More Jackson County Opinions...

March 21, 2001

By Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 21, 2001

Live radio days revisited
Henry Johnson of Jefferson, a.k.a. "Doc Johnson" of "Doc Johnson's Traveling Miracle Medicine Show," calls it a cross between Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" and the more locally based "Mountain Stage." It has also been likened to the live Grand Ole Opry shows of the 1930s.
But while the Dahlonega Mountain Music and Medicine Show may have a similar approach to these other live radio shows, its purpose is all its own. The show is one facet of the Folkways Center of the Georgia Mountains non-profit organization's theme of "Celebrating Treasured Mountain Traditions." Its related efforts are to "preserve and cultivate the history and folkways of the people of the North Georgia Mountain region," including music, crafts, dance, cooking, medicine and folklore.
The radio show got its start back at the beginning of the year, with the idea being that ticket sales for the live show - which airs from 8 to 10 p.m. the first Saturday of each month on WKHC 104.3 FM out of the sanctuary of Dahlonega Baptist Church - would help raise funds for the purchase of that same church building. Once the building is purchased, it will serve as the folkways center, with the sanctuary renovated for Mountain Music Hall for performances of bluegrass, old-timey and mountain gospel music. Other plans for the building include a visitor's center, museum, library and folkways school complete with art and music studios. It's an ambitious plan, but so far, so good - according to Johnson, tickets to the live radio shows have sold out each month to an audience of 400 or so, and a $200,000 donation has already been made.
For those who like live radio shows, as well as the flavor of mountain music and folklore, the Dahlonega Mountain Music and Medicine Show offers skits and characters set in the time period of the 1820s up to the 1950s and musical performances from that time under the guise of talent contests held in connection with "Doc Johnson's Traveling Miracle Medicine Show."
For example, interspersed with music, the March show included a skit about the visit a professor from the local college makes to the general store, seeking research and reviews on grits (he's from "up North"). What are they? Where did they come from? Also, "Doc Johnson" made a pitch for his "Wizard Water," encouraging those in the audience to consider it for what ails them. ("You heard about the 80-year-old lady who died last week? She drank Wizard Water every day - don't worry, they saved the baby.")
Members of a ladies sewing club get together at the general store to buy notions for the upcoming quilting bee, and to catch up on the latest gossip. Some of the best drama in town centers around the goings-on at the courthouse, where solicitors and judges put on a show for the jury and spectators. All is woven together with bluegrass, Celtic and gospel music, with "Doc Johnson" introducing the acts.
For more information, see the Folkways Center website at
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.

By Todd Simons
The Jackson Herald
March 21, 2001

Spring training a time for memories
Late February is when the urge hits me. Then March brings box scores of exhibition games. When opening day comes regret sets in. All over south Florida people are congregating at quaint baseball parks rooting on Major Leaguers. I wanted to see spring training, but I never did go.
In high school I was a baseball junkie. I made it to five or ten Braves games a year, but what I really wanted to do was spend 10 days in Florida trying to see how many spring training games I could attend. I fantasized about chatting with Dale Murphy as he stretched his arms on the on-deck circle. I dreamt of seeing a new Major League player fight for his dream job, or the rookie that everyone would know in June. Spring training promised an intimacy with the game that can't be enjoyed anywhere else. But every year came and went and I never went to see a spring training game. Every year I regretted it.
Until this year.
My sister and her husband moved to Fort Myers, Fla., about three years ago. This was the excuse I needed to travel the 10 hours to watch spring training. But I still didn't go. Either the lack of time or money kept me away. The regret grew.
Then my sister stepped in again. In September she had a little girl, Jordan Layne. She was christened March 11, right smack dab in the middle of the spring training season. I was only going to be in Fort Myers for a long weekend, but here was my chance. The Twins were in town against the Pirates. I could name only two players on the teams, but I could reminisce about Kirby Pucket and a young Barry Bonds. Baseball is baseball, after all.
My mother took her only grandchild for the day, and my sister, her husband and I took the short 15-minute ride to the ball park.
We were arriving late, but that was fine, maybe even appropriate. We pulled into the stadium and found a grass parking lot with hundreds of cars lining rows called Carew, Blyleven, Kilebrew or another Minnesota baseball great. We parked on Hrbeck.
"Remember, he is the one that pulled Ron Gant off first base in the 1991 World Series, "I reminded my sister. For me the fun had started.
We walked in for free because it was already the seventh inning, and we passed people as they left, because it was 9-2. I was elated. We sat behind home plate on metal bleachers and rested our feet on the seats below us. I called over the beer man and kicked back. It was like watching a game from a friend's front porch.
I chatted with an old-timer about some of the guys on the field. He told me who had been good last year and who he thought would make an impression on the Twins' record this year. He was a Twins fan, though he wasn't from Minnesota. Before retiring to Florida he had been in Pennsylvania, but every spring he sat in that park and watched the only season that mattered to him. For him, baseball was spring training, for that is when the Minnesota Twins became his home team.
The three innings of baseball I saw were a dream fulfilled. No one scored. The final was 9-2. The game was sloppy at times, but none of that mattered. I was kicking back under 80-degree blue skies with great conversation, a cold beer and baseball. Except for Dale Murphy's absence, it was everything I had hoped for.
Todd Simons is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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