The Jackson Herald
August 27, 2003
The name game is getting nasty
On July 23 I wrote, For the life of me, I dont understand the fuss the Atlanta community is making over how to honor former mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson Jr. (In case you are interested, I still dont understand.)
I did not know how appropriate my use of the word fuss was until I looked it up in the dictionary this morning. Fuss: much bother about small matters; useless talk and worry; attention given to something not worth it. Small matter? Useless talk? Not worth it? Absolutely! But thats my perspective. Others, of course, see it in an entirely different light.
I dont remember the last time I flew out of Atlanta. Whenever it was, I guarantee you I wasnt worried about the name of the airport. For all I cared, it could have been named for former mayor Bill Campbell. My only concern was, is this thing gonna get off the ground?
The Atlanta airport is now the worlds busiest. Of the zillion people who fly in and out of these every day, how many do you think know - or care - what the name of the place is? Im guessing not very many.
As you know, the current name of the airport is Hartsfield International. That may change. If a segment of Atlantas population has its way, the airport will become Jackson International. Thats what the fuss is all about. And you better believe that, with this crowd, its no small matter or useless talk. And not worth is? Shoot, its priceless.
If you are in (William B.) Hartsfields corner, dont worry. They may take the airport away from him, but hell still be famous. I mean, that legendary Atlanta Zoo gorilla, Willie B., was named for him. Thats an honor the Jackson crowd surely would not want to claim.
Unfortunately, the fuss, like a lot of things in Atlanta, has taken on racial overtones. The name game is getting nasty.
You reckon Mr. Hartsfield and Mr. Jackson, dead and buried, are turning over in their graves and taking sides? I rather doubt it. However, I dont know what the dead and buried are doing or thinking, if anything, and I dont believe you do, either.
If Mr. Hartsfield and Mr. Jackson are at peace - not war - why is everybody else fighting? I believe the answer is in that famous (infamous) July 23 column. I dont want to be rude or insensitive here, but it has long been my opinion that we do things, not to honor the dead, but to salve the egos of the living.
Naming something for a loved one, putting flowers on his grave, or publishing a memorial on the anniversary of his death is well and good. It does something for you, if not for your loved one. Giving him a pat on the back and putting a rose in his lapel while hes still here is well and good, too. It does something for both of you.
Why did I wait til he died to go see him? I am haunted by that question. Perhaps you know the feeling.
You may remember that I told the Jackson County commissioners and the Jefferson mayor and councilmen not to name anything for me. Im surprised they havent called to tell me not to worry. But really, if I have to have something named for me to be remembered, am I worth remembering?
The folks I remember most dont have anything named for them, and I suspect thats true for most of you.
I dont remember anything particular that my granddaddy did. Nothing really stands out. Well, he did take me rabbit hunting. I guess I should have named one of my rabbit traps for him. Mostly, I remember him for the man he was, not so much for what the man did.
Same goes for my Daddy. He taught me at an early age how to fish. Keep your hook in the water, Virgil, keep your hook in the water! If he told me that once, he told me a thousand times. Maybe I should start a movement to rename the Tennessee River for my dad.
My mama didnt take me rabbit hunting or fishing. But until I dropped out of high school and joined the Navy at age 17, she saw to it that I was in Sunday school and church every Sunday. Today, whether I go to Sunday school or church or not, I remember my Mama every Sunday morning how she trained up this child in the way he should go. Im sorry, Mama, that I dont always go that way. If I could rename something, Id rename the McLemoresville (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens) United Methodist Church for Virginia Pafford Adams.
Look, folks, we need to think long and hard before we name anybody or anything, but once we name him, her or it, stick with that name. That goes for the Hartsfield International Airport.
Look, Atlanta, if you change the name of Hartsfield to Jackson, what are you gonna do 40 years from now when the 2043 mayor welcomes the first alien spaceship from Mars?
Dont let renaming become too easy. Dont let it become a habit.
Renaming something is a lot like recalling Californias governor, Gray Davis. Elect him, but if you discover you dont like him, kick him out. If we all had the freedom (power) to do that, politics would become a game of fruit basket turn over.
Renaming something is a lot like divorce. Get married, but if you dont like each other after six months, split. I understand thats happening to half of the marriages in the United States. Is divorce too easy? Has it become a habit?
What this country needs is a little more stability - in politics, marriage, and airports.
Virgil Adams is the former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.
By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
August 27, 2003
Missing The Fun Of Crank Calls
Amy and I have thus far resisted getting caller ID on our phone at home, reasoning that its impolite to decide whether were going to answer the phone based on whatever name or number appears in the window. I do have caller ID on my cell phone, though, and Ive got to admit its been pretty handy in assuaging the Is my wife in labor? anxiety that grips me every time it rings.
Besides manners associated with phone use, another casualty of caller ID that Ill miss is crank calls. Now, Im not talking about anything lewd or mean, Im just referring to the fun but harmless phone calls that Im almost sure are no longer made.
Before we discovered girls, my brother and I would sit at home and call people at random complaining that their cow/dog/horse/pig had gotten into our back yard and was making a mess. Granted, it wasnt very complicated fun, but we could entertain ourselves for hours making the same dumb calls to different numbers all over town.
After college, when I worked at an outdoor retail store that had another branch across town, co-workers and I would frequently call the other store when we knew new employees would be working, and wed ask for prices and availability on things like Gore-Tex Underwear, or if the imaginary XJ-70 Carbon-Bladed Ice Axe was still in stock and when would it go on sale. This activity was especially fun if you could pull it off in the middle of the Christmas shopping season, when the green salesperson was answering the phone and juggling five other tense customers simultaneously.
This game went both ways, of course, and veterans would often disguise their voices and devise cunningly real sounding product names in an attempt to dupe suspicious salespeople, and we kept the competition up even after I started my new job at a local bookstore. My friend Gerald did a great backwoods septuagenarian, but most of the time I was on to him the minute I answered the phone.
Appletree Bookstore, how may I help you?
An upbeat, gravelly voice answered, Hey there, young fella, is this that there bookstore there set by the grocery there?
Why, yes, sir, this is the bookstore there where you said it is, sir.
Im lookin for a book, see. My granbabys havin her a birthday party, and I got this particular book in mind, but I dont recollect the name of it, see, an I thought maybe ...
You dont remember the name of the book?
Well, no, theres a cow in it, and the name of it is ... somethin bout a cow. Either Cow Somethin or Somethin Cow. Its right there on the tip of my ...
Spit it out.
Oh, Im sorry, Ill think of it here in a ...
Spit it out.
Well, Im sure I can remember it if I think ...
I said, Spit it out, old timer!
Im sorry I caint remember it, but ...
It was right about then that I determined the voice on the other end of the line did not in fact belong to my friend Gerald, but instead, it belonged to a genuine customer with a genuine need to purchase a book for his granddaughter. I spent the next half hour apologizing on the phone and doing my best to explain my unexplainable behavior, all in the presence of the store manager.
Im relieved to report that the customer had a good sense of humor and continued to shop at Appletree. From that day forward, I didnt mind getting burned once in a while if Gerald called in a gravelly voice asking for non-existent books, and I decided to be polite to everyone who calls, identified caller or not.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.