Banks County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 13, 2002


By: Angie Gary
The Banks County News
November 13, 2002

Phil Vassar show
full of fun and energy
He runs and slides across the stage and then jumps on top of his piano. He makes several more laps across the stage without missing a beat before jumping into the middle of the audience. He runs into the crowd, going up and down several aisles and stopping to serenade a few fans. He stops for hugs, handshakes and high-fives. In between lyrics, he says, “This is fun.”
Phil Vassar is so full of energy that it makes me tired thinking about it. His recent performance in Hiawassee, Ga. was a fun-filled, high energy show. We were there for the first performance and I really wondered how he would have any energy left for the second show.
At one point after jumping on top of the piano, he spun round and round and said, “We’re having fun now.” He also did a few athletic maneuvers that looked a lot like Jumping Jacks. I haven’t done any of those since high school physical education, but I might need to try if it will give me as much energy as Phil has. He makes all of the high jumps seem effortless.
After the show, I learned that Phil was a high school and college athlete with several football and track championships which explains his athletic ability on the stage. I kept thinking that he is around my age and I can’t jump that high or that far.
Phil’s performance certainly entertains the crowd. I think he should be a contender for an “Entertainer of the Year” award. The audience was relatively quiet at first, but most everyone was on their feet and roaring 30 minutes later. His energy and fun is so contagious that everyone is having a good time before they know it.
In addition to being a wonderful pianist and singer, Phil is a prolific song-writer. He performed several of his hits, including “Six Pack Summer,” “American Child” and “Another Day in Paradise.” He also performed “My Next 30 years,” a hit song he wrote for another country artist, Tim McGraw. He opened with “Athens, Greece,” a great song which is on his latest CD.
Phil met with members of his fan club between the two shows and he was friendly and gracious to all, thanking them for coming to the show. We were also surprised to see my mother’s long-time doctor, whose son is Phil’s manager. It really is as small world...
Phil will be in Georgia again on Jan. 18 when he comes to the Georgia Theater in Athens. Be sure and catch the show. In the meantime, pick up his latest CD, “American Child.” For more information on his fan club, go to
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at


By: Rochelle Beckstine
he Banks County News
November 13, 2002

Swimming in October?
For the second time in my life I found myself in a pond because of Ole’ Agnes Scott.
I went through the traditional tossing of the newly engaged into the “Pond” in my sophomore year at Agnes Scott College. It took six girls to drag me kicking and squeeling on that sunny April day to the 8 x 10 bricked pond in the alumna gardens. By the time I came up sputtering and pushing wet hair out of my face, my friends were gone. Their laughter echoed behind cheering me out of the pond and onward to my dorm. It was over. I wouldn’t have to dread it any longer.
So why you might ask was I in a pond again because of my alma mater?
This, too, I can blame on my husband. You see he decided to get a culinary degree in July and he is currently baking enough bread to send all of the Canadian geese to Bermuda with their bellies full. So because of him and his baking I was standing on the shores of the Winder-Barrow YMCA pond with three bags of rolls and donuts, my toddler in tow, her Winnie-the-Pooh costume hanging in our truck just waiting for the chance to Trick-or-Treat.
It started out as me trying to lure the geese closer. They were resting on the other side of the pond. I broke off chunks of bread and threw them at the geese. Of course it didn’t go nearly far enough so I continued to throw harder and harder — my rolls making it about 40 feet, a quarter of the distance to the geese. The geese began to swim closer to me and that’s when it happened. I realized it in the instant it happened. My college ring, the symbol of the sorority of Agnes Scott women, the epitome of my hard work and accomplishment flew off my middle finger and soared through the air, bulleting into the water 20 feet from where I stood gaping. In that instant, my daughter’s memory vanished, I was no longer Mama. I was the sophomore who cried when my first paper earned me only a C-plus and went to bed at a modest 10 p.m. every night after studying for three hours. I was the junior who enjoyed walking among the books on the 7th floor of the library and finding the quietest spot on campus among the older and seldom used books. I was the senior whose heart soared as my goal of graduation was reached and it was my turn to take the graduation walk with my professors and mentors. And I was diving into that frigid pond on the last day of October- — make no doubt about that. Before the wake of my zinging ring had cleared, I was there waist deep, dredging the bottom of the pond with my numb fingers sifting through slimey, oozy gunk.
It seemed to take a year, but my ring wasn’t off my finger for more than a minute before I chanced upon the signature square onyx stone with my right hand. I breathed again, noticing the freezing water soaked through my clothes and shoes, the honking geese and the rolls floating past my eyes. Further away, I could see cars speeding by on the main road in downtown Winder. Reality returned in a rush and I turned to see my daughter Piper standing where I had left her, limply holding a roll in each hand and staring at me as if to say “Just what are you doing in the water Mama?”
Climbing out of the pond in my jeans and T-shirt, water trailing behind, I knew someday she would understand why I went into the pond after my college ring, which is insured for my lifetime. What she may not understand is why I finished feeding the geese the two bags of bread while 40 -degree winds chilled my body to the point that I still shiver when I think of it. Heck, I can’t even figure out why I did that.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.
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