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While I was growing up in Georgia, one of my favorite humorists of the time, and many from that era would say a modern day Will Rogers, was a man and a great American, Lewis Grizzard. Lewis Grizzard wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for many years and also wrote a number of best selling books such as, "Shoot Low Boys, They're Riding Shetland Ponies," among other great books. He was a hilarious writer but he was also a graduate of the University of Georgia and was an avid lifelong UGA fan. Back in 1972 he wrote an article about Auburn. I ran across it on the "War Eagle Reader" the other day and thought I would share it with everyone here. I hope y'all enjoy. It still means a lot to me today. Here ya go...
"I must admit the fact an Auburn man once saved my life has something to do with all of this. And I must admit further what follows will be completely biased. I simply couldn’t allow the opportunity to pass without saying a few more words in behalf of the 1972 Auburn football team.
And in behalf of Auburn itself.
I got my first taste of sin at Auburn; 16, or close to it, with a bottle of Old Something an of-age friend had purchased at the state store up the road at Opelika. As I recall it now, I wound up in a lonely stall in the third-floor restroom of a fraternity house while the party roared onward downstairs. There, as my life flashed in front of me and, being grateful I had at least heeded my mother’s words not to smoke, a kind Auburn student, a veteran of such incidents, wet-toweled me back to health.
I never got his name, but I have been forever grateful, and I have held a warm place in my heart for Auburn ever since, although I sought higher education elsewhere.
It is with that preface I hereby state I do, indeed, hope Auburn wins its Gator Bowl game against Colorado, and that is the signal for all my poison pen pals from down the road in Tuscaloosa to start buying stamps.
I think of purity for some reason. Of nothing to do but go to Toomer’s and talk about what you talked about the day before and the day before that. Of a low hippie ratio on campus. Of real grass growing on the football field. Of grown men in sweaters and open-collared shirts with 50-yard line seats.
I think of Gerald Rutberg, a friend of mine, who edited the college newspaper at Auburn and used to ask me every day how I thought “The Big Blue” would do against whomever. Of Bottle, Ala., which is actually a suburb of Auburn. Of the Yearouts. Of Pat Sullivan, still the most exciting college football player I’ve ever seen.
Of Shug Jordan.
There are two remarks that still stand out in my mind concerning Shug Jordan, and those two lines say it all. I once asked Harry Mehre if he thought Shug would quit coaching amidst the illness and the rumors.
“Shug will coach as long as he can. He still loves the things most coaches don’t think about anymore. He still loves the rah-rah part of this thing. He walks onto the field and hears all that War Eagle business they do down there, and Shug knows it’s all worthwhile,” said the old coach.
The first time I went to Auburn on business, I asked former Journal colleague, Tom McCollister, what kind of interview was Shug Jordan.
“Talking to Shug,” Tom replied, “Is like talking to your daddy.”
I think of the basketball coach, Bill Lynn, who looks and sounds like a hard-shelled Baptist preacher. Of journalism professor David Housel saying, “Auburn is in the best interest of the American dream.” Of Buddy Davidson, who has never found either of the two topcoats I have left in the Auburn press box. Of Bill Beckwith, the worst golfer in history ever to score a hole-in-one. Of a golf tournament they had at Auburn once and the beer they carted to you on each tee, and of shooting 95 after being one-over through seven holes. That damn beer.
Of Randy Walls.
Randy Walls was the quarterback in 1972, Sullivan’s successor. He was the number four quarterback at the end of spring practice. “It wasn’t what Randy did for us this year,” said an Auburn coach. “It’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t make mistakes.” Actually, he did make one. So excited was he about starting Auburn’s first game, the young sophomore went out for the pre-game warm-up with his jersey on backwards. In the Georgia Tech game, Randy Walls didn’t do anything right but win the football game. “I didn’t know Walls could run like that,” somebody in the press box said after a 30-yard jaunt that resembled your grandmother going after the mail. “He can’t” was the reply. He can’t. But he did.
I think of the pasture land adjacent to the campus. Of my favorite Auburn line, “What do you get if you cross an Auburn man and a gorilla?”
“A hairy county agent.”
Of not being able to smoke in the Auburn Coliseum. Of the old Sports Arena and Layton Johns. Of Terry Henley. “Them FSU players bit me on the leg in the pile-ups,” said Terry Henley, college football’s answer to Will Rogers.”They must not have had their pre-game meal.”
Did Terry Henley get tired carrying the football 25 times a game? “Hell, no,” said Terry Henley. “I carried it 50 times a day in spring practice.”
I think of unlisting my telephone number after an irate Auburn fan, a woman, called my home and said she hoped poison darts rained down on my body and I died. Of a fellow from my hometown writing me and saying to never come back because “you stink, stink, stink.” And all because I wrote Pat Sullivan was bush for not talking to writers after losing to Alabama. Of picking against Auburn all year long, except once—the LSU game. Of Owen Davis’ line, “Jordan waved his hand, and the Red Shirts parted.” Of Auburn students covering the whole town in toilet paper after the Alabama victory and somebody saying, “You mean they used both rolls?”
It went 9-1 when it wasn’t supposed to win three, defeated three top 10 teams, stopped the nation’s longest winning streak three times, got a bowl bid, and did my heart a lot of good." -Lewis Grizzard
Remember: If The Jury Box Is Stacked With Foxes...The Chicken Is Always Guilty
Thanks for sharing! He was one of my favorites as well.
Thanks so much for posting. Lewis Grizzard was one of a kind and we will never see his style again. He left us far too soon.
He was one of my all-time favorites, gone much too soon. I think I have almost all of his books and occasionally I'll pull one out and re-read it just for fun. Just thinking of the titles makes me smile. My favorite title is "Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny. You Know Them Taters Got Eyes". Funny stuff
That's pretty good, right there now. I don't care who you are! Almost as good as Jerry Clower talking about Travis Tidwell. Ha!
"There's no doubt, we're going up."
Awesome, myself starting AU in 1974 that brought back some good ole memories
ON TO VICTORY - STRIKE UP THE BAND
i sure do miss lewis. i used to read his columns quite often. i miss him and paul harvey. they were 2 common sense americans who knew how to tell story.
"Townes used to say that there's only two kinds of music: the blues and zippity-doo-dah, and this ain't zippity-doo-dah." -Steve Earle
He did stand-up performances and we had an opportunity to see him. He told one story/joke after the other for about two hours. I laughed so hard I was laughing tears. And was absolutely sore the next day. That night we got to hear his UGA (the Georgia mascot dog) story. I sat in amazement as we watched our high school football coach fall out of his chair laughing.
He was, indeed, one of a kind. Our hearts broke when we received the news he had died. Even, or maybe especially, with these times we are living in my spouse will look at me and say how much we need him today to give his perspective of all going on around us.
He was married either 3 or 4 times, I think. But he never loved a one of them as much as he loved his dog, Catfish, UGA (the school) and the Atlanta Braves. They had some mighty lean years before becoming a real team. There were times when a good crowd was 1600 people at any given game. Their playing ability finally found its way into his column when he asked the question, "What do the Atlanta Braves and Michael Jackson have in common?" ANSWER: "They both wear one glove for no apparent reason."
War Damn and God Bless - Lutzie43
Thanks for posting. I loved his style.. Miss him.. I too also started AU in '74. Great years..
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