Remember When: Remembering Georgie, Shirley and Donkeys

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Right after I retired in 1988 and returned here to resume living in my “home area,” I soon rejoined Tryon’s First Baptist Church. I offered to tune their pianos and went over to start doing that. I was just getting started on the grand in the sanctuary when Georgie and Lewis Hawkins came in. I had met them when I joined, and stopped to make small talk with them. They sat down to listen as I started tuning; I guess Georgie wanted to see whether I knew what I was doing. I also guess she was soon satisfied, for she nudged Lewis and they got up and left quietly.

In more recent years, Lewis brought her to McDonald’s for breakfast several times. I went over to converse with her while he ordered their meal, and was happy to note that she had not lost any of her ready wit. And I thought she was still pretty, too.

I was also sorry to read that we have lost Shirley Edwards. I was not really acquainted with her, but I know Fred and Phillip, Paula and the boys. When Paula and Phillip married, they had their reception at FENCE. After mingling with nearly everyone I knew, I had to ask Phillip who was running things in Polk County—I had visited with most of the county’s leadership and its prominent citizens!

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Ads reprinted from a Bulletin of long ago reminded me that they had “Donkey” baseball and even basketball here in the 40s. Probably cannot, or must not, do it now, since I have not seen or heard tell of it since then!

I enjoyed two donkey baseball games, played at Harmon Field, and one donkey basketball game, played at the Tryon School gym, long since gone as well. The idea behind it was to pit teams of local businessmen and athletes against each other, with the specially trained donkeys providing continuing humorous situations.

As I remember the baseball games, everyone except the batter had to be sitting on a donkey. As the pitcher wound up to deliver the pitch, the donkey would decide to search for some grass to munch. Once a pitch was delivered close enough for the batter to hit it, the batter then had to mount his donkey and try to get to first base. Meanwhile the fielder had to get his donkey to the ball to catch it, or failing that, he was allowed to dismount to pick up the ball, but he had to re-mount to throw it. The first baseman had to catch the ball and then try to tag the runner out. Of course their donkeys had other ideas, creating one laughable moment after another.

The donkeys in the gym had rubber shoes and were equally well trained not to advance the ballgame at any cost. There were many turnovers as the ball being dribbled got away and was intercepted by the opposing player. Trying to get to the hoop was an exercise in futility as well.

Of course part of the fun was seeing the otherwise dignified businessmen not only sitting on donkeys, but being victimized by the antics of their mounts. The athletic teams did not fare any better, probably because nothing in their experience prepared them for playing their game while mounted on a donkey!

I hope that my mixing humor with sadness will not offend the survivors, but will instead serve to take their minds off their loss for a few moments. It is difficult to think of anything else when dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. I have alluded to this idea earlier, when I had to report on happiness and sadness at the same time.