Thursday, August 16, 2007

Long Live the King

Some things you never forget. In fact you remember right where you were when it happened. You know what I mean?

For instance I remember that Friday afternoon on Nov 22, 1963, when one of my classmates came out to the playground where we were playing basketball at Reynolds Elementary School to tell us President Kennedy had been shot. We didn’t believe him but when Miss Susie (our 4th grade teacher) called us in and with a handkerchief and tears, announced it to the class, it became real. I was 9 years old when that happened but I have never forgotten that day.

I also remember the Thursday afternoon on April 4, 1968. I was in the 8th grade and was 13 going on 25 and thought I knew everything. I remember seeing the tears in the eyes of our maid, Jessie Mae King, as she watched the news unfold of Martin Luther King’s assassination. It was sometime afterwards before I realized the significance of that event and the state of racial turmoil our nation was facing. But I have always remembered that day.

I was with my parents and my sister and brother in law on a 3 week camping vacation out west in July 1969 when we got the news that man had walked on the moon. I remember when we returned from that trip our meat cutter at the grocery store stated that he thought the walk on the moon was a Hollywood enactment. I still remember the words he said: “I don’t believe a man has walked on the moon like my hand is on the piece of meat right here.” He slapped the hind quarter with his hand for emphasis. I laughed but I still remember what I was doing on that historical day.

On August 8, 1974 I was about to turn 20 and was at Panama City Beach watching Richard Nixon resign the presidency on television. A very cute bikini-clad girl from Alabama whose dad was a Sheriff was with me in my room watching with me. Her sheriff dad was in the next room so there was no hanky panky going on. I wonder what ever happened to that girl? (If you read this be sure to let me know. I have forgotten your name but I have not forgotten those love songs you sang to me that week. I guess it wasn’t real love because I haven’t heard from you since).

I was in my apartment in Athens finishing up my college career (I had to stay summer quarter to take a couple of more courses to graduate) on July 15, 1976 when Jimmy Carter received the Democratic nomination for President. I remember I had a lump in my throat as the celebration took place in Madison Square Gardens because a Georgia boy had been elected President.

I was at home when we lived in the Cook subdivision when the news came on about the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. That was January 28, 1986 and I was 31 years old. Our boys were 6, 4 and 4 months. We had our hands full but we were glued to the TV.

I was at our house by the golf course with my family and some members of my wife’s family on Saturday night, August 30, 1997 when the news about Lady Di’s crash and death interrupted the show we were watching. We stayed up most of the night watching that.

I was in my office on Tuesday morning September 11, 2001 talking to a man who had been terminated at one of the funeral homes in my area of responsibility. He was trying to talk his way into getting his job back when images of the World Trade Center and NY City came on the television. I remember the moment and the fear but I don’t remember ending the telephone conversation with the ex-employee. I may have hung up on him. I hope not but I probably did.

And I was at Gupton-Jones Mortuary College on August 16, 1977 very close to finishing Mortuary School when someone told me Elvis was dead. Stealing the words of Lewis Grizzard, Elvis was dead and I didn’t feel too good myself. Elvis died sitting on the potty. I can relate to that. There have been many time I thought I would die sitting on the potty.

It is hard to believe Elvis would be 72 years old now. His hips would have less sway and his legs would have less wiggle. But we can only imagine. Elvis left the building 30 years ago today.

Long live the king.

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