Madison County Opinion...

APRIL 9, 2003

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 9, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Much to learn over Georgia flag debate
By observing the debate over the Georgia flag, one can learn about many related subjects.
For example: The Atlanta news media is capable of learning. When the debate first appeared, most of Atlanta’s TV announcers insisted on calling the image on the ’56 flag the “Stars and Bars.” It is, of course, the Southern Cross.
When the newly proposed flag was introduced last week, they had learned the difference. All of them are pointing out that the proposed flag is based on the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America, the “Stars and Bars.” They now know that the ’56 flag is based on the “Cross of St. Andrew.”
Another thing we have learned is that many of our so-called state leaders simply do not understand the principles on which this nation was formed. We heard some of them declare that we only need one flag, the U.S Flag. These are the people who think that the federal government should have all power and the state governments are of little value.
That was not the intent of our founders. They knew that in order to have a government “of the people,” it is necessary to keep governing power as close to the people as possible. They set up a system that places the majority of governing authority in the state and local governments. The federal government was given only limited authority to conduct the common defense and regulate trade between the several states. That was one of the primary causes that the Confederate army was attempting to defend.
Finally, we learn that the so-called black leadership has no intention to compromise in any way. Their attitude is anything they desire must be made law, with no exceptions. As evidence of this, the black leadership in the Georgia legislature has declared that they will not support any referendum that includes the Cross of St. Andrew as an option. As far as they are concerned, they have all rights and the majority has no rights.
We have learned much during the flag debate. We will learn much more as the referendums approach. That is, the rest of the state will learn much. The black leadership has closed minds and will refuse to hear anything but their own chatter, and that is a shame.
We have much to learn from each other. But the only way we will learn from each other is for both sides to hear the other’s arguments. As a wise man once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.”
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
April 9, 2003

A Moment With Margie
The tale of the shelter’s first cat
He didn’t look like much when I first saw him. Covered from head to tail in scratches, with broken teeth and looking the worse for wear, I remember thinking, ‘well I don’t know what kind of fellow he’s going to be.’
He was big — I mean huge — as cats go. Not fat, but with a large head and muscular neck; the result of years of being a tomcat intent on winning females and beating up other tomcats.
It was opening day at the new Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter, a dream come true for all of us who had worked so hard for so long to have a shelter here, but as expected we were already filling up fast.
But the creature in front of me was the shelter’s first cat — a big, brawny fellow with a medium length solid white coat — except of course that at the moment he was more of a dirty brown.
Now I love most any animal, but I have a particular weakness for cats, however I wasn’t so sure about this one, even though I had wanted another white cat since my own Snowball died a few years ago.
But then I looked at his face and watched the slow rhythm of his paws as they tried to knead the hard metal cage in front of him, while all the while he was watching me.
My husband Charles reached in the cage and pulled him out for me to hold — and although he was trembling with fear, he immediately began to purr.
So it was that several days later, after tests, de-worming, vaccines and neutering, I picked him up for the journey to his new home.
As I had suspected, our other cats didn’t care for him no matter how much he tried to make friends, and they cared even less when he gave up that tactic and began offering to beat them up.
He took the rest of his new surroundings and lifestyle, in stride however, but it wasn’t long before I discovered a limp in a back leg that was obviously causing him some pain. A trip to our vet revealed that fighting with other cats and running from dogs hadn’t been the only problems in his past life — someone had taken a shot at him, leaving a wound that had damaged his joint. Surgery and an intense round of antibiotics have saved the leg to this point and have seemed to give Thomas, or “Tom Doody” as he is more commonly referred to around my house, a new lease on life.
Instead of chasing females, Tom Doody now spends his days pursuing whatever lap he can get into. Another feline (a gray and white kitten this time) has come to our home from the shelter in the meantime, and instead of considering him a rival, Tom has bonded with “Joey” (so named because he has huge ears and is long and lanky — reminding us of a baby kangaroo). The two of them spend long hours basking in the sunlight in front of the patio doors together or lounging on somebody’s bed, or curled up together in one of our laps.
And I’m convinced Joey has done as much or more for Tom’s health and happiness as anything else.
I consider this big old boy a gift, because once it looked as though the shelter was going to be a reality for our area, I decided that the first white cat that graced the shelter doors would be the cat I would bring home.
Was it just coincidence that the very first cat there was a white one? I don’t think so.
In the many, many cats the shelter has taken in since it opened, only two or three others have been white.
And although he wasn’t the white kitten I’d hoped for or thought I wanted, he has turned out to be so much more.
He waits every night for his daily brushing and the sores that once dotted his skin are replaced by gleaming white fur.
One day, on a hunch, I tested him by putting his feet in a little water. He didn’t object, as long as I was holding him, so that day he got his first bath.
I was amazed. As many cats as I have owned, I have never had one who particularly cared for water — in fact most decidedly did not care for it and any attempts at bathing or dipping them for fleas were an ordeal. But not Tom, he purrs contentedly through the whole thing, but his favorite part is being wrapped in a towel afterwards. He just eats up all the attention.
And while my husband and the kids frequently give me a hard time about my affection for him, it’s no surprise to walk in to a room and find ‘Tom Doody’ being held and talked to by one of them.
Who knew, besides his Creator, that beneath his rough and tough exterior lay such a sweet spirit.
As for our other cats, who come inside for visits, they have more or less adjusted to Tom and to Joey, but one who by far remains the least thrilled is Crickett — our little house dog — who was herself a rescue from the roadside a few years ago.
While the cat and dog tolerate each other, Tom is extremely jealous and will try to outdo Crickett in any bid for attention. I feel sorry for Crickett and have decided to give her a vacation from her feline companions by taking her on vacation with us - but I’m afraid ‘Tom Doody’ (and sidekick Joey) are home to stay.
Why don’t you visit the animal shelter? After all you too might find one, or several, friends who will mean more to you than you know.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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