21 October 2012

Mansfield's Famous Southpaw

I was out in good ole Mansfield, GA today for a family reunion when I was reminded of this historical marker that I've always found fascinating. Way back in the old days, a lot of small Southern towns had their own semi-pro baseball teams. Sherrod "Sherry" Smith played for the Mansfield team in addition to others such as Newborn and Madison. He went full-on pro in 1910 and ended up winning over 100 games and shutting out Babe Ruth in a World Series game with two strikeouts. Smith was the "greatest pick-off artist who ever lived," according to Ruth. The stats seem to bear this out: In over 2,000 innings pitched and hundreds of starts, Smith only gave up two stolen bases in his entire career. Born in Monticello, Smith and his wife are both buried in Mansfield. Here's the marker:

And here's the text:

Sherrod Malone Smith (1891-1949) played 23 years of professional baseball including 14 seasons in the major leagues. Babe Ruth, another left-hander, said that he was, "the greatest pick-off artist who ever lived." He played in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn and Cleveland and in the 2,052 innings he pitched, only two bases were stolen. Smith posted a 115/118 won/lost record in the majors with 21 saves, and a record of 67/39 in the minors. He pitched 30-1/3 innings in three World Series games with a 0.89 earned-run average. His career batting average was .233. In 1916, he pitched against Babe Ruth in a 14 inning World Series games in which Ruth failed to get a hit and struck out twice. Smith doubled once in his five trips against Ruth.
"Sherry" Smith was born in Monticello and played town ball in Mansfield, Madison, Elberton, and Newborn before turning pro in 1910. He managed the Macon Peaches in his last pro season in 1932. Smith served in the Army during World War I, and was the Chief of Police in Porterdale and Madison. Smith and his wife, Addilu (a native of Mansfield) are both buried in Mansfield. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in February, 1980.
*from Georgia Info

05 October 2012

Recollections of Columbia

Well, our boys in red and black head to Columbia to take on their boys in garnet and black on Saturday, and as I'm wont to do, I've been thinking about past trips there a good bit lately. Actually, I'm not going this year. My brother is, and I think maybe he wanted me to go, but I just don't have the time, money, or inclination.

I've made the trip there 6 times in my life, and honestly, I feel like that's enough. That's not to say I won't ever make it back there. I'm just not going this year. For the record, I very much feel like we will win, and I'm usually right about these things.

My last trip was 2008. We won. Our trip was a disaster. That's another story for another time. My brother and I were there for the magic of 2002. We were actually in the corner of the end zone that gave us a great vantage point for Pollack's now-infamous fumble/interception/touchdown play...man, that was so awesome. Of course, we were also there for the 2000 dumpster fire that I still think about rather often. I can still see Donnan sitting on the bench to next to QC during the 4th quarter, putting his arm around him and talkin' to him....oh, the horror!

I've been to others but none have had the impact as my first trip there in 1984.

One of my Dad's best buddies at the time, Mr. Joe, who was also a licensed pilot, joined my Dad, brother and I on that trip. I think the old man wanted Mr. Joe to go so he could take care of the flying of the co-op Cessna so that he might concentrate on the game and us crazy kids (and maybe a few cocktails). We left out from the Covington airport with dreams of a Bulldog victory...

Things started to fall apart right from the get-go. I seem to remember a near-miss in the sky, and something else happened as well...I think maybe a light came on the console that kinda freaked out the adults. Things didn't get much better in Columbia. It took us forever to get the plane parked and by the time we got on the shuttle that the airport was offering, it was almost time for kick-off. Then, we got dropped off almost a mile away from the stadium. Things were unraveling badly. Finally, my Dad offered a black man in an old Ford pick-up truck $10 if we could jump on the back and get a ride to the stadium. The man accepted and we finally got to our seats late in the 1st quarter.

Even as a 9-year old boy, I could tell that things just weren't right during the game. That magic I had come to know and love the previous 4 years was dissipating. The Cocks seemed to have our number. I remember my Dad telling Mr. Joe at one point that we were "going to mess around and lose this thing." Well, he was right. 17-10. It was an ugly game that started the downward spiral of an ugly season. It was a clear defining of eras. Tennessee, 1980 - Clemson, 1984 = good times; S. Carolina, 1984 started the not-so-good times that culminated in very embarrassing losses to Florida and Tech later in the season and basic mediocrity for the next 18 years. 

But what sticks out more than anything about that night was this: the stadium swayed. It swayed. Like swayed in the wind, I guess. Seriously, it swayed. At least the upper-deck did. I've talked to several people who can attest to this fact. I think that maybe they've fixed it now, but back then, the damn thing swayed. The other thing I remember, as we left Williams-Brice, was the large number of Gamecock fans who cursed us with just about every foul word known to man even though there were two children with our group. Total class. That impression has only been reinforced over the years...

But the best part came once we got back to the airport. The "nice lady" that was working the terminal was so sweet to us when we got back. Basically saying that South Carolina got lucky, and that it was a good game. After Dad and Mr. Joe did the pre-flight stuff and we taxied, took off and reached altitude, my Dad radioed in to inform the tower that we were about make the turn to head west back to Georgia. The sweet lady we had earlier spoken to told us we were good to go and wished us a very safe flight. Then she screamed, "GO COCKS!!!," and giggled. My Dad turned to Mr. Joe with a stern look on his face and simply said, "that [expletive deleted] bitch!" I knew right then and there that there were times to say the F-word and the B-word, and this was obviously one of those times.

I'm 3-3 in my trips to Columbia and I'd like to eventually get a winning record, but it will have to wait. As I mentioned earlier, I do feel good about Saturday. I'm not going, but I know we're going to pull it out. I hope my brother has a great time. And if he were to somehow run into that airport lady, I hope he tells her exactly what my Dad said that night 28 years ago.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. How 'Bout Them Dawgs!!!

11 September 2012

Hope you enjoy the new look...

Greetings! Hope all is well out there. It's been awhile since we've conversed, and for that, I apologize. Well,  for those of you familiar with the Chronicles, you'll notice that the place got refurbished a little bit. I hope you like it. I decided to spruce things up for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the old template was seemingly getting a bit quirky as Blogger (Google) is, in my opinion, probably trying to get everyone over to the new templates. Also, now that I'm no longer doing the print edition of the The Piedmont Chronicles (at least for now), I thought it would be a good idea to change the look. I really like it.

Also, I've demonetized the blog. That's demonetized, not demonized! That wouldn't be good! No, by that, I mean that I've taken away the advertisements that used to be a part of this blog. I'm in the process of trying to fine-tune the target marketing of these online ads. I was getting tired of seeing stuff about Covington pawn shops and things of the like. So until I get that to my liking, the advertisements are gone.

So, with all of that said, I still don't have a new write-up ready for publication yet. I am, however, in varying degrees of completion with multiple columns. I can already hear the Peanut Gallery saying,  "yeah right! You've been saying that for 2 months now!" And that would be true. What can I say? These things take time...Actually, earlier today, I literally "laughed out loud (LOL)" at the thought of new posts here simply being these continuous promises and teasers of new columns coming down the pike that never materialize. But, really--I'm very close to several new things that will be out soon.  I spoke of a few of those on my last post, and I've got two more that are in the works as well.

I appreciate your continued patience and support.

Until next time,

P.S. I've resurrected my political blog and have been posting over there a good bit. If you feel so inclined, check it out here. It has a Classical Liberal/Libertarian/Ron Paul Republican feel to it...

05 July 2012

An Update from The Piedmont Chronicles

Greetings! Hope everyone is good out there. Sorry about the long lay-off. If a certain blogger were to quit his print article to concentrate on his blog, you'd think he'd be working on the blog a pretty good bit, right? Nope. Not this guy...not me. But...that's pretty much par for the course. What can I say?

And right off the bat, I have to thank the large number of people who have mentioned to me how much they hated to see my article go and how much they'd miss it. That really meant a lot. Also, many people were wondering and possibly concerned about the circumstances of me quitting the print column in About Covington to Madison. As I've told them, as I'm telling you now, it was simply a decision, my decision, to no longer do it because I just didn't want to anymore. The deadlines started to loom larger; it started to feel like work. And the very last thing I wanted to do was to start "mailing it in," or going through the motions just for the sake of keeping the column going. Looking back on it, my final column did sort of have a cryptic feel to it. Call it the writer's curse--using too many words and and not enough clarity. As I mentioned in the article, I only have good things to say about Reed Allen, the editor/publisher/owner of the previously mentioned publication.

With all of that said, here's what I'll be rolling out in the near-future:

  • I have recently been fortunate enough to come across a treasure trove of Covington/Newton Co. history. I'll be doing a column about looking back in time--to how Covington, GA and Newton Co. was back in good ole 1952. 
  • I will finally be getting the "History of the McCarts from South Carolina" out there. This is my genealogical story going back 7 generations including my great, great, great, great Grandfather, who was the one who brought my family to Newton Co. back in the mid 1800's. 
  • I'm getting close to another installment on the Moore's Ford Bridge killings.
  • I will be interviewing J.R. Cobb, of Atlanta Rhythm Section fame, in the near future. I will hopefully have that column posted before the end of the Summer. 
  • And I'll also be doing so more UGA football reminiscing as well. 
So that's what's coming down the pike. Bear with me, y'all.



02 May 2012

Presley Jones Takes on the Yankees

Welcome to the Piedmont Chronicles! Thanks for visiting. For my About Covington to Madison readers who are wanting to read about the Moore's Ford Bridge killings, I now have a link to a dedicated page for it at the top of the main page, or you can get to it here

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time... 

Presley Jones Takes on the Yankees

~From the April 2012 edition of About Covington to Madison Magazine~

Greetings! Good to be back with everybody. I was so glad that so many of you enjoyed the last column on Mr. Buster Chadwick. I got a lot of positive feedback on that one. Thanks so much! As always, I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.

I had previously mentioned that I was going to be concentrating more on human-interest stuff and less on historical things, but…what can I say? Like a moth to the flame—I just can’t help myself! There are so many things that I’ve mentioned in passing (or not at all) that I’d like to expound on. With that said, I will still be doing some more of the human-interest writings in the near future, but I will also be sticking to my historical roots. This month we’ll cover a topic I had mentioned briefly in my Covington column from the Summer of 2009. Hope you enjoy!

In July of 1864, well in advance of his famous march to the sea, Sherman had directed Brig. General Kenner Garrard to ride east from Atlanta and head to Covington with his cavalry division to start tearing up railroad tracks; destroying bridges, rail cars, depots, and locomotives; and burning stores and commercial properties. He actually wrote the following in a letter to Garrard: “…but of private property only take what is necessary for your own use, except horses and mules, of which you will take all that are fit for service, exercising of course, some judgment as to the animals belonging to the poor and needy.”

On July 21 Garrard left Atlanta and proceeded to Lithonia, GA where he started destroying the railroads and moving east at a pretty good clip. On July 22 Garrard and his raiders entered Covington. After having no resistance throughout their journey, I’m sure the Yankees were caught off guard when they came across an old man by the name of Presley Jones. Jones lived on what is now known as Washington St . and apparently had a “hatred of everything blue” and had vowed to kill the first Union troops to come into Covington . When word started to get out that Federal troops were advancing on Covington, Mr. Jones grabbed his rifle and hunkered down in front of the Covington courthouse. When he spotted his first Yankee he fired and killed the man. He then moved to another location and brought down another Union soldier a short time later. He was able to wound two more before he was captured and shot. The Yankees then proceeded to “beat out his brains with the butts of their rifles. He doubtless anticipated such a fate and went coolly to certain death with no hope of fame and with only the satisfaction of getting two for one (Sgt. Walter Clark, C.S.A.).”
Unfortunately, the “two for one” deal would not stand. According to multiple sources, it was widely believed that the Yankees were so infuriated with what had happened that they decided to find another victim to placate their revenge. It just so happened that a Confederate quartermaster by the name of George Daniel was on furlough and back home in Covington during this time. The Union troops tracked Daniel down and court-martialed and executed him. According to reports, the Yankees tried to blindfold him but he refused, saying “no, a Confederate soldier can face death without being blindfolded.” He was shot and killed and the count was evened—two dead Yankees; two dead Covingtonians.

Well, we all know the rest of the story. A few months later and Sherman would come through on his way to Savannah and the War Between the States would draw to a close just a few months after that. The shootings carried out by Mr. Jones and the subsequent retaliation by the Yankees would be the only warfare that Covington would see within her city limits during the Civil War.

Hope you enjoyed that. Future columns will cover more specific, historical events in Covington, Madison, and the surrounding areas. In the non-historical vein, I'll be rolling out a column about another musical talent from our area. And finally, after a lengthy delay, my installment series on the Moore's Ford Bridge killings will be up and running on my blog by the time you read this column. There will be a link at the top of the main page. Until next time... 


13 April 2012

The Ballad of Buster Chadwick

 ~from the March 2012 edition of About Covington to Madison magazine~

The story of Buster Chadwick, a Newton Co. resident, is a fascinating tale of a man and his music; a very interesting life that coincided with the development of Country & Western music as the major, established genre that it would later become.

Mr. Buster's story starts in Sulphur Springs, AL in 1929 where he and his Mother lived until his Grandfather passed away in 1939. Apparently, somebody had mentioned that you were to shoot a gun three times to honor the recently deceased. So naturally, to a ten year old boy, this seemed like the thing to do. He got a gun but actually loaded it twice and then used a stick to pull the trigger. The gun popped back and knocked Buster down. As he later said, “It's a wonder I'm alive today.”

He and his Mother would later move to Rising Fawn, GA and it was there that Buster got his first guitar and started to develop his love for music and singing. At this time, there was a show called “The Grand Pappy Show”on an AM radio station coming out of Tennessee that featured music ranging from Chet Atkins to The Louvin Brothers. It was this show that would light the fire of Buster's musical passions. He was also a huge fan of The Carter Family as well. Soon thereafter, he got his first guitar and hit the ground running.

He decided to quit school in the 8th grade in order to pursue music full-time. His first regular gig was at a venue called the Wagon Wheel where he played every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evening making a dollar per night.

During this era, in which Country Western music really started to get big, you did two things as a practicing musician. You played as many shows as you could, and you also would try to get a regular gig at one of the local AM radio stations. Mr. Buster would join up with an outfit known called The Koffie Cup Hawaiians that had a regular show on WDOD out of Tennessee. In addition to the radio show, the group would also play all over the Southeast opening for the likes of Country legends such as Roy Acuff, Bob Wells, and Eddy Arnold.

This is a good time for a quick aside. There's a line in the movie, “The Blues Brothers,” when the waitress says something like, “oh, we play both kinds of music—Country and Western.” That's a funny line from a very funny movie but that distinction is quite real. Country Western, also known as Country & Western, or Western Swing, is very much a different genre from Country music. Country is bluegrass- based; Country & Western is Western Swing-based. Mr Buster will let you know right quick about that distinction and that he is a Country & Western man.

But back to our story, after the Koffie Cup Hawaiians, Mr. Buster did his own thing during the mid to late 1940's playing around the South with a mix of different musicians. At one show, a young gal by the name of Dottie West opened for him.

In 1949 Mr. Buster got married, started a family, and decided to get a regular job. He was thinking that he was done with the music business, but the music business was not quite done with him. The 2nd act of his musical life started with a phone call from a group out of Chicago that did sort of a “Lawrence Welk type of thing.” It paid $100 a week...really good money at the time. But after a couple of months, Buster just couldn't stand it anymore—he missed his Country roots. Later, he would actually join a traveling carnival as a featured musician. He wasn't able to stomach that for very long either and quit in between stops in Alabama and decided to walk and hitchhike his way back home. One night he actually had to sleep with his guitar in a ditch! Now that's Country!

After a while, Buster got back into radio doing music with a new group on WATL in Atlanta, GA. This would start his Georgia connection. It was a pretty good gig and the band would also tour pretty extensively during this time of the mid to late 1950's. By the way, the announcer for that station in Atlanta? Mr. 16 Tons himself, Tennessee Ernie Ford.

By 1960, Mr. Buster figured he was done with music for good. The time had come, he felt, to concentrate more on becoming a businessman and raising his family. He loved music but just felt like he needed to do something more stable to be the father and husband that he wanted to be.

But...the musical ballad of Buster Chadwick had another chapter coming down the pike. In the mid 1970's, after he had done well for himself in the business world and raised a wonderful family, Mr. Buster decided he had to get the music going again. He started a band called The Peachtree Playboys that mainly played political events in and around Atlanta. In 1986 the band was tapped to do The Wild Hog Supper, the Georgia Legislature's annual throw-down. This gig would last for 20 years up until just a few years ago. During one of these shows, Mr. Lester Maddox, the former Georgia Governor, jumped up onstage and played harmonica with the band for a few tunes and brought the house down! In 1993 Mr. Buster was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. It was a great accomplishment for a man who was involved with the genre from its earliest days.

I truly hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. I just felt like it was a good story about a good man, and it was one that I wanted to share with you. I'd also like to thank Buster's lovely wife Linda who helped facilitate the interview and helped get me the pictures. Until next time...

11 February 2012


If you've come to this page after reading my latest column in "About Covington to Madison" magazine in hopes of reading the first installment of the Moore's Ford Bridge killings, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you--I don't have it up yet. Due to some personal issues and familial obligations, I have not had the opportunity to get the ball rolling yet. I hope to very soon, though. Please check back in the near future; in the meantime, you can click on the above links to read some of my past columns and online write-ups.

Thank you so much for reading.

Until next time...