More Jackson County Opinions...

AUGUST 13, 2003


Column
By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 13, 2003

Doc and a dog inspired this one
People ask me all the time where I get ideas for this stuff.
They come from hither, thither and yon. And sometimes they come from the Society pages of The Jackson Herald.
That is where this one came from, and I want to thank Stone, Mark, Chris and Susan for honoring their dad and mom with that reception on Sunday, July 13.
Maybe you saw the picture (That was no picture; it was a photograph!) in The Herald on July 9. Dr. and Mrs. Stonewall Jackson Shirley – don’t you just love that name?
And what a handsome couple! No, that was not an old photograph. Yet, Doc and his bride, Genny, looked like they might be leaving on their honeymoon instead of celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Can you believe it: they are the parents of those four bright, intelligent, successful children – and the grandparents of eight grandkids.
I hope those bright, intelligent, successful children are aware that I made a small contribution to their success. Anyway, that’s what their daddy told me on more than one occasion. But I didn’t do it all by myself. A pack of dogs, all of them in need of a good veterinarian from time to time, had a hand – excuse me, paw – in it.
The dogs and I helped pay your way through college. Your dad told me that one day when I tried to get him to put ol’ Clarence to sleep. Ol’ Clarence was up in years and in very poor health, but thanks to Dr. Shirley’s tender loving care, he lived on a good many years – and contributed to the education of the four Shirley kids. Their daddy was not about to put that old dog to sleep. And it was not really because he needed the money. He just loved that old dog.
And that old dog loved his doctor. If Clarence were alive today, he’d be happy about his and Genny’s 50th anniversary.
And so would Ace I, Ace II, Tanny, Lady and several other dogs whose names I don’t remember.
I didn’t have papers on any of my animals. They were. . . well, just dogs. Junkyard dogs, I guess.
But I’ll tell you this: the owner of the grand champion in that big purebred canine show up in New York didn’t love his mutt any more than I loved mine. And the grand champion’s vet didn’t give that dog any better care than Dr. Shirley gave mine.
I never did pay to have mine shampooed, groomed, sprayed, spayed or neutered, and most of the time they ate table scraps and lived outdoors with all the other dogs in the neighborhood.
For two decades (the 1950s and ‘60s) Westmoreland Drive was overrun with dogs and kids. There was a dog for every kid and a kid for every dog.
Had there been an animal control officer back then, I sure would have liked to see him in action. The poor guy would have gone nuts.
Nobody complained about anybody’s dog, because whoever’s dog got in trouble today, somebody else’s dog would get in trouble tomorrow.
The main trouble I had was trying to keep Stumpy, Malcolm’s dog, out of my doghouse. Well, not really mine, Clarence and Tanny’s. It was a big cardboard box backed up to an outside vent so they could enjoy the warmth of the furnace in the wintertime.
I accused Stumpy of transporting fleas to my dogs’ doghouse. Which, if you think about it, is a ridiculous accusation. As Ralph McGill, the late great editor of The Atlanta Constitution, used to write, “The fleas come with the dog.”
Here’s hoping that Stone, Mark, Chris and Susan aren’t offended that their dad and mom’s photograph caused me to go to the dogs and come up with this column idea.
Dr. Shirley wouldn’t mind, for sure. Now that he is retired and I am dogless, we don’t see each other very often. But when we do, we reminisce about ol’ Clarence and Tanny and my other dogs, and some of the weird things that happened to them. They were never so weird that the good doctor couldn’t fix ‘em.
We’d talk about the time Tanny came to the clinic looking like a beach ball with hair. In one of his many dogfights, one of his “friends” punctured a lung, and he came waddling and rolling home, short of breath and in great pain.
Dr. Shirley, here we come – again!
Yes, had I been able to attend the reception, I guarantee that, after the greetings and congratulations, the conversation would have gotten around to my dogs and how they helped put four kids through college.
Ol’ Clarence and Tanny thought a lot of that man, and the feeling was mutual. I, too, thought a lot of Ol’ Clarence and Tanny, and I still think a lot of Stonewall Jackson Shirley, a very good veterinarian and a great man.
And don’t you just love that name!
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column
By: Kerri Graffius
The Jackson Herald
August 13, 2003

Just a few of the same words
About a year ago, my future father-in-law noticed someone closely studying the large amount of property across the street from his house in West Jackson.
Curious, he walked to the nearby property and asked the man what he was doing.
“I’m going to sell my land to a developer and make a million dollars,” the man told him while measuring the property.
It’s funny, because people around here often forget it takes a statement like that to get the ball rolling on bringing in new development to the county. And listening to some of the comments at a typical planning commission meeting, you would think there was never a former property owner who approached a developer and said, “Give me a million dollars for my land.” It’s a retirement plan, indeed, for old farmers who can no longer afford rising property taxes.
But, nearby property owners also seem to never regard how their “community” is taking shape until new development is proposed literally next door. It’s called the “Not In My Backyard” stance — neighbors who don’t give a flip about zoning and planning issues until it reaches their property line.
And they typically have some standard responses at public hearings about the proposed changes.
Perhaps the dirtiest words one can say at a planning commission meeting are, “We’ll turn into Gwinnett County if you approve this development,” which usually comes from someone explaining that they just moved out of Gwinnett County and relocated for the “country life.” And you think the others wouldn’t follow you? Or, you think the county leaders are just going to close the doors on development for them, now that you’re here?
It’s also not unusual to hear someone say something along the line of, “That property has been farmland years; it’s so pretty from my property and I enjoy it.” Well, why didn’t you buy that pretty piece of property from your neighbor?
And one time a group of nearby concerned residents told me, “If the old lady who lived on that farm for years knew it would become a subdivision, she would be rolling in her grave.” So, why didn’t the old lady specify in her will, or tell her heirs, that that was her worst fear?
You see, zoning and planning issues are a big concern for an open-space community, like ours, on the fringe of a metropolis. Yes, developers and planners throw out catch phrases like “smart growth” (as opposed to just “dumb growth,” apparently) and “conservation subdivision” (compared to subdivisions that just “ravage” the land, I guess), but the public has its own catch phases, too. Just listen and you’ll hear them.
By the way, that land near my future in-laws’ house is now being developed for a new subdivision. Homes prices are near $200,000. I guess that old landowner is enjoying his million-dollar retirement check.
Kerri Graffius is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.


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