The email came from my boss.
“Next week’s BCN should be all about the Seafood Festival ....”
Judging by this page alone, you see how well I follow instructions. It’s a wonder I don’t get fired or put on double-secret probation. Or shot.
I meanwhile blame it on my ADD, which I’ve been too distracted to go have diagnosed. And it’s not that there’s not already plenty of stuff about the Seafood Fest in here, because I’ve filled up a good chunk of this paper with everything Seafood Fest related I could get my stubby little fingers on.
As I should.
The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival is a wonderful thing. The people who put it on are great, the food is awesome, the music is groovy, the beer is cold and the scenery will knock your socks off.
It is something Richmond Hill should be proud of. And it is.
In honor of all that, I’ve even made up some stuff (Facts: Fried shrimp makes you smarter! Kettle corn make you better looking! Boy Scout Peach Cobbler Will Make You a Better American!).
But, honestly, you can only get so tickled about a festival, or, as we used to call these sort of get-togethers back in the day when I was stationed in Germany in Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery (Lance), “beer fests.”
There they had oompa loompa music and beer, and brats and brochen, and chain smoking frauleins, and we were under orders to behave or else we’d end up getting beat sideways by the polizei, who back in the dawn of the 1990s didn’t subscribe to the law enforcement theory it’s wrong to beat first and ask questions later.
In fact, that’s what the NCOs told you as soon as you got to your unit in the 3rd ID when that famed division was HQ’d in Wurzburg, not on Fort Stewart.
“Get this through your thick heads.
If you bow up to a polizei officer, he will beat you within an inch of your life.”
none of us wanted to be beaten to within an inch of our life. In that Cold War Army we were lovers, not fighters.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, it happened. On my first night on courtesy patrol, right in front of me.
A guy got beat within an inch of his life. Used mules are treated better.
I’d only been in Aschaffenberg about 38 hours and it was about 2 a.m. and 40 degrees and the bars were closing on the “Strauss” when some eight-foot-tall dude who looked very much like Twisted Sister’s makeup-wearing lead singer came from somewhere hollering at the sky in German.
“ARRRHHH MACH SNELL HOLLCHEISMACHEN FUSSGIMBLEMSPEILACHENMOOSE!!!” he said.
“HOLSMECKER! MACH SNELL!”
Then he stopped, hopped a little, and kicked in the window of a car parked along the street. I guess he thought that was fun, because he repeated it two or three times, all the time getting closer to me. So I got on the radio, a 500-year-old PRC 77 from the Vietnam war.
I had that on my back and a flashlight to go with my CP armband, and far as I was concerned, as a sworn member of the courtesy patrol I was there to be courteous to one and all, not wrangle crazed Dee Synders.
I clicked the mike and said something like, “CP 1 to CP Post, there’s a big hippie with makeup on kicking in car windows in front of Hellburgers (a famous really bad Greek hamburger joint). Send in the artillery or something. Help.”
Some bored sergeant responded like that sort of thing was an every-night occurrence: “We’ll call the Krauts, you stand fast and don’t do anything to hurt the guy.”About five or six minutes later, about three polizei showed up and started saying things like “MACH SNELLl!”
Note: Nearly everything I hear in German sounds like “MACH SNELL!,” but that’s beside the point.
The guy responded by trying to head butt one officer, and that was all it took. They hit him about 419 times with sticks in about five seconds, put the cuffs on him, threw him in the back of a polizei car, picked up his teeth and earrings and drove off. The Germans are a very neat and orderly people, you know.
Now, back to the Seafood Fest. I asked hundreds of people through the magic of email about their favorite GOSF memory. Naturally, about a dozen responded, and while about half of them have never been to the thing, their memories make up the basis of one of the stories in this Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival special edition.
My No. 1 GOSF memory goes back to a prehistoric time when I was stationed at Fort Bragg at some point between 1985 and 1987 and dated a girl from Richmond Hill. The event was much smaller and in a field (I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the Fisherman’s Co-op) and we were drinking cold beer and munching on something with about 150 other people. The good thing was you didn’t have to stand in line long for beer. It was nicely done.
Since then, the GOSF has gotten a lot bigger - just like Richmond Hill.
My other favorite memory was when Eddie Money came here in the 2000s.
I’d always halfway liked Eddie Money’s music back in the 1970s and was amazed he was still performing. That said, I missed the concert.
Our reporter at the time didn’t miss it. In fact, if I recollect he didn’t miss anything at seafood festivals. After the first one I got a call from an irate HR person saying he’d put in for 48 hours overtime and I had to have the “never do that again talk” with him.
Actually, it might’ve been 20 hours overtime. Whatever it was, it gave our human resources lady vapors.
Anyway, the report came back with all kinds of Eddie Money photos and, before I could stop myself while eyeballing photos for the next issue, I asked out loud, “Whose aunt is that on stage?”
“That’s Eddie Money.”
As the years and Seafood Fests have passed, I’ve developed the theory that old rockers eventually start looking like somebody’s bohemian aunt.
It’s the hair, mostly, and the makeup. And the costumes.
But if I’m any example of what happens to aging newspapermen, old rockers have a better fate than that assigned to us old editors.
In my case, I’m turning into either a gargoyle or leprechaun. In fact, true story: Once when I was a teen a group of friends and I were walking around downtown somewhere on a St. Patrick’s day and a guy who’d spent way too much time inside a bar tried to grab me. “You look like a leprechaun,” he said.
See you at the Seafood Fest, everybody. Now, on to the Pembroke Mafia Football League, our weekly exercise in college football mayhem. Look at it this way. It’s two columns in one! Free baseball! Sorry. This week’s standings: Bryan County Manager Ben Taylor, he of the dazzling yet understated and quite functional male hosiery, is tied with Dawnne Greene, Richmond Hill city clerk and erstwhile Patriots fan, for first place in the standings. Never in a million years would we PMFL veterans have guessed that our rookie members - Benji and Duanne, we like to call them when they’re not looking - would be tied for first. But they are. Each has 26 misses so far this season. In second is former Bryan County News Assistant Editor Ted O’Neil, a personal hero of mine. Ted has 28 misses so far this week.
He’s in charge of our Michigan office. That’s where we do Michigan things, like drive to Georgia. Mike Clark and Mark Rogerson, PMFL parts manager and director of advanced placement courses, respectively, are tied with third along with Dr. Trey Robertson, assistant superintendent for Bryan County Schools. Trey’s in charge of nodding assiduously at school board meetings whenever somebody on the board goes off on a tangent about dump trucks, floor plans or trombones. Each has 29 misses.
In fourth all by himself is Ernie Mitchell, who is retired Navy and a big wheel in Pembroke American Legion Post 164, just like me. Except I’m neither in fourth nor a big wheel. I’m sort of kept back in reserve in case of emergencies.
Ernie, who each day is starting to resemble Gunga Din more and more, if Gunga Din wore a Hawaiian shirt and looked like a Keebler tree hollow elf after a 5-day bender, has 30 misses. I think his wife might hit me for this one.
His partner in crime, PMFL founder and chief petty admiral of the North Bryan Navy, the one and only B.J. “Billy Jack” Clark, has 31 misses.
B.J. is also retired Navy and a big shot in the Pembroke American Legion, though he rarely wears skivvies to church anymore because, well, climate change.
B.J. gets to buy the snacks because you can’t have an American Legion meeting without snacks.
Butter cookies are good.
And reasonable. You can get 100 butter cookies for less than $2, I think.
Up next is our spiritual leader and head Baptist, the Rev. Brad Butler of Pembroke First Baptist Church.
I don’t know what his flock thinks about him hanging about with reprobates like us, but I’m glad he’s here.
I do wonder why he’s only in fifth place. I figured with Rev. Brad’s connection he’d be either be running away with this thing or he’d have had the rest of us struck bylightning. Just kidding, Rev.
In seventh is the world’s youngest 29 year old, Alex Floyd. That’s because he’s only 27, as he reminded me last week. I swear. Floyd, who is Pembroke’s city administrator and maybe the youngest in Georgia, though I don’t know that for a fact, is a grumpy, taciturn, sneaky sort who likes to grumble about socialists and other malcontents when he’s not changing diapers, wearing cardigans or trying to figure out how to pay the light bills for an entire city. Floyd has 33 misses.
Up next is King of the North Noah Covington, the fearless First District Commissioner from Bryan County. Noah, who has 35 misses, is my favorite PMFL member not named B.J. or Ernie.
He’ll rise even higher in my estimation if he wears a Viking hat — with horns jutting out the sides and KOTN spelled out on front in emeralds and rubies - to the next county commission meeting and then says, and I quote: “Dilly Dilly!”
In last is me.
This week’s games: Mississippi State vs. LSU: Alex picks the “Fighting Fitzgeralds,” in honor of former Richmond Hill High School quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs’ record-setting senior.
The rest of us take LSU.
Michigan vs. Michigan State: This is a big game for Ted, our token Michigan State alumnus. He, B.J.
Brad, Alex and I take the Spartans -- me because Mark Dantonio is a former South Carolina Gamecock.
Everybody else takes Michigan.
Oregon vs. Washington State: Ted and Alex take the Cougars. The rest go with the Ducks, whose uniforms are designed by the same genius who creates Ben’s socks.
North Carolina State vs.
Clemson. Me, Noah and Trey take the Wolfpack. I can’t take Clemson because, well, it’s against my religion. (Sorry, Rev.). I think orange and purple are the colors of evil.
USC vs. Utah: Ben, Brad, Alex, Trey, Duanne and Ted go with the Utes. The rest go with the Trojans.
Houston vs. Navy: B.J.
Trey, Alex and I take the Middies. The rest takeHouston. B.J. can’t pick against Navy, the same team I used to root for when I was in the Army.
Georgia Southern vs.
New Mexico State: Everybody takes the Iggles except me. Stanford vs. Arizona State: Mark, Mike, Duanne, Ben and Ted take the Sun Devils. Everybody else takes the Cardinal, which is actually a cedar tree or something, or something.
If I were youngster I’d move out to Arizona and wear sandals and be a paleontologist.
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky: I’ll take Vandy. They’re due.
Everybody else is going with UK.
Oklahoma vs. TCU: Ben takes Horned Frogs. Everbody else is on the Sooner wagon. I did basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. It’s an interesting place. Lots of cannons. Mercer vs. Western Carolina: This is what I’m talking about, Southern Conference football. Me, Mike and Trey take the Catamounts, which is where Bryan County High School coach Abram Scott played defensive back. Cool, eh?
Virginia vs. Duke: Me, Alex and Trey take the Cavaliers. Be safe, eat some GOSF shrimp, support local businesses and remember, write in for Noah for governor.