Gorgeous early February day at the beach. Decided to dust off the clubs. Star HILL Golf Club lot was full. Usual grim faced old timers in our group. I decided not to worry too much about my quality of play. Between #15 and #16 I an epiphany! I realized it was an unusually beautiful winter day. And, that (1) I was playing OK.
I can’t advise anyone much about golf. At best I’m now hoping to get in a golf quote book. My secret to enjoying playing golf? Quote:


Ralph died Sunday. We called him “Mayor”lovingly and he was the mayor of Wilson, N.C. for three terms. I have never had my picture in the obit column before, but I am standing behind the smiling Mayor El Ramey. I am smiling too but you can’t tell it. Smiling because I had just overheard Ralph talking to the old lady dispensing the free, nutty-butty style giant ice cream cones: ” M’am– I have a friend over there who has a HARD TIME getting around. Would you mind giving me two so I can take her one?” Her who? I knew he was about to eat both. And he did.
He loved life. Never went into restaurant that the opening conversation with the waitress didn’t go like this: Ralph: “Well hello. What is YOUR name? Waitress: “Jill”. Ralph: “May I call you Jill?” Waitress: “Sure.” Ralph: “Well, when may I call you?”

Our gang has it’s 49th annual POKER WEEKEND starting Friday at Emerald Isle. At our first game after Ralph was elected Mayor he showed up with a large bag of change. I asked him where got all that change? “Parking meters” he said.
Mayor stories are flying all over eastern North Carolina. A ton will float around Emerald Isle this weekend. And for a long time,

“I love you now and evershall, but there’s no one left to tell.
The world has gone dark before my eyes.”


Bob Dylan


Close friends Alan White and Earl “Country” Boykin graduated from small, pre-consolidation North Carolina public schools. I did too.  Senior class size about 40.  We are in our mid-seventies.  Many small rural schools of our era played “six man football”.  It still exists in other states today, Texas among them.  Just not enough players to field the 11-man teams.

But it was fun.  John Ormsby is the self-ordained historian of 6-man.  Two of his books are on 1. North Carolina 6-man, and 2. Wilson County (N.C.) 6-man.  Both Alan (Elm City) and Earl (Rock Ridge) are Wilson County boys.  You may know of Rock Ridge, the home of Governor Jim Hunt.  Governor Hunt was a 6-man Rock Ridge teammate of Earl’s.  “Country” said “…next to me and Ava (Ava Gardner) I ‘spect Jimmy was among our finest.”

Both friends were fine all-state players.  Ormsby’s book describes White as ‘…the most sensational player to hit the six-man ranks in some time, if not all time in North Carolina. A few even compared the talented back with the likes of Charlie Justice.”

My family moved when I was 12. I reunited with friends from the first town, Madison,N.C. , recently.   I asked so many questions about townspeople from 62 years ago that one friend sent me the “WILDCAT” annuals, or yearbooks circa 1958/59.

Three things stunned me. Having left at 12 years old my interests were somewhat limited. The girls of the town, now at 18 years or so had CHANGED. WOW!   And I do apologize for not paying proper attention.   Secondly, it was amazing to remember all kinds of people and events, some not thought of for many decades. And, 3rd, the yearbook itself. Much like “annuals” of that time it showcased  the activities each senior participated in. The goal for 12 years seemed to be how many things you could put on the list. Who did what, if you will:  HOMECOMING QUEEN TO SHOP (1,2,3,4), All from band to Spanish and year by year.

Same at my high school.  I went back and looked.  Willis Williams had an impressive senior resume and justifiably so. Dr.Williams went on the be one of the world’s top surgeon for congenitally damaged infant  hearts.  A true adult star:  Same as a youngster, from eagle scout to Morehead Scholar (the first from our county). Willis’ long list included “annual editor”.  Not half the story.  Hell, he took every picture in the book.  Even then  the book budget was tight.

No problem for Dr. Williams.  He turned to family.  There were loads of Williams in our area.  Willis said “…the best chance of getting a date is at a Williams family reunion.” He then created a method for space, i.e. pages in the book, chronologically.  Justifiably Willis Williams, named “Mr. Elise High School” got a whole page.  Senior Superlatives {remember “Cutest” etc.?) named Williams got their half page.  Senior Williams got their picture and their list.  Williams from the Junior class through the ninth grade their first and last name or “John Williams”.  From the eighth to third grade only an initial:  Or– B. Williams.  First and second graders were only Williams, listed side by side in the last rows.  Tops was the third grade.  Out of 78 kids there were eleven Williams.

Earl said he didn’t remember his list.  “Just sports and probably FFA ( FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA).  I WAS the Quarterback and called all the plays.  Simple though in 6-man.  I’d say something like “Bobby to the right side on 2.  Rudolph, gitcherman.”  Had to tell Rudolph Proctor to “get your man” every play.  Rudolph said  “…he moves around a lot”  Later we just called him GITCHERMAN.”

I’ve seen Earl’s annual.  Lot more on his list than he listed.  My guess is all of us had a lot of opportunity for some  pretty good leadership roles.   Time has shown  those experiences have produced a lot of small town American leaders.

Earl has a great team picture of their team, backdropped  by a tobacco field.  “Our uniforms were hand me downs from Charles L. Coon High School in Wilson” , Earl said.  He pointed to a kid in the picture:  “That’s Bobby Hinnant.  Nice guy and a good player.  Only kid in the school who could play drums.  At halftime he played with the band.  In his hand me  down football suit.  What the hell, you can’t have a  marching band without a drummer.”


I noticed Country wore a nice pair of argyle sox for picture day.


People in my state, North Carolina, read daily about the “UNC ATHLETIC SCANDAL”. lots of opinions and pretty heated topic because of the importance of sports in our area. Particularly college Men’s Basketball. What to do about this conundrum? Pretty tough issues involved. “…once the *X##@ is out of the bull!”–Willie Nelson.
There are a lot of similarities between this an the immigration issue in America. Like kudzu, the problems are everywhere and growing. Not to minimize the Chapel Hill problems, but this not theirs alone: “I’m just the leper with the most fingers left.” Lots of staff meetings in college and universities (Athletic Directors, Academic Advisors, Coaches, etc.). NOTE: CEO AND TRUSTEES TOO!

Is it time for some straight talk. Stout action. What is this really about? Sports? Money? Ego? Education? RACE? All of the above and maybe more, much more? Remember all the people who have gotten in trouble talking about race in America (Jimmy “the Greek” for example?) Yet how do we deal with the “…elephant in the room”? In 2007 I wrote PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS. I braved the following comment that may have been prescient:

“Much has been written about the “Black Athlete”. There is no question in my mind about the talent level of these athletes. Coming from the the South and being a minister’s son there was little question, early on about God. Certainly, in my mind he was male, white and looked a whole lot like Santa Claus. Surely too, he was lovable, kind, and simply a good “supreme being”. After watching sports in America the last forty years my guess about God’s nature is more Machiavellian. After watching America make a religion out of sports, while at the same time mistreating the black population so badly, I picture God’s role differently. My guess is we’ve put so much emphasis on sport He’s peeved. Think not? Watch where parents are at 11:00 am on Sundays if their child is in a soccer match. Hmm? Did God say “I’ll give these fanatics a dilemma!” He then put this glorious athletic talent in many of the Black population, and now He’s “up there” giggling at what America is doing with sports. Please don’t get me wrong. The Black athletes have paid their dues in practice, injury, and sweat just like anyone. Probably more so. Integration caused a lot of headaches in the alignment of conferences, etc. Who plays and who you play, is important, and alignment turned things upside down.

I do believe Proposition 48 (the academic guidelines for collegiate eligibility) yielded a lot of good. I wonder about the S.A.T and fairness, but it is a “hard” number. My guess is the best barometer for academic success is the athlete’s class rank. With exceptions, most of those who could achieve class rank had enough ability to succeed. Some can’t spell S.A.T. Some people are aberrant bastards who have no business in higher education. It always irked me to know that he beauty,education, and joy of collegiate sports was often wasted on an “athlete” who had no intention of benefiting from the true value of Sports in Education.”

David Epstein’s book, THE SPORT GENE, is truly informative. True research on nature vs. nurture in the development of elite athletes. I recommend it to anyone interested in sports and related research. Just very limited few comments from THE SPORT GENE:

“The broad truth is that nature and nurture are so interlaced in any realm of athletic performance that the answer is always: it’s both”.

“No one can argue that there was selection of the fittest slave.” (Yannis Pitsiladis)

“I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.” (Michael Johnson, sprinter)

“Here’s the conclusion of Peter Matthews, the track-and-field statistician who compiled those numbers:”In these days of computer games, sedentary pursuits, and driving our children to school—It is the ‘hungry’ fighter or the poor peasant who has the endurance background, and the incentive to work on it, who makes the top distance runner.”

The News and Observer has jumped all over the “Carolina Scandal”. Who knows what will come down as truth. One obvious fact is race as an issue is in bold print.
Comments from the public on an N & O article entitled UNC SCANDAL, with literacy advocate, Mary Carey, posing the blunt question “…why do we fail to teach so many black males how to read?” (Nov.10, 2014).

Samples of public comments:
…”why couldn’t these athletes maintain eligibility through standard classes?” The answer; because we as a state and as a nation don’t teach young black males how to read.”

“I can tell you first hand that the reasons many of them are struggling readers are very complex. Many of them come from families of very weak readers who don’t have the time, energy or resources to reinforce the first thing that is happening at school. …This is a cultural problem as much as it is an educational problem. “It is complicated and hard to watch and as most kids move on and those who have never valued reading lag and then get stuck behind it is heart breaking.”

“I taught MY children how to read. My children taught THEIR children how to read. It takes parents to learn to read—parents who read to their children. Kindergarten is almost too late, if the home is not a center of learning.”

“Their communities are failing them for telling them that getting an education is pointless.”

“Give the parents a livable wage so they won’t have to work two or three full time jobs, and they might be able to devote some time to their kids education. And stronger families overall, including present fathers, are also critical.”

If we really want solve or better the issue, then “…let us not talk falsely, the hour is getting late.” The fact that nature and nurture, right or wrong or a combination of both, have produced some truly marvelous black American athletes is obvious and a truth. By the same token it is immoral not to recognize and take significant responsibility for the same kind of results the sins of slavery have yielded.
Solution? No easy answers here. I once had to dig up a septic tank with a shovel. My “supervisor” said “…just keep pecking away at it.”
Another observation came from coaching tennis. Tons of internationals. Doesn’t take long to realize there are good and bad of all denominations. Swedes,Dutch,American, black,white, men, women, gay or straight, young or old. People should be judged on their individual merit.
M.L. Carr of Boston Celtics fame, was recently inducted into the NORTH CAROLINA SPORTS HALL OF FAME. Inductees and their spouses opened ceremonies with an entering parade. Some were shocked to see M.L. being accompanied by a male? His acceptance explained that the man with him, a white man, had taken taken a young black Wallace N.C. youngster with no ties, and mentored him all the way to hall of fame status. Carr added information about his current efforts his foundation offers to at risk kids. Maybe one at a time is one way.
I buy any copy of DAYS OF GRACE by Arthur Ashe I can find. Eventually I find a young African American to give it to. Bill Cosby is another leader. listen to leaders. Bob Dylan looking back,”…I would be kinder.” Simple. I found local examples. Leo Barker coached with us briefly at ELON. Coach Barker was an all pro linebacker with the super bowl Cincinnati Bengals. A black Panamanian and one of 16 siblings he was impressive any number of ways. Not long after his first practice I overheard one of our black standouts comment, “…Coach Leo, he doesn’t go for that victimology crap.
My friend and great coach Henry Trevathan speaks truth. He made have issued our fundamental challenge recently in a private conversation: “Tom,it is useless to try anything until families start to function again.”
Malcom Gladwell says reading lovingly to every child is indispensable. Without this parental effort failure is imminent.
My golfing buddy, Jimmy Smith, is one of eleven. What would your Dad do if you or your siblings were accused of wrong doing? I asked. “We had to tell him the whole truth and pledge not to do it again. Still had to take his punishment, but truth yielded some lesser sentence. Lying was hell to pay.”
How about Amnesty for College Athletics. The deafening silence out there now surrounds the arena. Nobody telling Daddy the truth? Hoping he doesn’t find out about me?
How about we all fess up, take the medicine and start clean. Put admissions back in charge of admission. No ticky,no laundry! Best first move? Stop admitting the thugs of any kind, no matter how good they are. They take up valuable slots that good kids will fill. Most all who replace the thugs will be black. The smart ones are good too!
Maybe college sports programs are not alone. Some others may need a cleansing moment. The business world, the catholic church, religion, politics….AMNESTY FOR AMERICA.

long range planning (103)

I noticed Sam Erwin IV got elected recently. That reminded me of Watergate Sam, and specifically his comment when the North Carolina legislature banned the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools. Sam concluded that the one good thing about that law was that “…it absolves the monkeys of the jungle of any responsibility for the human race in general, and the North Carolina legislature in particular.”
Given the extreme political intransigency in this century one can only hope. I did notice Michelle Bachmann just recently has changed positions on “gay marriage”: “…boring! Plus homosexuality is hard wired, naturally.” That is evolution! And at a quicker rate than usual.
Author Bill Bryson put evolution in perspective in his A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING. Comparing the earth’s total age to one’s human wingspan, Bryson notes from the tip of one’s middle finger to the opposite wrist represents the time from the earth’s beginning (approximately 14 BILLION years ago) until the very first sign of life showed up. One nail file off the opposite middle finger? “The length of time mankind as we know it has existed on this earth.”
Maybe the gay issue isn’t such a big deal. Or prayer in school. Who gets to gun tote and where, the price of gas or the stock market.
Jared Diamond spoke at Elon University about the last two hundred years. One question from the audience was what about the next 100 years. “If we aren’t better stewards of the earth there may not be another hundred!”
As my friend, Jim Toney–retired Economics professor, often demanded,”,,,we need a PLAN!”
Where to start?
Try this: Google “unusual religions”. I wonder how many innocents have died by “…killing in the name of the lord”? But the bible says “…there will always be wars and rumors of war”. Really? No changing things? Hellfire—we used to be cannibals. And not that long ago.
How about greed. How is that working out in America? Corruption in 2000? Carolina basketball your big worry? How about hunger? ISIS AND GAS PRICES? Too close to talk about?
Do we really want to dis climate change? Green and clean energy a non-issue?
The dog has caught the bus. We don’t need any more gridlock. We need a plan. A GOOD LONG RANGE PLAN.

“…so let us not talk falsely, the hour is getting late.”


My friend,”Country” Boykin, calls my wife OLLIE RAY. Hambone ran the rural store near “Country’s” Rock Ridge, N.C. home. “Ollie Ray hung around ‘Bone’s’ all day and didn’t buy anything. At closing time he would go out to the highway and hitchhike. If a car was going east he’d thumb east. West and Ollie Ray would cross the road and hitchhike that way. Made no difference. He just liked MOTION under him.”
Wife Margaret was fifth of six. She recently read a letter her Mom wrote long ago, describing her children to a relative. By the time she got #5, four year old Margaret, she simply noted “…that one is a little RIP.” I think they should have named her GO.
When we retired I offered, “chose your spot!” No hesitation: “I want to live at beach”. Fine. But, I WONDERED.
Cost of building our “dream” beach house rose as the house rose. Maybe a word of caution: “If we keep adding to building this house we won’t have a bunch for a lot of extras later, for example–travel.” Famous last words:
“You don’t have to worry if we get to that beach!”
That lasted about two weeks.
To be fair she found a solution. Within the last month she has made separate trips to Oregon, Canada, and Denver. All expenses paid because of volunteer “altruistic”services she renders. Really quite honorable as well as lots of miles logged. Doesn’t take long to recover. She’ll unpack, put her clothes up, report in—VERY SOON, wanderlust gene kicks in. She made it an hour upon returning last week from Colorado: “I just booked another to San Fransisco.”
She, maybe we, have a looming problem. There is a fast approaching age deadline (no pun intended) that ends a major avenue for her travels. That, combined with my desire to not get out of my zip code, has several concerned. Beach neighbor, Coach Dave Odom, wonders “…how long are the two of you gonna be able to stay home together. He has a point. Last winter the weather forced us all inside for a LONG few days. Coach Odom noticed that “…when she cordoned that six foot area around your recliner with yellow crime scene tape, now that is scary.”

I am rather stationary. (LIKE A ROCK–Bob Seger).
I just turned 74. Bob Dylan is 73. Dylan has a pretty good take on all of it, aging included. Wille Nelson noted at turning 75 : I’ve outlived my pecker!”

***”…it’s not dark yet, but its getting there.” DYLAN
***”…I love you more and ever shall, but there’s no one left to tell, the world has gone black before my eyes.” Dylan (NETTIE MOORE).
*** Bob with a little hope: “Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow. Things are just about to get interesting, right about now”. MISSISSIPPI

I do hope she’ll “stick with me.” I’ve known all along there was no need to try to cage this OLLIE RAY.  One wife told her husband “…if we are gonna gracefully grow old together, you are gonna have to slow down.” Half the Beatles are gone. Dylan, the Stones, lots of commentary. Some quite wistful: “…and I want to rock your gypsy soul, just like days of old…” Van Morrison (INTO THE MYSTIC).

Maybe I should just write her a song. Like my contemporaries. I probably would fare better in country venue. Lets see: