Day Two – Camp Kay – Ken Ken and Mary John – Athens 2015

Aunt Kay took us in a neat little shop called Entourage. We decided to buy just earrings while we were there. Uncle Ben said the loop earrings were so big they looked like the kind monkeys used to swing on at the circus.

IMG_2764Then we went into town and we parked behind the Tate Center at UGA so we could visit the book store. We were surprised and delighted to see a large football type person we thought we knew from South Georgia. He came out of the Student Center and got in a van. We backtracked a few steps so we could catch up with him and say hello and tell him we were from Albany. By the time we got to the van he was already entering the side door and he spun around in surprise and gave us a totally blank look before we could even speak. Then the door took one of those embarrassing, unceremonious slides and clicked shut before we ever got a chance to say a word. The van drove off while we were still standing on our tongues. I was in a state of shock but once we got in the book store we realized how goofy we must have looked and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

IMG_2768Once we got used to the book store we tried as many ways as possible to find expensive things that had Bulldogs and UGA emblazoned all over them. We had a great time looking at all the good stuff you can spend a fortune on to prove you are a die hard Bulldawg lover. Then Aunt Kay made us put it all back on the shelf because, as she             IMG_2771

said, “We cannot give your fathers ulcerative colitis because you want to buy all the red and black paraphernalia in Athens, Georgia.

We went to The Off Broadway Show Warehouse. We tried onIMG_2773   over 200 pairs of shoes in 45 minutes. A nice young guy waited on us there. I was a little bit confused by him because when we first went in the store he looked like he had a head full of light brown hair but when we left I noticed there seemed to be places on his head that were bald. Maybe I missed something that happened while we were trying on shoes.

Last night we went out the Atlanta Highway to The Olive Garden. Mary John’s sister Marli met us there and so did Paul Swilley. Paul has a full beard that is three or four colors. He looks like he’s a lot older with that beard. We had a pretty good time. We had a waiter who speaks   IMG_2784IMG_2782English with a heavy Italian accent. Uncle Ben speaks English in three or four pidgin dialects that sound like a shepherd’s frantic plea when a wolf is attacking the sheep and the cattle are all dying….all at the same time. It was a Mexican standoff….I think. Uncle Ben says he won. Paul tried to referee but Uncle Ben sometimes gets excited and he wouldn’t let anybody else talk…including the waiter.

The waiter was a good salesman and he was trying to add side order after side order to Ben’s Seafood Alfredo. The waiter was going, “Dada,dada,dada,dada,” and Uncle Ben was going, “Nada,nada,nada,nada,nada.” Anyhow Uncle Ben says he won because he only had a few mushrooms added to his dish when he finally got it.

At last we got back to the house and Uncle Ben found peace in an easy chair where we probably should have filmed a historical first….a man who can snore from his mouth, nose and ears…..all at the same time.                                                        IMG_2776


Probably, maybe, and quite possibly if you click on the picture above it will automatically shoot you straight to and they can tell you how you can purchase this fine little, clean little, amusing little book for a mere pittance. That would be the picture of the lovely older woman in the beautiful blue shawl and you will magically find a way to buy this book so I will have more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches next year. If I don’t live that long I will get my wife to mail the peanut butter and jelly directly to you.


Granny Brooks Comes to Athens.

Arches 1

Granny Grace Brooks captures Athens and declares her victory over the great Bulldog Nation by posing beneath the famous Arches on Broad Street.

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Granny Grace and the famous Java Bulldog. Notice the flower blossom centers are coffee cups.










This story is about a visit to our house by Katie Mae’s Mother, Grace Alligood Brooks who will be 92 on April 2. It is dedicated to my friends Anne Watson O’Conner and Carol Watson Miller in memory of their own dear Mother, Connie Smith Watson, who passed away just a year ago on April 10, 2013. She was 91. Their Mother and my Mother were good friends. My Mother, Rozelle Pitts Swilley, died October 16, 2006 at the age of 93. The common but golden thread woven through the lives of these three remarkable women has to be their longevity and the opportunity provided by that longevity to imbue in their children a great love of life, a keen ability for loving friends unconditionally and a heartfelt and closely held culture of caring. Needless to say the women mentioned here are all great heroes to me.

Great-Great Grandmother Granny Grace Brooks came to see us in Athens and I think we enjoyed being with her more than we ever have in the almost forty years Katie Mae and I have been married. Probably because, for once, we had her all to ourselves.

She will soon be 92 and it has only been six months since she and her middle daughter were able to gather up her granddaughter, great-granddaughter and great-great granddaughter for an all-girl five generation photograph. It was a beautiful picture and they all looked marvelous.

So Granny Brooks came to stay and at almost 92 she reminds me so much of my own sweet Mother. Each of them so often have had the same puzzled look during conversation because neither could hear and both too vain to allow the purchase of a hearing aid. They would not even talk about it (and certainly wouldn’t hear of it).

The same quizzical look is also there when you can see the lights in Granny Brooks eyes flicker with a flash of an old memory too quickly come and gone to be fully grasped and recognized for what it is or was.

Both Mama Ro (my Mother) and Granny Brooks repeated over and over the same comments about how lovely the trees are and how much prettier they will be when Spring returns. The same things were said about the birds and then the absence of the birds and then they would much enjoy the arrival of more birds as they twisted and turned and spiraled abstract paths around the house only to disappear again in an instant.

Katie Mae and I drove Granny around Athens to take her picture with some of the many big and brightly painted fiberglass replicas of Uga the Georgia Bulldog mascot. I dropped them off downtown so Katie Mae could get a picture of Granny under the famous UGA Arches.

Back at the house Granny Brooks most often sat near a back window and peered down some twelve or fifteen feet into the back yard where she could watch birds and squirrels making their living. Mama Ro would do the same from our rear window in the Statesboro house.

A feral cat is raising her children in the woods behind this house in Athens and Granny Brooks stares intently as the cat hunts the wooded area and then circles back on a regular basis to check on her young. Granny is intrigued by the cat’s actions and movements. I wonder if her fascination with the cat is because it cannot be acting any more protectively than Granny has acted for all her many years when it comes to tending her own brood.

Watching the mother cat can only make me think of the incredible sacrifice she and so many women like her made for us. We are the children of the greatest gals who ever lived. Women who were born and raised from the 1910’s through the 1930’s lived through the most despairing and hopeless times that ever existed for modern man.

Fresh off a depression that created a dearth of available necessities and foodstuffs, America was thrown headlong into a World War that created a crippling, rationing of food, supplies, gas and oil and any commodity you can name.

And that’s the same time many of us were born and raised. It’s unbelievable how well fed and clothed most of us were as we grew older. Our Mothers knew how to save seed from one year’s harvest in order to have seed to plant for the next year’s crops. Our mothers could cook huge meals from the scantiest stocked cupboards imaginable. They could sew with such dexterity that the finished product looked store bought.

Our Mothers made sure we were fed first and foremost and I sometimes feel a trifle guilty when I cannot remember ever missing a meal.

With those thoughts in mind, I questioned Granny Brooks about her own childhood and the hardships she lived through growing up on a hardscrabble farm in Mitchell County, Georgia in the late 1920’s and 30’s. It is an enduring story for people who care but, sadly, a story  that people tend to forget. It would do us all well to remember these women and what they had to live through and what they did for us.

Our son Paul took Katie Mae’s iPad and filmed Granny Grace telling some of her story. I suspect that film will become a family treasure.

This is a woefully inadequate tribute to these fine women. We should never pass up on an opportunity to remember how much we owe them and how much we love them. Thank you Grace Alligood Brooks, Connie Smith Watson and Rozelle Pitts Swilley for all the deprivation you endured so we would not be deprived.

Order From

Left clicking on this book cover or any of the pictures will take you to who printed this book from my first blogs. The book is fun and inexpensive and can be purchased in paperback or for Kindle on the Amazon website


USA Dawg 2

Granny Grace with the Captain America Bulldog. He is the most patriotic bulldog in America.


New Dawg In Town – He’s Little But He Has a Big Dawg’s Heart.

hummingbird_579_600x450The pansies finally bit the dust. Like everything in Athens the pansies had a fighting spirit and lasted through the winter, and then some, but about a week ago they began to give up the ghost.

We took them down from a shepherd’s hook that’s tied to one of the posts on the deck and we replaced the pansies with a hummingbird feeder that has a bottle about the size of those old liquor bottles we used to call a fifth. Back then the bottles were all amber. This bottle is bright Bulldawg red.

So this hummingbird shows up and I did not realize, at first, that he owns the house. I quickly learned there was to be no mistake about ownership. He immediately took possession of the deck.

I’m always a little slow to catch on to the happenings around me. I thought he was an innocent little Ruby-Throated Hummingbird who was there for an occasional quaff of the sweet water I had poured in the red feeder bottle.

That was exactly why he was there but he did not come in peace. The trouble erupted in whiz-bang aerial warfare whenever another humming bird came anywhere near his air space. He has protected air space over his feeder and it is definitely a no-fly zone for other hummingbirds.

It was about this time that Katie Mae and I determined he was a Georgia Hummingdawg. He has a bright red throat and black sideburns all the way to the end of his tail. The only thing out of place is that bright iridescent green back but he can be forgiven that touch of unorthodoxy because there’s no doubt he is all Hummingdawg.

He fights like a Bulldawg. He is alert and will even give chase to errant leaves as they have begun falling. He reminds me of an excellent Georgia Bulldog defensive back.

He perches for long periods of time on the top arc of the shepherd’s hook and he is so small he looks like one of the ornamental leaves welded there. Katie Mae named him Little Russ (L.R.) in honor of Uga IX. It is a great joy to watch L.R. at war in the sky behind our house. I have not seen a single hummingbird be successful at getting a sip from that feeder since he took over and I think one of the birds who keeps trying is L.R.’s own poor wife.

It’s a bit disconcerting to think he won’t let his wife have a drink. They are supposed to double their weight before they head out over the Gulf of Mexico to go winter in Central America but maybe he has good reason.

I wish he would stay to cheer the Bulldogs on through this entire season but if he has to go I think I understand. I’m pretty sure I saw his wife walking to the Wal-Mart down the road a couple of times last winter and I’m guessing she had doubled her weight by a micro-ounce or more. If she had become to heavy to fly around the neighborhood then she most likely couldn’t make it to South America.

I think he and some of his pals like to get there and rest up for a few months so they can all be ready for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. They are usually seen decorating the fruit-filled hat of the Samba Queen at Rio’s Carnival. He hates to miss Carnival two years in a row.

Katie Mae and I just watched L.R. run off three Tufted Titmouses (or is it Titmice?). Each of them was about five times bigger than him and a Titmouse is a small bird. l.R. couldn’t be any bigger than a small woman’s thumb.

I really wish L.R. would stay and help us pull the Dawgs through a perfect season. He could do it. He’s got homegrown Bulldog colors and he certainly fights like a Dawg.

Maybe he’ll stay. I’ve got a feeling Georgia’s football season is going to be a lot more fascinating and exciting than any Samba festival in South America.