One I Operate; the Other, I Drive

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Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 8:44 p.m.

Monte Dutton

If you go visit a drive-through, and the bill is $10.68, and you hand the cute girl in the window $21, absolutely anything can then happen.

Just an observation.

I own two pickups, a 1995 Ford F-150 and a 2018 Chevy Colorado Z-71. They are as different as a prop plane and a jet. I love them both. I feel more upright when I sit in the Ford. It’s a five-speed. The Colorado is six-speed automatic.

As a general rule, when I’m off on a local assignment, I take the one with the most gas.

(Monte Dutton photo)

In the Ford, I listen to old homemade cassettes. In the Chevy, I listen to satellite radio. The Ford’s windows roll up and down. Its doors require a button to be punched. The Chevy has automatic windows, and occasionally I push the right button. It doesn’t have a gas cap. I now know why so many people who drive trucks back into parking spots. It’s that rear camera. I am also a parallel-parking fool now.

(Monte Dutton photo)

When I’m in the Ford, I feel like I’m really driving. I’m shifting the gears, feathering the throttle. I feel more like I’m just operating the Chevy, monitoring the systems. In the Chevy, with diagnostics at my disposal, I try to maximize mileage, which is much better than the Ford and also the Dodge Dakota (it was built the final year their trucks all became Rams) that preceded the Chevy. The Chevy has lots more power and yet still gets about five miles more to the gallon than the Dodge, which I gave to my sister, who seems to be delighted with it. The original plan was to buy a small sport-utility vehicle, but the Colorado was considerably more fun to drive than the SUVs I test-drove. It has a handy bed cover. I bought the Colorado with 12,000 miles on it. The term “pre-owned” makes a small amount of sense. It’s less used than other vehicles I’ve owned.

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When I write about local news, I’m a stickler for writing out acronyms or initialisms on first usage. “SUV” is an initialism because it is not pronounced as a word. It’s “S-U-V.” If it was “Suv,” then it would be an acronym.

I hate to read articles that use acronyms and initialisms I don’t understand. “County Council announced it would submit a new BAGO grant application for work on the new STARE plant near the AGRICO project outside Mandrake Falls.”

A distressing number of times, when I ask what something stands for, the person in charge doesn’t know.

Then I search the web, only to find there are eight different acronyms of those letters. Not long ago I tried to look up what a PFDR (initialism) program was, and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t for Paint Free Dent Repair.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Sigh. Getting back to the trucks, I’ve had the Chevy for over a month now, and I’ve mostly figured out how everything works. The bells and whistles are useful, I guess. I just wish I could pick and choose whether or not I want all those features that make it much harder for me to mess up behind the wheel.

A part of me thinks that’s why I learned to drive by my ownself.

I guess it’s a good mix. My first pickup truck was the one we used on the farm. It was probably about a ’68, when Fords were F-100s instead of 150s. If I’d bought that ’95 new, I’d have probably thought it had too many gimmicks, too.

Yes. I will resist driverless cars. I think the first thing that will increase will be drinking behind the useless wheel. They’ll all have names. “Bessie, find a place for me to get a 12-pack, and then you can take me to Atlanta. Find a place for me to piss every 50 miles or so. Got it?”

Meanwhile, Bessie will be tipping off the cops.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

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Pick My Fiction Up on Your Way Down

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 12:23 p.m.

Monte Dutton

It would probably be easier to write a song. A song can be quick and clever. A blog requires a bit more wisdom. It has to be more than clever. It’s not as complicated, but there’s more heft in its thoughts.

Not that I’m an expert in either, or fiction, for that matter. I try. I try a lot. I think I’m getting better, but I know I’m not objective about my own work. Of course, I like it. Most people don’t write shit on purpose unless they’re in business or politics.

Mark Twain as at least one of those who said that truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. All eight of my novels are commentaries on the absurdity of their times. Most of the times were now, but I also wrote about South Carolina in 1969 and Texas in 1946.

Either all times are absurd, or I failed about 1969 and 1946.

“All Times Are Absurd” would be a good song title if “absurd” wasn’t so difficult to rhyme.

“Unheard” is probably best. “Bird?” “Blurred?” Pretty slim pickings and harder still to let the word fall naturally. I might make a good line in a song but not a whole song (I write as some songsmith begins a Grammy winner.)

(Steven Novak design)

In Texas, a wildness descended over the land because fighting men came back from Europe and the Pacific to find that, in a different way, the world had changed forever back home, too.

In South Carolina, the wildness descended among black and white alike because of the rapid change of going to school together. The kids found football in common. They ran, blocked, tackled, threw, caught, and sweated far faster and better than those around them.

Not even the past has provided relief from the present.

Three of my novels – The Audacity of Dope, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – prominently showcase corrupt politicians. One, The Intangibles, has a corrupt administrator. One, Crazy of Natural Causes, involves a corrupt evangelist. Four – The Audacity of Dope, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Lightning in a Bottle, and Life Gets Complicated – provide major roles for corrupt officials. Two — Cowboys Come Home and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – are chock full of corrupt businessmen.

There’s a heap of corruption in my fiction. All have a vein of satire. Three – The Audacity of Dope, Crazy of Natural Causes, and Cowboys Come Home — are amusing. The stock car racing novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated, are funny.

Or those were my intentions.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

I Don’t Know, but I’ve Heard Say, that Every Little Dog Has His Day

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Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, May 2, 2019, 8:32 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Every dog has his day. Even the athletes with the most modest of skills – me, for instance, back in the distance when I tried to be one – have the occasional moment of glory.

The proudest of my memories involve the accomplishments of teams for which I played, but there was one day, late one hot June afternoon, on a softball field at what was once Thornwell Orphanage. In a battle of alleged Baptists, my First team was playing Davidson Street in a church league game. I was playing right field, never a place where an adroit outfielder was sent. Benny Bootle was batting for the Streeters. So vivid is the memory is that I can recall the feel of my white, thick-polyester-woven jersey with navy numbers and FIRST BAPTIST across the front, rubberized in navy. The heavy likelihood, then as now, is that I wore a Red Sox cap.

Benny and I were friends but rivals in sarcasm. Long before I cultivated a lifelong attraction to Furman University, I was a Tiger fan, and Benny was a Gamecock fan. It was not unusual, particularly during basketball season, for the phone to ring, and when I picked it up, I would hear the University of South Carolina fight song.

“It’s for you!” my mother called.

“Who is it?”

“A marching band,” she replied.

“Benny,” I said in a manner similar to the way Jerry Seinfeld would one day say, “Newman.”

We were “ragging” each other. It was long before I heard anyone refer to “trash talk,” but that’s what we were doing, and from long distance. The field was fashioned on land used in the fall by the orphanage, and those who were attending in ever greater numbers as a private school, for its football team to play. The diamond had no fences, but deep in right field, which I was patrolling, old wooden grandstands stood, supposedly impossible for mortals to reach with a softball propelled by a bat.

I dared Benny to hit it to me. He complied with what must have been the greatest blast a bat in his hands ever perpetrated on an oversized spheroid.

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I took off running as fast as I could, which wasn’t very, compared to others. I felt intense pressure, given that I had just proclaimed Benny Bootle incapable of hitting a ball over me. I had my back to the plate, tracking that long, towering fly ball. My arms were pumping at my sides. I couldn’t spare them for the fly ball until it arrived. At the last millisecond, I stabbed at it. Miraculously, it landed in my glove, which I ought to have preserved in a glass case rather than later leaving it out in the rain.

Not only was it the greatest play I ever made. It was the only great play I ever made. Even with Benny lumbering around the bases, it would have been an inside-the-park home run, which was the only kind Thornwell yielded.

That was 47 years ago. A great athlete probably wouldn’t even remember it. I can feel the sweat popping out. If I hadn’t made that catch, I’d be hearing about it now, if only from Benny, whom I rarely see and is now known as Ben.

As luck would have it, I did hear about it two weeks ago while I was having a No. 26 at the Mexican joint. A man walked by the booth I occupied, and I recognized him but couldn’t remember his name. I was dreading that “You don’t remember me, do you?” that often causes me to ’fess up and make some disarming comment like, “I can’t place you. Must be getting old,” that happens to be true by sheer coincidence.

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But he didn’t say that. He asked instead, “Are you Monte Dutton?”
“Yessir.” I have now reached the age where I most often say “Mister” or “sir” to the dwindling ranks of people I see who are older than I.

“You made the greatest catch I ever saw in a softball game.”

Of course, I knew the one to which he referred. It was the only great catch I ever made in any softball game, or baseball game, or quite possibly, any kind of game. Most of my great catches have occurred while editing features, columns, spot news, blogs and book manuscripts. No one ever saw me make them.

“Thank you, sir,” I said, “but it wasn’t that good.”

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

Good Times, Great Oldies …

Paladin Stadium and Paris Mountain. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, April 27, 2019, 6:07 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

It’s been a busy week but also one full of rich, evocative experiences. All week long, I experienced warm reminiscences through the mists of a time that seem superior to what I’m living now. That’s the way memories are. They get better with time.

It wasn’t all joy. Cally Gault died, but I’ve reached the age where the death of a great man who lived a long, distinguished life doesn’t cause undue sorrow to arise. I enjoyed writing memories of a man whose influence spanned my life, but I more enjoyed the memories of others. The funeral was on a day that seemed indescribably beautiful and appropriate. Outside the First Presbyterian Church, the trees and grass seemed greener, the flowers more delicate, the sky bluer. No way the Lord was going to let Cally be buried on a rainy day.

Lonnie Pulley had his mother join him onstage. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Thursday night, the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame inducted five new members: the great Laurens runner, Lonnie Pulley; the great Presbyterian College star, Bill Hill; the great Clinton flanker who set records at Clemson that lasted for more than two decades, Phil Rogers; the great Clinton tennis coach, Clovis Simmons; and the great and pioneering broadcaster, Bill Hogan.

Halls of fame tend to attract greats.

I never spoke to Pulley until I interviewed him for the program. Hill’s football stardom – in addition to being a bruising fullback, he once intercepted 11 passes in a season – was before my time, but I knew his family, and his son, Bill Jr., quarterbacked a Clinton state champion. Mr. Hill is now old enough for me to still call him Mister, and he knew more about my father and grandfather than I could have imagined.

Rogers died of a brain tumor at age 27, many years ago, so many that he taught me science in the eighth grade during the brief period between his time in the NFL and his untimely and shocking demise. Clovis’s latest team is 12-2 as of this writing, with playoffs looming, and it’s been my pleasure to write about her and her teams for several years.

Bill Hogan (Monte Dutton photo)

Hogan was the voice of Paladin basketball when I first went to Furman. He is a gentle, low-key man, with a dry wit and eyes that betray his amusement. His broadcast partner at Furman was Dr. John Block, who also found time to teach me history. John and wife Barbara were there, and the last time I saw her was when senior seminar met each week at their house. That was the spring of 1980. I found it rather remarkable that she remembered who I was. I tend to leave an impression, though, for better or worse.

At The Ridge, Laurens’ recreation facility and banquet hall, I worked the room like a politician. The only thing that seemed missing was the unmistakable laughter of Cally, which would be a roar in other people.

Robbie Caldwell coached these two Furman tackles at the same time: Steve Lloyd, left, played on the right; Charlie Anderson, vice-versa. (Photo courtesy Charlie Anderson)

It was Thursday when Furman memories, by way of Dr. Block, came to me. The following night, I went to Furman, there to gather with old friends who annually meet for a weekend to recall the glory years and raise money to repeat them in the beloved Paladin football program.

Robbie Caldwell, with whom I used to referee intramural basketball games, was there. In addition to being one of America’s truly great coaches of the offensive line, Robbie loves to tell old tales and have fun as much as anyone, and unlike some who like to try, he’s a master at it. A lot of people were there, and most of them wanted to spend some time with Robbie, so he and I never even got around to telling about the time we had to hotwire the equipment van and drive it through a rainstorm without windshield wipers in order to get back from Appalachian State.

A man did what he had to do back in them days.

The golf tournament was today, and I gave up golf when I took up guitar, and my plan was to just hang around for an hour or two Friday night, sneak out, and hit the road back to Clinton, but, of course, that didn’t happen. I did pry myself away long enough to talk about NASCAR on the radio, but my old buddies, heroes, and I managed to close the joint down. Calling the Younts Center a joint is a stretch. The Stump on Poinsett, that was a joint. Most things at and around FU are well appointed these days.

(Photo courtesy Dennis Wright, left)

Lord, I’ll never get around to all the old friends I saw. It’d be like singing Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” without having the lyrics to read. Bish. Big Daddy. Fritz. Carp. Tuna. Butch. Vinnie. Yogi. Goose. Sandy. Boss Hogg. Rocky. Skip. O. It’s easier for me to recall the nicknames than the names. We talked a lot of football but lots of things that weren’t. By gosh, I’ve been in and out of trouble with about every one of them.

I talked about Trivial Pursuit games on the road with Bobby Johnson, who later took Vanderbilt to a bowl game with Robbie coaching his offensive line. Robbie became the interim head coach there when Bobby retired. After teaching the Commodores to block, winning two national championships at Clemson must have been a snap. Back at Furman, Robbie was a center.

Spirits are high at Furman, in large part due to the performance of Clay Hendrix, who played guard back when I was Sports Information Director.

These days it’s hard for me to get away. I had most of a day’s work in my email when I got back from Greenville within close range of midnight. No matter what’s going on at Furman, folks are still prone to die and get arrested in Laurens County. I got up early, cranked out part of the work, and headed over to Clinton High School to take pictures of the softball team clobbering Fairfield Central and thus staving off elimination from the playoffs.

I need to get to know some of the Furman football players who have graduated in the last 30 years. No telling what stories they’ve got to tell.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

‘The Storms of Life Are Washing Me Awaaaayyy’

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Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 19, 2019, 12:19 p.m.

Monte Dutton

When I was a boy, one of my grandmothers was prone to say “it’s about to come up a cloud.”

Another line of those storms is about to roll through, flinging out lightning. It sure seems like this happens more often than it used to. Mama Davis would be agitated “sho’nuff.”

Now we gaze westward electronically. Soon the gaze will turn eastward as we track squalls blowing off the coast of Africa. Hurricane season grows ever longer in the same way as big-money sports seasons.

It’s not global warming exactly. It’s global weirding. The weather has its own Xtreme Games.

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2:48 p.m.

The storms have passed through and by. DirecTV didn’t even go out, let alone the electricity.

During the occasional periods in which rain was pelting the roof, I busied myself with editing, internet research, and the routine duties of every day at the GoLaurens.com website.

I just remembered the Cubs were playing this afternoon. It’s the second inning at Wrigley Field, and it seems my early-season fate to see all the Arizona Diamondbacks’ hideous uniform combinations.

Torey Lovullo, ex-Red Sox coach, is the manager. I’d like to root for him, but with those uniforms, my eyes won’t have it.

While editing obituaries and looking up the arrest report, I watched about five minutes of an old movie with Troy Donahue, Stefanie Powers and Connie Stevens called Palm Springs Weekend. I perversely enjoyed the spectacle of Donahue’s wooden acting, mainly because Powers and Stevens were so fetching, but I didn’t stay long enough to notice it was Palm Springs or the weekend.

Once when I was writing about NASCAR in Joliet, I sat four rows behind Jerry Rice at Wrigley Field. He was wearing a Cubs jersey with his football number, 80, on the back, and his name above the number. There wasn’t any such thing as a selfie – if I’d heard someone say it, I probably would have thought it a nickname for someone who was selfish – but it probably wouldn’t have been any different. I have had my picture taken with celebrities an astonishingly small number of times.

My only recent photo with celebrities is with a Riley Freeman and a Sam Tiller, a pair of seniors on the Clinton High School soccer team.

The Cubs just scored two runs because four D-Backs let a pop fly fall amongst them. They probably lost the ball in their uniforms.

3:18 p.m.

As Rudyard Kipling never had a chance to say, Trump is Trump and the rest is the rest, and never the twain shall meet.

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I don’t like his politics, but what I mostly dislike is he. Trump, not Kipling. I haven’t thought much about Kipling’s politics. Kipling can’t run because he died in 1936 and wasn’t a naturalized citizen, or an American citizen at all.

Why do people like Donald Trump? He is vain, humorless, boastful, and, as a liar, I have known only one man in my life who could compete. He takes the credit for everything and the blame for nothing.

The late Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about Watergate called How the Good Guys Finally Won. This time I’m not so sure.

Nothing amazes me more than learning that a friend likes Trump. I can’t believe it. I bat my brain figuring out how it could possibly be.

I wrote a novel about a year ago called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Nothing I envisioned in a completely fictitious president named Martin Gaynes seems exaggerated in view of what has happened in the real country. Gaynes’ role is a small one. He’s from North Carolina and doesn’t play golf. He’s a crook, though. He’s got that going for him.

Life in this country is hilarious, regardless of which side one is on. It’s theater of the absurd. I laugh uproariously right up to the time I start weeping.

Lots of Trump fans – it’s a sport, really – used to be fond of saying they wanted to “defend the Constitution.” Damned if they haven’t gotten me doing it.

I know, I know … he’s the president. The system never fails. We get what we deserve.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

Ultimately Worth the Reluctance

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 12:36 p.m.

Monte Dutton

It’s rather a miracle that I even read The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. From time to time, I get to pick a free download from a list, and it’s possible I thought Rebekah Crane’s novel had something to do with President Grover Cleveland, the only man to hold the office in separate terms.

Grover at Camp Padua in the present is nothing like Grover at the White House in the 19th Century.

It took me forever to read it because I began it with disinterest. The only time I read it was when I had some time to kill and my cell. For some reason, I was reading a non-fiction book in hardcover, one novel in my phone, and another in my Kindle. These are not my optimum reading habits. In the Kindle and the phone, I could have interchanged. I could have read The Celebrant in the phone and Grover Cleveland in the Kindle. I could have switched back and forth. I didn’t because I didn’t. Not everything makes sense.

I bumbled along, a chapter here, a chapter there, stop when the food arrives, until the story finally captured my fancy, sort of a dry piece of tinder that finally lit after dozens of futile matches.

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This is a novel for young adults. I haven’t been one in decades. My own novels typically have young adults in them, but they are characters, not principal figures. I pay close attention to the young because I am cognizant of and fascinated by how much the environment has changed since I was diving into and almost drowning on the way out of rites of passage.

I was never “an at-risk teen,” as Zander, Cassie, Grover, Bek, and all the others most definitely are. Zander Osborne is the narrator, marred by tragedy but not as obviously affected by her trauma as Cassie, who loves nothing more than alienating everyone around here; Grover, who expects to one day be schizophrenic because it seems mathematically likely; and Bek, a pathological liar who eventually grows up to be president (kidding).

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Somehow they all become close in spite of the worst intentions of everyone except Grover, who publicly expresses his love of Zander early and throughout the yarn. Cassie resents being unloved even though she does everything she can to alienate those around her.

I expected a tragic ending, but the author rescued me, and particularly Cassie, from it. They all probably didn’t live happily ever after, but that’s the direction they’re headed by the time the tale is told.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

A Long Line of Pistols and Sons of Guns

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Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 11:45 a.m.

Monte Dutton

When my mother told me Notre Dame was burning, at first I thought she meant the football stadium. I switched to a news channel. Pete Buttigieg was talking. He’s the mayor of South Bend. It all made sense.

Not.

I’ve never been to Paris, but I’ve been to Oklahoma. Someone told me I was born there, but I really can’t remember. (A tip of the cap to Hoyt Axton, who had never been to Spain, but Notre Dame Cathedral is in Paris and it’s the best I could do.) Paris, not Spain. What does it matter? What does it matter?

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The first rampaging storm front has swept through. Here we got off pretty easy. Another one’s headed this way. Want to know the best way to make a man believe in climate change? Destroy his house. It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature: that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, my inbox informs me that I can get 50 bonus points “on this Croatian vacation.” No, I’ve never been to Croatia, but last month I went to Asheville. My daddy used to trade horses there, but I barely still remember.

The last eight days, I’ve aged a year. Don’t be alarmed. I had a birthday. I got my taxes done. I underwent dental surgery. Maybe it wasn’t a pun after all.

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It’s a song. Life’s a song. Probably a Tom T. Hall song. Don’t let them big-city people get to you ’cause money’s the name of the game, don’t you see? They might pat your fanny and say you’re a dandy, but they still don’t like pickin’ on network TV.

It’s funny. Hilarious. Roger Miller funny. Roses are red and violets are purple. Sugar’s sweet and so is maple syrple. I’m the seventh out of seven sons. My daddy was a pistol. I’m a son of a gun. And about a year ago this time, I lacked fourteen dollars having twenty-seven cents.

Buh-buh-buh-buh-BUH-buh-buh, wow-wow-wow.

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In the oldest, Southern, mill-hill meaning of the word, Donald Trump is a pistol. Mama Davis would’ve said, “He’s a pistol, ah’ight,” and Papa would’ve just chuckled. Papa Davis was a man who just let the river flow. He passed his patience along to my mother, but it didn’t get to me.

After he died, folks who worked with him at Lydia Mill told Hudson Davis stories. Years ago, the mill announced that employees could gradually buy their houses on the village, and a sign-up sheet was placed on the bulletin board outside the break rooms.

One of the bigwigs finally walked up to Papa and said, “Hudson, don’t you want to buy that house of your’n up on Peachtree?”

“I reckon I’d like that,” Papa said.

“Well, you ain’t signed up yet, and the deadline’s next Tuesday.”

“Where you go to do that?”

“It’s on the bulletin board.”

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Papa laughed softly. “I learned a long time ago that no good generally comes from reading that bulletin board,” he said.

Thanks to Calvin Cooper, Papa made an exception.

Hudson Davis made sure he wasn’t the man who knew too much. He just knew more than most of the folks around him. The old timers say he was the best loom fixer they ever knew. He’d go in and dicker around with them, and then not have much to do. Then the shift would change, he’d pick up a few groceries at the company store and walk up Peachtree to the house. Inside the mill, looms would start breaking left and right.

Pity the man who follows Hudson Davis.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.