Resting Respect: Paying Visits to Some of the South’s Most Influential Figures

Perhaps you were watching my travels throughout this great State of Alabama this weekend on Facebook.

You may wonder what I was doing, you may also wonder what made me pay visits to the many statues and gravesites in multiple cities.

Well, since sports have been basically nonexistent since mid-March, I have come across a newfangled hobby, touring cemeteries; both virtually and physically to pay respects to those that are no longer here in bodily form, but rather in the presence of God.

On Saturday, I visited a statue dedicated to the memory of Booker T. Washington, a mid-19th-century and early-20th-century social reformer, who believed in hard work, and self-education.

On Sunday, Dad and I took a family friend with us to Mobile, Alabama, to visit multiple cemeteries with several early-Mobile notable figures.

Our first visit Sunday, was to the notoriously haunted, Church Street Graveyard, where the man who created a Mardi Gras Revival in 1866 and 1867, is buried.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him, Joseph Stillwell “Joe” Cain Jr. while in Church Street Graveyard, we saw the famous Boyington Oak that stands just outside the Northwest corner of the 19th-century New England churchyard-style cemetery atop the grave of Charles Robert Stuart Boyington, a mid-17th-century printer and gambler, whom moved to Mobile in search of a better life than the one he had experienced in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut.

Mr. Boyington, allegedly had become friends with Nathaniel Frost, whom owed him money from one of their poker games but refused to give Boyington the money.

As a result, Mr. Frost would be stabbed, robbed, and left for dead inside of the Church Street Graveyard.

Mr. Boyington would be framed as the suspect, taken into custody, and hanged in 1835. According to legend, his last words, as his feet dangled from a tree at Oakleigh, which is now historic landmark, were “A tree will grow from my heart to prove my innocence.”

After our stop to visit Alabama’s third-most haunted burial ground, the three of us made our way to the 120-acre Magnolia Cemetery just down the road, to pay respects to Confederate States Army General Braxton Bragg, whom I claim is my namesake. We also saw numerous graves of confederate soldiers.

Next, we travelled to the 19th-century, Saluda Hill Cemetery, in Spanish Fort, Alabama, to visit the grave of Zachariah Godbold, the only known Revolutionary War veteran buried in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Moral of the story, pay respects to those that came before anyway you can, you never know what you’ll run across in the process.

Church Street Graveyard sign.
Joe Cain grave, Church Street Graveyard.
Joe Cain and I in Church Street Graveyard.
The haunted Boyington Oak, Church Street Graveyard.
Confederate Monument, Magnolia Cemetery.
General Braxton Bragg and I.
Our Confederate Dead, Magnolia Cemetery
Zachariah Godbold, Revolutionary War veteran, Saluda Hill Cemetery, Spanish Fort, Alabama.
Booker T. Washington statue, Tuskegee University.

Tomahawk Chop: Why Are We Considering Removing Such a Harmless Storied Tradition

Around 2:45 Monday afternoon, I read from a credible source that the Atlanta Braves are considering removing one of their longest traditions; the Tomahawk Chop.

Here’s my take on it, why are even considering removing such a long-standing tradition? What’s it hurting?

For 22 years, as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been going to Braves games and honestly I can’t imagine going to a Braves game without there being a tomahawk chop.

For 22 years, I’ve done the tomahawk chop, whether it be at athletic events at my alma mater, or at a Braves game, not once have I thought it was offensive to anybody of any race.

Native Americans should look at it as an honor, because that’s exactly what it is and that way it’s meant to be.

When I have kids, I will take them to Braves games and yes, I will allow them to do the tomahawk chop. Just as I have done and will continue to do as long as God is willing to let me live.

Last year during the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the staff didn’t allow our fans to have foam tomahawks.

Why, you ask? Because somebody, somewhere complained about it being demeaning and offensive to the Native American race.

Whether we have the tomahawk chop from this point on or not, as for me and my house, we will continue to chop.

Source: WGHP.

What Have I Been Doing Recently?

I haven’t written in a while, but recently, I made a post on Facebook about a 1930’s outlaw couple.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them, unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life. Their names? Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow.

Yes, Clyde’s real middle name was Chestnut.

As I made the post, a friend of mine, who is from a Louisiana town/city not far from where the couple that ran all the through Louisiana and parts of East Texas, were ambushed and killed on May 23, 1934 in Gibsland, Louisiana.

The day after I made the post, she visited the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum there in Gibsland and sent me pictures of some of the content. She was also kind enough to allow me to use them in this piece.

Later, that night, she made a comment on the post about a book entitled, “Ambush: The Real Story of Bonnie and Clyde” by Ted Hinton. I believe Mr. Hinton is no longer living, but I decided that since I have always had an interest in the two outlaws’ tragic love story, why not purchase the book?

So, I went to the Books app on my phone, typed the title in, and purchased the book. I’m currently only in the second chapter, but I will say, I’ve been hooked from the first page.

While I have an interest in their story, I don’t condone what they did back in the 1930’s, but it’s history and I’ve always had a great love for history, especially stories like this one.

Stay safe, I’ll talk to y’all soon, I’m going to go back to reading more of this incredible story.

A replica of Bonnie and Clyde’s death car found inside the museum in Gibsland, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.
Officers killed by the outlaw couple.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.
The last place Bonnie and Clyde ate on the morning of the fateful day that was, May 23, 1934.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Stephens.

It’s Time To Turn Off the TV and Turn Toward The Bible

Ever since this pandemic started several months ago, I haven’t watched the news, I’ve avoided watching tv as much as possible.

Every night before drifting off to sleep, I try to read the Bible. Recently, I read Isiah 41:10 and it got me thinking, you know, we may act like sports need to hurry up and resume, but they can wait.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Snapchat a picture that read “Sometimes, you are delayed because God knows that there is a storm headed right in your direction.” I can’t think of a more fitting picture to post during times like these.

There is light at the end of this pitch black tunnel that we are all in right now. Someday, we will be giving hugs again to the ones that we love and shaking hands with friends.

There will be a day when we don’t have to be six feet apart. There will be a day when we go back to work.

Concerts will return, sports will return, and everything will return to normal, but it won’t happen on our timing, it will happen on God’s timing. Be patient and trust Him.

God Bless and be safe.

Happy 86th Birthday to the Real Home Run King

Hank Aaron the former Milwaukee Brave and Atlanta Brave, was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama.

Henry Louis ‘Hank’ Aaron, later known as ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ wasn’t born into wealth. In fact, in a podcast that I listened to recently, Aaron stated, “My parents couldn’t afford to buy a bat, they couldn’t afford to buy a ball. And so, actually, we did everything we could in order to pretend like we were playing baseball.”

Aaron stated that he and his brothers would go out into the yard with rags that were rolled up tight and throw them to each other while using a broomstick as a bat.

They would do the same with coke bottle caps.

Mobile, Alabama wasn’t the safest of places in the 1940s when Hank was growing up. In fact, according to Aaron, there were no roads, nothing but little farm roads’ he explained.

Mobile wasn’t nearly as big as it is today back when little Henry Aaron was growing up just outside of Mobile.

Even though, he grew up just a few miles outside of Mobile, he still claims Mobile, Alabama as his hometown.

Hank Aaron stated in the podcast that “Actually, I heard about it, from sleeping in the bed at night, because the Mobile Bears were farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Mobile.”

Aaron continued “I could hear the game on the radio next door, because a friend of mine would have his radio tuned to the Mobile Bears. You know I didn’t have enough money to go to game so I just listened to it.”

Little did he know at the time, that he would one day be considered one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time.

As Hank’s career was beginning, his hero, Jackie Robinson’s career was winding down.

But luckily for Hank, he was able to play against Jackie Robinson on multiple occasions.

Aaron, once a little kid from a poor family in 1940s Mobile, Alabama, became Major League Baseball’s all-time home run record holder on April 8, 1974 at the age of 40-years-old.

That day, Hank passed George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth’s record of 714, when he sent career home run 715 over the left-center field wall.

Aaron would end his career with 755 home runs. He would hold onto the home run crown until 2007, when Barry Bonds passed him by hitting his 756th home run.

That, of course, was with the help of PEDs, so in my mind, Hank Aaron is still the greatest home run hitter of all-time.

Today, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron still serves with the Atlanta Braves as the team’s Senior Vice President. Happy 86th Birthday, Hank, we love you.

Picture: (baseballhall.org)

Five Minutes of Prayer: Wetumpka, Alabama, One Year Later

This time a year ago, i was unsure of what to expect, meteorologists had been talking all week about possible tornadoes in Central Alabama.

They mentioned that they could be life-threatening, so I was preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

That afternoon, the skies were covered in clouds that you would only see in a horror movie. I grabbed the dogs, my brother, and his girlfriend, and we sprinted to the hall bathroom.

My dad wasn’t home, he was eating at a local sports bar called “Coaches Corner” or just “Coaches” to the locals.

Just as the three of us and the dogs were able to get the bathroom door closed, the wind began to pick up, throwing things around outside.

It was at this time, that I was sure that the tornado would hit our house, so I did what any Christian would do, I closed my eyes and began to pray.

I prayed to God for about five minutes, I prayed for my hometown, my family, co-workers, and friends. But most of all I prayed that He would keep us all safe and unharmed.

After five minutes of praying, I opened my eyes, and everything was eerily silent and still.

The maximum wind speed just five minutes earlier was 135 miles-per-hour, the damage path length, 18.18 miles.

One historic church in the heart of downtown was, for the most part, completely destroyed.

Another church just a few yards away, had it’s steeple swallowed in the wind, the senior center was demolished, and so much more was destroyed, including homes.

But by the Grace of God, nobody was killed and only four people were injured.

Be thankful for what you have and the history that your hometown has. It can all be changed in just five minutes.

Picture: First Presbyterian Church of Wetumpka built back in 1836.

Picture: God appears in the clouds above First Presbyterian as people pray. This was one of very few things left of this historic church.

‘Hank, Let’s Talk about Your Daddy’: A Day With The Lonesome Cowboy

It was a dreary and briskly cold December day in 2016, around 5 p.m., and I had known that Hank Williams Sr., was buried in Montgomery for years, but had never gotten the opportunity to pay a visit to the man who is quite possibly, the most famous country music singer still to this day.

So I got a hair of the dog, and decided to travel to Montgomery to visit the sacred gravesite of the legendary Hank Williams Sr.

As I rode to Montgomery, I listened to the lonesome-bluesy voice of The Drifter all the way to his grave.

When I arrived at his headstone, I stepped out of the car, I Saw The Light played on the radio, and suddenly, chills were sent spiraling down my spine.

For I knew just who was lying six feet below that cold, concrete slab, but I had never witnessed it first-hand before.

I looked up, gazing at the name on that tall, ghostly-grey headstone where the name of the country music pioneer is chiseled.

Then, I looked down at the base of his marker and noticed what looked like Hank’s famed cowboy hat.

I looked to my left, and there was Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams, the wife of The Drifting Cowboy.

Time seemed to stand still for just a moment as I was in the presence of a legend and his wife.

I was standing just feet away from the man that brought country music to life.

Hank, let’s talk about your daddy, tell me how your mama loved that man, we won’t talk about the habits, just the music and the man.

Second picture: New York Times.

Wetumpka Hosts Rival Stanhope Elmore in Blackout Clash

For decades the question has been asked “Who is Wetumpka’s biggest rival, Prattville or Stanhope?” While opinions have varied over the decades, from a personal standpoint, Stanhope Elmore is the bigger rival of the two in my eyes. Why, you might ask. Well, simply put there is absolutely no love lost when it comes down to these two, tensions always seem to rise, along with the stakes. No, this game hasn’t had the implications that the Prattville rivalry has had in past years, often it doesn’t even matter what the two teams’ records are when it comes down to this game. You may like to think of it as the Iron Bowl of high school football, especially here in Elmore County. This game always seems to be a knock-down, drag-out war, no matter what sport it’s in. Now on to the preview.

Glancing at the Opponent

The Mustangs, led by third-year head coach Brian Bradford, come into tonight’s game with a (5-1) record. Their only loss being to cross-county rival Prattville 42-0, on August 30. Stanhope Elmore came away victorious against Chilton County (24-8), Benjamin Russell (12-7), Calera (42-15), Shades Valley (26-6), and Smiths Station (20-17).

Inside the Rivalry

This meeting between the Stanhope Elmore Mustangs and Wetumpka Indians, will be the 51st all-time meeting in this series. Stanhope Elmore owns a 30-20 edge in the series.

The series dates back to October 16, 1970, a game that Wetumpka won 19-14, and was most recently played on October 5, 2018, a game that Stanhope Elmore came away with the late 34-28 victory. But as I mentioned before, throw everything, the kitchen sink included, out of the window in this one. None of that matters.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm at Hohenberg Field in Wetumpka.

Pictures: David Gray.

Battle in Ol’ Paul Snow: Tribe, Bucks Meet For Second Consecutive Season at Jacksonville State University

It’s been a long first four weeks of 2019 for the Wetumpka Indians (2-2) but thankfully, the long stretch of traveling is almost over, at least for a couple of weeks. Thursday night’s matchup at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium in Jacksonville, Alabama on the campus of Jacksonville State University.

Glancing At the Opponent:

Buckhorn (3-1) is led by third-year head coach, Keith Henderson. Henderson began his high school coaching career at Sparkman High School in 1999 and was the Senators coach until 2002. After leaving Sparkman, Henderson took eight years off and became the head coach of the Grissom Tigers in 2010, where his tenure was short and not-so-sweet as the Tigers went (1-9) in his only year at Grissom. Coach Henderson didn’t find his way to Buckhorn until 2017, when he took over as the Bucks head man, where he has been for three years since 2017. So far in 2019, the Bucks have a (3-1) record. They beat Madison County 35-21 in Week 1, lost to Florence 33-20 in Week 2, beat Hazel Green 36-35 in Week 3 and beat Albertville 24-7 a week ago. Wetumpka will look to halt the Bucks two-game win streak.

What’s After This?

Next week Wetumpka will play their home opener vs. Prattville While Buckhorn will host Sparkman.

Inside the Series:

Wetumpka and Buckhorn have only met once before in 2018 with Wetumpka running away with things 23-7 on September 20, 2018 at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.

Can they do it again? Kickoff is set for 7pm Thursday night at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium on the campus of Jacksonville State University.

9/11/01: The Day the World Went Up in Flames

18 years ago tomorrow, the world came crashing down around all of us when planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers hit the ground. I don’t remember much about that somber day, when every human walking the face of this Earth were stopped dead in their tracks, speechless because of what had just occurred. But I do remember running up to my mom when she got home from school that day and screaming “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! The planes just hit the buildings!” I didn’t realize what had just happened, what kind of impact that this event would have on this world. All I knew was the planes had hit the building, because I was three-years-old. What else am I supposed to know about what had just happened at that age? Have you forgotten where you were, what you were feeling, do you remember your reaction? Before laying your head down tonight, hug your loved ones, tell them you love them, get on a knee and pray for the families of the ones who were lost on that tragic day some 18 years ago. Lives were literally blown away, they literally went up in flames. Just as this country did on September 11, 2001. May we never forget what occurred 18 years ago. God Bless.