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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Biggest Liar in Thomasville

Flashback to the 1970s for one of those poignant father-son car trips where highly significant matters are discussed. Among them: the biggest liar in Thomasville, the South Georgia town where my father was reared.

According to Dad, this guy had told everyone his father’s transport ship was torpedoed in New York Harbor before shipping out for World War I. Not to worry, the guy’s father was so gung ho to get a piece of the Kaiser, he swam all the way to Germany.

Funny stuff, but not near as comical as encountering this Great Bender of Truth at the gas station once we arrived in Thomasville.

“Norman, they had a banquet the other night,” he told Dad. “Coach Garner said you were the best football player he ever had.”

Even at a young age, I understood the concept of considering the source. Dad laughed the loudest.

His era had been quite different from today’s.

Nu at Thomasville High Dad playing center at Thomasville High

“Bull” Garner coached Thomasville High from the bench while smoking a big cigar. Nobody specialized in one sport; you played what was in season. Football players didn’t have face masks.

The football field sat adjacent to a bakery, where the team could smell fresh bread as it practiced in the late afternoon. The trainers would buy small loaves, hollow them out and fill them with pork and beans. “Then, they’d eat ’em in front of us,” Dad told me.

Basketball players didn’t have jump shots — nobody knew how to shoot one. Besides, the gym ceiling was too low to put any arch on a shot anyway. Dad said they had two bats on the baseball team; one had been repaired with nails.

Thomasville’s Class D League team would line the kids up on the foul line after their games then the manager would hit a ball to the outfield for the fastest kid’s keeping. Dad never grabbed one. Those “speedy” genes were passed on to his middle son. Me.

I think Dad ate collard greens every meal, though they often had fresh chicken if they took care of the execution. Even Buck Rogers didn’t have TV or X-box back then, but Dad enjoyed the simpler times and I always loved hearing his stories — even if he didn’t swim to Germany.

Happy Father’s Day — early — Pops.

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