As I sit here, listening to the 8 th version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” that I have downloaded on my Ipod, I realize that I am a creature of habit. I love this song, no matter who plays it. Whether it is Dickie Betts, Duane Allman, Warren Haynes or Derek Trucks, the sounds of the slide guitar and Gregg’s organ playing always seem to captivate me. It has no words, no message, and no help from studio synthesizers or MTV. It is just virtuosity accompanied by inspiration, compliments of a Macon, Georgia cemetery and the imagination of a few twenty-something Southern boys just trying to make a living. My Dad and I used to sit around and listen to Allman Brothers albums when I was a kid and he would always say, “Now, son, this is music. Not that trash y’all have coming out today. Remember that.” Thanks Dad, you were right.
I suppose I can say this about sports as well. I’m a creature of habit. When Saturdays in the Fall roll around, you can bet the farm (or your house in a cul-de-sac for you suburbanites) that I will be in Athens,Georgia supporting my alma mater and our esteemed football program. You can bet that I’ll be loud on third downs, eat fried chicken, memorize the hometowns of every scholarship player in the program and hate Tech with every fiber of my being. You can take all the money you have buried in your mayonnaise jar (or buried in Wall Street nonsense) on put it on me affixing my posterior on the South side of Sanford Stadium regardless of victory or defeat. Why? Because that’s what good Dawgs do.
Good Dawgs are creatures of habit. Every gameday, I rise early and head to the Waffle House. I proceed to annihilate a Fiesta omelet, hash browns, grits and at least a pot of coffee. I love the Waffle House. It is a yellow beacon of light in the darkness of I-75, a light at the end of Atlanta traffic tunnel and near and dear to the hearts of small town Georgians like myself. I play the same songs on the jukebox every Saturday: “Hold on Loosely” by .38 Special, “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffett, “Hotel California” by the Eagles and “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson. Why Smokey? Because my Mom loves Motown and we used to dance in the living room while The Temptations, Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose and Smokey would blare in the background. Mom would say, “Now, son, this is music. Not that trash y’all have coming out today. Remember that.” Thanks Mom, you were right too.
There is one habit that I have had to break, sadly. We lost a good Dawg last month, one that cannot be emulated, imitated or replaced. Although he had not broadcast his gravelly voice in quite some time, Larry Munson’s voice still lived on through internet videos, DVD’s, books and the memories of Dawg fans everywhere. Plus, since he was still alive, there was always the tiniest glimmer of hope that he would come back. That familiar voice would say “Get the picture….” and all would be right with the world. It was preposterous to hope for such a thing, but I hoped nonetheless. That is the meaning of “irreplaceable.”
I cannot think of a Saturday in Athens, or one spent at home during away games, where Larry was not scaring us to death with tales of how much bigger, faster and meaner the other team was. Larry was famous for his doomsday approach to loving the Dawgs. He would have you believing that we had no chance, we would be lucky to get within two touchdowns and might as well stay on the bus. Then, he would come out with a “My God, A Freshman” type call that showed you the real Larry. His passion was so deep, that would build up the other team so in case we lost, it would not hurt so bad. Luckily, his fears and ours would be unfounded, and the Dawgs would pull through. That was Larry at his finest.
So, thank you, Larry. Thank you for making every game special. Thank you for "bending girders" and "Sugar falling from the sky." Thank you for magnifying the great career of "that kid out of Johnson County" with your unforgettable calls. Thank you for breaking steel chairs, destroying property, and lighting cigars on the banks of the St. John's. Thank you for getting us through the 90's, I'll never forget Carswell's mobbing in Athens and Quincyleading us to a 29-28 comeback inBaton Rougein '98. Thank you for making my time at UGA that much better. Thank you for "Hobnail Boots," Fred Gibson's "whatchamacallit" and simply, "Massaquoi!" Thank you for the chill down my spine when the Battle Hymn is played and your voice booms, espousing the virtues of what it means to be a Dawg. We Georgians, from Rabun Gap to Bainbridge, from Rome to Augusta, from Dalton to Kingsland, the children of the red clay and the sandy south Georgia soil, are forever in your debt. Go Rest High, old friend, you will not be forgotten.