Thursday, November 10, 2016

A library of books by authors I have known

     I don't have a book in me, but a lot of my friends do—or recently did. At least nine folks I know have published books in the past year. They're writing them faster than I can read them.
     That made me wonder what a library of my friends' books would look like.
     I've been blessed to know dozens of authors in my career. Off the top of Google's head, I came up with more than 150 books written or edited by friends and acquaintances.
     The bibliography says a lot about me and my circle of friends. My little library has shelves for baseball, biography, the Civil War, Clemson, history, Jesus, mountains, and NASCAR, not necessarily in that order. It includes two books titled Rebel With A Cause, as well as the synonymous Intangiball and The Intangibles.

     If I have overlooked your book, please accept my apologies and let me know so I can make amends. One good thing about a blog is the ink never dries.
     Here they are, arranged alphabetically by author:

JERRY ALEXANDER: Jerry manned our Oconee-Pickens bureau at the Anderson Independent and knows those storied hills better than anybody else.
  • 2004: The Cateechee Story
  • 2006: Where Have All Our Moonshiners Gone? 
  • 2008: Antebellum: Old Pickens District S.C., 1828-1868
  • 2009: Blood Red Runs the Sacred Keowee

DR. FRANK AYCOCK: If you wonder why your TV won't function like a wall-sized iPhone, join us for bagels on Wednesday mornings, and he can explain it to you.
  • 2012: 21st Century Television: The Players, the Viewers, the Money 
  • 2014: Television in the Cloud 
 
BILLY BAKER: We share a deep appreciation for high school sports in South Carolina. I burned out after a decade of statewide coverage for The Greenville News, but Billy's High School Sports Report is about to turn 30 and still thriving. He wrote the book on the granddaddy of them all:
  • 1993: John McKissick: Called to Coach

PETER BARR: I had the honor of welcoming Peter to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rutherford County, N.C., when he became just the second man to reach the highest point in all 100 counties in North Carolina. This book won't be his last:
  • 2008: Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers

WILLIE BINETTE (1938-2003): Willie was sports editor of Anderson's afternoon newspaper, The Daily Mail, when I first started newspapering. He wrote The Phil Niekro Story after the 1969 season. Niekro pitched until 1987 and recorded 264 of his 318 victories after his biography was written, which must be some sort of a record. (John McKissick, mentioned above, won 206 of his 621 victories after his book was finished.)
  • 1970: Knuckler: The Phil Niekro Story 
 
SAM BLACKMAN, TIM BOURRET, and BOB BRADLEY (1925-2000): I've listed the B-team of Clemson's sports information department together, because they line up alphabetically in my library and have collaborated so often. The Bob Bradley Press Box is (or used to be) the one place in Death Valley where cheering was not allowed. You will please excuse Mr. Bradley if he cheered in his books.
  • 1991: Death Valley Days: The Glory of Clemson Football (Bob Bradley) 
  • 2001: Clemson: Where the Tigers Play (Bob Bradley, Sam Blackman, and Chuck Kriese) 
  • 2008: Clemson University Football Vault (Tim Bourret) 
  • 2015: Tales from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Locker Room: A Collection of the Greatest Fighting Irish Stories Ever Told (Tim Bourret with Digger Phelps) 
  • 2016: If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Clemson Tigers Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box (Sam Blackman and Tim Bourret) 
 
DR. DICK BRANSFORD: After a career as a medical missionary in Africa, Dick retired to Boone. "Retired" is just a code word that means he now works in places that have code names.
  • 2016: Take Two Hearts: One Surgeon's Passion for Disabled Children in Africa (with Diane Coleman) 
 
KEN BURGER (1949-2015): Pat Conroy said it so well: "Nobody picks at the scabs of South Carolina like her native son, Ken Burger." Ken was the fastest sports columnist I ever saw, which was good because his time with us was way too short.
  • 2008: Swallow Savannah 
  • 2010: Sister Santee 
  • 2011: Baptized in Sweet Tea: A Collection of Ken Burger's Columns Celebrating the South 
  • 2012: Salkehatchie Soup.

REV. JASON BYASSEE: Jason was my pastor at Boone United Methodist Church and now teaches homiletics and biblical hermeneutics at the Vancouver School of Theology in Canada. We didn't always agree, but he made me think and study and pray, which is what a pastor should do. Jason is also a prolific contributor to Christian Century magazine, in addition to his books:
  • 2006: Reading Augustine: A Guide to the Confessions 
  • 2007: An Introduction to the Desert Fathers 
  • 2007: Praise Seeking Understanding 
  • 2010: The Gifts of the Small Church 
  • 2013: Discerning the Body: Searching for Jesus in the World 
  • 2014: Pastoral Work: Engagement with the Work of Eugene Peterson 
  • 2015: Trinity: The God We Don't Know 
 
KERRY CAPPS: Kerry recently retired after 40 years of covering Clemson sports. In his farewell column for the Orange and White, he teased us with the possibility of a book. "When, and if, I do write a book, what I write is not likely to draw the attention of national publishers or attract motion picture deals. It will be a collection of orange-tinted stories and remembrances from a sportswriting hack who's been lucky enough to make a life and living (and eaten more than a few free meals) while doing something satisfyingly agreeable, while rarely, if ever, getting up in the morning and dreading to go to work." It would be a bookend to the one he and Steve Ellis produced way back in 1979 that featured Steve Fuller on the cover:
  • 1979: The Orange Machine (with Steve Ellis)
 
DR. MEL CHEATHAM: I borrowed the title of my blog from a book Dr. Cheatham wrote about an inspiring cancer patient he met while serving as a missionary in Kenya.
  • 1993: Come Walk With Me (with Mark Cutshall) 
  • 1995: Living a Life That Counts (with Mark Cutshall) 
 
DR. PAUL CHILES: Paul takes on short-term missionary assignments like his Biblical namesake. We traveled together to Afghanistan, among other places. His book profiles a remarkable Christian couple he worked with in India. 
  • 2016: Rose of Calcutta

JIMMY CORNELISON: Nothing could be finer than a fall day on a pontoon boat on Lake Jocassee with guys like Jimmy, Mike, Luther, and Scott.
  • 1988: Journey Home (with Dot Robertson, Reese Fant, Mike Hembree) 
 
MONTE DUTTON: Nobody I know produces more words per day than Hudson Montgomery Dutton. Newspapers could only hope to contain him, and now he strains the capacity of Kindle and Facebook. A quarter-century ago, Monte helped typeset my only book, the 1992 centennial history of Mountain View United Methodist Church.
  • 1986: Pride of Clinton: Clinton High School Football 1920-1985 
  • 2000: At Speed: Up Close and Personal with the People, Places, and Fansof NASCAR 
  • 2000: Jeff Gordon: The Racer 
  • 2001: Rebel With A Cause: A Season with NASCAR Star Tony Stewart 
  • 2002: Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR's Fast Lane (with Mike Hembree, Kenny Bruce, Jim McLaurin, Jeff Owens, David Poole, Thomas Pope, and Larry Woody) 
  • 2003: Postcards from Pit Road 
  • 2006: Haul A** and Turn Left: The Wit and Wisdom of NASCAR 
  • 2006: True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed 
  • 2011: The Audacity of Dope 
  • 2013: The Intangibles 
  • 2015: Crazy of Natural Causes 
  • 2016: Forgive Us Our Trespasses 
  • 2016: Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories 

STEVE ELLIS (1955-2009): Steve was the Cy Young of the press box—the Football Writers Association of America's Award for Beat Reporters is named for him. Steve was an Eagle scout who got his start at Clemson and made his career covering Florida State. Our paths crossed frequently for the first six years FSU was in the ACC.
  • 1979: The Orange Machine (with Kerry Capps) 
  • 2004: Bobby Bowden's Tales from the Seminoles Sideline 
  • 2006: Pure Gold: Bobby Bowden: An Inside Look 
 
CAROLE FADER: "Cash" Fader ran the copy desk at the Anderson Independent, where I met Mary Holcombe in 1979. Like several veterans of that newsroom, Carole made her career in Jacksonville and contributed to a couple of local historical books:
  • 2001: The Great Fire of 1901 (with Bill Foley, Robert Broward, Emily Lisska, and Wayne Wood) 
  • 2005: The Jacksonville Family Album: 150 Years of the Art of Photography (with Emily Lisska and Wayne Wood) 
 
REESE FANT: If Reese published an autobiography, librarians would file it under Fiction. Not counting kin (and not counting Skins), he's my favorite Andersonian.
  • 1988: Journey Home (with Dot Robertson, Mike Hembree, Jimmy Cornelison)

DR. RICHARD FURMAN: Dr. Furman's creed is "Live younger longer," and he can tell you how to do it.
  • 1982: To Be A Surgeon 
  • 2014: Prescription for Life 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: It is a blessing and an adventure to work on Franklin's team and tell the stories of what God is doing through Samaritan's Purse.
  • 1983: Bob Pierce: This One Thing I Do 
  • 1995: Rebel With a Cause: Finally Comfortable Being Graham 
  • 1998: Living Beyond the Limits 
  • 2002: The Name 
  • 2003: Kids Praying for Kids 
  • 2003: All for Jesus 
  • 2005: A Wing and a Prayer 
  • 2011: Billy Graham in Quotes 
  • 2012: The Sower: FInding Yourself in the Parables of Jesus 
  • 2013: Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts

RUDY GRAY: Rev. James R. Gray was a longtime pastor in Seneca who succeeded Don Kirkland (below) as editor of the Baptist Courier. I knew him as Rudy Gray as an athlete at Crescent High School, as a short-term sports writer for the Anderson Independent, and as my predecessor as editor of the Anderson College newspaper, which he renamed from The Yodler to AC Echoes.
  • 1990: Jude: The Alarm Has Sounded 
  • 2014: Marriage That Works Is Work 
  • 2014: Worry: The Silent Killer 
  • 2015: You Can Live Until You Die 

TERRY HARMON: If you have roots in Watauga County, N.C., then Terry is probably your cousin. (That includes our most infamous Yankee, Gen. George Stoneman, who is Terry's seventh cousin, five times removed.) Terry received a Historical Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians, and if the The Stoneman Gazette gave an award for genealogy, he would get one from me, too.
  • 2016: Watauga County Revisited 

MIKE HEMBREE: If not for Mike, I might never have beheld Yellowstone National Park, nor Richard Petty's last race, nor the coveted Jabba trophy, nor the P in Clemson.
  • 1987: A Place Called Clifton: A Pictorial History of Clifton, South Carolina 
  • 1988: Clifton: A River of Memories 
  • 1988: Journey Home (with Dot Robertson, Jimmy Cornelison, Reese Fant) 
  • 1994: Glendale: A Pictoral History (with Paul Crocker) 
  • 1995: Keowee (with Dot Jackson) 
  • 1999: The Seasons of Harold Hatcher 
  • 2000: The Driving Force: Handling the Curves of Life 
  • 2000: NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport 
  • 2002: Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR's Fast Lane (with Monte Dutton, Kenny Bruce, Jim McLaurin, Jeff Owens, David Poole, Thomas Pope, and Larry Woody) 
  • 2003: Newry: A Place Apart 
  • 2003: Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Out of the Shadow of Greatness 
  • 2009: Then Tony Said to Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told 
  • 2009: Racing With Giants: How God Can Steer You to the Winner's Circle 
  • 2012: 100 Things NASCAR Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die 

DOT JACKSON: I know her by her newspaper byline, Dot Robertson. Dot didn't have a computer in her hideaway on Love & Care Road way out in Pickens County, and she kept the typewritten manuscript for Refuge in a shoebox under her bed. The acknowledgements in her novel include my wife Mary, who keyed Dot's words onto floppy disks to help get it ready for the publisher.
  • 1988: Journey Home (with Mike Hembree, Jimmy Cornelison, Reese Fant) 
  • 1995: Keowee (with Mike Hembree) 
  • 2006: Refuge.

SCOTT KEEPFER: Bob Dylan said nice things about Scott Keepfer, and so did the sportwriters at The Greenville News. We called him "Glue" because without him, we might have fallen apart. That nickname has new meaning now that Scott is one of the last of us who is still sticking around The News. Scott once took me to Bryson City, N.C., to watch his high school football team, the Swain County Maroon Devils. Their star was named Rocky Dietz, and the fans celebrated his big plays by rattling plastic milk jugs with gravel inside.
  • 2016: Return to Glory: The Story of Clemson's Historic 2015 Season (with Mandrallius Robinson) 

CINDY LANDRUM: When we asked our bureau reporters to moonlight as sportswriters on Friday nights, Cindy poured her heart into her coverage of Wren, Palmetto, and wherever I sent her. Her book hits home:
  • 2015: Legendary Locals of Greenville

TIM LUKE: God used Tim to deliver me from the newspaper business before times got too hard. Tim was the hardest-working reporter I ever knew, and he earned the opportunity to cover the Atlanta Braves for The Greenville News back in the day when newspapers dreamed big. When The News retreated from some of our far-flung bureaus, Tim decided to stay in Atlanta and joined In Touch magazine, published by Dr. Charles Stanley's ministry. There he earned an opportunity to go to Samaritan's Purse, but he and Karen wanted to stay in Atlanta to raise their family, so he recommended me instead. Tim is now executive pastor at Eagles Landing Baptist Church in Atlanta, and several of his books are collaborations with Mark Hall of the Christian band Casting Crowns.
  • 1995: Atlanta Braves: 1995 World Champions 
  • 2006: Lifestories: Finding God's Voice of Truth in Everyday Life (with Mark Hall) 
  • 2007: Don't Forget to Dream: Because Your Life Shouldn't Happen Without You (with Tim Dowdy) 
  • 2009: Your Own Jesus: A God Insistent on Making It Personal (with Mark Hall) 
  • 2011: The Well: Why Are So Many Still Thirsty (with Mark Hall) 
  • 2014: Thrive: Digging Deep, Reaching Out (with Mark Hall) 
  • 2016: The Very Next Thing: Follow God. Where You Are. Right Now. (with Mark Hall) 

TIM PEELER: The foothills of North Carolina have given us a trinity of Tim Peelers. Two write sports books, and the third stalks Bigfoot. I worked several years in Greenville, S.C., with the Tim P from Cat Square. He was a big booster for my other blog, The Stoneman Gazette, which is as close as I'll ever get to writing a book.
  • 2004: Legends of N.C. State Basketball 
  • 2007: When March Went Mad: A Celebration of N.C. State's 1982-83 Championship 
  • 2010: N.C. State Basketball: 100 Years of Innovation 

JOSH PETER: I helped Josh with some background information for stories on two Anderson legends, Jim "Ed" Rice and Radio Kennedy. The latter was picked up by Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated and became the movie "Radio" staring Cuba Gooding Jr.
  • 2005: Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, and Bull Riders: A Year Inside the Professional Bull Riders Tour 
  • 2010: Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series (with Dan Wetzel) 

DEB RICHARDSON-MOORE: A surprising number of my Greenville colleagues have wound up in pulpits: Tom Robinson, Tim Luke, and Deb Richardson-Moore. (Not to mention my Hanna classmates Marsh Fant and Jacky Newton.) Christians can learn a lot from Deb's first book, which describes her experience as a rookie pastor at the extraordinary Triune Mercy Center in downtown Greenville.
  • 2012: The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets 
  • 2016: The Canteloupe Thief 

CHARLES SOWELL
 (1955-2015): Downtown Greenville was a tough place when Charlie and I first worked there, so it's not really a surprise that his novel imagined a terrorist attack on our city.

  • 2010: Ties 

MICKEY SPAGNOLA: Shortly after I started working for the Anderson Independent, publisher John Ginn pumped up our newsroom with a number of fresh graduates of the esteemed Missouri School of Journalism. Among them, Mickey Spagnola and Lonnie Wheeler were most influential in my decision to go to Mizzou. Mickey was from the south side of Chicago, and we once attended a Chicago concert in the Chicago Stadium.
  • 1997: America's Rivalry: The 20 Greatest Redskins-Cowboys Games (with John Keim and David Elfin) 

DIXIE TENNY: Dixie and I were friends at the University of Missouri, and decades later I discovered her novel during a PTA meeting in my daughter's high school library in Greenville.
  • 1984: Call the Darkness Down 
  • 2016: How to Find Your Dream Dog 

KEN TYSIAC: Ken covered Clemson for the Anderson newspaper during the years I did the same for Greenville. He later reported for Columbia and Charlotte. His book marked the 25th anniversary of Clemson's heyday.
  • 2006: Tales from Clemson's 1981 Championship Season 

LONNIE WHEELER: Lonnie and I coached a Little League baseball team while we were sportwriters at the Anderson Independent. Fundamentals he taught on the hardpan playground at Nevitt Forest Elementary School were no doubt incorporated into his 2015 book Intangiball, which won the 2016 SABR Research Award. (SABR is the Society for American Baseball Research, known for "sabermetrics," the science behind the Brad Pitt film Moneyball.) Lonnie also made the big time in an NPR interview with Terry Gross, not to mention my blog on Hank Aaron's 80th birthday. His 14 books:
  • 1988: The Cincinnati Game (with John Baskin) 
  • 1988: Bleachers: A Summer in Wrigley Field 
  • 1990: The Official Baseball Hall of Fame Story of Mickey Mantle 
  • 1991: I Had A Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story 
  • 1994: Stranger to the Game: The Autobiography of Bob Gibson 
  • 1994: Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young 
  • 1997: Street Soldier: One Man's Struggle to Save a Generation--One Life at a Time (with Joe Marshall) 
  • 1998: Blue Yonder: Kentucky, the United State of Basketball 
  • 2006: The Road Back: The Cincinnati Bengals Under Coach Marvin Lewis 
  • 2009: Schoolboy Legends: A Hundred Years of Cincinnati's Most Storied High School Football Players 
  • 2009: Sixty Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher and a Hall of Fame Hitter Talk about How the Game Is Played (with Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson) 
  • 2013: Long Shot: Mike Piazza
  • 2015: Intangiball: The Subtle Things that Win Baseball Games
  • 2015: Pitch by Pitch: My View of One Unforgettable Game (by Bob Gibson)

More authors I have brushed shoulders with

STEVE BIONDO (1951-2008): Steve was the columnist for the Anderson Independent as well as a Confederate re-enactor, which made him the perfect person to tell the story of Anderson's most infamous Confederate. 
  • 2002: The True Story of Manse Jolly 
  • 2004: The True Story of Manse Jolly, Part II 

FURMAN BISHER (1918-2012): Furman was elected the Georgia Sportswriter of the Year 18 times in 50 years. I didn't know him well (unlike my Greenville boss, Dan Foster), but I had the privilege of spending one unforgettable day with Furman in Salisbury, N.C., as we explored the N.C. Transportation Museum and Furman reminisced about the days when sportswriters rode Pullmans.
  • 1966: Strange but True Baseball Stories 
  • 1972: The Birth of a Legend: Arnold Palmer's Golden Year, 1960 
  • 1973: The Atlanta Falcons 
  • 1976: The Masters: Augusta Revisited 
  • 1989: The Furman Bisher Collection 
  • 2001: Thankful 
  • 2005: Furman Bisher: Face to Face 

DR. BOB FOSTER (1924-2012): Dr. Bob spent his career as a missionary in Africa, and he had a snake story for almost any occasion.
  • 1997: Sword and Scalpel (with Lorry Lutz) 

MICHAEL C. HARDY: Michael was named the North Carolina Historian of the Year in 2010. His books were indispensable when I was writing The Stoneman Gazette.
  • 2003: The Thirty-Seventh North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Northern Virginia 
  • 2004: The c. 1840 McElroy House: A Glimpse of Yancey County, North Carolina 
  • 2005: Images of America: Avery County 
  • 2005: A Short History of Old Watauga County 
  • 2006: Battle of Hanover Courthouse: Turning Point of the Peninsula Campaign, May 27, 1862 
  • 2006: Images of America: Caldwell County 
  • 2006: Remembering North Carolina's Confederates 
  • 2007: Remembering Avery County: Old Tales from North Carolina's Youngest County 
  • 2008: Families, Friends, and Felons: Growing Up in the Avery County Jail 
  • 2009: "A Heinous Sin": The 1864 Brooksville Bayport Raid (with Robert M. Hardy 
  • 2009: Avery County Heritage, Volume IX: Obituaries 
  • 2010: Images of America: Mitchell County 
  • 2010: The Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Tennessee 
  • 2011: North Carolina Remembers Gettysburg 
  • 2011: North Carolina in the Civil War 
  • 2012: Civil War Charlotte: Last Capital of the Confederacy 
  • 2013: North Carolina Remembers Chancellorsville 
  • 2013: Watauga County, North Carolina, in the Civil War 
  • 2014: Images of America: Grandfather Mountain 
  • 2015: The Capitals of the Confederacy
  • 2016: Avery County Place Names

DICK JENSEN: We met when his son David was a star basketball player in Greenville, S.C., and our paths crossed again after I left the newspaper business. Dick once managed the WMIT radio station for Billy Graham, and his book compares the evangelical careers of Billy Graham and Billy Sunday.
  • 2008: The Billy Pulpits: Chronicles of Billy Graham and Billy Sunday 

DON KIRKLAND: Don is editor emeritus of the Baptist Courier, where he served from 1974 to 2012. Prior to that he ran the communications department at Anderson College and may have kept me out of mischief.
  • 2014: Something Gained: Selected Writings from My Career in Christian Journalism 

HUGH MORTON (1921-2006): Mr. Morton is the only author on this list who has also been the subject of a book: Hugh Morton, North Carolina Photographer, published in 2015. We met briefly when Samaritan's Purse held our company picnics at Grandfather Mountain, and I had the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated all that he has done for our mountains.
  • 1981: The ACC Basketball Tournament Classic (with Smith Barrier) 
  • 1988: Making a Difference in North Carolina (with Ed Rankin) 
  • 2003: Hugh Morton's North Carolina

TOM PRICE (1927-2008): Tom was the longtime sports information director at the University of South Carolina and shepherded me through my first big assignment, the 1975 College World Series in Omaha.
  • 2001: Tales from the Gamecocks' Roost: A Collection of the Greatest Gamecock Stories Ever Told 

BOBBY RICHARDSON: A native of Sumter, S.C., Bobby was the World Series MVP in 1960—still the only player to win that award for a losing team. His first book was influential in shaping my faith in Christ. We met in 1975 when he coached the USC baseball team and I had the opportunity to follow them to the College World Series. More recently, I heard Bobby speaking at a church in Boone, and I won an autographed baseball from him for knowing who replaced him at second base for the Yankees (answer: Horace Clarke).
  • 1964: The Bobby Richardson Story 
  • 2012: Impact Player: Leaving a Legacy On and Off the Field 

ED WRIGHT (1925-2008): Ed figured he met over 120,000 people on his 1,310 hikes up and down Tennessee's Mounte Le Conte. I figure that I must have been one of them—even if I was too winded to remember the encounter. His peakbagging exploits inspired my other blog, Le Conte Log.
  • 1998: More than 1,001 Hikes to Mount Le Conte: And Still Counting

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Celo Knob: Mount Mitchell's bookend

Looking north at Celo Knob along the gorgeous but hard-to-reach Black Mountain Crest Trail.
     Tourists who climb the quarter-mile sidewalk to the lookout tower on Mount Mitchell see a row of 6,000-foot peaks lined up like dark-green dominoes toward the northern horizon: Mount Craig, Big Tom, Balsam Cone, Cattail Peak, Potato Hill, Winter Star Mountain, Gibbs Mountain, and finally Celo Knob, about eight miles away.
     The hike along that ridgeline is sometimes known as the "death march," because of the punishing ups and downs. It is even harder starting from the other end, because there is no road up Celo Knob and you must start by climbing 3,000 feet. 
     Three years ago, I hiked to the four peaks immediately north of Mount Mitchell, which was an exhausting but spectacular six-mile round trip. This time (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016the day after Hurricane Hermine passed), I started on the other end and made the big climb to Celo Knob and its neighbor, Gibbs Mountain. This was a 10.5-mile round trip that took me eight hours. It was the longest hike I've done in a couple of years, and it was worth it to see Mount Mitchell from the other side. 
Looking south toward Mount Mitchell from Celo Knob: Percy's Peak (6,200 feet), Gibbs Mountain (6,224), and Long Ridge (6,180) dominate the near horizon. Winter Star (6,203) is dwafted by those beyond, which stairstep left-to-right from Potato Hill (6,475) to Balsam Cone (6,611) to Cattail Peak (6,600) to Mount Craig (6,648) to Mount Mitchell (6,684). Balsam Cone is actually further away than Cattail, which is why it appears lower from this perspective. The ridge further right is Mount Gibbes (6,562, not to be confused with Gibbs Mountain) and Clingman's Peak (6,520), where you can barely see the radio towers for WNCW and WMIT if you click the photo to enlarge it.
     I've had my eyes on Celo and Gibbs ever since I became interested in South Beyond 6,000 (SB6K), a program sponsored by the Carolina Mountain Club that challenges hikers to reach 40 Southeastern peaks over 6,000 feet. By bagging Celo and Gibbs, I have climbed 24 of the 40. In the Black Mountains, the only one I still lack is Winter Star, which will require either the death march or another 3,000-foot climb.
Like climbing this—4 times.
     This was also a training hike for a 15-miler I want to do later this month in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to climb two more SB6K peaks, Mount Guyot and Old Black. Guyot (pronounced GEE-yo) is one of the last six county high points I have not yet climbed in North Carolina.
     Celo (rhymes with Guyot) gets is name from seeloo, the Cherokee word for corn. At 6,327 feet, Celo Knob is the 13th highest mountain in the eastern United States--39 feet higher than New Hampshire's Mount Washington and 327 feet shorter than Mount Mitchell. 
     What's it like to climb 3,000 feet? Imagine four trips up and down the staircases of the tallest building in Charlotte, the 60-story Bank of America tower (which is occasionally visible from Celo Knob, 90 miles away). 
     If you are interested in following in my footsteps up Celo Knob, you can find details of my hike on my Peakbagger page. And even if you don't feel up to the climb, you can now "walk" the trail on video, thanks to Google Trekker.
     Here are some glimpses:
Take this sign seriously. I couldn't see the bottom line (Park Here) and I had 4WD, so I proceeded with caution and made it safely up to the Bowlens Creek trailhead, which does indeed have room to turn and park. But you only gain a couple of hundred yards--not worth the risk to your oil-pan. 
If Mary knew how rocky it was, she would wisely forbidden this.
An interesting old tree along the Crest Trail.
Pink Turtlehead blooming at an iron-tinged spring about 500 feet below the summit. Thanks, Rick Shortt, for identifying the flower.

As you approach the summit, this is the view that greets you. (Not sure why the video is so grainytrust me, the original is spectacular.)
video

Celo Knob's summit isn't that impressive, but ...
The eastward panorama from a clifftop just below the summit is worth the climb. If you know where to look on the horizon, you can see Elk Knob and Grandfather Mountain on the left and blade-shaped Table Rock toward the right. At 6,327 feet, Celo Knob is 357 feet shorter than Mount Mitchell, but from Elk Knob it appears to be higher. The white blotches are feldspar mines near Spruce Pine, N.C. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Mountain ash decked out in reddish-orange berries for the Clemson-Auburn game.
I'm always thankful for the volunteers who blaze the way.
The N.C. High Peaks Trail Association has done a
tremendous job with the Black Mountain Crest Trail.

Friday, July 8, 2016

There once was a Wobegon headline

     How does that headline sound to you?
     Like the start of a naughty limerick?
     Or the unedited demise of a once-trendy newspaper?
     Or don't you recognize Garrison Keillor, the unmistakeable voice of ... Minnesota? 
     Not Wisconsin, for heaven's sake.
     That's the woe-begotten headline that USA TODAY published last week for a story on Keillor's retirement after 40 years as the host of the public-radio institution, A Prairie Home Companion.
     I wish I could give the newspaper credit for attempting a limerick, because Keillor would have appreciated that. In fact, he wrote several limericks specifically for Wisconsin when he performed in the beer town of Milwaukee.
There was a young man who loved Pabst
He drank it until he collapsed
He gave up beer
For Lent every year
And on Easter morning, relapsed.
     On his farewell broadcast this past Saturday night, Keillor recited or referenced several limericks, including bawdy verses about men from from Pocatello, Antietam, and Nantucket. This one even had an autobiographical first line:
There is an old man of St. Paul.
Put his desk in a toilet stall.
It was quiet, conducive,
And one had the use of
The plumbing with no wait at all.
     Even at age 73, Keillor still has a boyish love for limericks. "I intended to be a serious poet," he confessed in his final Lake Wobegon monologue. "Instead, I was fascinated by the limerick."
     I felt much the same way about my old mediumnewspapers. And after I heard Keillor's farewell show and saw that headline, it got my my words pumping:
Back in the newspapers' heydey,
One called itself USA TODAY.
The going got tough,
Proofreaders laid off.
Wisconsin looks like Minnesotay.
     I feel entitled to pick on USA TODAY because I was associated with the McPaper from its revolutionary beginnings in 1982. They gave me one of most obscure jobs in journalismcontributing the daily sports item from South Carolina for the old Around the USA page. I earned $5 per item, and as I recall, those words were edited and cross-checked relentlessly. That's what newspapers did in the days of yore, when folks up and down the street were willing to pay for home delivery—twice a day, mind you—and newspapers found value in employing copy editors and proofreaders.
     Those were the good old days. In the 1980s (about the same time that Keillor made the cover of TIME magazine) The Greenville News was so ambitious we thought we could take over the state of South Carolina. If we could gain a few thousand readers and establish a semblance of a statewide audience, maybe we could pry the lucrative legal advertisements away from the Columbia paper.
     As part of this campaign, I was given a wonderful opportunity—not to mention a bottomless budget
to expand our high school football coverage statewide and cultivate a border-to-border audience. We catered barbecue for thousands of coaches every year and published special editions that were over a hundred pages. On the eighth Friday night of the 1984 season, we succeeded in getting every score of every game in the entire state in our first edition, which we felt certain had never been accomplished before. And for the next eight years, we never went to press without every score. We had radio ads bragging about it.
     If a coach didn't call in his game—and why wouldn't he, since we offered him $10 to dial us toll-free?—then we would make the midnight call to his house or the firehouse or the Waffle House to hunt down the score.

There once was a coach in St. Matthews.
He'd rip out the phone if his boys lose.
So we'd call the town cop
Or the local truck stop
Where the quarterback gets his tattoos.
     In a different era and a different state, Keillor might have been the one calling in the game for us. One of the revelations I discovered in all the tributes published last week was that he, like me, began his career as an junior-high sportswriter. When a San Francisco reporter asked him about the happiest memory from his youth, he said: 
"The happiest was when I went out for football in the eighth grade and I took a physical, and the doctor told me I couldn’t play because I had a click in the valve of my heart. I was shocked, but I took this experience as a cue that I have to do something else that was brave, and I went to the local paper and asked if they needed someone to write up sports, knowing they didn’t have anybody. So they let me do it. So instead of sitting on the bench, I sat at the top of stands in the press box with men from the local radio station who were broadcasting the game. I sat with a tablet and a pencil and felt like royalty up there. I was a writer!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

We're all the butt of a blond joke

     A new poll says that voters prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a margin of 54-41.
     Or to put it in terms my fellow denizens of the AP stylebook will understand: The blonde is leading the blond.
     I'm paraphrasing Jesus' warning about the blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14) because I think He appreciated puns and I trust that He forgives mine. And I don't want to see my country wind up in the ditch.
     For what it's worth, we the people evidently prefer a white-haired President. The poll indicates that Americans favor Bernie Sanders 56-40 over Trump, 57-39 over Ted Cruz, and 50-46 over John Kasich. Let's make America gray again.
     In the most inexplicable and implausible matchup, Americans prefer the cowlicked Kasich 51-41 over the blond* Clintondespite the fact that on Tuesday night, he got less than five percent of the votes cast in Indiana. (The CNN/ORC poll was completed May 1, before Cruz and Kasich dropped out of the campaign.)
     * AP style, which is the abiding conscience of newsrooms nationwide, is as perplexed as the rest of America when it comes to blonde vs. blond. Here's how the stylebook guides us:

     In other words, Hillary is a blonde with blond hair.
     Is America ready for a blond(e) president? I looked it up, and Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were blond before they were bald. Straight-talking Harry is looking pretty good right now, just as he did in the Nixon era when the band Chicago recorded this ditty: America needs you, Harry Truman (click to listen). It ends with this plea:
     "Harry, is there something we can do to save the land we love?"

EQUAL TIME: Thomas Jefferson has been the only redhead in the White House. (By the way, redhead is now acceptable AP style, though it wasn't in the bygone days when Red Parker coached at Clemson.)

And if you are inclined to vote brunette, remember that Melania Trump has birther issues.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fuller, Fullest, and the Fantastic 4

Old football proverb: The name on the front of your jersey is more important than the name on the back. (New York Times photo)
    At the end of the Orange Bowl, Clemson needed to run a six-second play to exhaust the clock and keep from giving the football back to Oklahoma. So instead of taking a knee, Deshaun Watson took a shotgun snap, waited a couple of ticks, cocked his golden right arm, and launched a 60-yard pass into the Clemson fan section on the other end of the stadium.
     The way this perfect-ending season has gone, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Watson's game-ending pass was caught by none other than Steve Fuller.
     Almost everything Watson has done this season has brought honor to Fuller, who was—listen, children! the quarterback who put Clemson football on the map.
WON NOT DONE (Miami Herald photo)
     By the time Watson reached the podium on New Year's Eve to accept the award as the most valuable offensive player in the Orange Bowl, he had shed his game jersey, the one with the patch on the right shoulder honoring Fuller. Instead, he was wearing a T-shirt saying WON NOT DONE, immediately changing the focus to the Jan. 11 national championship game against Alabama. 
     I know there are some who thought it cheapened Fuller's memory to unretire his number and use it to entice Watson to come to Clemson. Some of my friends say it would be better to keep Fuller's No. 4 under glass, like Howard's Rock.
     Why not have it both ways? The New York Times had the story this week of how Clemson has balanced its history against its future:

A Clemson Juggernaut Is Led by a Star Wearing No. 4. That Figures.
By Tim Rohan
   Inside the Clemson locker room at Memorial Stadium, about 10 feet from quarterback Deshaun Watson’s locker, is a shrine to the jersey number he wears. There, set up neatly in another locker, is a throwback helmet, a pair of uniform pants and a hanging No. 4 jersey. It is all encased in glass, like a museum exhibit recalling the glory days of Clemson football.
   In reality, it is a tribute to Steve Fuller, the quarterback of the famed 1978 Clemson team. His number, 4, was the first one retired by Clemson’s football program.
Fuller made an exception two years ago and allowed Watson to wear the number. That has created an awkward situation: In leading Clemson to a 13-0 record and finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Watson has perhaps surpassed Fuller as the greatest player in Tigers history.
   When Watson was coming out of high school in Gainesville, Ga., Clemson’s ability to offer him No. 4 was another advantage in his recruitment as the university competed with the likes of Alabama and Florida State. When Watson was still a high school junior, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney slyly mentioned to Fuller, while the two of them were paired at a golf tournament, that some universities honored their past by allowing current players to wear retired numbers.
   The next year, at the same tournament, Swinney got more specific, explaining to Fuller who Watson was — a five-star recruit ranked among the top players in the nation — and what it would mean if Fuller would consent to Watson’s wearing his No. 4.
   “I gave him my blessing with the understanding that this was an unusual kid, and it would be a nice thing for the program,” Fuller said in a phone interview this week as he prepared to travel to the Orange Bowl. “If Coach said it was a good idea, I was going to go along with it.”
   It would have been hard for Swinney to blame Fuller if he had said no. When Fuller arrived at Clemson in 1975, the Tigers had not made a bowl game in the previous 15 seasons. When he took his first snap in his first start as a freshman, his feet were in the end zone in Tuscaloosa, Ala. — a metaphor for the state of the program.
   Fuller never put up the flashy statistics Watson has produced, but his role was different. Even though the Tigers had Dwight Clark and Jerry Butler, a future first-round draft pick, they ran a gritty option offense, and Fuller was its maestro. At one point, he started 27 consecutive games. In his senior year, the Tigers went 11-1, averaged 31 points a game, and beat Ohio State in the Gator Bowl in Buckeyes Coach Woody Hayes' final game.
   At the time, Fuller was the most decorated player in Clemson history. He was twice named the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, becoming the first Tiger to finish in the top 10. Clemson retired his No. 4 before he left campus, during the 1979 spring game.
   “I just happened to be the guy that was the quarterback on a team that, as we look at it, the team that turned the program in the right direction, gave it a little bit of a renaissance,” Fuller said. “We got it to the point where it was not a big national power, but a program that people started recognizing and kids in high school started noticing. It was more that, than me as an individual. I was the guy taking the snaps.”
    Three years after Fuller graduated, Clemson won its only national championship. Now, with Watson, they have their best shot at a second title.
   When Watson first got to campus, Swinney frequently gave Fuller updates on Watson’s progress, on the field and in the classroom, as if Watson were Fuller’s son. But Fuller mostly watched Watson from afar, from the same seats that his father had sat in when he played.
    Injuries, most notably a torn anterior cruciate ligament, cut short Watson’s freshman season, but he impressed his coaches with his maturity, decision-making and athleticism. Fuller noticed his poise under duress.
    In early October, Fuller watched from the stands with his college teammate Jeff Bostic as Watson accounted for all three Clemson touchdowns in a close win over Notre Dame, in what was perhaps Clemson’s most important game of the regular season. Bostic leaned over and asked Fuller if Clemson could retire No. 4 twice. He chuckled to make clear that he was joking.
   But perhaps Bostic had a point. “He would certainly be deserving of it when he’s done,” Fuller said of Watson. “Knock on wood. Hopefully we’ve got a lot of good things left to come.”
     Schools differ in how they honor the numbers of their football heroes. Alabama has never retired a number. Florida State retires jerseys but allows the numbers to be reused. 
     Of the schools who recruited Watson, only Clemson had retired No. 4, so once Fuller gave his blessings, it essentially leveled the playing field. Wherever he went, Watson could keep the number he wore for the Gainesville High Red Elephants.
     I don't know if No. 4 was even a factor in Watson's college decision, but it was a nice trump card for Clemson to be able to play. And of all the inducements a hotshot recruit may be offered, a special jersey number is pretty honorable.
     But the question remains: By bringing No. 4 out of retirement, has Clemson taken anything away from Fuller? Not as long as kids see the patch on Watson's shoulder and ask Granddaddy, "Who's Fuller?"
Steve Fuller against Notre Dame in 1977

     Oh, little Tiger, let me tell you about Steve Fuller. His team was the first from Clemson to beat Georgia "between the hedges," which were planted way back in 1929. Beat uppitty Georgia Tech in Atlanta back when they almost never came up to Clemson. Nearly beat Joe Montana and Notre Dame's 1977 national championship team. Beat Woody Hayes in the Gator Bowl. Fuller didn't do it by himself, of course, but he was the face of the program when Clemson decided to double-deck Death Valley and recruited many of the players who won the 1981 national championship.
     Little Tiger, don't you ever forget Steve Fuller.

     Retired numbers can be quickly forgotten. To prove my point, here's a pop quiz: See how many of these players you can name by their retired numbers:
Clemson: 4, 28, 66 (Hint: 66 is not William Perry).
Auburn: 7, 34, 88.
Florida State: 2, 16, 17, 25, 28, 34, 50 (Hint: 28 also had a profound impact on Watson's life).
Georgia: 21, 34, 40, 62.
South Carolina: 2, 37, 38, 56.
     Can you even pick out the seven Heisman Trophy winners on that list? (Answers below)

An Orange Bowl reminder of Fuller's first juggernaut
Before he was No. 4, Steve Fuller wore 11 at Spartanburg High
      I was away at Missouri or busy at the office during Fuller's career at Clemson, and the only time I remember seeing him play in person was in 1974, when he was quarterback of the Spartanburg High School team that regularly put 70 on the scoreboard and set a state record for points in a season. 
     And when I saw Watson and defensive MVP Ben Boulware on the podium after the Orange Bowl, it brought back a special memory. Boulware is a graduate of my high school, T.L. Hannathe team that stopped Fuller's Spartanburg juggernaut.
     Thanks for the memories, Ben and Deshaun.
     Congratulations, Steve. This one's for you.
T.L. Hanna graduate Ben Boulware (Miami Herald photo)

RETIRED NUMBERS
Clemson: 4-Steve Fuller, 28-C.J. Spiller, 66-Banks McFadden.
Auburn: 7-Pat Sullivan, 34-Bo Jackson, 88-Terry Beasley.
Florida State: 2-Deion Sanders, 16-Chris Weinke, 17-Charlie Ward, 25-Fred Biletnikoff, 28-Warrick Dunn, 34-Ron Sellers, 50-Ron Simmons.
Georgia: 21-Frank Sinkwich, 34-Herschel Walker, 40-Theron Sapp, 62-Charlie Trippi.
South Carolina: 2-Sterling Sharpe, 37-Steve Wadiak, 38-George Rogers, 50-Mike Johnson.

Heisman Trophy winners are underlined. Conspicuously absent from that list are the 2010 and 2014 Heisman winners, Auburn's Cam Newton and FSU's Jameis Winston.