I did not make it to Athens to have my heart ripped out of my chest and stomped on by a hobnail boot on Christmas morning in a Turkish prison by grown men who are naked. But... I did return home to Douglas, GA to enjoy the weekend with my family and attend a multi-class 25 year high School reunion at Dear Old Coffee High (classes of 83, 84, 85, 86.)
This is a photo of the men in my dad's "Men's Room" watching the Dawgs play. Seated (Left to right) is Paw Paw (my dad - John Tanner), Charlie Walton (my sister's 4 yr old), Me, Hampton (my 7 yr old son), Drew Tanner (my brother), Hollis Tanner (Drew's youngest son - 9) and behind us is Michael Tanner (Drew's middle son - 16) and Rob Walton (converted Colgate grad and the best damn brother-in-law in all the land.)
The highlight of the weekend was spending time with two fellas that I got in to plenty of trouble with back in the day, telling stories until the wee hours and laughing so hard my sides ached. Harold Ragsdale was our starting QB for two seasons leading the team to a record of 19-4 and was a 4 year starter at shortstop on our baseball team that won 2 state championships in 4 years. Eddie "Wink Andujar" Anderson was a dominant pitcher and played split end until Rags graduated and then started at QB his senior year. It was just like old times.
Also at the reunion was the real Andre "Pulpwood" Smith. Everyone reading this blog knows about the real Pulpwood and the fictional prognosticating Pulpwood. The real Pulpwood was virtually unstoppable at tailback since the age of 12 and was arguably an even better baseball player. Pulpwood has been through some difficult times, but in the past couple of years, he has returned to Coffee County, gotten baptized, become a devout Christian and is doing quite well. He is beloved by many for his exploits on the field, but those days are long in the past and his true friends and admirers today are those who accept him as he is and support him in his continuing journey. When I first caught up with Pulpwood at the reunion, he loudly exclaimed that "Hamp Tanner was the best receiving tight end in Coffee High history." He went on to say, "Hamp caught every pass ever thrown his way." The second part is almost completely accurate. Though we were predominantly a running team, I did catch 18 passes in 2 seasons as a starter and there was only one incompletion on a pass thrown to me when a Glynn Academy safety (Wynn Fendig) broke it up in the end zone. I still kick myself for not getting that ball! Anyway, the larger point is that Pulpwood is the kind of guy who will always build you up larger than life and pour on the compliments because he truly loves people. He is a genuinely nice guy with a heart of gold. It was a privilege and an honor to be his teammate for so many seasons, so long ago.
This is a photo of my Bro-in-Law Rob Walton, Andre "Pulpwood" Smith and me.