Friday, February 29, 2008

The Real Thing

(Claxton, Ga) I stopped by here last night to speak at the Evans County Chamber of Commerce Banquet and I was very pleasantly surprised to find a couple of very familiar folks sitting at my table.

Mr. and Mrs. Eldred Tippins are the parents of two long time friends of mine. Both of their sons are my fraternity brothers. The oldest son, Cliff, was in my fraternity pledge class and was one of my roommates my senior year in college. Their younger son, Stevie, came to UGA a year or two later and joined right in with the rest of us.

I spent an awful lot of time with both of them during the mid seventies in Athens Ga.

Mrs. Tippins told me last night that almost every time she called them when they were students at UGA she was told they were at the library. I told her I have too many experiences with both of her sons to even count but I assured her none of them happened at the library. The Tippins brothers must have gone to the library after I went to bed.

Mr. Tippins, now retired, was in the Coca Cola Bottling business in Claxton for years. His boys always had plenty of Cokes with them in Athens and they were very loyal to the product. Neither of them would even think about allowing someone with them to buy a Pepsi.

Mrs. Tippins reminded me last night about the time she and Mr. Tippins came to our apartment in Athens for a visit. She said we were trying to cook noodles in a wash tub.

I remember during our senior year, one of our roommates and I decided we would try to scare Cliff late one night. He was lying on the sofa watching TV with a shotgun on the floor beside him. We had a suspected burglar in our apartment the night before. I snuck up to the window to knock on it to scare him. I knocked too hard and the entire window shattered making the most God awful sound you ever heard. Cliff rolled off the sofa and was lying on the floor pointing his shot gun at us ready to shoot. It’s amazing my life did not end that night.

When Stevie came to UGA as a freshman he left his gorgeous girlfriend back in Claxton to finish her senior year in high school. I remember us celebrating (like we needed a reason to celebrate) in Athens the night she became the Rattlesnake Round-up Queen in Claxton. Jane came to UGA the next year and I called her the Rattlesnake Queen the rest of my college career. Stevie and Jane eventually graduated and got married and 30 or so years later are still married with 2 grown kids. I made sure the chamber crowd last night knew I had connections in Claxton not only because of my relationship with the Tippins family but I also had a friend who was a former Rattlesnake Queen.

In case you are wondering, both of the Tippins’ boys turned out just fine. Cliff has been a special agent with the FBI for the past 30 years or so. Stevie is an executive with a bank. Both have raised wonderful families. And Mr. and Mrs. Tippins are still going strong enjoying their retirement and were thoroughly enjoying themselves last night.

The value of friendships like this cannot be measured. But I am absolutely convinced it’s the real thing.

No comments: