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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

ScarFace Undone

This past October 2014, I had surgery on my face. The surgery was to remove skin cancer from beneath the surface of my face.

September, the month of impending change, is when I learned I had cancer. Before surgery, I had a couple of weeks to think about the alien living below my eyes, beneath my skin. I hated the idea of something foreign living there. Knowing it was caused by too many unprotected days in the sun, I vowed to never again go outside without wearing a good quality sunscreen. I’ve honored the vow.

Below is a photo of the day I learned that yellow fireball in the sky had not been my friend.

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This is what the spot looked like… a pimple that wouldn’t go away. I didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. Until it lingered and wouldn’t clear up.

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I had both dreaded and looked forward to surgery. I was not excited about having my faced opened up, but I was anxious to get the show on the road. October, one of my favorite months, ushered in Surgery Day; my good friend Angie Alexandersen drove me to Marietta for the procedure. I went into surgery believing all cancer would be removed and knowing I would have a scar afterwards, I just didn’t know how wide, long or deep the scar would be. But my attitude was: Ok…you’ve had fifty plus years of a relatively unmarred face. So you may have a scar. Deal with it. You’ve fought tougher battles than a blemished face.”

But I also knew I would help the scar heal physically with the products I “peddle” (that’s how one of my son’s friends described my business skill-set). 🙂

I am a consultant with Rodan+Fields, the skincare company created by Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields. During the past year, I had seen my client’s wrinkles decrease, age spots disappear, rosacea, eczema and acne cleared up… leaving behind a flawless complexion. And while RF doesn’t make claims of healing scars, I knew I would give our products a chance before using the expensive creams my doctor suggested.

The doctors and nurses had instructed me to wait a few days before removing the surgical bandages. In the meantime, I tried to set my mind for whatever lay beneath the white netting covering one side of my face. Expect nothing, just pull the bandages back and accept what’s there.

Alone and holding my breath, I carefully removed the gauze and tape. One look and my stomach knotted up slightly and I sort of wanted to cry; but then I talked myself back: It could be worse. It wasn’t in the bone. Others have dealt with so much more. Think of what Denise is going through. If this is the worst of it for you, consider yourself fortunate.

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I developed my Rodan+Fields Game Plan. And when the stitches were removed a week or so later, I began applying RF Night Renewing Serum and RF Overnight Restorative Cream directly to the raw, invaded area.
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RF Overnight Cream

A couple of weeks after sutures were removed, the scar area began to harden and raise up in a long rigid line down my cheek and alongside my nose. It reminded me of the Rocky Mountains, except it was an angry red mountain range rather than one of snow-capped beauty. My physician told me it was from the internal stitches healing and pulling the tissue and muscle from different directions. “The roots of the cancer were spread in different angles, you were stitched accordingly. We can talk about procedures to correct it after you’re completely healed”.

Searching the internet for restorative possibilities, I came across a surgeon using a ‘needlling’ process to break down scar tissue. Watching the video, I had an “aha moment”: “Hmmmm, RF has the AMP MD Roller. I wonder if that would work as well as what the doctor would use? The roller has surgical grade needles on it. I’ll give it a try”.
Six weeks after surgery, when most of the tenderness was gone, I began “needling” the scar with the AMP MD Roller. Immediately after “rolling”, I applied the serum and the PM Cream. I did this every night before going to bed; in the mornings, I reapplied the Overnight Cream. I still “roll, needle” the area every evening. Since then, I’ve added the full Redefine Regimen to my bedtime routine.
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I began to see a rapid improvement in the look of the scar once I added the RF AMP MD Roller to my scar-healing game plan. I’m still elated with the results I’ve received with Rodan+Fields products. Many times I had been impressed with the improvement in my my friend’s skin after using RF, but I was shocked with my outcome. And then one day the thought floated through my head…“Why are you shocked? Didn’t you believe you were worthy of the best? You tell your clients they deserve improved skin. So do you.”

I’ll never stop using Rodan+Fields products. Each and every thing I sell has a 100%, empty bottle, 60 day, money back guarantee. If I can help you, message me or one of your Rodan+Fields friends….we’ll talk about your own game plan. Whether it’s for wrinkles, age or hormone spots, acne, skin irritations…we have something to help you. You have nothing to lose.

Your skin will be with you until the end…treat it well.

I no longer wear foundation cosmetics, so each photo posted here is naked skin, no editing.

Photo in the bottom right corner of the collage was taken in January 2015.

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March 2015

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April 11, 2015

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Changing Skin, Changing Lives

Video: Scarface Undone

Danita Clark Able
Rodan+Fields Executive Consultant

Who Remembers?

  

When I was growing up in Canton, Georgia, one of the most exiting days of the year was Opening Day. Not the  Braves Opening Day at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium…better..,opening day of the DQ. The line of teens in Cherokee Warrior T-shirts, parents holding toddlers, old couples holding hands, businessmen in ties, doctors and lawyers in suits, was so long, it would wrap around the side of the building and snake up into the Rutledge’s shaded yard.  Standing in that line, no one grumbled and complained. We caught up with our friends and neighbors…we learned who had broken up with whom “and right before prom! My goodness what a jerk!” 

Our town was small, our county not congested (we had one high school in all of Cherokee County). It didn’t take much to make us happy. We didn’t have a McDonald’s or a Waffle House, we had a Burger Chief and a Happy Kitchen (and they served us well). But the DQ, owned by the Rutledge family, was a summer treat. They only served dairy products and Slushies…. No burgers, hotdogs or Cokes. And it was only open from late spring to early fall. 

The Dairy Queen is still there, in the same location, but it is no longer owned by the Rutledge family  and it’s no longer the only DQ in town. And for reasons I don’t understand, the ice cream and shakes from the old DQ on Highway 5, taste better than they do at new one. The treats served up at the original taste like summer. And home. 



The Bird Fighter

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This morning, with a cup of Russian Tea in hand, I called my mom. It’s something I do daily. Most days, we chatter about the day before us, “what are you doing today?” Some mornings, the conversation is a lullaby of memories. Other times, she voices her concerns about the health and well-being of those she loves. Many mornings, she mentions her brothers and sisters….she misses them. The oldest of six, she has one surviving sibling.

Occasionally, our conversation takes a sharp turn. Unintentionally, I say something that whips up her Crawford temper, and she has to “bring me down a notch or two“. It’s ok.

Every now and then, regardless of conversation topic, I hear her with the ears of someone not from the south. Although I am from the south, I hear her with foreign ears and wonder what someone from New York or California would think of her Alabama vernacular. On those mornings I smile and silently shake my head. I learned a long time ago the pointlessness in correcting her. (When we visited the United Kingdom, an agent behind the ticket booth in a London train station asked her: “Where bouts in the states are ya from, M’Lady? Alabama or Tennessee?”

This morning, this is what I heard on the other end of the line:

Mama: Hello
Me: Are you busy?
Mama: Just fightin’ these old birds.
Me: (silent chuckle) What birds?
Mama: Aw, you know. Them ol’ birds that builds nests where they’re not supposed to. (The birds know this Rule of Helen? I wonder…)
Me: (She likes birds, usually, so now I’m curious). What kind of bird is it?
Mama: You know. Them old Mud Birds (Barn Swallows). I put the plant from Jake’s funeral out on the porch yesterday, and they’ve already started buildin’ a nest in it. They orta (ought to) know better than that. That’s a live plant, not no autoficial (artificial) one! Your daddy’s already knocked a nest out of the barn’s porch rafters, now they’re tryin’ to build one on this porch. They’ll mess all over the place! Nobody wants to clean up birds%$t all the time! Well, I need to go so I can get back out here to them birds. Before they build another nest.

So…if you need a good Mud Bird buster….you know who to call.





It Was A Dark and Stormy Night….oh, wait.

When I was a kid, I looked forward to spending a week or two out of the summer with my aunt and uncle. My family lived in what I considered the “Boonies” of Cherokee County; but my aunt and uncle had moved from Cherokee to the big city of Cartersville. They lived on Douglas Street. My visit to Cartersville had all the makings of a great summer. Everything I needed was within the traveling distance my bare feet could take me.  Their house was a stone’s throw from Main Street; three blocks from the outdoor Olympic sized pool at Cartersville High School and just a skip and a jump from the Iced-Slurpees of a convenience store on Tennessee Street. An old, wood-framed store, was located a street or two behind their house.

 One afternoon, early into my visit, my aunt sent me to the old store to pick up something she needed, probably a Coke. Once the screened-doors of the place squeaked to a close and my eyes adjusted to the dimness inside the ancient structure and my nostrils grew accustomed to the musty odor of old things, I found it was a place I liked. The older man who owned the store kept.a good selection of penny candy on hand and Mae had told me I could buy some.

I enjoyed the independence and responsibility my aunt entrusted to me. I relished the idea of doing such a grown-up thing as walking to the store alone. But, it was the getting there that gave me trouble.

To get to the store, I had to walk run past an ivy covered, two-story house on the corner of Douglas and Carter Streets. At the corner, I had to pass in front of the house, then turn left and journey toward the rear of the property. Something about the place sent cold quakes through me. No matter how many times I went to the store, I could never shake the chilling feeling I got when I was near the house. I found myself avoiding the sidewalk in front of the house by crossing to the other side of Douglas Street, turning left on the far side of Carter Street and then zig-zagging back when I was a safe distance from the “spooky’ house. Holding my breath the whole time. Even now, more than four decades later, I can drive past the place and remember the coldness I felt there, on hot summer days. 

 This past Valentine’s Day, someone on Facebook posted this question: “Anyone know where the house is in Cartersville that is on the Travel Channel tonight?”

I scrolled down and saw that someone had posted an article with a photo of the house. My spooky house.

Turns out, in the 1930’s,  the area of the sidewalk in front of the house had been the scene of a murder. Which led to a kidnapping and a hanging. The murdered man was the Chief of Police of Cartersville….he had been seeing to the arrest of young black man. aged twenty-two years. While the young man was incarcerated, the Chief would send for the beautiful, nineteen-year old wife of the prisoner. And so it went.

One night, the young man escaped and he and his brother drove to the home of the Chief, presumably to bring his wife home. The Chief came outside, not willing to peacefully let the girl go, an argument ensued, and somehow the Chief’s gun wound up in the hands of the escaped prisoner.

The gun was fired, the Chief died on Douglas Street.

The young man was arrested and jailed. A couple of nights later, he was kidnapped from jail and lynched in downtown Cartersville.

The young bride, fearing the friends and family of the Chief would kill her as well, (because they couldn’t let anyone know what he had been doing with the nineteen year old, black wife of his prisoner), fled town and was never heard from again.

(This is the condensed version of the story, if you prefer to read more of the article ….written by local attorney Tony Smith who quotes local historian Ed Bostick author of “Lynchings in Bartow County” for the Etowah Valley Historical Society. He quotes and names many other local residents.  You can read the full account of the Cartersville Police Chief Joe Ben Jenkins murder by scrolling down to “1930” at this link: http://www.tony5m17h.net/CartersvilleLynchings.html ) Thank you Phil Bridges for the link.

No matter how you feel about ghosts, haints, haunts, ghouls and lingering spirits….I know I felt something cold and creepy on that street, three of four decades after the tragic events which unfolded there.           

 Thank you for reading,    Danita

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Bully in the School Yard

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Did you know the old Canton Elementary on Academy Street and the Jones’ Textile Offices in downtown Canton, Georgia are on the National Register of Historic Places as being in the historic section of Canton? And did you know Dr. Frank Petruzielo, of superintendent fame, plans to demolish the school building and or the Jones Canton Textile building? He does. And very soon.

Because he needs a new office, you know. And a better place to park his car.

Canton and Cherokee County, do we have to allow another piece of our history to fall victim to the wrecking ball? I really don’t believe we do…or should. But….if some backbones, some green paper and a few history lovers don’t come together, within the next few months, we’re going to lose another piece of our history. Or as Ms. Joplin sang, we’ll lose Another Piece of My (our) Heart(s).

If we don’t act, Dr. Frank P will have his way with a building we love. He’ll replace it with another modern eyesore. Canton has too many of those already.

I’ve been told Dr. P has withdrawn all but bare-bones maintenance of the school building…allowing decline. To anyone watching from afar, it would appear his plan is for Canton Elementary to fall into such a state of disrepair, it will be non-salvageable. I’m sure by now the building is in terrible shape, it’s over 100 years old, after all. And when the county “remodeled” it in the mid 1970s, they didn’t bother with sustaining the integrity of the building or the original interior character. They replaced the windows, installed a drop ceiling, covered the hardwoods with cheap carpet and called it remodeled. What an insult to that beautiful, genteel Southern Lady.

I no longer live in Canton, but it will always be my hometown. My parents are still there, my cousins and their children and a spattering of aunts and uncles are still around town. They’ll be there until their last breath. Your family is probably very similar. Dr. P, most likely, will not. He’ll rip down a 100-year-old building, and for a couple of years, he’ll settle himself into a big comfy chair within that building…and then he’ll move on. Canton will be a faded memory to Dr. P. But we’ll remember him. Every time we drive downtown and see what is no longer there, we’ll remember. And we’ll say to our grandchildren what we’ve had to say to our children about other significant buildings around town: “There used to be the best old school building standing right over there. You should have seen the architecture, Neoclassical Style. Nothing else like it around here….”

We have given up so much of this cotton mill town. We gave things up without a fight. We let the hotel go, the magnificent Sequoyah Library where my love of reading began as a five-year old, the train depot (what other town destroys its depot?), the elegant homes on Marietta Street (replaced by a couple of architecturally unattractive brick boxes). We’ve lost enough.

The Historical Society doesn’t want to lose these buildings either. Below is a link to an article on their page. Surely we can come together and help them save a bit of history for the future citizens of Cherokee County.
https://www.facebook.com/CherokeeCountyHistoricalSociety

Thank you,
Danita Clark Able

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If you want to be a part of preserving the character of Downtown Canton. Please sign this petition created by the Cherokee County Historical Society. https://www.change.org/p/cherokee-county-board-of-education-integrate-downtown-historic-building-into-new-design

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Take 10

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That dang pimple just wouldn’t leave me be. It would go away after a week or two, I would forget about it… and a few weeks or months later, there it was again. In the same place every time, too.

Last January I became a Consultant with Rodan+Fields. I loved the healthy glow and smooth surface of my skin after using our products; happy to be working for a company that enhanced my skin as well as my income. But then July rolled around and with it came my old nemesis, the ‘Pink Pimple”. “Fifty + years is too old to begin having acne problems”, I remember thinking. No worries though, because Rodan+Fields has a Redefine Cleansing mask that will clean the most stubborn pores. So about a week after the pimple reappeared, I applied the mask and left it on for thirty minutes. Washed my face….nothing. The pimple was still there, the pore was still clogged. I tried the mask a second night and then a third. No change. Later, after the third masking, I woke with a sudden realization: If the Redefine Mask didn’t clear this clogged pore, then I’ve got a bigger problem than a pimple.”

The next day I made an appointment with a dermatologist. A receptionist said it would be a month before any of the doctors could see me. I wasn’t concerned, because at some point that morning, I had once more convinced myself again that I had nothing more than an irritating pimple. So, I waited a month to see the doctor and in the meantime, I kept my face clean; tried the mask a few more times. Bought some of those blackhead strips (just in case).

The pimple changed from light pink to almost red and became nodular; raised. Back to worrying.

During my very first appointment with a dermatologist, the young doctor (was he really old enough to be out of medical school?) performed a biopsy of the spot on my face and said he believed the biopsy would confirm his suspicion of Basal Cell Carcinoma. “Basal Cell Carcinoma isn’t malignant in the way melanoma is malignant,” he said. “However, we do consider it malignant, because left untreated, you will become disfigured. And it could lead to other health issues.” He explained the MOHs procedure a surgeon would use to extract the cancer. He said they “would cut until they got it all”. No…he couldn’t tell me how many stitches or how big the wound would be….that would all depend on how wide and deep the roots of the cancer cell had grown.

“Deeper is better than wide,” he said.
“Can it grow into the bone?” I wanted to know.
“Yes. We don’t want that to happen,” he said. “But if it has, we will get it out. All of it. In that case, or if the cancer has grown wide, reconstructive surgery will be a second step. We have wonderful surgeons on staff who will fix you up good as new”.

Last Monday I had surgery to remove this uninvited, pest of a guest, from my face. I’m glad he’s gone. Here’s the thing….he never should have been there. Had I known to use sunscreen or wear a hat as a teen, this little problem could have been avoided. But my generation had not heard of sunscreen until around the time we were having children of our own. In light of my ignorance of the damage caused from the sun, I probably wouldn’t have used sunscreen anyway. I wasn’t a ‘sun worshiper’, but I tanned easily (only had a few sunburns over the years, one really bad one as a kid) and could stay outside all day with no problem; when I went to the beach or the pool, my tanning oil of choice was Hawaiian Tropic or Johnson’s Baby Oil, neither offered protection from harmful rays. Hats and caps were a nuisance.

Later, I had an hour long commute from my home in Cartersville to the Atlanta airport. And it is there, in my car, that I feel I took on the most damage to my face. My doctor says it was probably from the burn I had as a kid. But when I think of skin cancer, I remember the sickening feel of the sun and heat hitting me in my car on the ride home from work. For years, I was frequently held captive in my vehicle while the hot Atlanta sun kissed the left side of my face. I would attempt to cover my face with my sun visor and my hand, but never sunscreen. Because by then, I had learned I had a sensitivity to sunscreen. No matter the brand I tried, sunscreen made my eyes burn and would irritate the skin around my mouth, nose and eyes until it became raw and red, usually after a single application. (Today, I use Rodan+Fields Reverse Sunscreen without any problems or skin irritations. RF has the only sunscreen products I’ve ever been able to use on my face. I keep a tube in my car, my purse and on my bathroom counter).

The point of this article is to encourage you…men, women, teens and children…to use a good quality sunscreen. Use it every day, regardless of the weather. Make sure it is a broad spectrum, UVA and UVB and is Skin Cancer Foundation approved. (This is important, in the past there has been false advertising surrounding sunscreen products. Finally, new legislation is changing that practice.)

A better quality sunscreen may cost a little more, but you’re worth the cost.

For now, I’m concentrating on healing and future protection. And I’m asking you to take your skin seriously. My doctor said, “If a spot persists longer than three months, have it looked at by a professional”. If it looks like a bug bite or a pimple or a scaly patch of skin, or a mole that grows or changes shape….don’t delay. See a doctor. Don’t tell yourself It’s no big deal. So what if it turns out to be nothing? You are something. You are a big deal. Take ten seconds and apply your sunscreen. Better to be safe than sorry.

Take Care,
Danita

Sunshine, Lollypops and Sunscreen

The summer of 68 I took on a terrible sunburn. I was still a couple of years away from being a decade old, my skin still tender. Up until then, I had never blistered from the sun. I had been born with a complexion slightly tanned, so sunburns were never a worry. I don’t think we knew about sunscreen.

My family had journeyed to St. Augustine in early June, for our yearly family vacation. On the first day of the trip, I spent all morning and early afternoon on the beach. After lunch, I went to the pool. I remember playing Marco Polo with some other kids; reluctant to leave when my mom said it was time for dinner.

I remember waking during the night. My skin hot and raw, the crisp cotton sheets felt like sandpaper on my arms. I was miserable. And I remained miserable all week.

Last month I visited a dermatologist for the first time in my life. I had what I thought was a stubborn clogged pore on my face. Rodan + Fields has a fantastic mask that works wonders on such things. So I used the RF mask, but the pore was still clogged. After applying the mask three days in a row without a hint of success, I knew I needed to see a physician. Because the RF product works.

The dermatologist performed a biopsy and a few days later he called with the results: Basal Cell Carcinoma. Non-malignant skin cancer. He said it was probably from a sunburn I had as a kid. Next month I will have surgery to remove the cancer. And depending on how deep and wide the roots have spread, there could be follow-up, reconstructive surgery. I’m praying this isn’t the case.

So…moms, dads, grandparents….apply the sunscreen to the kiddos. Rodan + Fields has a great, waterproof, sweat-proof sunscreen that doesn’t have to be reapplied every ten minutes. Insist on hats and caps. The children may fuss now, but they’ll thank you when they’re in their fifties.

The photo here was taken the day of the biopsy…after the biopsy. I didn’t want to show the blood and gore, but I wanted you to have an idea of where the spot is located. Prior to the cutting away of skin, the spot really looked like a bug bite or small pimple. Nothing to worry about. But it was. If you have a recurring pimple or red spot that never completely goes away, don’t ignore it. See a physician.

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Flip Flops & Cut-Off Jeans

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Discount shades, store bought baby oil tan, flip-flops and cut-off jeans…..

It’s a lyric from a song, but it nearly describes the summer of my seventeenth year. I just have to change up a few words, to make it fit. I heard that song yesterday and it took me back to the green, shaded hills of Cherokee County, Georgia and my seventeenth summer…..when everything in the world seemed possible. When time seemed abundant and long. When I believed the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine was a pleasure the whole world was privileged to enjoy.

That summer, I stood beside my cousin Sherry in New Hope Baptist Church and heard her say “I Do”; and bittersweet tears spooled from my eyes, because I knew a paragraph in a chapter of my life was being written by someone else. That season, I worked behind the soda fountain counter at Fincher’s Pharmacy, sipping copious amounts of Coca-Cola and reading a lot of Seventeen Magazine, contemplating cutting my hair in one of those cute, shorter styles….and knowing I wouldn’t. Here and there, my friends and my beau would drop by Fincher’s throughout the day…

because if we wanted to communicate it had to be done face to face

… and plans for the afternoon and evening were concocted; Jack Fincher didn’t seem to care as long as my company/customer purchased a Coke or a milkshake. When my soda-jerk shift ended, I did a quick Superman (change of clothes) in the drugstore bathroom and walked out into the bright afternoon sunshine feeling free as a bird in flip-flops and cut-offs. The only part of the day I dreaded was inserting my key into the ignition switch of my Ford Pinto, because I never knew if I would hear the rumble of my engine or the sounds of silence. Holding my breath and saying a prayer, I was always happily surprised when it turned over and connected….prayers answered (most of the time). It was then, with windows rolled down and the radio knob turned and set to Z93, my summer day took off. As Foreigner, the Commodores, the Bee Gees, and Fleetwood Mac serenaded me from a crackling speaker, I would meet up with a friend or two…sometimes we did nothing more than sit on a porch and talk. Sometimes we took in one of our brother’s baseball games at Harmon Field. Every now and then, someone’s parents (Chrys Eichelberger) would take us out in their boat and drag us around Lake Allatoona….simply “The Lake” to us. Some days, pitiful/hilarious golf lessons were on the docket. We went to Six Flags and one time, we ventured into the dark underbelly of Atlanta…the original Underground Atlanta…a group of little country-bumpkins from a town that couldn’t even boast of a McDonald’s…and thanks to our fearless leader who claimed to be familiar with the city…we made it out alive. Barely. We ice-skated at the Omni Hotel ice rink and bowled at the old bowling lanes in Marietta because it was the closest “bowling alley” to Canton. And one Saturday night, the Callahan’s had a party as big as an Atlanta concert, in their cow pasture (now a golf course). In my recollection of that night, my flip-flopped feet are grass-damp from the humidity and I remember wishing I had worn long jeans instead of cut-offs, because chigger bites are no fun. That was the night, at seventeen, I realized I preferred songs around a campfire or back porch jam sessions over big, rowdy parties.

Those days seemed like they would never end, but they did. And in their departure, they left behind sweet memories.

What about you? What was your seventeenth summer like?

“When I think about you, I think about seventeen….the stars in the sky…funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night….” Eric Church

I hope you’re enjoying your summer.
Danita

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Bobby Jones: Boy of the Red Clay, Master of Augusta National

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“I’m an amateur. Do you know what the origin of that word is? It’s from the Latin root…to love…to be an amateur is to love the game…once you play for money…you can’t call it love anymore”.

Bobby Jones….I grew up knowing that name without knowing much about the man.

His family was important to my little hometown of Canton, Georgia. I knew that much. The Jones family built two textile mills in Canton. They built villages within walking distance of the cotton mills, so their employees could walk to work. Grocery stores and feed stores were built a short distance away. Jones’ Department Store was built downtown. The hospital and the library bore the Jones name. Without question, Jones was an important family in our community.

I had always heard Bobby Jones designed the nine hole, Canton Golf Course. A course built by Bobby’s grandfather. But that could have been rumor. I wanted to know for certain.

In 1977 I was still a student at Cherokee High school; by that time, Bobby Jones had been dead for six years. His family’s business was dying, too. So I decided I wanted to speak with the president of Canton Textile Mills and learn more about the history of the mills and the Jones Family. And maybe more about Bobby. I placed a call to the textile mill offices on Main Street in downtown Canton, and to my surprise, the secretary put my call through to Mr. Jones. He agreed to meet with me the following day. We chatted for a couple of hours and I learned he was Bobby’s cousin. Rather than discuss his family’s impact on our community, which we spoke of briefly, Mr. Jones wanted to tell me about Bobby. He was proud of him.

I learned Bobby was a good boy who became a good man. A passionate young man who learned to control his temper; a consummate gentleman. I learned he was humble, but confident, and exhibited grace under pressure…men respected that about him and women appreciated him for it. I learned that others recognized his gift of golf before he did, but once he realized it himself, there was no stopping him. I learned Bobby loved his wife and children more than anything else on Earth and I learned he died a slow, painful death. Others were in awe of him, even more than when he was marking history with his swing, because even in the face of agonizing daily pain and the knowledge that he would never recover, his spirit, attitude and sportsmanship never wavered. Mr. Jones told me scar tissue had grown around Bobby’s spine and eventually paralyzed him. He spent his last years in a wheelchair. (That information was close, but not entirely accurate. Bobby was diagnosed with syringomyelia. )

At the age of twenty-eight, Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam. Something no other golfer had ever accomplished. He was already showing signs of physical illness at that time, though few outside his family knew. Still, sports writer Grantland Rice said this about him after his historic accomplishment: “One might as well attempt to describe the smoothness of the wind as to paint a clear picture of his complete swing.”

Bobby loved the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland and after retiring from the game, not yet thirty years old and still an amateur, he wanted to develop something comparable in the states. He chose land in the city of Augusta, Georgia, near his wife’s hometown. And within a couple of years, land formerly occupied by the Fruitland Nursery became Augusta National. Eighty years later, one can be almost any place in the civilized world, and simply say Augusta to strike up a conversation about the Master’s, Jack Nicklaus and sometimes Bobby. Non-golfers worldwide know Augusta, thanks to Bobby Jones.

So with the practice rounds beginning tomorrow, I just wanted to take a moment and remember the true Master of the Game. Our hometown hero from the red clay of the North Georgia hills, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr.

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