I grew up in LaGrange, Georgia which is on the Alabama-Georgia line. West Georgia, Troup County, I went to LaGrange High School, the same school as my mother went to in the late 1930’s.
If you follow the Chattahoochee River (I once spent about 12 hours on an inner tube floating the river from Carrollton to LaGrange. I did not get out of the river until after dark and my mother had the State Patrol out looking for me thinking I had drown or something.) upstream for about 25 miles from LaGrange you come to a community very similar to Lagrange, Carrollton. I used to go there for Key Club meetings in high school and for swim meets. Carrollton is home to West Georgia College.
One of West Georgia’s claim to fame, other than one year being elected one of the biggest party schools in the U.S., is that Newt Gingrich was once a professor there ,ran for congress twice and losing, then left because not obtaining tenure. When I was in college the rivalry between West Georgia, North Georgia College (where I attended) and LaGrange College in basketball was huge. Tickets for these games were hard to come by. Something I did that I am a bit ashamed of involved tickets for a game between LaGrange and West Georgia in 1974, which again is about the time he was a professor there at West Ga College. An old high school football friend induced me to buy fifty tickets for the LaGrange-West Georgia game and when I went to purchase them I was flagged as a scalper and told to report to the coach of the team, Coach Williamson. I knew the coach because he was over the LaGrange city pool for which my brother Cooper was the head life-guard and that previous summer I had worked at the city pool as well as a life-guard under my brother. I owed the job to Coach Williamson and so having to report to him for attempting to “scalp” ticket and as a student at LaGrange College that quarter was embarrassing but more importantly intimidating and at the same feeling very guilty and stupid for having been used and not knowing it.
“Who were you buying these for John?” the coach asked. See to him he knew from the get go that non students trying to make money on the game would use “stooges” ( that would be me-although unbeknownst to me) to buy tickets and then my friend would then sell them at a profit. I told him who had asked me to buy the tickets and it seemed to me at the time that he already knew the answer. He asked me what I had planned to make and I truthfully said that I was not to make anything that I knew of. He told me to stay away from that guy,I apologized, and went on my way.
Anyway back to why I ended up back at LaGrange College for the fall of my sophomore year of college. For some reason I did not feel well the entire spring quarter in college. I believe I contracted a fungal type infection from spelunking in the old gold caves, tunnels and mines that were all and about Crown Mountain behind my dorm.(I had a CT scan of my lungs before my prostate surgery and I found that I have all these calcified lymph notes and granulomas of my lungs consistent with having been exposed to a fungal infection.) I wa in a mountaineering society, The Order of Columbo, and I had all the stuff I needed to reppel into these pits and caves that had been created from blasting water into the side of the mountain to reveal and then claim the gold. Dahlonega is home of the first major Gold Rush in America and North Ga College is right at the spot, Crown Mountain, where a bunch of gold was found. Anyway when Fall quarter came around I decided to go to LaGrange College with the thought of returning to North Ga if I felt better.
My time in LaGrange during this time was odd. I was living in my grandmother’s home with my mother and little brother Jeff. I was enrolled at LaGrange College and was taking three courses: Organic Chemistry, English Literature and a Biology class. Now this Biology class was something else because the professor was a little twerp of a man who had all of these rules, unrelated to knowing the lesson, that he demanded of the students. Well, I did not like the guy and I was determined to make an A without playing along with all the games of this character. If I was called to the chalk board or called upon in class I pretended I did not know the answer. I ignored him for the three months I was in his class. I had an A in both Organic Chemistry and English but an 89 in Biology. When there was any subjective opportunity to influence my grade, this immature (almost as immature as me, I know what you are thinking) Ph.D. gave me a lower grade. It all came down to the last requirement for the course which was to give a lecture on a subject approved by the teacher. All I needed was a 90 and I’d have an A for the class. The reason the A was so important is that I needed A’s to get in medical school and at the time that was the sole purpose of my life. So I prepare for the lecture and make a point to memorize the whole thing and also learned several graphs and tables that I was able to draw on the board to complement my discussion. I killed it. Other students in the class were amazed at my performance. Now you feel that I am writing this is a bit self-severing to my memory, but almost the entire class came up to me afterwards and told me I should go into teaching, that my talk was excellent. It was by far the best presentation of the class, there is no debate about this and the reason it was is that I made a point for it to be. Well what do you think the grade I got for my lecture? You guessed it, an 89! I was furious and went immediately to the dip-shit of a professor and made it clear that I knew exactly what he’d done.
“You know that my speech was the best by far in the class and you also know that it deserved an A. And that I should get an A for this class,” I said really restraining myself particularly since he was a tiny little man and bespectacled.
“You made a B on the final lecture and that gives you an 89 for the course. I am sorry. Maybe this will teach you to play by the rules and to understand that this is my class and I ultimately have the final say on grades,” he said with a smirk.
I said nothing. I made the most disgusting face, one that relayed my sentiments that he was a nothing of a person and that using his little position of power to push around a student trying to get into medical school was pitiful. (This was almost 40 years ago. Can you tell that I am still a bit peeved by it? As similar situation occurred with a urologic attending 15 years later and it was not until about a few years ago that I have gotten over my problem with, as my mother would say to me, “male authority figures.”
While I was at LaGrange College I got in a fight in front of Roses parking lot one morning at 1 am and as a result had a knife pulled on me and out of reflex hit the guy and his friend then him me on the head with a crow bar and after running the two guys off and taking their knife and crow bar realized I was bleeding. I was taken to the emergency room at West Ga. Medical Center and had 17 stitches put in my head. I was actually proud of myself. The friend and the two girls that were with me thought I was some sort of bad ass of sorts. I did not even feel the crow bar to head and I had knocked the guy with the knife about ten feet. The problem was that the local paper , “The LaGrange Daily Misprint” as my mother would say, printed on the front page “Man Beaten.” And the man was me! I thought to myself how in the hell am I going to get in medical school now. I was ruined…I thought. More on this story later…I have a very long version that I may link to, but for now I want this post out because the Alabama and Mississippi primaries are today and I hope things get shook up a bit by Gingrich resurrection and I want to have mentioned that possibility before it happens.
Literally about on fourth of a mile up from where we saw Mr. Ginrich is where my family rented a house each summer on Orange Beach. My brother Rushton played music at the FloraBama which is a bar on the beach that is on the Florida Alabama line and this is about a mile from where we saw Newt. One mile in the other direction is where our Orange Beach condo is and where we made the decision to go to Cobalt where Newt was instead of where we usually go Calypso Joe’s on Cotton Bayou.
Now about Newt. While we were waiting to be served, we sat at a table that was only about fifteen feet from him and his entourage. You see I am a political person. I see politics in everything and I am a student of politics. I love history and have read or listened to probably fifty books on biographies of famous people particularly military or political persuasion. I just finished the Napoleon Russian campaign of 1812 and before that the entire audiobook of the “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” It was fascinating to me, the secret service types that I saw surrounding him and the one I met at the bar. The one at the bar had some sort of flesh-colored plastic thing coming out from the sleeve of his suit-a gun of some sort maybe? A local sheriff was sitting with him. The was a very young pretty girl at his table who we figured was the daughter of the mayor or other local official who was sitting to his immediate right.
Newt is a bit overweight and the way he sat was Churchillian in that he was hunkered over his meal lifting a big glass of iced tea. At a separate table near by were the young guys, one in a bow tie, who I figured were recently graduated college political science degrees and looking to gain experience and potentially a job with any Gingrich success. With time almost all the folks sitting at the table got up and began milling about and Newt took a call on his cell phone that lasted about fifteen minutes.
His demeanor was interesting as well. It was not a flamboyant or hail hearty and well met type out-going personality that you’d assume a politician would have. He had a look of a mixture of very heady contemplation of his political strategy or prospects versus just being tired. He had on a black suit and had placed his jacket on the back of his chair. The majority of the men in the group wore about the same thing and most had taken their jacket off and placed it on the chair as well.
People began to mill about our table to see him or take a picture. As if he were an animal in a zoo, he stayed seated facing the water and talking on the phone oblivious to the folks trying to see him. When he got up and put his phone in his pocket he grasped his jacket and another man appeared to help he put it on and he was brushed away. As in a planned unison all of his staff at seeing him rise formed a channel of people interspersed with the secret service types.
“Mr. Gingrich I’d like you to me Mr. (You make it up) he is the owner of Cobalt.”
And then from that point until he was near his bus, Mr. Gingrich had his picture taken with anyone who wanted one. It was done however with absolutely no enthusiasm. It truly was ho-hum but pleasant maybe just tired I don’t know. It was odd he sort of just moped along between pictures with a well-worn picture smile until he got to the Newt 2012 bus.
We then heard sirens and then saw the bus disappear over the Perdido Pass Bridge. So he was gone. The waitress that served the group came along and took away the tableware. I looked at the spot where he’d been and wondered how it is that it was interesting to observe Gingrich all the while understanding that people in general don’t trust or like politicians but yet people get so excited in participating in “their guy’s” campaign.
Anyway I thought to myself that what if he wins Alabama and Mississippi and somehow he has his third resurrection in this year’s GOP nomination process. The true conservatives don’t buy into Romney, Santorium is a bit too conservative and has scarred some away with his Church and State comments, and there’s old Newt. He is overweight, he is sometimes negative, he has baggage from the past, but all agree that he’s the smartest candidate and the best to debate Obama. What if it goes to the convention and Gingrich is the nominee?
“When was the last time we had an overweight president John?” asked my wife as I pontificated last night after seeing the only somewhat famous person I’d ever seen. (I saw George Bush senior at a distance when he stopped on train during his last campaign in Gainesville.)
“Let’s see,” I thought. “It would have had to been before Calvin Coolidge and that would have been the early 1920’s.”
You know Churchill was not a good-looking or fit man. But he was the right man with a bunch of experience at the right time in the history for England. When did it change that the leader of a country have to look good. Putin of Russia is always shown with his shirt off or doing something athletic. Is that a prerequisite?
Presidential elections always favor the incumbant.
So why is Gingrich still in it? Why did Hillary stay in it when she was doomed to fail?
Delegates in exchange for a high level Cabinet position anyone?
I probably bored you however the connection between LaGrange, Carrollton, and Orange Beach and a sprinkling of Gingrich was too much to pass up.