By: Adam Fouche
The Jackson Herald
June 12, 2002
To my Dad on Fathers Day
When youre a small kid, you dont really think much about what kind of man you want to be when you grow up.
Sure, you tinker with the idea of being a fireman or a policeman or an astronaut. We all go through that. But as a kid, you never think much of the kind of person you want to be or how you want to act when you grow up.
I can remember being younger and dreaming of putting out fires or chasing bad guys. Heck, to be honest, I still dream of those things. I guess Im not quite grown up yet.
But I never once remember thinking about the kind of man I wanted to be. It just wasnt an issue. Baseball, throwing rocks at girls and playing in the dirt were more important.
As I have grown older, though, I started thinking about growing up as a person. I have wondered how other people will look at me as a man and of what kind of father I will be one day.
My parents divorced when I was 10. I didnt get to spend every day with my dad, though I saw him a lot on the weekends.
But as I was growing up, and even now, I watched my dad and paid attention to how he acted.
I really cant think of any nicer guy. My dad seems to get along great with everyone.
Hes friendly, helpful and tries hard to make the people around him feel at home.
I have never come across anyone that my dad would not talk to. To him, every person is equal, and he treats them as such.
My dad is always joking and hes always having fun, no matter how bad he feels or what kind of day hes had.
As a kid, I spent many, many days with him while he played softball all over Georgia. I was also there while he refereed and umpired nearly every sport but soccer. Because of that, I can hardly go anywhere nowadays without running into someone that knows him.
We watched Braves games on TV in between reruns of Andy Griffith.
He used to take me to Georgia football and basketball games and to Hawks games occasionally. Heck, hes the main reason I like sports, which is a necessity for the job I do at the newspaper.
Hes also been an inspiration for me.
My Dad doesnt have a full left arm. His left arm is shorter than his right arm and his left hand only has four fingers. He was born that way.
However, Ive never seen that slow him down. He used to pitch in softball. Hed stuff his glove under his left arm, pitch the ball with his right arm, then shove his glove on his right hand just in time to catch a line drive.
He would even bat, play football and basketball without the same left arm the rest of us have.
When he was younger than I am now, he had open heart surgery. Hes been through a lot and has the scars to prove it.
He doesnt know it, but a lot of times when I think I cant quite do something, I just think of the things hes done. Hes pushed through when lesser people wouldve given up.
A lot of times, I think of my dads life as motivation for me to do the things I want to give up on.
In fact, I dont say it a lot, but hes a big part of the reason that I am who I am today.
Dad, as I begin to really grow up, I only hope that Ill grow into a lot of your qualities. I hope that I can be fun, carefree and treat people the way youve always treated them.
And one day when I have kids, I hope theyll think of me the same way I think of you. Happy Fathers Day, Dad.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 12, 2002
Time to hang up the hoe
This is that happier, more cheerful column I was working on last week when I got sidetracked by graduation. I never thought I would see anything like that.
And I never thought I would see the day when Bobby Bailey has a better garden that I do.
Alas, that day has arrived.
Left to right, east to west, heres what hes got: cantaloupes, red potatoes, two rows of bush beans, okra, two rows of tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), squash, cucumbers, half runner beans, two rows of corn and two cherry tomato plants.
This isnt your typical weed infested, bug eaten, flea bitten garden, either. I searched the dictionary for just the right word. Friends, it is LUSH: tender and juicy; growing thick and green; characterized by abundant growth; very rich.
I have four tomato plants. Or had four tomato plants the last time I looked. The deer may have gotten to them by now.
I would not have those four plants if Bobby hadnt grown them for me in his pool house greenhouse. Its a good neighbor deed that he has been doing for many years. Malcolm and I could always count on Bobby coming around in early April and announcing, Boy, your tomato plants are ready.
Malcolm is tilling that garden in the sky now and doesnt need any earth grown tomatoes. Yes, Bobby and I miss him and his daily contributions to the agricultural/horticultural confab on Westmoreland Drive. I also miss the delicious Ambrosia cantaloupes he shared with me every summer.
Back to Bobby. I used to tell him that I taught him everything he knows about gardening. That was never 100 percent accurate. It certainly isnt true now.
He loved to kid me about being an organic purist. Thats what I was for many years. I didnt allow any chemical fertilizers or pesticides near my Back Forty.
I dont believe Bobby is a purist, but I see him working leaves, grass clippings and compost into his soil on a regular basis. And he has adopted one of my organic gardening mottoes: When in doubt, mulch.
Hed never admit it, but I am taking some credit for that.
I hate to admit this, but Bobby taught me a thing or two. One afternoon, years ago, he came over while I was planting beans. I had a stake at each end of the row and a string stretched tight down the center. I liked my plants in a straight line.
Bobby silently surveyed the situation, then walked down the row to where I was dropping seeds with military precision. He cleared his throat to get my attention and then announced, rather empathically, Huh, looks like any fool would know you could plant more seeds in a crooked row.
Which, if you think about it, is true.
Neither of us hesitated to pull a gardening joke on the other.
One year I didnt get a very good stand of corn. I always dropped two seeds per hill and spaced the hills exactly ten inches apart. When the seedlings got to be four or five inches tall, I thinned each hill to just one plant. Unfortunately, in some hills, none of the seeds came up, and there were ugly skips up and down the row. Bobby, knowing what a perfectionist I was, gave me a hard time about that.
One day, just before dark, I dug seedlings from some of the successful hills and transplanted them in the skips. Bobby came over the next day, and I watched him try to figure out what happened. There was a corn plant every ten inches in the row. The skips that were there the day before had miraculously disappeared.
He got back at me with his cucumber trick. My cukes were late, just beginning to bloom when they should have been producing. One morning, when I went out to check the garden, huge 8-to-10-inch cucumbers were strategically located along the vines and leaves of my plants, placed there by the gardening fairy, a.k.a. Bobby Bailey.
You cant grow nectarines in Georgia, I told Bobby. He didnt believe me. He planted a nectarine tree anyway. Years past and Bobbys tree had not produced the first fruit.
I visited my brother in Tennessee and his nectarine tree was loaded. I cut off several short branches with nectarines attached, and under cover of darkness, tied them throughout Bobbys tree when I got back home.
He never acknowledged that I did it. All he ever said was, I thought you told me I couldnt grow nectarines.
One of the great things about gardening is sharing. Bobby and I have been sharing practical jokes and horticultural tips for years. And we always share the fruits of our labor. I am free to graze his scuppernong vines and blueberry bushes. Ive shared sweet corn and new potatoes with him and Betty.
Now that I dont have anything to share, Im betting he will share an ear or two of corn and a mess of new potatoes with me.
Why did I quit gardening? A garden is like a marriage; it takes a lot of love and little work every day. The love is still there. But the work....
Old age and bad eyes what taken their toll. I shouldnt use old age as an excuse. Bobby is older than I am (by about a month), and he is still growing strong.
The deer made me do it. I surrendered to the deer. I put up an electric fence. It didnt faze em. They went over it, under it, and through it.
The other night I pulled in my driveway and there, right in the middle of the garden, stood eight deer. There was absolutely nothing growing out there. You know what the deer were doing? They were waiting for me to plant something.
You can also chalk up my quitting to above average intelligence. (Did I say that?) There are old baseball, basketball and football players who dont know when to quit. They keep on trying to play and wind up over the hill, physical wrecks, and looking pitiful, stupid and ridiculous. There are old gardeners that way, too. I dont want to be one of them.
I take my text from Ecclesiates 3:1-8. Thats where the preacher says theres a season for everything under the sun. I know you arent supposed to do it, but I want to add a verse: Theres a time to hoe, and a time to hang up the hoe.
Im hanging er up and counting on my friend, next door neighbor, and the best gardener on Westmoreland Drive to keep me in fresh veggies.
Dont let me down, Bobby.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.