…”The Ole Grey Lady Ain’t What She Used To Be”…

Just Chillin'Bein’ raised in Birmingham, AL, I have many wonderful memories of Legion Field, “The Old Grey Lady”! And some not so wonderful. I attended many many High School & College Football Games there. The Old Cripple Childrens Clinic & Dental Clinic Games were held there in my younger years. Many of you won’t remember those. I ran many many laps around the Old Cinder Track there in Track Meets, both in Elementary & High School years. It may still be there, that was a long time ago. I love, respect, the interest that is being shown to keep Legion Field open & active. But it always come down to The Tax Payers. It seems every time The City Of Birmingham tries to bring a New Sports Entity to “The Magic City” to occupy that facility, that will probably be gone in just a matter of a few years due to a lack of support, Tax Dollars HAVE to be taken from other projects to bring them to town. For some strange reason this also seems to happen during Election Years. Locals won’t & can’t talk about it as it is “Hot Potato” & NO ONE wants to be the last to be caught holdin’ it. The sad fact is that the Area of Town around “The Old Grey Lady” has decayed to a point that most of the spectators, that are needed to support those activities, are uneasy about gettin’ to & from the events held there, in recent years. Yes The City Of Birmingham DOES increase Security at events, at a COST to WHO? But there is still the uneasy feelin’ of gettin’ both into & out off the area that hinders those who might otherwise want to attend those events. There are limited/few Restaurants to enjoy a nice meal before or after the events, as many like to do. Parkin’ becomes very limited if the even draws the crowds the promoters anticipate. Patrons become concerned about their vehicles as well as gettin’ back & forth to their vehicles. Deep down, I hope the “Old Grey Lady” can survive. I truly do. It would be sad to see such a facility, with so much History, die as so many other Sportin’ Facilities, of her age, have across the nation. “The Ole Grey Lady Ain’t What She Used To Be”….BG>

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…”Memories, every item you have has some”…

Sittin’ down here in The Cave this afternoon I got to lookin’ around & considerin’ myself to be lucky to be where I am in life. This room takes my mind in many directions. There are “Souvenirs” of my life. Many of’em are items, rewards, from my workin’ career that allowed me to have what I do. Many are from my Military days forward to my current life. There are trinkets I brought back from Germany. MY two large Bier Steins. One, a five (5) Liter Mug Type, from the Olympics in 1972. The other is a 7.5 Liter, mach Castle Style that tells of Medieval Times in Germany. Both of which, durin’ my years as a single man, I consumed many liters of fine German Bier from, all “As Smooth As Mothers Milk”. A plate from an Open House held in 1972 @ Kindsbach Bunker, where I worked under ground. There is a collections of Books I acquired, mostly while in Germany. I was not a good student in my School Years, but I became facilitated with WWII while there, in Germany. I collected & read many books on the Third Reich & Adolf Hitler. I even acquired a hardback copy of “Mein Kampf”, which I was told at the time (I don’t know) was illegal to possess. At a German Flea Market I even bought a collection of Paper Money, all worthless now, from before WWII. Yes, from The Third Reich. Oh, & my Wooden Shoes, from Holland. And YES they do fit me. I’ve worn them many times. I have several, scale model cars, from an ole friend from those days. A picture of my Bride & I, as part of the Crew, where we “performed admirably as crew aboard the 1987 AMERICAS CUP 12 METRE RACE (Sail) BOAT STARS & STRIPES in the St. Maarten “Americas Cup” Regatta. There is a framed “Masters Pin Flag” from The Masters Tournaments I was fortunate enough to be able to attend twice. Several Fish I’ve caught & had mounted, from different fishing trips over the years. There are many things around this room all with nothin’ but good memories. But there are two (2) little items that I got from my Grandparents house. One was a Little Brass/Copper Cowboy Hat & the other was a Little Hand Painted Clay Mexican Sombrero. They’re many years older than me, but they just bring back so many memories from my child hood. We lived with my Grandparents, after my Father passed away – I was only 20 months old, until I was 10 years old when my Mother remarried. I remember wantin’ to play with’em & my Grandmother, Mama, tellin’ me “you can look at’em but don’t touch’em”. On her bookshelves there were many “Little Pretties” as she would call’em, that we, my brother & I, were NOT allowed to handle. Memories, every item you have has some. You just have to listen to’em…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>  

…”I guess ya just can’t impress everyone”…Part #3 of 3

Every day, different matchin’ out fits. Some times two (2) or three (3) different out fits in a day & evenin’. Our group really had fun makin’ comments, within our group, of course, about how CUTE they looked! Hahahahaha…One night in Paris, France we had had a very long day. A lot of walkin’ thru museums, the Eiffel Tower, & The Artist’s Square up @ Montmartre. After dinner that evenin’ it was late, as Europeans tend to eat late, we were walkin’ back to our Hotel for the evenin’. It was dark, damp & rather dreary. As luck, or happenstance, would have it, Ole Bitchy Barbie & Ken were draggin’ along in front of us holdin’ up the whole group because “SHE WAS SO (DAMN) TIRED”! Well, I don’t know why it did but a strange hankerin’ was comin’ on me. I have a tendency to get these from time to time. I don’t know why? But as my eyes, are always doin’, were surveyin’ the terrain ahead of us. Like I said, it was dark, late, damp, & Ole Bitchy Barbie was TIRED & BITCHIN”! When there ahead, my eyes caught a glimpse of a recessed doorway ahead of us right straight in our path. I slowly raised my hands to my mouth, cupped’em like a megaphone, as though I really needed that effect, & as Ole Bitchy Barbie & Ken had just about cleared the doorway I gave the best BIG Barkin’ Dog Imitation I could muster “{{{{{ Arrr – Arrr – Arrr – Arrr !! }}}}}”. Well, Ole Bitchy Barbie Like to have $#!+ herself (if the truth were known she probably did, but we’ll never know)! She Screamed! I mean she {{{{{ SCREAMED ! }}}}} like a LITTLE GIRL! I mean BLOOD CURDLIN’! Ole Ken had to grab her arm & latch on to her. She was tryin’ to “bust loose”! Now just as a footnote (like you Teachers out there like) we had been seein’ Big Dogs, Dobermans & Rottweilers, walkin’ loose on the streets of Paris all day. Well, Ole Bitchy Barbie just knew one was comim’ out of tat dark doorway to eat her (ass) up! After all of her wild/crazy flailin’ arms & beatin’ on Ole Ken he had to settle her down & convince her it wasn’t a REAL dog, just someone behind her havin’ a little fun. Hell, she turned immediately at ME, breathin’ hard & shakin’ her finger at me screamin’ uncontrollably “That Wasn’t Funny”! I was doin’ my damn-est not to laugh in her face, but I just couldn’t hold it! I laughed even harder, as did others behind me. By now even Ole Ken, in his cute look alike outfit, was even laughin’ out loud. She then turned to him, right in his face & said somethin’ to the effect of “What are YOU laughin’ at? That wasn’t FUNNY”! He quickly tried to compose himself & she picked up the pace back to the Hotel while all of our group were still laughin’ like hell. Even most of her group was as well. The next mornin’ they sat all the way across the dinnin’ room from us, by themselves, with Ole Bitchin’ Barbie mutterin’ somethin’ in my direction. Needless to say we didn’t speak to each other the rest of the trip & we kept our distance as well. I guess ya just can’t impress everyone. All in all, for me, it was a wonderful trip…Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”I guess ya just can’t impress everyone” Part #2 of 3…

Well obviously that wasn’t the case! The Teacher, who was the Head of the GP/AP Program, wandered over to us and started tellin’  us how wonderful the trip had been & how much our daughter seemed to enjoy herself & gained from the experience. She also, gingerly, mentioned to us “that our daughter liked it so much she was already hopin’ & plannin’ on goin’ again the next year & had mention, possibly, I might be able to join them as one of the Chaperones”! From her position it would be GREAT to have a BOE Member along & to held justify the trip to others interested. Again, my Bride & I just looked at each other & I responded somethin’ to the effect “that we’d just have to look into it”.  Those Trips weren’t cheap for one. Now we were talkin’ about payin’ for two! And there wasn’t really any discount, real discount, on the second person in a family goin’. Well things did work out & I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my daughter the next two years on those trips. It was really special, for both of us, from educational experiences, travelin’ together, & the Father Daughter time we were bless to share together. These were times I know that I’ll never forget. Speakin’ of times I’ll never forget, there was one night when we were in Paris. Now these trips are set up for a certain number of folks. On my first year that I went we had above the minimum number that went to qualify for a certain price which would allow us to have our own Tour Bus, all to ourselves. The second year we didn’t quite have as many kids to go so we had two choices. Higher Rates or be teamed up with another small group, to be named at a later time, to share a Tour Bus, & expenses, so we chose the second choice. As I had mentioned earlier we were a City School System Group. We happened to get Teamed up with a Private Religious School Group. Let me just say “STRAIGHT LACED” didn’t do them justice! Our kids, for the most part, were experienced travelers. Our “Team Group”? Not so much. All Students had to have “Permission Slips” signed allowin’ the Specific Child to be able to be served Bier/Beer or Wine in small portions of course, under supervision, along with meals to experience the specific meals in the specific countries we were in. As were the customs. NOT so with our Religious School Team members. They didn’t allow their kids to do so. One night all the Chaperones shared a large table in Rome, Italy. One of the Chaperones, from the other group, made a sarcastic remark/comment about “Those Children bein’ served Alcohol just wasn’t right”!  Yep you guessed it, I just had to ask “Why?  Now help me out here, I always thought Christ drank Wine, Alcohol, with his meals? Yes or NO”? She turned a shade of red & didn’t answer my question. I just let it go. Needless to say she & I didn’t sit next to one another again that trip. We (my daughter & I) had nicked named this specific lady & her husband who was also on the trip as Barbie & Ken. Now Barbie & Ken were one of those couples that dressed in matchin’ outfits. I know you know the ones I speakin’ bout. Like “LOVE BIRDS” wore back in the 60’s & 70’s. Hell, maybe some of YOU have even worn some’em!…(to be continued)…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”I guess ya just can’t impress everyone” Part#1 of 3…

Now bear with me while I set this up. When my daughter was in High School she was in a Gifted Program (GP). Actually had been since the 1st Grade. I know for a FACT that she didn’t get her genes from my Gene Pool. It was drained out before I ever started school. So it’s a good thing I married up when it comes to intelligence. Both of my children are PROOF of that. Back to my daughter, when she was in High School she was takin’ Advance Placement (AP) Courses, when ever offered for her. They were, basically, College Level Courses that she got College Credits for. She was so advanced that she eventually skipped the 12th Grade, her Senior Year, & went to College on an “Early Enrollment Program”. I think it odd that the State Of Alabama would allow her her, based on recommendations & GPA, to go on to College, but would NOT be given any type of acknowledgement for her achievements in High School, but WOULD consider her, on paper, as nothin’ more than a “High School Dropout”. Why? Because she didn’t complete thru the 12th Grade, with THEIR APPROVAL! Anyway, the Teacher who was the head of The GP/AP Programs would put together Trips to Europe over Spring Break for her students. They were usually a 7 to 10 day trip only offered to the GP/AP Kids. The were  set up to be both Educational & Vacation type trips. They visit 4 to 5 European Countries, visit major cities, see Historical Sites, & Art Museums. These kids all had to work ahead to get school work done for the days that they would be gone beyond normal Spring Break Days. No Special Treatment to let’em slide. MY daughter went her Freshman year, 9th grade, & loved it. She had heard the Teachers & Chaperones talkin’ bout wishin’ they had a Male Chaperone on their trip. And for the next year they were goin’ to try to get one to go with them. Now don’t try to figure this part out because it’s a L – O – N – G Story. Most people I tell don’t really believe me but my Educational Pedigree is a bit of a comedy story. Anyway, I was, at that time, on the Board of Education of the City School System we lived in. My daughter took it upon herself to tell the Teachers & Chaperones that Next Year “My Dad will come as a Male Chaperon”! Well when we were at the Airport, upon their return, my/our daughter ran right pasted her Mother/My Bride standin’ there with open arms waitin’ on her Baby Girl to come to her first for a welcome home HUG!. She ran right to Ole Daddy yellin’, as she passed her Mother, “Daddy I have already sign us up for Next Year cause we need a Male Chaperon to go with us, OK”! Well My Bride & I were just lookin’ at each other in wonderment. Her look said “Why YOU”! Mine said “Hell Yeah”!, as my daughter was huggin’ all over me just ramblin’ on about what all they had seen & done, & Ole Mom was just standin’ there wonderin’ why she’s bein’ left out at this time of excitement? When I finally got my daughter to calm down long enough to catch a deep breath, I said “well your Mother & I will need to discuss that”, me tryin’ to play down my daughters selection. We finally shared all the hugs & love of her bein’ back safely. Because to be honest with you we were wonderin’ if she would really enjoy it. That was her first time to REALLY be away from Mother & Daddy, in-case she wanted to come home after a day or so…(to be continued)…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

Part # 7b…Bein’ Prepared! …”That’s not what you had on when you left this mornin”…

Part #7…Bein’ Prepared!…“Bein’ Prepared is somethin’ that was always taught & instilled in me by my Mother”.

(Continued Part #7b)…

Well, Thank God he didn’t! He came bobbin’ up spittin’ & sputterin’, cussin’ & demandin’ we help get his ass out of that  {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} water. At that point, now knowin’ our dear friend was not dead or seriously injured, let me say YES, the laughter broke out. NO, IT REALLY BROKE OUT! He finally got out of the water soaked to the bones. Oh, and there was a slight breeze had kicked up. Again The Banker & I were concerned for his well bein’ but he said he was OK! So the Banker served another round! I was prepared! I told The Marine “I had some DRY cloths in a storage compartment under his feet”. He said he was fine, as his teethe were chatterin’ & lips were turnin’ purple, he wasn’t goin’ to put those “Fat Boy Cloths” on, he’d be fine. He was referin’ to me & bein. bigger than I had been in years gone by. I said “hey, they’re DRY”! The Banker still laughin’ like hell, in the middle, asked who needed another {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer? I raised my hand. For some strange reason The Marine wasn’t in the mood for a {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer, as he cussed us & we continued to laugh @ him & relive his fall into the Lake & drinkin’ {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer. He just kept on shiverin’. I don’t remember exactly how long it went on but, eventually, I heard in a shameful voice “Where’d you say those dry cloths were”? I asked “Oh, those FAT BOY CLOTHS”? We laughed even harder! And The Banker asked “Who wants another {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer? The Marine finally had the dry cloths out. Then question was asked “isn’t there somewhere we could go to get out of the OPEN so I could change”? I responded “do you REALLY wanted me to FIRE that motor up & RUN a few miles back up river @ 50 MPH with you soakin’ ass wet”? A few more cuss words were directed at me. He decided to just strip down where we were. Now, we hadn’t seen another boat ALL day & out of no where we hear a boat comin’ in our direction. The Marine was buck naked by now, an it wasn’t pretty either, & justa bitchin’ @ me to get him out of the open! The boat was comin’ even closer, now the sounds of women’s voices & laughter could be heard in the distance. The phrase “Aw Shit was uttered”! Too late! I don’t know if they even saw us/HIM, but he thought they had. The Banker & I were still laughin’ like hell! “Who wants another {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer”?, came from the center of the boat, again. The Marine finally got dried off & dressed in dry cloths, we stowed our gear & headed for the boat launch, still laughin’. We got the boat loaded & headed to toward home. We got to The Marines House. As we pulled up, parked & started gettin’ his gear out, & eased toward his front door there his Bride was to welcome him home. The Banker & I were doin’ all we could to keep from breakin’ out in laughter again. Then his Bride says, somethin’ to the effect of,”That’s not what you had on when you left this mornin’ “! Well, The Banker & I lost it, again! Just another day shared among Ole Friends…Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

 

Part # 7a…Bein’ Prepared! …”That’s not what you had on when you left here this mornin”…

Part #7a…Bein’ Prepared!…“Bein’ Prepared is somethin’ that was always taught & instilled in me by my Mother”.

Back in December of 1990 the US involved in Desert Storm. A Ole Friend of mine, The Marine, was on notice he was about to depart on active duty, shippin out to God knows where to return God only knew, as Ordered by the USMC. Another Ole Friend, The Banker, & I decided we needed to take The Marine Fishin’ before he had to ship out. Well, we set a day to go. The day came & I swung by the Marines house & picked him up. His bride was up to see him off about 5:30 in the mornin’ as we pulled out. We met up with The Banker there at The Marines house. “Lake Wedowee here we come”! But Lake Wedowee seemed to mostly be abandoned when we got there.. After all it was by now about 6:30am, it was chilly, but there wasn’t any wind. The sun was gettin’ above the horizon & it was goin’ to be a GOOD DAY for Ole Friends to spend time together. We got the boat launch, stowed everyone’s gear, snacks, & checked to make sure the Beer was stored & on ice in the boat. We were in a Dry County so we were goin’ to have to keep the beer out of sight, well, as best possible. As we pulled away from the boat launch there was the distinct sound of a {{{{{ Ptisss! }}}}}, yes, it was BEER TIME! The Banker was bar tendin’. We found us a spot we decided we were goin’ to start our day. We fished Topwater – nothin’. We worked Shallow Ridges – nothin’. We started workin’ Standin’ Timber, which that lake has plenty of, we worked all different depths with various lures – nothin’. As we were fishin’ of course our attention & discussions turned to The Marine gettin’ ready to ship out in just a short time. The Banker & I decided to put this trip together because it WAS possible that could have been the last time the three of us we ever together again. War is War! It’s unsure. The conversations got involved with all of the Worlds Issues leadin’ up to where we, The USA was involved in it. Our Friend was a Marine & he was goin’ where he was ordered. The more we talked the more we realized what we all meant to each other. The {{{{{ Cold ! }}}}} Beer was flowin’ freely & we looked like we were fishin’ anyway. I can’t remember just what triggered it, but for some odd reason I turned to face the back of the boat. We were in my boat so I was on the Bow runnin’ the Trollin’ Motor. The Banker was in the middle of the boat, closer to the {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}} Beer, & keepin’ us from havin’ a “Parched Throat” of course. The Marine was perched on the Stern Deck surveyin’ the water for his next cast. Well, I turned & caught a glimpse of the back of the boat, there was The Marine, as in slow motion, off balance, already headin’ head first, The Banker was dodgin’ bein’ landed on, he Marine dropped his rod from his hand, tryin’ to regain his balance or grag onto SOMETHIN’ to stop himself, & he had that “Oh – Shit” look on his face! Then  {{{{{ “Ker-Splash ! }}}}} “Man Overboard – Starboard Side”!. Now remember, I said earlier this was in DECEMBER! That Lake Water was {{{{{ COLD ! }}}}}. Our first response was to make sure he was OK & not goin’ to Sink in that 40 feet of water we were sittin’ in. (to be continued…)