Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Safe at Home: A Novel - Richard Doster

Safe at Home: A Novel
by Richard Doster

It’s 1953 and Jack Hall is a sports writer for a small town newspaper in Whitney, GA. The town’s interest in their local minor league baseball team is losing to air-conditioning and prime time television. Segregation is firmly still in place in the small southern town and the black high school on the other side of town has a star player with a .364 batting average.

Hall suggests the minor league team sign the young slugger to boost attendance and reignite some interest in the team. But even though the local folks have seen Jackie Robinson playing Major League Baseball on television, they do not quickly warm to the idea of integrating their local team. Many fear how such a move could affect the rest of the life in their small town. Hall quickly becomes a target for abuse in the town as his editorials supporting the idea draw the ire of several in the town. Relationships, minds, and traditions are tested as the town wrestles with the situation.

While this is fiction, Doster does a masterful job of wrapping the story around actual historical events of the time. If you love baseball, you will have a hard time setting this book done until you have read it from cover to cover.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Several years ago when I was living in South Georgia, the pastor of our small town Church began creating his own children's sermons each Sunday which contained a mischievous young character he called "Charlie the Chipmunk". Most of the stories involved Charlie in a children's Sunday School class. For humor, the pastor would use the names of actual members of the congregation as other characters in the story each week.

One week, the Pastor thought it clever to use me as one of the characters in Charlie's story. It seemed Charlie was misbehaving that particular week, and Charlie's Sunday School teacher responded by telling him to behave or else he might grow up and be "like Allen Madding". The 200 some odd members of the congregation that Sunday found it quite funny, while some began to whisper about what might happen in response to this little joke.

Photo Source:

It just so happened that there was a Shopper Guide that was published in the county, and people could list items for sale in the Shopper for free. It seems that someone listed a 1967 Ford Mustang fully restored for $2,500 with the Church parsonage phone number, and the add specified, "Call after 10pm. Ask for Charlie."

Secrets are not well kept in a small town, and ours was no exception. By the following weekend, I had a couple folks tell me that the preacher was not getting much sleep as the parsonage phone was ringing off the wall every night after 10pm. The pastor and his wife were trying to not let anyone know, but they confided in a couple that were their close friends. Those close friends thought it was hilarious and immediately found me to share the details.

Without solicitation, the Shopper ran the ad for a second week, and the parsonage phone continued ringing.

That was the last time I was the butt of a joke in a Charlie the Chipmunk story.

A few other members of the community found their way into Charlie stories and some were the punchline. Around Christmas, the pastor and his wife went to spend a week at their home in NC. While they were gone, their lawn was decorated with a tiny sleigh and twelve pink flamingos adorned with a flood light that was on a dust to dawn timer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Before you go making some assumption on "Harley Riders", maybe you should stop and consider what kind of folks ride Harleys...