner, Tim Rambleton, owned horses and had constructed a 20×20 pole barn to hold his “stuff.” That shed had little value. The poles were not plumb and were misaligned. That might have been surmountable, but the roof was skewed. The lumber was infested with carpenter bees, that look like this:

Photo by Kai Wenzel on Unsplash

The worst thing was the floor. Tim had laid out a series of wooden pallets and nailed sheets of particleboard over them. This left a space about four inches high under the floor. The immediate thought was, “What a great snake den!” As it turned out, that could not have been more wrong!
Although the house was only three years old, it was considered a “fixer-upper.” The mud room was just that – covered with Georgia red clay. There were no exhaust fans in the bathrooms. The ceiling fans made all sorts of racket. The deck was 12 feet square. Their dog had gnawed on the outside office door. It took a lot of work. Oh, one last thing is that there was no garage door.


Shortly after moving day, during the winter of 1998, conical holes in clusters came to be noticed in the yard. The clusters grew in number and size. Some sort of critter was tearing up the yard! “What” was a mystery. Then one night, your story teller awakened around 2 AM and decided to cut on the lights to see what was out there. The floodlights glaring, the mystery was solved. There were several skunks out there digging.


A call went out to the Department of Natural Resources to inquire as to what could be done with nuisance skunks. The game warden said, “Trap them in a WIRE trap!” Seriously. Mama raised no fool, and there was absolutely no way this guy was gonna move a wire trap with a skunk in it.  The man just as well should have said, “Catch them in a fish net.”


Lethal measures were the only resort. Five of them were shot. Some sprayed. When they did that, the smell lingered for the better part of a week. With others, lucky shots resulted in no noxious mist rising from the corpses. None of them made it back to their warren – it turned out to be the space under the pole barn’s rickety flooring.


The clusters of burrowing holes grew smaller. The skunk infestation looked to be over. Then came the night the skunks turned the tables … almost.


A very long day of bowhunting for deer sent this house dweller into a very deep sleep, before a need to visit the bathroom created a stumbling, closed-eyed ramble to the window and backyard light switch. Sure enough, there was a very large, classically marked up skunk. He looked like this:

Photo courtesy of

Aching bones and tired muscles shouted, “Let him go, give him a reprieve, he will leave!” Before returning to the warm comfortable bed, a second thought occurred. The late return from the hunt had meant that a needed high powered rechargeable spotlight was face down at the garage entrance. It needed recharging for the next day’s hunt. To the right of the door into the house, the Cub Cadet lawn tractor was parked between the step and the corner of the garage. Having once spotted skunk droppings inside the garage produced a sense of caution, but that light had to be retrieved for charging.
Your white maned, sort-of-fat author was dressed only in his boxer shorts.


Emerging onto the top step, the tractor was carefully examined – except for under the mower deck. Seeing no black and white threat, I decided to go for the spotlight on the floor. No sooner than hand grasped the handle, a rustling sound was heard – from the stairsteps!  There stood the black and white skunk seen earlier at the threshold, sniffing to see if he wanted to go in! Picture what came next, this – a mostly naked, fat, white haired man making a seemingly impossible leap OVER the skunk, through the door, and slamming the door in that skunk’s face.


The skunk held his fire, sparing the mud room and homeowner from a really, really bad top coating.
All thoughts of skunk reprieves vanquished, a shotgun was quickly accessed to accompany the spotlight. The door was opened. No skunk. Warily, the garage was being explored when that skunk bolted for the woods. The first shot missed. The skunk was 15 feet from safety when the second blast took it out.


Big problem.


The skunk shot was a black skunk with white bangs … Mrs. Skunk. WHERE WAS MR. PERFECT SKUNK?


He had to be in the garage. Sure enough, he was there – under the hood of my new pickup truck! One could hear him rustling around on top of the engine! Worst of all, skunks are nocturnal. It would be light in about 45 minutes. What if that skunk was still in there at daylight?


There was nothing to do but go back to bed. The morning hunt requiring travel would have had to be scratched in favor of a hunt on the grounds. A nice fat doe fell to the bow and arrow, giving even more time for the black and white scent emitter to escape.


The examination of the truck and ginger lifting of the hood arrived with a trepidation like that of inspecting for a car bomb. With crossed fingers, the engine was started, all the while the truck owner, mindful of his cousin starting up an engine with a cat entangled in it, was expecting a fog of ruin to overwhelm the new-truck smell.


The skunk was gone.


Monday, instead of the bow shop getting a sale of the latest Matthews bow, the garage door company got a contract to install a remote controlled garage door, as soon as possible.


The skunks never came back. One of them had been living under the steps inside the garage. Everyone coming and going had walked over his den.


Getting “skunked” nearly took on new meaning.


The lawn recovered and was fine. Then the conical holes started multiplying again. It was the:

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

That is another story.***



Old Bo – The Tail Wagged of a Thief

T-Boned at the Augusta National

Friday June 22, 2012
Augusta, GA
by Al Gray

This hunter has a confession to make.

I hated old Bo as much as Uncle John loved him.
Bo was the fastest beagle in Uncle’s pack of 32 and the houndish fellow had real charisma, hence John Rhodes would never leave the scoundrel home, as much as I wished he would. You might ask why a beagle could be despised by a fellow, especially one with “Happiness is a Beagle” emblazoned on a 40 year old sweatshirt. For me it was simple. I usually avoid people like old Bo.

The reason Bo always led the pack was straightforward.

He cheated.

While the rest of the pack sought the rabbit with nose to dusty ground, diligently working to stay on track, Bo would run ahead or cut in front. When the more deserving of his fellows would correct the course of the pack, after the rabbit threw them a loop or an out, Bo would always be opportunistically waiting to charge into the lead, his chop mouth a-barking.

I was aghast and disgusted. Bo was a cutter who stole the glory from those who worked very hard for it.

Taking all 32 of the pack was a troublesome affair. The hunters always had to keep count when loading the dogs up, lest one be left behind. A poor rabbit was doomed, because the pack would split, so that when he doubled back, he likely would run smack into the other half. One simply cannot convey the ground shaking racket 32 beagles make!

Uncle John’s best friend was Judson Bentley brother to his brother-in-law Irving Bentley. Judson was a most humorous, often cigar-chomping fellow, who frequently accompanied Uncles John, Land and Andrew on their rabbit hunts. Jud was the grandfather of WGAC radio talk show host Austin Rhodes (no relation to John Rhodes or this writer’s maternal grandfather).

John Rhodes was a notoriously frugal man. He drove a 1964 green Ford Ranger pickup. Instead of footing the bill for a serious box box to go in the back of it, Uncle fashioned a cover over the bed that was anchored in the corner post boxes. Instead of having a real dog box door, the box only had the tailgate to hold the pack in place. It was an accident waiting to happen.

One extremely cold morning in 1966, John, Land and Jud headed south toward Burke County with a half-compliment of 16 charged-up, excited beagles. In those days there was no Bobby Jones Expressway, so that the hunters leaving from Stevens Creek Road in Martinez had to pick a tortuous path down Washington Road, to Berckmans Road, over to Highland, then to Wheeless, over to Lumpkin Road and then south on Highway 56.

A terrible thing happened.

Just as they rounded the corner onto Berckmans Road at the big green water tower on the Augusta National side of the road, the truck either grazed the curb or encountered a bump. The tailgate fell down. All 16 beagles poured out into the intersection of Washington Road and Berckman’s road! Cars swerved. Horns blew. After a few minutes traffic stopped.

It was simply a miracle. John and Land caught and reloaded dogs while Jud, who at this point was pretty serious about events, counted. People got out of cars to help. Babe, Tiny, and Beulah were already rooting around in the vines along the National’s fence trying to jump a rabbit. Sadly what could have turned into a epochal story of a beagle pack running wild down Magnolia Lane was thwarted by the excellent fencing. Beulah was not amused when Land picked her up. She growled.

Travelers kept feeding wayward hounds into the back of the truck.

Jud had counted 15.
Where was Bo? The uncles went looking while Jud lit a stogie.

They heard a commotion from across the street, in the A&P parking lot. A woman had dropped her bag of groceries, which gave that larcenous hound, Bo, his chance. Bo trotted back to his master, meeting him halfway across the lot, with a T-bone steak in his mouth. John Rhodes didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, because he had to pay the woman for her spoiled groceries.Bo had done what he did best, cut loose from the others to steal a treat.

With Bo in hand and order restored, the party headed on down to McBean, where the threat was no longer automotive, but was more in the order of avoiding moonshiners, rattlers, and old Miz Robinson.

Jud talked about that morning for years and it became a Rhodes family legend.

History doesn’t record what happened on the hunt that day, but hunters and 16 beagles were blessed with tragedy averted at the water tower. All have passed and all that remains is their memory.


I thought I was beyond Bo’s reach when he died, but then cousin Hugh turned loose his pup Flash one morning the next season. The dog raced out ahead looking to cut in front and steal the lead. “Cheater!” I muttered….then a the thought hit.

Bo left a son.***
Al and Queenie 1973

Where you gonna say you caught these fish?

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and TSPLOST
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

When Mark Twain described the 3 kinds of lies it was about the art of deception. We find about those too late.

Back in 1990 or so, I was returning to Evans one Friday afternoon after a week on my job down in Effingham County. The evening before I had gone fishing on the lower Savannah River and caught a tremendous number of Bluegills, which were on ice in the back of my truck.

Driving up Millhaven Road approaching Girard, there was a beaver pond on the right close to a high tension power line. As I got closer, I saw the head and shoulders of a man fishing in the pond. Having a busy weekend ahead made for a sudden plan to give away my fish.

I pulled off the road, shut off the engine, and rolled down the window. I said “ Hey…you having any luck?” He said, “Not much, I only catched this lil ole brim,” as he held up a stringer with a fish about the size of 3 fingers. “I don’t believe there are many fish in this hole.” And I asked him, “Would you like a mess of about 35 fish?” He said, “ Sho’ would, I wuz about to give it up, its so hot out heah!” He told me his name was Alonzo and asked if I could give him a ride back to “J-rod.”

After we got to his house and transferred the fish from my cooler to his, he insisted on giving me a few $dollars for the fish and the ride. Just before I pulled away I asked Alonzo, “Where are you gonna tell your buddies you caught these fish?” He laughed and said, “Ah’m gonna tell ’em I catched them in dat beavah pond!”

I forgot about the whole exchange over the weekend, until late Sunday afternoon on the trip back, just south of J-Rod there were a bunch of cars parked on the shoulder. They were alongside that beaver pond, and there was a whole row of folks fishing.

Never believe a politician or a fisherman. They will have you fishing in an empty pond catching only snags and mosquito bites.***


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