Being Southern, and Georgian in particular, is truly a gift that other Americans simply don’t understand. Lewis could articulate that sentiment better than anyone I’ve heard or read since. After all he said, “God talks like us.”
Fall always reminds me of Lewis since we share a beloved alma mater. His stories about UGA football strike such a chord, sometimes it seems his ghost is still on campus.
T. Kyle King of Dawgsports.com remembers Lewis tailgating before games near his dorm.
During my first two years as a student at the University of Georgia, I lived on campus in Myers Hall. In the fall, Dad would come into town on Saturdays and park next to my dorm, then we would walk down the hill to the stadium for the game.
There, tailgating between two parked cars across from the G.G.S. Building, would be Lewis Grizzard, identifiable by his familiar voice and lack of socks. Dad and I would nod and say hello without breaking stride, but we never bothered him because he wasn’t there as a famous writer; he was there as a fan—as one of us—and it didn’t seem right to disturb him.
Knowing what we now know about Lewis Grizzard’s life—about his inner demons, his excessive drinking, his failed marriages, his absent father, and his health problems—it may well have been the case that what we saw on Saturday mornings were the happiest moments of the syndicated author’s earthly existence. He may never have been more at peace than he was when standing within sight of Sanford Stadium, awaiting kickoff with a chicken leg in one hand and a Jack and Coke in the other.
Mr. King is right. Lewis would have loved Coach Mark Richt.
ToonDawg over at the Anti-Orange Page remembers Lewis firing up the Redcoats before the 1993 Citrus Bowl.
When UGA participated in the 1993 Citrus Bowl versus Ohio State, the Redcoats had to perform at a pep rally at Seaworld. Well, we had already marched in about three or four other parades and had been getting up at seven each morning. Needless to say, we were pooped, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled about doing another parade. As soon as we got up to the front of the crowd, who did we see on stage but ole Lewis himself. I immediately forgot all about my weariness as soon as he started speaking about UGA vs. Ohio State. I wish I could remember his entire speech, but I was laughing too hard. Basically it was about how any Southern team can beat up on a Yankee team, especially UGA.
Over the years, many have compared him to Mark Twain. But Lewis’ tales were more personal. He struck a chord with those of us who complained about the never-ending construction on Peachtree Street, but inwardly welcomed the growth and change because it meant prosperity for Georgia. We all had mamas and grandmothers that instructed with Juicy Fruit gum in one hand and switches in the other. We all celebrated victories and agonized over defeats. We all wept at the death of a beloved dog.
Sometimes I wonder how Lewis would react to today’s media, the hyper-sensitivity of modern society, expensive micro-brewed beer and dogs that fit in purses. He wrote 25 books – just think of the wealth of material he’d have today!
Share your favorite Lewis story/memory in the comments below. And remember, “Be Sweet.”
Thanks Dave in the comments! I had originally planned to include the cartoon, then thought less was better. I should have known better because with Lewis, less was never better. And like Dave, I have a copy of it on my desk. Lewis died four months after Catfish. The story Dave refers to was included in Lewis’ obituary.