Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Youth Is Fleeting, Dammit!

  Summertime! That is what all my friends and I could not wait for. We had our hangout where everybody that was somebody found themselves there, daily. It was a huge hole in the mountain about 6 or 7 acres. The best part was that it was full of the bluest water I have ever seen surrounded by cliffs ranging from 20 feet to over 300 feet. The name happened to be the blue whole. You can't say us rednecks were dumb. Dozens of my classmates, and others, would meet with our floats, inner tubes, john boats, canoes, whatever would float because floating was very important. The depth of the blue hole no one knows. There is one place you can drive and park, walk down to the waters edge to access the beauty of this man-made playground. There is an area about twenty feet wide to wade in if you stay close to shore. The water depth drops off some ten feet from shore and it is deep. We didn't care how deep it was until someone wanted to dive off one of many cliffs. You never had to worry about hitting bottom. Legend states that it was an old mine and when the miners reached a certain level water ran them out. They had to leave all of their equipment and save themselves. It was said that the hole filled in over night. It is full of small bream and I could not begin to tell you where those fish came from. If you happen to have an open soar that is exposed on your body, somewhere, those fish will attack you like piranhas. It doesn't hurt. Those fish are tired of eating each other, I suppose.
   We spent many days floating on that beautiful water, making sure that the beer stayed cold and in the upright position. Newcomers would stop by and marvel at our place, because that is what it was, ours. I have seen many men, with a gut full of beer and balls as big as cantelopes, attempt to jump off the top of the blue hole. Only to meet their maker. I sure hope when I die, I am not drunk and running my mouth. Don't want to piss off the Big Man, on my first day. There was one time that I thought I would die. I had a half case of Buds in me and thought a nice swim across the thing would be a good idea. Wrong, again, Bob! It looks to be a hundred yards until you start swimming it. After a long time, I finally made it across. Don't know how. Never tried it, again.
   These two bikers pulled up and, having never been there, started bad mouthing our hole."Hell, I thought they said it was a high jump from the top." said the drunk on the Harley. My brother and I started taking up money to get this guy to try his skills at cliff diving. We scrounged up around $80 dollars and offered him a chance to make some money. I'll be damn if he didn't start the long trek up the mountain to get that money. We pleaded with his buddy and tried to get him to talk his buddy out of it. We even said the money was a joke. The biker kept climbing. The closer he got to the top you could see some of the regulars start to leave. They said that they could not watch him kill himself. There were no talking him down, either. All we had was floats. No one had a boat there at the time. He took three beers still in the plastic can holders and when he reached the top there were only one left. His buddy actually thought he could succeed at this suicide mission. We all watched him as he opened the last beer praying that he would soon jump up and yell, PSYCH"! Then laugh and climb on down, however, that was not the case. There were ten of fifteen of us left and we stared at awe with our slack jaws. I guess awe is a poor word choice for that situation. After about thirty minutes of the biker sitting at the top listening to our pleas to come down he stood up. Hell, I believe the birds stopped chirping. A faint breeze could be heard, that was all. I don't know how long he stood there, seemed like hours, when he jumped. People looked the other way but I was absolutely intrigued. It was almost like he was in slow motion. He drifted backwards and then you heard a shot. It sounded like a rifle. I saw him hit flat of his back. He was dead when he hit the water. His buddy was whooping, "I told you he would do it." My brother and I made our way to the first drill bit, a landmark we used to see how high we could jump. I heard someone say they were calling the rescue squad. We gad no cell phones back then, so, he had to drive to the nearest store. After ten minutes no one could see him and his biker buddy started hollering his name swimming in the direction he hit the water. I was following Cornbread, my brother, up to first drill bit to get a birds eye view of the situation. By the time we got there it must have taken thirty minutes and the jumper was nowhere in sight. We decided to sit there at the edge and watch the rescue people drag for his body. You could hardly see us from where the squad put thier boats in. We watched them until they found his body. I felt so bad for his buddy because he was taking it very hard. It was not the last time someone died at the blue hole nor was it the last time we spent lazy days in the hot Bama heat.   theblogmeister

Monday, March 11, 2013

She Entered My Life, It would Never Be The Same

It was the year 1974 when I was first introduced to her. We hit it off, immediately. Soon, we we're inseparable. Following the concert, that Wet Willie performed, we left the place together and spent the next 6 years side by side. In that time our whole life was dedicated to going to concerts. Back then, concerts were big, I mean Big. We lived in an ideal location . Two hours to our east sat Atlanta, Ga. One hour south was, and still is, Birmingham, Al. Three hours North and we could be in Nashville, Tn. About 2 hours north we found ourselves in Huntsville, Al. Finally, 6 hours due South is the beautiful white beaches of the Gulf Coast. I have a scrap book that has all my ticket stubs and an impressive guitar pick collection. You see, back then there were general admission seating, only. Not like today where you can't get up out of your seat. Oh no, when we got into the door, we made a mad dash to the stage, so I could add to my pick collection. We are talking about some of the best Rock bands in history. I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd at Rickwood Field, the oldest baseball park still standing. Ronnie Van Zsandt and the boys were jamming, running late, that did not matter to the city of Birmingham, about 11;30 pm the power was cut off to the band. There were around 40,000 pissed off fans, not to mention Skynyrd. The next time Skynyrd played in Birmingham, they were told that they could play all night, if they so desired. It did not matter, if a band was playing within a 100 mile radius of Gadsden, Al. me and my love were there.
    Even though I had a companion, my older brother was right by our side. Life was good and I could not see it changing, anytime soon. Until I heard in late 1975 that my brother was joining the Air Force. He was to graduate in May of 1976. As a farewell party, I took him to the Boss Music Hall, in Destin, Fl. to see a band that was recommended by a dear friend. They were still playing copy music but man these guys were awesome! Every now and then they would play an original song on their upcoming debut album, yes all we had was vinyl, back then. The band we saw performing I had never heard and believed they were gonna be special. I might give it away, here, but the original song was "Gator Country" by a band that had been on the bar scene. After the release of their debut album called "Molly Hatchet" they never played in a bar, again. These guys were fantastic! From the mold of "Southern Rock" they climbed the charts like a rocket. It was unbelievable.
   Now, I had a dilemma. I was soon to lose my best friend to the Air Force and as a junior in high school it would be awhile before we would be able to maintain the concerts that we so desperately loved. I decided that if he could not go, with my love having no say, at the time, I decided to , also, join the Air Force. My brother and I were 2 years apart and we're the best of friends with a huge influence on me. This is the beginning of wild ride for my readers and I hope you tell all your friends. No more talking about politics and that other bullshit, this is for real and I survived it.                            theblogmeister