Thursday, August 26, 2010


When I was coming of age, what ever that means, in the '60's, the drinking age was 21 as it is now. At one time, when the government was shipping our youth to their death as fast as they could, the drinking age dropped to 18.

All of this about age mattered little to me, as I had several sources of supply. This should seem strange in a county that was legally "DRY!" Dry in name only. People have always consumed alcohol since the dawn of time. Hogansville was certainly not back in the dark ages as far as consumption went. There has always been as much beer, moonshine, or any brand of whiskey as a body could want.

Growing up here, we had two white cabs and two black cabs. I never understood how these guys made a living "driving a cab", until I took my first cab ride. My boyhood friend, Johnny Harris' daddy was one of the white cab driver. To my great amazement, I found my first source of alcohol. 

Here's how it worked. First, you have to know that we were blessed with a local American Legion just outside of town. Now the rules were as I understand them was that members could bring their own alcohol, have it labeled and imbibe whenever they want. No other alcohol was supposed to be in the building. Yeah right! They were well stocked! I never saw a problem with that. As a matter of fact, years latter when I worked on the Hogansville Police Dept., I never had to answer an alcohol related call to the Legion. We did raid it several times and seize the slot machines (sometimes the same machines--now how did that happen?).

OK, now the good part. Paul Harris, our cab driver and guide to manhood, would take you to the parking lot of the Legion. You told him what you wanted, gave him the money, and he went in and bought. When he got back in the cab, he put the bottle on the seat beside him. He then took you back to where he picked you up, charged you double cab fare, and as you slid out, you grabbed your bottle. For guys underage, Paul would only do this for the ones Johnny ok'd. Of course Johnny was always with us, so he got his share. Still not a bad deal. Now don't get the idea that we were constantly on the road to the Legion and back. I personally only made half dozen trips. I was the fact that I had a "guy" when I needed one.

The next source was a rite of passage as well. I was not wildly searching for alcohol anywhere I could find it, I just knew where I could. My friend since before 1st grade was one Dwayne Robinson, better known as "COON" to his friends. This nickname was given to him by his employer and supplier of our after-hours drink--Jap Keith.

Jap was the owner of the Johnson Street grocery store known as Keith Bros. Grocery. There is a complete blog about this store, Jap, and Coon coming latter. For now, let me just say that Coon was the delivery boy almost as soon a he got his first driver's license. When I got off work with my Dad, I would go to Jap's as he and Coon were closing.

Jap's last chore every evening was to clean the meat saw, cases, and the floor. This was a job he performed with great detail. When finished, he announced, "That's it!", signaling it was time for our little meeting with "Jack". Jack being Jack Daniels Old #7. He would get out 3 glasses, wipe them out with the same apron he had worn all day, and then pour the golden liquid. He poured himself a good "three fingers", while Coon and I each got half as much. It could have well just had been 3 drops. The fact that I was trusted to have a glass with them said volumes towards growing up. The amount was insignificant, the fact that I was included meant the most to me. 

Of course, I knew most of the local boot-leggers. I always chose not to visit them. Some of them were a tad shady. If I was going to drink something that strong, I wanted to know what was in it.

Strange thing, when I became old enough to drink legally, it really didn't appeal to me that much.


I took my first art lesson last Tuesday night in West Point, Georgia, of all places. The studio is on Third Ave. which, since I have been driving, had always thought of as Main St. It is upstairs in a spacious loft style room. My instructor is a veteran art teacher and you can read her credentials on her web site that follows. Cheryl must be good, as this is one of 7 roosters that she coaxed out of 7 novice wantabe artists. Please don't get me wrong, there were far better examples, but I am proud of "Rufus" if I do say so.

Go ahead and admit it out loud, you have always wanted to try your hand at this. Well here is your chance. All the information you need is in the web link at the end. There are no long term contracts, you can do 1 and never pick up another brush if you like. You can see the paintings that are coming up as posted on the calender. You can wait until the one you like the best is being offered. There is no "beginning" of the class, just jump in and get better as you go. I can't not think of a reason that you could not do this, only excuses.

Cheryl is an art teacher to children, so she is used to questions ranging from silly to serious. E-mail or call her for any unanswered questions that you still have after reading this and her web site.

If you live within drivable distance to West Point and have always wanted to paint, then do it! 
706-518-6371 or 706-518-9453

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

B.O.L.O. (Be On the Look Out)!

As I am sure that everybody knows, B.O.L.O. is police terminology when you are looking for a missing or dangerous person. It also a good way to train a rookie police officer at Newnan Police Department.

Way back in the 1970's, when I worked there, the veteran officers had many ways to train the new guys without having to tell them repeatedly. They also had an endless supply of practical jokes. For me, it was impossible to tell one from another, as each accomplished the same thing.

I guess it has always been that police officers almost always have to have a second job to make ends meet. I could do a whole blog on the low pay in law enforcement, but that would just be preaching and not appropriate here. Just know that I had several jobs on the side that ate into my sleep time.

Knowing this,a senior officer could hardly wait until we rotated the midnight-8am shift. The senior officer in this case was Lt. David Smith, a bigger practical joker was not to be found on the N.P.D.

We were well into the middle of the week on third shift when Lt. Smith sprung his trap on me. He waited until about 3am, when it was getting hard to hold my eyes open, and my alertness was at zero.

I should have known something was afoot when the shift started and he offered to drive. Trust me, this did not happen with Smith. He thoroughly enjoyed being chauffeured around like the dignitary that he thought he was. And I guess to some degree he and the other commanding officers deserved the treatment, thou David enjoyed it way too much it seemed. 

Anyway, David waited until Tuesday night, a time when less than nothing was going on. If you follow my blogs, you know that in Newnan, Georgia, in the 1970's, they "rolled up the sidewalks" at dark. You could shoot a gun on Court Square and not draw attention. I know this for a fact, but I will tell that story later.

My prankster Lt. had pre-arranged with the dispatcher, upon signal, to put out a B.O.L.O. that would raise the hair on the back of the neck of even a seasoned officer. He had secretly told the others in our crew to stay off the radio, as they knew what he was up to and what fate awaited me.

At the appointed time, David set the plan into action. As the dispatcher came on the air, David flipped on the overhead light and ordered, "Write this down Officer Cook", which I dutifully did. "Sounds like a bad Mother ......", my tormentor responded with a dry wit and straight face.

After a few minutes of silence, I fell back into the stupor that I had been in before the radio blared with announcement. My fate was drawing near.

The road makes a sharp bend to the left in front of the hospital on Hospital Road. It also drops sharply about 10 feet at the shoulder. As I had been sitting there oblivious to the world, the Lt. had been maneuvering the police car into position. In front of the hospital, he suddenly pulled onto the shoulder of the road, slammed the car into park causing it to rock violently (and waking me in the process), he jumped out of the car, ran forward illuminated by the headlights, gun drawn and shouting, "There goes the son-of-a-bitch we're looking for!"

Adrenalin, fear and a slight desire to wet my pants all kicked in at the same time. Without hesitation, I opened the passenger side door, determined to follow my Lt. to death or glory. What I got was the surprise of  a lifetime. Instead of hitting the ground running, there was not ground at all. I dropped what seemed like in a nightmare, forever. In reality it was only a few feet. 

Confused, dazed, disoriented, and a little scratched up, I was clueless as what to do until I heard David and the rest of our crew laughing for all they were worth. As I crawled up the bank into the beam of the headlight and started a new round of laughter, I could see across the road, in the hospital parking lot, all the city police cars. They had raced to the site and sat there in darkness and silence waiting for my performance. They were not disappointed.

This hazing had been going on for as long a most older officers could remember so who was I not to take my turn. I limped over the the crowd and took good natured slaps on the back. I had to, these were the same guys that would come to save my life if the situation called for it. As the laughter continued, I pointed at each one, as if counting them, and said, "O.K., O.K., Just so you know, what goes around comes around." As the years past, I returned the favor in one way or another to each and every one of them.

To this day when I hear the phrase, B.O.L.O., I still think of that night and grin. 

Friday, August 20, 2010


 I was watching a lady about my age try to explain to her 8 year old granddaughter the function of a "gossip" bench or telephone table. She went into detail how important it was for the seat to be comfortable, as you may be there for a while. The color finish, where to put the item in your house, and several other points were covered. The young child looked dutifully at her grandmother the whole time the lady spoke. When she had finished, this beautiful little child looked her squarely in the eyes and said, "Grandmother, what's the point of a cell phone if you have to stay in one place?" Out of the mouths of babes!

 For some reason known only to GOD, I drive a school bus (given my love for untrained children) and find myself doing what amounts to the same thing with my riders. Since I don't let them talk while the bus is in motion and we have several minutes to wait in the morning before unloading, they try to find a reason to ask questions, 'cause with them it is talk or explode!

You probably don't know this about me, but I like to do all the talking (insert laughter here). Our, or rather my, favorite topic is to tell them what my life was like at their age. And to think, I SWORE I would never become my father. Those of you who are "boomers" will get it, the "kids" (that's 40 and under) won't.

In the late '40's, if you could afford a telephone, you most likely were on a PARTY LINE. When I first told my students this, one young man blurted out, "Man you s....... me! What fool is going to let someone listen when he be talkin' trash?" Well, first, you didn't "talk trash" on the phone, it was for important stuff mostly. But you certainly had better not say anything you didn't want known or repeated. I think it was Southern Belle policy to put at least 3 old women on each party line to keep the conversations brief and clean! They especially were dumbfounded when I told them just because the phone rung, it did not mean that you could answer it. It might not be "your" ring. I might as well have been trying to teach them Latin by the looks on their faces.

Then I instructed them on making a long distant call. You have to first decide if you want person-to-person or a station-to-station call. The latter means that you will talk to whoever picks up and the first, of course, means you only want to talk to the person whose name you give to the operator. After giving the phone and name, if needed, to the operator, you hang up and wait for the phone to ring (your ring) and the operator will tell you that she has your party on the line. More LATIN stares 
When I told them that we once waited almost 24 hours for my Uncle Ed to call us from California, it was more than they could believe.

The looks that they gave me when I told them the joy of getting our first "push-button" phone must have been the same kind of look that I gave my folks when they told me of getting their "first" things. I had to remind the children that the phones had cords, to which one child asked why?

I took off my shoe to illustrate that it was the approximate size of the first cell phone I ever used. As you can imagine that brought a huge laugh, and I laughed too, thinking about it. My 12 to 16 students could not comprehend that those early cell phones did not have cameras, contacts, texts, MP3's, and the whole list of today's standard features. As many of you know, the DROID X just came on the market and will do everything except mow the lawn. As true as I know it is, I can not wrap my head around the fact that the DROID X will be as old fashioned as a dial phone, probably before I leave this world!

A parting thought and bit of a practical joke, if I can find one of my old dial phones, I will ask Dr. Hollis, our principal, if she will let me plug it in for the students to use. Every time they get mad, which is constantly, they say, "I'M GONNA CALL MY MOMMA ON YOU!" It would be outrageously funny to see them try to use something that they have never seen before!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Well no, the picture does not have anything to do with the story, just cheap eye-candy for the guys (and some girls).

In the year Twenty-Ten (I still can't get used to the change from Two Thousand____. I guess new president, new way of telling time, what the hell do I know?), there are many, many rules and regulations concerning who can smoke and where. And well it should be, there are few government laws these days that are beneficial, but smoking regulations are a few that I endorse.

Now let's jump into my well-used time machine and set it for the mid-1960's arriving at Hogansville High School and face to face with locally famous Principal Wheeler Bryan.

If you are familiar with Hogansville, you will know that the present Elementary School was the old High School. If you look on the back side of the campus you will see our one-of-a-kind turret water tower, a quaint point of interest in its own right. Down next to the road there used to be a very large oak tree with huge knarly,exposed roots, that are just made to sit on and tell hot rod and dating stories.

Now read the following very slowly. If you were at least 16 years of age, a male, and had a note from one of your parents giving you permission to smoke at school, you go to the Smoking Tree on break or after lunch and "light one up!" You heard me, young boys could legally smoke at school. My Lord, how times have changed! Probably no less than 14 federal and state agencies would come and lock your folks up if they did that today.

On the other hand, if you were a girl, FORGET IT! Under no circumstances were you allowed near that tree, unless of course you wanted your reputation ruined and to be branded as "easy". And it did not matter if you had a letter from the POPE or the PRESIDENT, girls were ladies and ladies did not smoke--yeah, right! They had to go to the bathroom and post a look-out, just like the boys that smoked and could not get a letter from their parents because the parents "did not know" that they smoked.

There was, however, a little known THIRD option, any my personal favorite. The younger generation will just have to bare with me for a minute as I know they do not have a clue to what a true blackboard is and the maintenance required. Chalk board erasers needed constant attention, if not "dusted" on a frequent basis, dust would get all over everything when a teacher tried to use it. A teacher would usually pick someone from the class to go somewhere outside, in an inconspicuous place, and beat the hell out of each eraser until the dust was gone (sort of like the way they used to beat rugs before vacuum cleaners). The likely candidate was someone who wasn't paying attention and would not mess out on any valuable instruction. Somehow I got picked a lot, and if not I volunteered. Here comes the tricky part. As you gather up all the erasers and try to carry them out the door without getting chalk dust from head to toe, you fumble and drop one or two. Quick as a wink, the girl sitting on the front row (girls always sat on the front row) that wanted to go smoke, would leap up and pick up the fallen erasers and a few more and volunteer to help. To avoid any more "dust bombs", the teacher would wave her/his hand with, "Go! Go!"
Off to the old water tower we would run! If you have have the good fortune to visit it, you know that you can/could walk inside of it at the base. As soon as you had sufficient dust bellowing out the doorway, you could light up and share a smoke without drawing attention to what you were doing. The TWO-FER? Being the s.o.b. that I am, I asked for a kiss just before we ran back to the classroom. Granted sometimes it was a stern NO, and most of the time it was a peck on the cheek like you aunt would give you, but if you got something, no matter what,then you were THE MAN! Now that I think back--WHAT A DORK!What the hell, we were kids and kids gotta get there kicks..

Back to the tree.

Today, if you get caught smoking at school, most often semester at Alternative School is the punishment. From 1964 until 1966, when I often got caught smoking, the punishment was swift and on the spot.
"Cookie, grab your ankles and grit your teeth," was the ever popular command of Principal Bryan. And before you could get a firm grip around your ankles, he had delivered 3 well placed, hard, blows with his trusty 1/4 inch thick yard stick, that he always carried, as both a pointer when teaching math, and an instrument of justice for unruly boys.

Now, occasionally, Wheeler (we could call him that off campus or under the Smoking Tree--'cause we were men (Ha!) would spot an unauthorized smoker under the Tree. No cause of alarm here folks, he just walked up to the culprit and asked for a cigarette. When he received it, he asked the unsuspecting boy for a light. Wheeler would take a long, pleasurable "drag" off the cigarette, and then confiscate the pack of cigarettes and lighter, usually sharing the cigarettes with the other smokers, who by now were laughing their heads off. "Now git your tail end back across the road and don't come back until I get my note!"
In an era where there were usually cigarettes and a lighter on most coffee tables in America, it would have been excessive to have done much more. I think the punishment fit the crime--at the time.

There are going to be readers of my blog who will think that I made up this whole story, but if you do, I can call upon many alumni to verify this. We live in a different world today folks--it's up to you to decide if it is better or worse. As for me, I want to sit on one of those old knarly oak roots one more time.


p.s. Just a quick TEST before I go! On which breast is the mole in the above picture! NO FAIR PEEKING! Just so you know, almost every guy will get the answer right. I'm just saying......................