Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, July 7, 2016, 9:29 a.m.
Here on the local front, it’s been a calm week. Dr. Joe Gettys, who was a calm man, died at age 109. At age 108, he attended most, if not all, the Presbyterian College football and basketball games. I expect it would be hard to find anyone who lives for more than a century without being serene and unflappable.
Such was the case with this man. I never knew him well, but I knew who he was for most of my life. He’s just one of the wellsprings of wisdom that wet my fingers but ran right through them. If “Dr. Joe” had an enemy, which I doubt, he certainly outlived him (or her).
Being a wiseacre for most of my life and, at the very least, since I went off to college, I had a long-running joke about how Presbyterian College has the oldest home crowd in college basketball because having a 108-year-old man at every game makes it impossible for other schools to compete. It’s entirely possible that my alma mater, Furman University, ranks second, but it was impossible for the Paladins to match the Blue Hose in, uh, “experience,” as long as Dr. Joe was in the audience.
It’s wide open now. Several who work in the PC athletics department have Furman connections, too. The tongue-in-cheek debate was great fun.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a kid and don’t recognize them, but I often think about how this time doesn’t have the “characters” it did when I was in my formative years. Word of Dr. Joe’s death brought me back to such ruminations of J.A. Orr, the kindly man who ran the Western Auto; Grady Adair at McGee’s Drug Store; Rembert Truluck at the print shop; and my grandfather’s old friends, Trig Cash and Clarence King.
By the way, some reading this will be taken aback by the references to “Dr. Joe.” That’s the way people talk in small towns like this one. It’s meant as a term of endearment. Kids mean well when they call me “Mr. Monte.” It’s something I’ve come to accept solely because the kids who say it consider it a sign of respect. I don’t, of course. I’d prefer something more youthful like “hot shot” because I like to think my flame hasn’t burned out.
I’d take “Mr. Monte” over “Mr. Dutton” any day.
I know well the glassing over of youthful eyes that comes when I mention someone whose legendary career was over before they were born. They aren’t legends to the kids of today who get their history from SportsCenter.
I was different at their age. The first sports book I ever read was a biography of Mel Ott. He had a leg kick like Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs for the Yomiuri Giants. Ott hit 511 for the New York Giants.
Oh is Sino-Japanese. The paragraph above might as well be Sanskrit.
History means nothing to people today. That’s why we’re stuck with Donald Trump.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).