More Jackson County Opinions...

MARCH 3, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 3, 2004

Everybody needs a Big Brother
I had a Big Brother in George Thomas Adams Jr., first born of our Daddy and Mama, Mr. and Mrs. George Thomas Adams Sr.
I’ve told many people many times that I’d either be dead or in jail if it hadn’t been for G.T. Looking back over his life — and mine — that’s closer to the truth than you know. But I know.
Big Brother, born November 29, 1919, was three and a half years older than me. He was also better looking, smarter, bigger and stronger, and could have killed me with his own bare hands if he had wanted to.
When I was a pre-adolescent brat — and later a full blown adolescent brat who “knew everything” — I thought that was what he was trying to do. We fought just about every day, and I always won. I know now that I always won because G.T. loved his little brother and didn’t want to kill him. So he’d back off, give up and let me win, thus sparing my life and saving me the embarrassment of getting my little butt whipped.
My brother died nine months and 17 days ago, and I miss him very much. He not only saved my life in hand-to-hand combat on the home front; he also protected me on “foreign battlefields.” He was not a shadow that followed me everywhere I went. Nor was he a seeing-eye dog that led me around old stomping grounds where I got in trouble.
Nevertheless, he seemed to know where I was and what I was doing before I got there and did it. He had some sort of sixth sense that the CIA could have used in its intelligence network.
No matter how foolproof my lies, G.T. confronted me with the truth. I don’t think he ever told Mama and Daddy — or anybody but me. But he told me. “You better watch it, Virgil. You are headed for trouble. You better straighten up.” It was his way of lifting me out of the gutter and helping me set foot on the high road again. (I didn’t spend much time on the plateau.)
Like I said, everybody needs a Big Brother.
At his funeral in the little United Methodist Church in McLemoresville, Tenn., it was an honor and a privilege to tell a packed audience how much G.T. meant to me. I told them one last time that I’d either be dead or in jail if it hadn’t been for my big brother. In tiny McLemoresville (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens) they knew I was telling the truth.
G.T. was more than my guardian angel; he was also my teacher. I studied Fishing 101 under Daddy. In graduate school, my professor was Big Brother. Next week I plan to tell you what a great fisherman, and teacher, he really was.
G.T. tried, but failed, to teach me to be a hunter. He was a crack shot, and seldom went after rabbits, squirrels, quail, doves or ducks without coming home with his limit.
I couldn’t hit a rabbit if it stood on its hind legs and posed for me. So I adopted fishing as my favorite outdoor sport.
However, I harvested my share of bunny tails, and G.T. deserves all the credit. He taught me how to build rabbit traps and showed me where to set them.
We had 25 or 30 traps that we ran every morning before daylight and school, and some days we’d catch as many as four or five rabbits. We’d slit their under bellies and sling out their guts (excuse me) and toss the furry carcasses on the back porch of Mr. Jim Garner’s store.
Mr. Jim paid us a nickel a rabbit (sometimes a dime), and G.T. and I thought we were rich. Our rabbit money made up for Daddy not always having our nickel allowance some Saturdays.
I don’t know what Mr. Jim charged his customers for this native, trapped and gutted delicacy, nor do I know what — if anything — he did with the rabbits that stayed too long in above freezing temperature on his store’s back porch. But if anybody ever died from eating one of the Adams boys’ rabbits, I never heard about it.
That brings to mind another nasty story. In fact, it stinks, and I thought long and hard before deciding to tell you about it.
It was the biggest fight my brother and I ever had. Looking back, I think we really did try to kill each other, and if Mama had not intervened, we might have succeeded.
Reader discretion is advised, starting now.
There were two sources of heat in the rambling old farmhouse where I was born and where G.T. lived until his death last May. There was the fireplace and the cook stove.
G.T. and I slept together in an unheated bedroom. It gets really cold in Tennessee in the wintertime, and so we buried ourselves in a lush feather bed and covered ourselves with multiple quilts. And when the temperature dipped into the teens, Mama would warm flat irons in front of the fireplace, wrap them in towels, and place them at our feet.
And so it was on the night in question. Big Brother and I were snug as bugs in a rug. We had put the day’s fight behind us, told each other “goodnight” (as was our custom), and said our prayers: “Now lay me down to sleep, pray the Lord my soul to keep, love go with me through the night, wake me with the morning light, help me be a good little boy tomorrow, God bless everybody, Amen.”
Then G.T. flatulated.
That word is not in Bill Gates’ or my dictionary, but it should be. It is a polite euphemism for a four-letter f-word that Mike would not let me use in his family newspaper. Sort of like Daddy’s s-word, which, if you think about it, would be very applicable here.
I accused Big Brother and slapped him upside the head. He denied it and slapped me upside the head. The argument became a “you did-I didn’t” free-for-all, and the slapping upside the head escalated into a full-blown wrestling match.
The flatulent flatulence also escalated.
Just before Big Brother administered the deathblow, Mama rushed into the room, yelled “STOP IT” at the top of her voice, jerked back the covers, and exposed the discharge left by the defecation of our old tom cat.
That old cat was never allowed in our bed again. Even so, G.T. and I never crawled in before looking under the covers.
Big Brother and I never forgot that experience. How could we? The aromatic fragrance, evenly distributed over feather bed, quilts and two nasty, stinking boys, lasted a long, long time.
Incidentally, the old farmhouse where I was born and where G.T. lived out his life has been remodeled. Our bedroom is now the dining room. I no longer have any negative thoughts of that long ago night and fight, but every time I go home to McLemoresville and sit down to a delicious home cooked meal in that setting, I remember that old cat. But mostly I remember my Big brother.
Virgil Adams is the former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Angela Gary
The Commerce News
March 3, 2004

What I was going to write about....
I have to confess. I usually write my column at the last minute. I don’t think about it days in advance. I don’t do any research or write a few different versions.
On Monday or Tuesday as the deadline for my column passes and nothing comes to mind, I sit down in front of the computer and just type frantically for 10 or 15 minutes. Whatever comes out is my column for the week.
Last week, I had an idea for this week’s column really early. It was last Wednesday and we had just finished that week’s paper. I had been to the funeral home the night before to see Dwain Smith, our Brockton News correspondent who died suddenly at his home. Dwain was a sweet man who we all enjoyed working with. I began to think about all of the correspondents I have worked with over the years, Hilder Watkins, Allene Porter, Mary Arnold...The list goes on and on.
We had 10 ladies writing their community’s news when I started work at The Herald in 1985. I was going to write a column about how Dwain’s death and the end of his column was also an end of an era for us at The Herald. Then, I saw that Mike Buffington had the same column idea. I have to admit it’s the first time that I have ever had the same column idea as our editor.
As I turned the page of the paper last Thursday morning, another column idea came to me. I thought about the tea my mother and I would be taking my sister to on Saturday for her birthday. We love going to tea rooms and it would be our first at the Byrd House in Jefferson. I was sure I would have plenty to write about.
I got back to the social section in last week’s issue and saw Jana Mitcham’s column. It was about a tea she and the ladies in her family went to at the Byrd House. I couldn’t believe it. My second column idea was identical to Jana’s.
It appears that the columnists at The Herald are starting to think alike. That’s kind of scary.
My third column idea was about all of the fun I would have in that winter blizzard headed our way. Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough snow to prevent me from getting in to the office.
As a child, nothing could compare with the feeling of waking up on a cold, winter morning and finding the ground covered with snow. It usually meant school was canceled and we could head out to play in the wonderful white stuff.
As an adult, I have to head on out to work, snow or not. The newspaper business is kind of like the mail — come rain, sleet or snow, we have to work. I did admire the snowmen in several yards along the Brockton Road as I made my way to work.
One good thing about the snow is that it came on Thursday. The paper was already out and Mike and Jana hadn’t written about it yet.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.


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