More Jackson County Opinions...

MARCH 10, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 10, 2004

Big Brother, Big Challenge
Good is good, but it isn’t always best. Sometimes bad is best.
That is one of many lessons I learned from my Big Brother, George Thomas Adams Jr. I learned it sitting, kneeling, lying, crawling around in a 12-foot, flat-bottom Johnboat — trying to dodge limbs and wasp nests — as G.T. penetrated a jungle to get to the next “honey hole.” I sometimes wished for a bulldozer to clear the way. Fishing with Big Brother was a Big Challenge.
Most people, when they go fishing, look for a good place to drop their bait. G.T. didn’t look for a good place; he looked for the worst bad place he could find. The narrower the space between grass clumps, weeds, stick-ups, brush, logs and trees, the better. That is where Big Brother carefully, patiently and quietly maneuvered his worm, cricket or minnow.
Professional bass fishermen call it “structure” G.T. took structure to a whole new level. His philosophy was “bad place, big fish.” And more often than not, he was right — not only about big, but also most. That’s why he called it a “honey hole.”
There are places on the Obion River, the Tennessee River, Kentucky Lake, Reelfoot Lake, Lake Lanier, Clark’s Hill and other bodies of water that only G.T. and I fished. The only reason I fished ‘em was, I was with Big Brother. Other fishermen couldn’t get through the jungle; either that, or they didn’t think it was worth the effort.
Big Brother taught me — challenged me — that the easy way is not the best way; that sometimes you have to go through the jungle to reach the clearing, and that that not only applies to fishing, but to all of life.
I told you a couple of weeks ago that G.T. knew where I was and what I was doing before I got there and did it. Well, he had that same kind of sixth sense when it came to fishing. He just knew somehow that if he could get through the jungle — the brush, bushes, briars, stumps and debris — to that little pool of open water on the other side, we’d catch fish.
G.T. could smell ‘em. That’s the truth. He’d lie down in the bottom of the boat, his nose just over the bow, and paddle quietly with his right hand. As the boat moved ever so slowly forward, he sniffed the water. Suddenly he’d stop, back off a bit, drop his bait in the water — and threaten me with death if I didn’t sit still and be quiet. Sometimes we’d catch our limit of bream right there.
We didn’t anchor the boat; in that thicket, it wasn’t going anywhere.
Patience was Big Brother’s middle name, and he exhibited patience in whatever he was doing — not just fishing. He did everything carefully and thoroughly. He drove the speed limit. He ate slowly. He walked slowly. He talked slowly.
At our spring and fall outings down at Clark’s Hill, when it came time for G.T. to tell a story, he’d start, and after a minute or two of hesitation, some impatient member of the Gang would tell him, “Get on with the story, G.T., get on with the story.”
Looking back, I wonder if his slow speech was the result of a heart condition and mini strokes that eventually took his life ten months ago.
But make no mistake; G.T. was quick, agile and fast when he needed to be, especially in his earlier years. He was an outstanding athlete. He was the best player on our high school baseball and basketball teams. If we had had a football team, he would have been the best there, too. In tiny McLemoresville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens), we didn’t know about football.
My Big Brother didn’t invent baseball’s sacrifice bunt, but he refined it. When we’d get a man on third base with less than two outs (which was often), and it was G.T.’s turn to bat, it was a sure run. Tom Glavin and Greg Maddux, late of the Atlanta Braves, were noted for their bunting prowess. I’d put my Big Brother up against them any day. No, he couldn’t pitch like them, but he was pretty good. He could also play seven other positions. I don’t recall him ever catching a game.
I didn’t come close to being the player G.T. was, but he made me better. (Not better than him; just better than I used to be.) In the rabbit business, in a fishing boat, on the baseball diamond and on the basketball court, he challenged me to be the best that I could be.
One of my proudest moments was when I made the teams as a freshman. G.T. was a senior. Playing alongside Big Brother was special.
I never became a senior myself. I dropped out and joined the Navy in 1941, leaving G.T. and Daddy and other American farmers to grow food for me and millions of other U.S. servicemen. They did a great job.
Farming was very important in the war effort, but near the end of hostilities, G.T. was led to join the Army. He married Madeline Carter (Dixie’s cousin, by the way) on Christmas day, 1940. Their little girl, Virginia Ann, was born January 30, 1942. That little girl was three years old when her Daddy became a soldier.
George Thomas Adams III (Tommy) was born on September 11 (Remember 9/11?), 1945, while his dad was stationed in California. G.T. was granted leave to come home for his son’s birth. When Tommy was 3 days old, it was back to California, and then to Japan as a Military Policeman.
Then it was back to McLemoresville and the farm where he helped Daddy run things for nearly a decade. During this time G.T. also attended Bethel College in nearby McKenzie, and majored in business administration.
In October, 1959, Big Brother became county manager of the Production Credit Association (PCA), and for 22 years did an outstanding job helping farmers and neighbors he grew up with finance the operations.
It seems fitting that both he and I retired the same year (1982) and were free to devote more time to our boyhood loves: fishing and gardening. When I went home to McLemoresville, we went fishing and I admired his garden. When he came to see me in Jefferson, we went fishing and he admired my garden. And we talked about how our Daddy, George Thomas Adams Sr., challenged us to be better at both.
Big Brother won’t be joining Tommy, Tom, me and other members of the Clark’s Hill Gang when we meet May 14 at the confluence of Fishing Creek and the Savannah River. We’ll miss him. We’ll talk about him. And at least one member of the Gang will remember how he challenged him to be the best fisherman — best man, period — that he could be.
Like I said two weeks ago, everybody needs a Big Brother.
Virgil Adams is former editor-owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Commerce News
March 10, 2004

Erroneous reasons to outlaw gay marriage
1. Marriage’s purpose is to unite two people for the purposes of having children; therefore, same-sex marriages are wrong because children are not possible. Thus, infertile couples and the elderly can’t legally get married.
2. Gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
3. It will make marriage less meaningful or change the meaning of marriage. At the state level, marriage is a contract between two people and as a contract, it would be illegal to discriminate based on sexual preference. On a personal level, marriage means different things to different people and to different religions: to some it is a lark to be taken lightly and entered into without thought, while others view it as a lasting death-do-us-part commitment. Whether same-sex marriage is allowed will not change how a person views marriage, at least, it shouldn’t. Marriage and what it means is a personal value and only you can devalue it.
4. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. This is the United State of America. We unequivocally do NOT impose our religious beliefs on other people. Yes, it would be safe to say that the majority of the population belong to a religion that believes same sex marriage is immoral. However, it would be against our Constitution and national identity to base our laws on this belief structure. We must respect and protect the rights of others to reject those beliefs. Leave the religious question of gay marriage in the church—refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies or allow gay people to practice in your church, that’s fair.
5. Gay marriage should be decided by people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities. Time and again it is the court system which champions the underdog, often going against public opinion and upholding justice and civil rights. They are a non-elected body whose task is to judge what is fair and right, pandering to no one, living without fear of the next election. Who better to judge? Ask yourself a question. If “separate but equal” laws had come to a vote instead of going before the Supreme Court, how do you honestly believe the vote would have turned out?
6. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay. A person either finds people of the same sex attractive or they don’t. It’s pretty much an open and shut case.
7. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. Children can’t marry (I don’t see that changing), animals can’t marry since they have no legal standing and can’t sign a contract, so I’m not sure what they’re talking about. Marriage would still be a commitment between two people. Perhaps in 100 years or so people will want to have multiple wives though it seems like a farfetched conclusion to come to, but certainly not something to be concerned with today.
8. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. As evidenced by the number of successful kids of single parents. And having a male and female role model certainly does not guarantee success. Truthfully, a loving home full of support and guidance is all that is needed for kids to succeed.
[The content of this column was inspired by comments on an Internet chatroom posting hosted by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.]

Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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