More Jackson County Opinions...

MARCH 24, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 24, 2004

“Been everywhere and done everything.”
When I hear an arrogant, boasting, cocky braggadocio say that, I’m pretty sure he’s lying.
I’ve never heard George Thomas Adams III say it, but he could — and not be far from the truth. He doesn’t do a lot of bragging, but he could – with some justification.
Tommy, son of my brother, grandson of my daddy, is my nephew, and I think he is a pretty special guy. And not just because we fish together occasionally.
Tommy hasn’t been everywhere, but he’s been to 22 countries of the world, and all of them are a considerable distance from McLemoresville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens), where he was born September 11, 1945. (It bothers him a little that he was born on 9/11, and that some of the terrorists who attacked us on that date in 2001 were from countries he visits.)
Last year, during a three-week period in November and early December, he called on China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Dubai.
In three weeks he leaves on another “around the world” tour. He’ll fly from St. Louis to Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan; spend two days in Taiwan, then skip over to Hong Kong. For ten days he’ll be in and out of China, from Shantou to Shanghai. Next will be three days in Thailand, followed by two days in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Then it’s home — via London.
Other countries he has visited include Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
One thing makes this world traveler unique. He carries a copy of his X-ray everywhere he goes; otherwise, he might end up in jail instead of on an airplane. He has a six-inch nail (his doctor calls it a “Knowles pin”) in his right clavicle, and the thing sets off the security screener every time he passes through. But the X-ray and the doctor’s note clear the way.
God willing, Tommy’s upcoming tour of duty will wind up back in St. Louis on May 6. He’ll have one week to wrap up his report and get his boat and tackle ready for a fun trip. On May 14 he will join me and other members of the Clark’s Hill Gang for our annual spring outing at the confluence of Fishing Creek and the Savannah River. He and I have come a long way since we fished the farm pond in McLemoresville nearly 50 years ago.
Some of you may be wondering why Tommy visits all those foreign countries. He is not an ambassador, CIA agent or Army general. He is a businessman, and he makes those trips for Miss Elaine.
Some of you fellows may not know Miss Elaine, but the lady you slept next to last night probably does. In fact, she might have been wearing one of her gowns.
Miss Elaine, headquartered in St. Louis and known all over the world, manufactures women’s sleep wear and robes. Tommy shies away from the word “lingerie;” he thinks it has too much to do with panties. And anyway, he says Miss Elaine is a cut above Victoria’s Secret – both literally and figuratively.
Tommy is director of product development and quality assurance for the company (What a title!), and if your lady found a defect in her gown last night, blame him. He travels the world to see that that doesn’t happen.
Textiles have been a part of Tommy’s entire adult life — most of it in quality control. His first job was with Henry I. Siegel (Remember those famous HIS slacks?) in Bruceton, Tenn., about 20 miles from home. Then he set up a quality control program in the Allendale, S.C., plant. Next it was to Greenville to work for Her Majesty, a family-owned, children’s wear outfit. He became manager of Her Majesty’s plant in Union, S.C., and then vice president of the company.
Tommy and Miss Elaine have been going steady since 1981.
But my very bright and very successful nephew (He would not like me saying that.) went to work long before beginning his textile career. When he was old enough to dip ice cream and make change, he worked in his Uncle Sam Carter’s store in McLemoresville.
He graduated from high school in nearby Trezevant in 1963. The high school in McLemoresville closed in the early 1950s. (I knew it wouldn’t be long after I dropped out in 1941. Just kidding, folks.)
Tommy followed his dad to Bethel College, attended classes at night and on weekends, and worked a day job at a service station. He also worked at a furniture manufacturing plant, and got his introduction to the textile business in a men’s wear store.
But Tommy is not all business. He does a couple of fun things. One, as you already know, is fishing. He learned the sport from PaPa and his Daddy, and also gives me a little credit for tutoring him. But that was way back when. Now he and his son Tom (my great nephew) are teaching me.
And both Tommy and Tom are into cars. Not NASCAR cars, but winged outlaw sprint cars that weigh 1,000 pounds, harness 800 horsepower under their hoods, and fly — on dirt. According to Tommy, pavement is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing. He said all you good ol’ boys in Jackson County know what he’s talking about.
Tommy and Tom know about antique cars, too. Tommy owned the 1964 Ford Fairlane that belonged to his sister, Virginia Ann. When Tom became 25, dad passed it on to son. This is not just any old car. It is a rare ‘64 factory high performance Ford Fairlane with automatic transmission, the only one in the world. They keep it in mint condition, show it around the country, and win lots of awards.
But more than anything, Tommy is a loving family man. You wouldn’t believe how he cared for his sister and his father during their illnesses. Now his wife Kay, his son Tom and his daughter-in-law Lynn, his granddaughter Jordan, his grandson Thomas, and his mother Madeline are fortunate to have him. And so is his old Uncle. Although he travels the world, he isn’t hard to keep track of. He’s always around.
(Note from Virgil: Rick McQuiston, a charter member of the Clark’s Hill Gang, says Tommy is our most intelligent member. He may also be the best writer. Judge for yourself next week. He will be my guest columnist. Only his subject is suspect.)
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
March 24, 2004

10 Years, 2 Kids, Changed Views
I recently had one of those moments where you realize you’re in a very different place than you were 10 years ago. Actually, in this case it was 12 years ago. After I graduated from college, a friend of mine named Jay and I went to Europe with backpacks to ride trains for a month.
We spent half our time in Spain, and there are many stories from there, like in Seville, when we had our backpacks searched for explosives by a machine gun wielding member of the “Guardia Civil,” which is the national police force. He thought we might be members of ETA, and Princess Diana was planning to drive by the park where we were waiting for friends.
I digress. The story from Seville more than a decade ago that is most relevant to me on a personal level today concerns a campground at which Jay and I stayed for one night only. This campground, besides being situated near the end of the runway at the city’s surprisingly busy airport, was not a campground in the American sense of the word, where sites for tents are typically arranged to foster at least the illusion of rugged independence and to provide more than a modicum of personal space.
No, this campground on the outskirts of the thousand year old city might be more accurately thought of as a parking lot for tents, with dirt packed hard like asphalt, but without lines showing people where to park.
We arrived late, since our principal means of transportation to this out of the way place was “de pie,” or on foot. In the dark, with beams of harsh light spilling over from the runway, every other camper in the place was pretty much asleep, and the caretaker led us through a maze of tents, each of which was spaced approximately 11 inches from five or six other tents surrounding it on all sides. Toting our 50 pound backpacks, we tripped over several webs of staked out lines on our way to find the last remaining 15 square feet of space in the entire place, where we did our weary best to erect our two-man A-frame.
The thing about traveling the way we did is that you expend so much energy getting from place to place that every crumb of food counts and every minute of sleep is more precious than piles of money or water in the desert. To summarize our experience in the grand Campground de Seville that night, we hardly slept a wink. Airplanes kept taking off and landing, the ground was hard, and we were generally too disgruntled to let go.
The icing on our Iberian camping cake came in the early morning, at about 6:30 or 7:00, when a French family began to stir in one of the tents next door. The most annoying sound I couldn’t have previously imagined whined on for what seemed like an hour or more as our tent’s lines were pulled and stepped on by the French tourists. The sound was a brat of no more than 3, who absolutely would not stop talking, “Oui oui this and non non that, MaMa,” with the accent on the second Ma.
All we wanted was sleep, so we lay there and waited for the noise to cease. Finally, after they were gone, the heat of the morning forced us out of our tent.
I’m a different person today. Today, if I had heard that whiny sound I would have been immediately homesick to see my two boys, and if that brat’s voice had belonged to one of my sons, I would have considered that campground to be at least a slightly more magical place, and then I would have put whoever was whining in timeout.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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