By: Kerri Graffius
The Banks County News
October 1, 2003
Taking the plunge
As I watched the sky one Saturday afternoon,
I couldnt help but think what my mother had said just the
week prior: Only two things fall from the sky bird poop
and fools. Too bad my fiancé was the latter.
With the wedding countdown having officially started, James and
his brother (who is also his best man) decided to take the ultimate
plunge before holy matrimony. And to do that, they got in a plane
with some other crazy fools and decided to fall 13,000 feet to
Needless to say, for the worried bride and her future in-laws
waiting on the ground nothing can be more scary.
Statistically, youre more likely to die in a car accident
than jumping from a plane (go figure). Last year, 33 people died
in skydiving accidents, according to the United States Parachute
And, unfortunately, James nearly became one of those statistics
Just weeks before the jump, James didnt know what to think
about the idea of falling 120 miles an hour above the cloud-line.
His brother, Spencer, pressured him with a reasoning like, Ah,
come on, man. Itll be awesome. I could tell James
wanted something adventurous, but logically, he knew it was nuts.
James parents also knew it was crazy to jump from a plane
and the thought of possibly watching one (or both) of
their sons experience an accident initially kept them away from
the airport. But, at the last minute, they followed us to the
I would be fooling myself to say I wasnt worried about
the jump. It was certainly on my mind, but then I usually reasoned
it was a safe sport and related deaths are only hyped
by media attention.
On the way to the airport, however, those thoughts really didnt
scare me until we took a wrong turn and drove to the dead end
of a cemetery (I said a quick little prayer and hoped the irony
was just a coincidence).
Less than an hour after completing a video-instructed class,
James and Spencer were loading their parachutes on their backs
and walking to the plane. Spencer, who was hyped about the jump,
appeared calm yet excited while boarding the plane; James, however,
seemed like he would jump out of his own skin before jumping
out of that plane.
First-time skydivers usually dont jump alone for their
maiden jump theyre typically attached to a more
experienced jumper for a tandem jump. James and Spencer
both had a tandem.
Once at 13,000 feet, the planes door opened and jumpers
quickly began falling out of the sky. On the ground, we couldnt
even see them until their parachutes opened or in James
case, didnt open.
Well, actually, after the minute-long free-fall from the plane,
the first parachute did open, but only briefly. The parachutes
cords quickly became tangled and James experienced jumper
ejected the faulty life-saving device.
But on the ground, everybody, including James and Spencers
parents, knew one of the jumpers was in trouble. And for some
reason, even though I saw that parachute just falling into a
wooded area, it didnt register in my mind that something
Back in the air, and in a second (unplanned) free-fall, James
experienced jumper opened the emergency parachute the
only line for the two of them between life and death. Luckily,
it opened and the cords were working fine.
A few minutes later, Spencer safely landed on the ground. James,
harshly bruised from the two parachute openings, just wanted
his feet on the ground. As he approached the landing site, every
limb was stiff and his wide eyes could be seen from 100 feet
above the ground.
And once on the ground, his mishap caused the other veteran jumpers
to envy his experience. Theyve always wanted a near-death
experience like that, they told him. He got a two for one
sale, some of them joked. His tandem jumper said that was
the third time among more than 1,500 jumps that his first parachute
James joined them with some of the jokes, but he still appeared
Since the jump, James has made several comments that nothing
could be more scary than that experience. Maybe now hes
ready to take the other plunge on our wedding day.
Kerri Graffius is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her
e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
October 1, 2003
Afternoon of fashion
and tea; night at the theater
If youve read my column before,
you know I love to travel. I enjoy the culture I find in big
cities and small towns across the country. Fashion, tea and theater
are among those things I enjoy experiencing during my travels.
I recently enjoyed three of my favorite things right here in
north Georgia. A fashion show and tea sponsored by the Crawford
W. Long Museum and held at the Carriage House in Jefferson could
rival those fashion shows you see splashed across the pages of
Fashion Week was celebrated across the country earlier this month
and photos of stars watching the models strut their stuff on
the catwalk filled magazines. Well, Jackson County was treated
to a little of the big city fashion world Sunday afternoon.
Chairs lined the historic house as models walked through four
rooms showing off fashions, ranging from casual and dressy clothes
from Marys Fashion Corner in Commerce and vintage clothes
from The Dress Box in Bogart. It was a treat to see the latest
fashions, along with those that were popular from days gone by.
Students in an advanced history class at Jackson County Comprehensive
High School modeled the vintage fashions, while ladies from across
the county modeled the modern clothes. CWL Museum director Donna
Butler and Jean Bauerband provided the entertaining commentary
about the fashions.
Following the fashion show, the more than 100 people attending
the event went outside to the large porch to enjoy typical tea
treats, such as scones, finger sandwiches and desserts. A variety
of hot tea was also offered.
It was a wonderful afternoon and I look forward to the spring
tea museum leaders are already planning.
My night of theater was in August in Commerce when I enjoyed
a wonderful production of John Steinbecks Of Mice
and Men by The Renegade Players. The actors were simply
wonderful. I was drawn into this look at attitudes about disabilities
and racial relations. It is as moving today as it was 60 years
ago when Steinbeck wrote it.
Everything from the wonderful cast, to the costumes, to the set
to the direction was first-class. It would be hard to single
out anyone in the talented cast, but Seth Hendricks as Lennie
and Jerry Bryson as George were great. They brought emotion and
depth to the characters. It was also a treat to see Carmen Adams,
with whom I have worked for years, and my dentist, Joseph Clark,
on the stage.
The next production for The Renegade Players will be The
Trial of Jack B. Nimble on Nov. 1 at the Athens Little
North Georgia offers plenty of cultural events. Be sure and check
out our social section each week to find out about upcoming events.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate
editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.