Ally, via Bulldawg Illustrated, reminded me through Twitter this morning that today is a Southern holiday. It is the day the South's greatest son was born 63 years ago. A son so in-grained in all things southern, when the cold north stole him from us for a couple of years life itself slowed down until he returned.
Happy Birthday Lewis Grizzard! Across the Dawgosphere, Grizzard is getting his props. Scates at Bulldawg Illustrated, BulldogJosh at Bubba N Earl, and of course the guys over at The Grit Tree.
BulldogJosh shares BnEs favorite Grizzard column Whiskey Nazis, which also happens to be my favorite. I'm also partial to a nostalgic one how UGA Glory Began with Coach Eaves, which can be found with other Grizzard treasures at The Official Lewis Grizzard Website. You should go over today of all days and browse through the archives.
I had the opportunity to meet Grizzard once. My dad had instilled in me an appreciation for his work when I was a kid. I remember hearing him chuckle behind a newspaper or with his nose in one of Grizzard's books.
So when the man came to speak at a gathering of red and black socialites at the Holiday Inn in Athens while I was in school...I conveniently made it so that I worked that banquet in the poolside room instead of the Rotary Club in Ballroom A. (yawn...)
I remember Munson using a column to help him defy the laws of gravity, some northern heathens who carried on side, albeit mostly muted conversations while the guest speaker waxed poetic...and I remember how truly southern the man looked. The neatly pressed slacks, the horn-rimmed glasses, the yellow button-down dress shirt, the neat blue blazer. All of that polished off by the leather loafers, no socks.
I had heard the word dapper before, but not until that moment did I truly understand it's meaning entirely.
Later that school year a kid on my hall had gotten in a fight with our starting middle LB at a fraternity party. I shouldn't say kid, because O'Keefe as we called him had served some time in the Persian Gulf War and was back to earn his degree. But he also stood about 5 feet tall with only two more inches to add on. He probably weighed a buck thirty.
And you notice I didn't name our starting LB at the time...that's cuz O'Keefe beat his ass. Sure, these were the Goff years, but this was not a slouch of a gridiron defender. He would've started on most SEC teams. But evidently, the wrong words had been said. Or maybe the wrong girl had been flirted with. Either way, it was a story that gathered great momentum across campus. Our hallmate became a legend overnight.
And how does this relate to our dear old Grizzard?
The southern philosopher was a columnist at the AJC then of course. He had a weekly Sunday column that was my first order of business in the quiet of Russell Hall those mornings. On this one Sunday morning I sprang from my chair and ran down to O'Keefe's door, newsprint in hand. He wasn't there, but as I remember when we finally got the chance to share with him the honor that had been bestowed upon him...his response: Hmmmph...who's Lewis Grizzard?
Wherever he may be today, God Bless O'Keefe. God Bless Grizzard.
And God Bless Catfish too.