Archive for November, 2010

A Unique 80th Birthday Gift

November 28, 2010

Andrew Cashen, of Prestige Helicopters, Inc. at McCollum Field, Kennesaw, Georgia, asked me “Have you ever flown in a helicopter before?” 

Me and my helicopter lesson instructor Andrew Cashen, McCollum Field, Kennesaw, GA

“Yes. I flew in Hueys, Bells, and a Georgia Power helicopter that flew me from Columbus to Plant Vogtle.”

“But, never at the controls.”

“No, never at the controls.”

He also asked me if I had ever flown a fixed-wing aircraft, and I told him I had, that I was not a licensed pilot, but I knew how to fly. As a teenager, the first time I ever went up in an airplane I flew it.  On learning that I had never flown before, a friend of my accompanying older brother, Elbert, told me if I paid half the price of the gas in a rental plane, he would take me up.  When we got into the small two-place tail-dragger, he informed me that I was going to fly it. Following his instructions, I taxied it to the runway, took it off, and  flew it around for a little while, and, lined it  up with the runway for a landing. He insisted on landing it, which I agreed was an excellent idea. 

 Over the years other pilots, including the late legendary Tuskegee Airman instructor Chief Anderson, had let me take the controls some.  Anderson, who was 80 at the time, even let me, with a little assist,  land his Cessna, apply the brakes and taxi it to the hangar. What a great guy he was.

Andrew explained to me that, while there were some similar characteristics in flying a fixed-wing plane and a helicopter, there were some distinct differences.  And he pointed that understanding those differences was important in preventing a crash. He definitely got my attention with that remark.

Me on the left, Andrew on the right.

  He told me about the three main controls, which you have to coordinate for successful flight.  He said that he would let me handle each one separately while he controlled the other two, and if I did that all right, he would let me control all three and actually fly the chopper. I did end up controlling all three, and after we landed, I said, “I actually flew it!”

He replied, “You actually did better when you controlled all three.”

That keeper memory was made possible by stepson Ken Champion and his wife Katrina, who bought me the helicopter lesson for my 80th birthday.  It was a unique and very enjoyable experience.  One of the main reasons it was so enjoyable was because of the sunny personality of the instructor. He had a great knack for giving orders without sounding like he was giving orders.  As we were walking back to his office building after the flight, I asked him if he flew other helicopters. He replied that he did, including a Black Hawk.  Turns out that he is also a National Guard helicopter pilot. 

If you’re interested in a lesson you can contact him  at 770-655-3976.  Tell him Dick sent you. I liked him. In fact, I don’t think I ever met a pilot I didn’t like, including the one who gave me my first fixed-wing lesson. I guess there is something about wanting to fly that makes for happier people. On the back of Andrew’s business card is the Gover C. Norwood quote, “Because I Fly, I envy no man on earth.” 

Ken and Katrina, along with my granddaughter Shannon, witnessed the flight and took some video of the takeoff and landing.  You can actually see me inside the R-22. I’m the one in the khaki pants.  The R-22 is, as you can see,  small and light. You really know you are flying when you are in a small one like the R-22.  It is quite popular as a trainer, and can perform incredible areobatics. 

Thanksgiving 2010 Thoughts

November 24, 2010

It’s time for my annual Thanksgiving message.  Last year I did a little research and came up with the information that shows our old elementary school history books were totally inaccurate about the first Thanksgiving on our continent.  We were told it was in 1621 in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts.  Actually, there was one before that.  According to Wikipedia, it was in 1565  in St. Augustine, Florida.  I did have to do a little research to learn about that, which was good, because that showed I cared enough about you to go to the trouble.

This year I decided to keep it simple, but still go to a little trouble to again let you know I care. This time I had to pull out my Photoshop Elements 6 training workbook to learn how to overlay text.  The photo illustrates that you don’t have to go to New England or the mountains to see beautiful Autumn leaves.  They can be right in your own yard, or apartment complex, which is where this one was taken in Columbus.

Watchdogging is a News Media Responsibility

November 18, 2010
It was good, in my opinion, to see that Georgia’s largest newspaper still considers it is responsible to serve the public as a watchdog.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dan Chapman broke the story Sunday about Governor Sonny Perdue’s meeting with state employees in the Georgia Ports Authority about his trucking and grain companies seeking business with ports.  And yesterday,  according to AJC, Rome, Georgia ethics watchdog George Anderson asked Georgia’s attorney general and inspector general to investigate  Governor Sonny Perdue for allegedly violating the public trust by meeting with state employees to boost his trucking and grain businesses. 

The paper’s Sunday story reported that Governor Perdue met in the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah “with a half-dozen state employees” with the purpose of the meeting to discuss how the Ports Authority could help grow the governor’s private businesses.

Responding to Anderson’s call for an investigation,  AJC reports that Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said, “This is yet another frivolous complaint filed by Mr. Anderson, solely based on a news story that was full of speculation and innuendo, not facts.”  Previously he had stated that Governor Perdue and his associates were simply obtaining information available to any Georgian for his businesses in which the governor will become active after he finishes his second term.

No matter how this turns out, the positive note to me is that the Atlanta  Journal-Constitution is doing its Fourth Estate duty by serving as a public watchdog.  Somebody has to keep an eye on what politicians are up to. After all, their actions have direct effects on our lives because they get to make the rules, rules that they sometimes break themselves.  They may tell us during their campaigns that they are looking out for our interests, but it turns out that is not always the case, that they are sometimes primarily looking out after their interests.  

Let’s hope AJC keeps up the good work and that other news media follow their example.  It’s their public duty, in my view.

Georgia-Auburn Columbus Memories

November 15, 2010

As I watched the Georgia-Auburn, or Auburn-Georgia game (if you are an Auburn fan, Auburn always comes first, and visa versa for Georgia), I had to reflect on when it was played in Columbus.   And it has been played in Columbus more times than anywhere else, 38 games, according to Wikipedia.  It was played in Columbus from 1920 to 1958, with the only break being when it was played in Athens in 1929. The crowds outgrew Columbus’ Memorial Stadium and the game has alternated between Athens and Auburn since 1959.   

A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, formerly Memorial Stadium, home of Georgia-Auburn football games from 1920 to 1958

I never really knew why Columbus was selected as the site, only surmising that it might have been because Columbus is only about 35 miles from Auburn, but it’s in Georgia. Maybe it’s because Memorial Stadium in 1920 was larger than the stadiums at Athens and Auburn. I really don’t know that for sure. If you do know, please click the comment button and tell me. 

Anyway, as many in Columbus and Phenix City who are old enough to remember will tell you, it was a huge deal, perhaps the largest social affair in Columbus each year.  Parties were held all over town, with some really impressive ones in the homes of the affluent.  Everyone dressed up for the game back then, with men wearing suits and ties, and women wearing their Sunday best and  a red and white, or blue and gold carnation corsage. I knew that, not because I went to the games before the end of World War II, but from my father driving the family by the stadium on game day to watch folks going into the stadium. My parents considered the tickets too pricey at the time.  The most exciting drive-by was during World War II when we saw mega-movie star Bette Davis being escorted by her Fort Benning solider boyfriend into the stadium.  My memory tells me she was wearing a corsage, but I don’t remember which colors. We would go back home and listen to the game on the radio. WRBL radio – there was no TV then – broadcast the games on a statewide network. 

I couldn’t see the games then, but I could see the bands, and I loved the bands as much as I did the games.  On game day, the Georgia band would arrive in Columbus on a Central of Georgia train.  All I had to do was walk from our house on 5th Avenue near 11th Street to the corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street, which was a short block from the Central of Georgia depot.  By the time the Georgia band got to the intersection it went from a percussion street beat to the band’s playing a familiar march, maybe even Glory Glory to Old Georgia.  Then my buddies and I would follow the band to Broadway where it would join the Auburn band for the Broadway parade. Georgia and Auburn fans would decorate their cars in school colors and signs.

 During the last year of World War II and right after the war, since the war had brought an end to the Great Depression, family finances picked up and we started going to the games.  The one that I remember most vividly was when Charlie Trippi played.  It was either the 1945 or 1946 game.  Trippi, who was an All-American and in the running for the Heisman Trophy (Doc Blanchard of Army won it) put on dazzling show. 

Charlie Trippi (Photo courtesy: Athens Banner-Herald)

It was a warm, sunny November Saturday afternoon.  We were sitting in the end zone seats , but that didn’t matter because I WAS THERE, actually seeing a Georgia-Auburn game.  And while I was rooting for Georgia, I enjoyed the Auburn band when it played The Tiger Rag  as much as the Bulldog band when it played Glory Glory to old Georgia.  I just loved it when the Auburn band tuba section stood and in unison turned from one side to the other when it did the roar part of the song.

And the end zone didn’t turn out so bad after all.  You got to see Trippi doing his dazzling reverses and running backwards before he would turn and run what it appeared to be right through most of the Auburn team in the end-zone area. That turned out to be better than the ultra-expensive 50-yard line seats. Georgia won. I  know that because Georgia won both the 1945 and 1946 games.

The Georgia-Auburn game is billed as “The Deep South’s Oldest Football Rivalry.”  Virginia-North Carolina claim to be “The South’s Oldest Football Rivalry” even though it played its first game in 1892, the same year that Georgia and Auburn played their first game.  Virgnia-North Carolina claim the most games since they played two in 1892.  There is the distinct possibility that Georgia and Auburn can play twice in one year for the SEC Championship so that will make it a tie for “oldest rivalry,” I suppose. 

Anyway, as you know Auburn won this year.  The teams are pretty close to a tie for the most wins from 1892 to now.

Steve Butler is this Year’s Dan Reed Award Recipient

November 10, 2010

If anyone deserves the title Chairman, it’s Steve Butler. 

Steve Butler (Photo by Jim Cathorne, Camera1)

He has more chairmanships than anyone I have ever heard of.  Most of those chairmanships are for civic and social organizations. And I am sure that’s why he was chosen as this year’s winner of the Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self.  The award,  named after former Rotary Club of Columbus Secretary Dan Reed,  is given each year to a non-Rotarian for selfless service to community. 

 Steve Butler works, not only as Chairman of the W.C. Bradley Company, but as a contributor to the welfare of his community. 

Now, he is Chairman of Brookstone School, the Pastoral Institute, and Strategic Planning for St. Francis Hospital.  which is undergoing its largest expansion. His parents, Dr. Clarence and Mrs. Butler, were very active supporters of St. Francis.  

He just stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Bradley-Turner Foundation.  Abbott Turner, Bill Turner’s youngest son, is now filling that position.

Steve was also Chairman of United Way, Columbus State University Foundation, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus ’96, Columbus Sports Council, and the Administrative Board of St. Luke United Methodist Church where he teaches Sunday school.  That’s apparently a family tradition because Bill Turner, his philanthropic uncle,  taught a class there for many years.

During a video presentation announcing his winning the Dan Reed Award, Robert Granger, President/CEO of St. Francis Hospital, who nominated Steve, said that he had been instrumental in facilitating the hospital’s largest-ever expansion, “Steve never seeks the spotlight. He is a humble leader who provides strong leadership.”

Brookstone School Headmaster Brian Kennerly said, “He embodies Service Above Self as he clearly keeps an eye on the people he is leading as he paves the way for the organization.”

 Ron King, Executive Director and CEO of the Pastoral Institute, said, “Steve Butler is a compassionate, committed, community leader that calls forth the best from all around him.”

His pastor, Hal Brady of St. Luke United Methodist Church, said, “I cannot think of a better nomination for the Dan Reed Award than Steve Butler. Steve is a choice servant leader who lives out the Rotary motto Service Above Self in his life, church, community and commitment.”


November 8, 2010


When I took a picture of the Ledger-Enquirer press in September, 2009, I had in mind not only the subject of that blog post, but also of the one to come, this one.

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer presses

I figured it was just a matter of time before the Ledger-Enquirer’s press would join a lot of others around the country in passing into history. I must say it came a little quicker than I thought it would.

The L-E’s sister McClatchy paper,the Macon Telegraph,had already shut down its production department, being printed by the Ledger-Enquirer. Starting in January,  the L-E, according to the story in the paper Friday, will be printed by the Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery.

A lot of people still like to hold the paper in their hands. I think it is probably mainly older people, people like me. Well, I’m 80, and I read it online every day but Sunday. The Sunday paper isn’t offered online so I read the hard copy.

Former President George W. Bush isn’t as old as I am, but at 64 he is old enough to collect Social Security, and he gets his news online, saying he watches no television, and the only newspaper he reads is the Wall Street Journal, and he reads that online. He told NBC’s Matt Lauer on Nightly News that he has an iPad. He surfs the web and reads political websites, with the only one he named being Politico which he thinks is good.

Naturally, I have to reflect on my past association with a Ledger-Enquirer press. I first came in contact with one when I was 12-years-old in 1942. I got a Columbus Ledger route on 2nd Avenue. It was the afternoon paper. I would watch copies coming off the press being swooped up by a circulation department worker, who passed them through a window to me. Then I would have to fold each one, put it in the bag on my bike’s handlebars, and then push the bike up the steep 12th Street hill, and then hop on and start peddling when I got on level ground on Broadway.

People had porches on 2nd Avenue then, so I could throw most of the papers from my moving bike. That was the fun part. But, I had to stop and climb three flights of stairs at an apartment building that had previously been the Southern Bell building, and I also went upstairs at boarding houses, and the YMCA to deliver papers there.

The paper wasn’t published on Saturdays so that was collection day. Most people paid by the week… when they paid. Sometimes they just wouldn’t come to the door, and sometimes they would come to the door and ask if I could wait until next week. Most of 2nd Avenue was not affluent. There were some old- money families still on the street, and they paid by the month. I decided to cut one of them off when no one would answer the door for a whole week. Back then, the paper boy bought his papers and if subscribers didn’t pay he would have to eat the loss. When I turned in the cancellation notice, the circulation manager almost had apoplexy and urged me to continue delivering the paper, saying that the problem was the rich old lady had been out of town, and that he would personally collect from her and give me the money. Eventually he did, but I got fed up with the whole thing and, after I broke my leg in a playground accident, I quit.

I’m thinking about getting an iPad. Have they come down in price yet?

Columbus Remains a Democratic Party Majority City

November 3, 2010


If the rest of the state had gone the same way Columbus went, Democrats would have won every state-wide election.  As you know, that didn’t happen. The breakdown is typical of all Columbus city-wide elections. North Columbus goes overwhelmingly for Republicans, and South Columbus goes overwhelmingly Democratic.  But, there are enough Democrats and Independents in North Columbus to keep the city solidly in the Democratic column.

In Muscogee County, for United States Senator, Michael Thurmond got 53.69 percent to Johnny Isakson’s 44.22 percent.

For governor, former Gov.  Roy Barnes got 57.50 percent of the vote.  Former Congressman Nathan Deal,  39.53 percent.

For Lt. Gov., Carol Porter got 54.97 percent.

For Secretary of State, G. Sinkfield got 54.46 percent.

And for the rest of the state-wide races, no Democrat got less than 54 percent.

The non-partisan election for mayor fooled me. I thought Wayne Anthony would have been in the runoff because I figured he would have run up a pile of votes in North Columbus.  He didn’t run up enough. Teresa Tomlinson did well all over the city.  Now, we get to choose between her and Zeph Baker.  Just think, for the first time in history, the Mayor of Columbus will be either a white female or an African-American male.

Democratic Air Force is Smaller but Faster

November 1, 2010

Democratic candidate for Governor Roy Barnes deplanes

When Republican candidates flew into Columbus this morning they had more planes.  However, the most impressive plane was the one Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes arrived in this afternoon. Barnes came in a Cessna Citation Excel jet.  Carol Porter, who is running for Lt. Governor (disclosure: she’s my cousin),  came in a King Air,  like the ones Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss came in earlier.  

Who cares? It’s the politics I should be discussing. Right?

Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor spots me, her cousin, taking her picture as she deplanes.

 Sorry, but I just love airplanes.

While Republicans pointed with pride at their past record and promised to keep up the good work,  Barnes and Porter viewed their record with alarm and feared for Georgia’s future if they stay in the saddle, citing the damage done by lack of proper support for education, for one thing. 

Carol Porter and her four sons, all Eagle Scouts, at Columbus Airport rally

Roy Barnes being interviewed as Mayor Jim Wetherington and Columbus business leader Jim Blanchard and Mrs. Barnes look on

What was intesting about both rallies was how fit the candidates appeared.  Flying around the state in one day ,  from Atlanta to Savannah with lots of stops in between, to hold airport rallies had to be grueling, but, they really didn’t look tired to me.  They appeared to be enjoying it.  I guess people who love to be in high stakes politics get a big rush out of playing the game.

Republican Fighter Formation Lands in Columbus

November 1, 2010
Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal, followed by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue  
Right on time, Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss landed in a twin-engine King Air, and former Congressman Nathan Deal and Governor Perdue landed in a single engine.  


    Lt. Governor Cagle landed about a half-hour later in another King Air, causing the 9 a.m.  rally to get started at about  9:30.



Governor Perdue predicted a clean sweep for Republicans running for statewide offices.  And they were all at there.  Gubernatorial Candidate Nathan Deal praised Perdue’s administration and all of the statewide candidates and  promised to keep Georgia moving forward. 

No doubt, we’ll get another take on whether Republicans have moved Georgia forward when Democrats Roy Barnes, who is running for governor, and Carol Porter, who is running for Lt. Governor, fly in this afternoon.        



Fly-around Time

November 1, 2010

Statewide candidates continue the tradition of flying into airports around the state to hold last-minute rallies and news conferences.

On Monday, November 1, a whole bunch of Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal and senatorial candidate Johnny Isakson are scheduled to land at the Flightways FBO terminal at Columbus Airport at 9 a.m.  On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. candidate Carol Porter and gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes are scheduled to land at 2:00 and 2:15 p.m.  

In case you plan to attend any of these, be advised that the planes don’t always land on time, but they could. That has been my experience. Take something to read.