I just discovered -- one of my favorite people has died and I'm at a loss as to whether he could ever be replaced. His picture is at the left -- anybody you know?
His name is Lewis Grizzard and he was the author of some wonderful books. How-to-do-it books. How to become Southern to be more specific. One of my favorite books he wrote was "Don't Sit Under the Grits Tree With Anyone Else But Me." (That title reminds me of the time one of our daughters convinced an exchange student that there was a spaghetti orchard down the road a piece from where we lived - and she believed it. But that's another story for another time.
I wish that Grizzard had been alive when I moved to Florida for the first time. Problem is, he was probably about five years old at the time and wasn't doing much column or sports writing at the time. However, I'm sure that he was gaining Southern Wisdom at that time that might have helped me develop an appreciation of Southern philosophy sooner than I did.
For instance, I will never forget my first breakfast at a tiny Mom and Pop cafe in Orlando.
I ordered bacon and eggs (sunny side up and well done). When they came the plate had a large pile of white glop with a big pat of butter on top. "What's THAT?", I asked. The counterman said, "They's grits - nobody in the south goes without grits in the morning." With some hesitation I put my fork into the grits (should I have used a spoon?) and took a taste.
And I loved them. And I have them to this day in one form or another. Of course real southerners would gasp at fried Mush with maple syrup but, hey, grits is grits. Butter, cheese, or just plain grits. And anybody who would write about a grits tree can't be all bad.
Over the years I have grown to love the South - and as I aged - and Lewis Grizzard grew up, I found that he offered great wisdom that has truly enriched my life with thoughts like these:
"When my love comes back from the ladies room will I be too old to care?"
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home grown tomato."
Think about that one for a while -- it'll grow on you.
"I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car."
"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY and they meet at Bobby Joe's bar." (Or, he could have said they meet at the
6th Primitive Baptist Church in the holler Sunday mornings at seven ayem.) But that was Lewis Grizzard and he was Methodist - or so he said.
"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me."
Finally, this little jewel: Before you criticize someone you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you have their shoes,
Years ago Phil Harris (a band leader in the Jack Benny comedy show) used to sing a song titled 'That's What I Like About the South'. And Lewis Grizzard shared a lot to like about the south as well.
By the way, I titled this bit "I'm Bereaved." And I DO think the world has lost a great philosopher and humorist when Lewis Grizzard passed away -- in March of 1994. Why did
it take me so long to realize he was gone? Or is that his writing and recordings carry forth his legacy even now?
And what will we leave for future generations?