Tag Archives: University of Georgia

The Big Game

The National Championship. Not just any football game. Unless you are part of some sort of sports dynasty, as a player this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A chance to take home all the marbles. Pride, glory, fame, satisfaction and bragging rights.

For the fans it may be a rare opportunity, but not necessarily once in a lifetime. If you are over the age of seventy-five, you have been alive during a time when the University of Georgia won two National Football Championships. Thirty eight years apart. And thirty eight years ago. This year had to be the time for another.

And so they played all season. To a spot in the big game. They would paly the University of Alabama. A reigning dynastic champ, but a team which didn’t win their conference title. How did they get in to this game?

Tens of thousands crammed into the stadium to watch their heroes on the playing field. All had paid dearly to obtain a ticket to this game, but it was, after all, the BIGGEST game of all. And worth every penny to them.

The pomp and ceremony came and went, and the focus turned to the young men on the gridiron. During the regular season fans are treated, every weekend, to a stirring history lesson at the UGA stadium. Legendary Larry Munson describes the team as heroes and so much more. I’ll agree that they do play with heart. And so they did this night.

It looked like a runaway game. Georgia led at the half. Bigly. (I couldn’t resist!) All the stars were aligned. This was the year. And then the unimaginable happened. The Alabama quarterback, hailed as a superstar, was benched. And a freshman quarterback took his place. And came from behind to win the game. In overtime. Hell of a game.

Some win. Some come in second. All played hard. Joy and disappointment for players and fans. But as they say, there is always next year.

I didn’t go to this game. And only watched part of it on TV. Football isn’t really my thing. But this was the big game and I live in Georgia. Not just Georgia, but Athens, Georgia – home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs. I couldn’t ignore it.

For me the game is an opportunity to watch people. The team themed clothing they wear, their flags waved in support of their heroes. The tailgates and revelry. Inside the stadium it’s crowded and loud. And the season tickets I get are so high that I can barely see the twenty two ants scrambling around on the field. Thank goodness for the jumbotron.

For Alabama, other national championship. For Georgia, an improbable season and a fight to the finish. Go Dawgs! There is always next year.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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The Little Submarine that Changed the World


Archeologists from the Piedmont Historical Center in Athens Georgia announced a discovery today that may forever change the way we know naval history. While construction crews were busy clearing land for the construction of a new parking lot in the rural part of nearby Oconee County, a small pond was partially drained. What they found in the pond was startling.

Historians had known for decades that the during World War Two the Germans had sent U-Boats to the east coast of the United States, and that they had ventured as far as the mouth of the Mississippi River near New Orleans. And on the West Coast the Army had found evidence suggesting that the Japanese had sent one man mini-subs to port cities in California. But what was found today had never before even been considered a possibility.

In the pond, which is fed by a stream and has an outlet to the Oconee River, construction crews discovered the rusted remains of a Japanese mini-sub from World War Two. There is no evidence of the crewman still being on board so his fate is a mystery. More mysterious however, is how the sub came to be in a pond in Georgia, and why it was there.

Speculation is that the sub was headed for the University of Georgia Cosmic Science Exploration Laboratory in Athens in order to disrupt progress being made by researchers investigating the possibility of harnessing the power of interstellar light for weapons purposes. In 1943, several scientists were conducting top secret research at the University of Georgia and had made significant headway in creating the first light ray weapon. This would have changed warfare forever. Not to mention the impact it would have had on the political dynamics of Planet Earth.

The submarine crew presumably was under orders to destroy the lab, and the research documents housed there. That mission was a failure.

However, another seemingly impossible mission was completed. The fact that the submarine was able to navigate from Tokyo Japan to Athens, Georgia is truly incomprehensible.

Across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to the coast of California was one thing, but to continue the journey south past Mexico and through the Panama Canal, closely hugging American ships in order to avoid detection, then up the coast of Florida to Georgia and the mouth of the Ocmulgee River was a seafaring adventure comparable to Captain Cook’s first circumnavigation of the globe.

Entering the river mouth, the sub would have moved upstream to increasingly narrow and shallower waters. Apparently it reached the end of the road in this pond where it has remained for nearly seventy-five years.

Researchers from the Piedmont Center have been working around the clock to stabilize the sub so that it can be moved to their research facility. There may still be evidence on board providing insights into the mission, the crew and the fate of both. Pictured is the mini-sub.

You gotta be kidding! Ha Ha. April Fools! The picture shows a rusty old propane gas tank located adjacent to an old homesteads that was recently torn down. In the construction of a new parking lot. I couldn’t resist.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?



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Atlanta Highway Stardom

Athens, Georgia. If you live here you know all about it. History. Fame. Some folks who aren’t from around here might have heard of it too. History. Fame. And if you have never heard of it, you are about to.

I’m not a native but I’ve come to appreciate parts of it. Let’s see. The Arches at the University of Georgia. Tradition. Georgia Bulldog football. National Champions. OK, so that was a long time ago. Some folks think of it like it was yesterday. The double barreled cannon. Civil War oddity that stands as a testament to ingenuity gone wrong. The tree that owns itself. Look it up. And some magazine keeps saying that Athens is a great place to retire. Top ten in the nation.

The University has it’s own draw for academics and cultural activities. And bars. Hundreds of them. And college students. Thousands! Funny how those two things mesh.

But the big deal here is some pseudo-fictional place down the Atlanta Highway – the Love Shack. Sounds like a brothel, and there was a famous one here at one time, but it’s the music scene I’m referring to. Love Shack. B-52s you know. And REM. And a few others you may have heard of. And, and yes, lots and lots of others you haven’t heard of. And probably never will. And I’m sure some that should never have been heard from . Those hundreds of bars have thousands of college students, and graduates, forming hundreds of bands that play in them. Probably thousands. Some weird names. A band might last a day or years. They night change their name, or their members. And their sounds.

Recently I found a great place to explore some of the local musicians. On Thursday nights at The Office Lounge, Reverend Conner Mack Tribble and the Deacons play their own tunes for a while, and then open the floor to anyone who would like to jam with them. Lots of guitarists. Couple of drummers. Keyboards. Even a flute player. Lots of rock and blues. Singers strut their stuff too. You don’t have to be good necessarily, just confident. Everyone gets applauded.

Tuesday night has seen the addition of the good Reverend Tribble’s open mic night at The Foundry. First ten people to sign up get to go on stage, alone, and do their musical thing. The audience votes, by secret ballot, on who should win, and there is a cash prize. You still don’t have to be good. Just confident. But they are good. There is amazing talent hidden everywhere. And more and more jams and open mic nights are popping up to copy Reverend Tribble’s work.

This doesn’t even consider all of the karaoke nights and the people who show up for that. But karaoke is a different story.

Everyone hopes that somewhere down the Atlanta Highway their star will rise. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Polar Opposites

The show began with a palpable tension.  And ended with a note of hope.  Once again I’ve travelled back in time through the magic of the Peabody Awards Decades program, and seen the past in a new light.  I was alive for this decade, the 1960s, but very young.  The early part of the decade I remember vaguely.  The latter parts form the perspective of a young person.

The tension I referred to surrounded both the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.  Both vey violent.  Both very divisive.  And each in its way contributing to the restructuring of American society.  Hard fought battles.  Lingering to this day.

Snarling dogs, water cannons, teargas and riot police accompanied both movements.  Yet both held on.

There was the Summer Of Love, and it all seemed to change.  But surely it was a more gradual evolution than just that one summer.  But the Flower Children played their part too.  Some as marchers, demonstrators and rioters. 

What I remember of the sixties are the fashions, the music, and the war.  It was later that the details of the counterculture and the civil rights movement were filled in for me.  But to this day I remember seeing bodies floating down a river in Vietnam on the news.  And driving by a house in my town, near my school in fact, flying an American flag on the front porch with a sign resplendent with the words, “Welcome Home!”  A survivor.  The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  And the death of Robert Kennedy.  One summer we were at my uncle’s house and at night we could look out toward the city and see the orange glow of the fires burning in the riots.  Most of all I remember hearing older boys talking about their lottery numbers.  Not the Mega Millions lottery.  The draft. 

There were draft card burners, bra burners, rock concerts and VW vans.  Iconic photos.  Kent State, with four dead in Ohio.  Vietnam.  The napalmed young girl running down the road.  The spy executed in the street.  And a girl, a flower child, placing a daisy into the barrel of a National Guardsman’s lowered rifle.

The program ended, as I said, on a note of hope.  There they were at Abbey Road studios.  The Beatles, with some help form the Rolling Stones, singing about “All you need is love…”  Maybe it was the Summer of Love that did it.  But more likely, in every direction it turned, the decade was driven by passion.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?




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Atomic M&M

Duck and cover!  That was the catchphrase of the 1950s.  There were a lot of things happening during the 50’s although it is often looked at as the lull between the war torn 1940’s and the tumultuous 1960’s.

People and industry were revitalized with a new energy.  The Soviets had launched the space race with Sputnik.  And Castro had begun his revolution in Cuba.  Then there was atomic power.  And the Cold War was on.

Everyone had seen what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet this new power was so little understood.  Testing often included seeing how close we could stand to the source without being toasted.  Or from what distance the blast could level buildings.

And yet, “they” told us to “duck and cover”.  As if curling up against a brick wall, or under your school desk would protect you from the radiation or the fifty million degree heat.  We were terrified of this new power, and wanted to believe. 

In 1964 I went to the New York Worlds Fair where I received a dime, packed in a blue piece of plastic with the symbol of the atom.  The dime had been radiated by atomic power.  And I carried it in my pocket.  A novelty.  Killer waiting to strike.

And amidst all of this, the 50’s brought us early rock and roll, mid century modern design, suburbia and, ta-da, the M&M.  A new chocolate treat. 

I learned this the other night when I went to the University of Georgia for a special presentation by people associated with the Peabody awards.  They were talking about the 50’s.  I should remember more since I was born in the 50’s.  But I don’t.

With the creation of the M&M, if we were all going to go up in smoke with Atomic power, at least we’d go happy! Boom!  Now, duck…and cover!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Into the Library

My dad loves books.  Everywhere he goes he looks at books.  For what seems like hours.  Go to an antique shop and he’s straight into the book section.  He has a huge collection.  Some of it is housed at my house.  I think he’s in competition with the Library of Congress.

When I was a kid he always liked to take my sister and me to the library on Saturday morning.  I liked going to the library, but not for the books.  There were lots of places to wander around.  In between the stacks.  Around the reading tables and into the seating areas with the winged back chairs.  I could look in the card catalog.  Just browsing.  And I could pull out a book here and there.

A lot of the books seemed dusty and musty.  Some had good pictures.  Some, exciting stories.  Others were as dry as the dust collecting on them.  It seemed to me that books should be written for people to enjoy.  Reference, text, science, even math.  Doesn’t matter.  There has to be a way to make them relevant, meaningful and enjoyable.

That’s what I try to do with my writing.  Make it enjoyable and informative.  Some people seem to like it.  But I never really thought about my book being included with those found in a library.  But damn if it didn’t happen!  It’s awesome.  Very exciting.  But then again, it is my book.

I found out the other day, just by chance, that my book, Southern Sailor, is now safely housed in a University special collections library.  It’s also in their on-line database.  Whoa!

The University of Georgia has a serious library system.  There are no less than three buildings on campus dedicated as libraries.  My book lives in the Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscript Library.  It’s even in a special room.  The Georgia Room.  It’s part of a special collection of books about Georgia and Georgians.  Never in my wildest dreams…

That will teach me.  Go ahead, dream big!

That’s part of my story.   What’s yours?  http://www.personalhistorywriter.com

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