Cobb Life

JUN 2019

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64 COBB LIFE | JUNE 2019 n G U E S T C O L U M N n CL I n April, I was blessed to be the recipient of a major award. Well, major to me, anyway. I received the "Editor's choice" award for the Best Singer in Cobb County, as Cobb Life Editor Katy Ruth Camp mentioned in her Letter from the Editor for the magazine's 2019 edition of Best of Cobb. Since that time, numerous people have asked me how I became such a good singer and funny guy. I am a †rm believer that the adult person you become in life is directly related to the environment in which you grew up. Let me explain. I love living in Georgia. I love living and raising my family in Marietta. Še opportunities a‹orded my children here are countless and we love the small town feel in a big city. My wife, Debbie, grew up in Marietta and so we are entrenched in its mystique. We live on the same street Debbie grew up on, that her mom and dad lived on, and that even her grandmother lived on. So, needless to say, we're not going anywhere. I o'en tell people the next time I move, it will be through Mayes Ward- Dobbins funeral home. But I wasn't as fortunate as she to grow up in such a town. I was born and raised in a very (and I mean very) small town called Swi'on, Arkansas, population 867, counting the dogs and chickens. I was the sixth of seven children in a family where love and farm animals were more plentiful than money. Šis may sound romantic until you have to wear the hand-me- downs from your three older brothers rather than getting your own, new clothes. I was almost ten years old before I realized my name wasn't "Getwood." We didn't have indoor plumbing until I was in the third grade. So, yes, we had an outhouse. If you don't know what an outhouse is, just ask one of your grandparents or email the catalog division of Sears Roebuck and Company and ask them. We lived on a farm and produced most of what we ate throughout the year. We always had a large vegetable garden and raised hogs and chickens, which o'en became my audience when I was testing out new jokes and songs. I †gured that if I could make a hog smile, I wouldn't have any problem with people. Šese were di˜cult times, but these are the kinds of things that helped shape me into the father and adult that I am today. Some of the family history that shaped who I am today stems from my grandparents on my daddy's side. Šey lived on a farm their entire lives, but it became necessary in their later years to move into an assisted living nursing home. My grandfather was very much against the idea. I remember talking to him one day and asked him why he was †ghting it so badly, to which he replied: "I don't want to live in a place with a bunch of old people just waiting to die! It's going to be so boring!" In an attempt to make him feel better, I said: "Well, grandpa, why don't you do something to liven the place up?" Šat was the wrong thing to say. I'm sure you know what "streaking" is. My 85-year-old grandpa decided to go streaking in the nursing home, and the worst part was that he talked one of his buddies to do it with him. So, one a'ernoon about four o'clock, when everyone had gathered in the dining hall to eat dinner, my grandpa and his buddy slipped into a side room and took o‹ all their clothes. Šey ran through the dining hall, whooping and hollering with things (please don't use your imagination) žapping in the breeze, and they ran out the back door. Sitting right beside the back door was two little old ladies at a table. One lady looked at the other and said: "Did you see that?" Še other one said: "I sure did! What were they wearing?" Še other lady said: "I don't know but it sure did need ironing!" My father was one of the hardest working men I ever knew. He would get up at dawn, feed the hogs and chickens, check on the garden and then go to work on a farm. He'd work all day until suppertime (some call it dinner), come home and feed the hogs and chickens, work in the garden, watch the news and go to bed. But one thing my father hated was shopping. He would drive my mom into town and she'd buy the groceries for the week while dad would sit on a bench drinking a small glass bottled Coke with a pack of salted peanuts in it. I'll never forget one Saturday when he came home from the grocery store, carrying a large thermos. When I asked about it, he said: "Son, this is the greatest thing ever invented!" I said: "But dad, isn't that a thermos? What makes it so special?" He said: "It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold." I said: "What do you have in it?" He said: "Chili and iced tea." Needless to say, these are only a couple of inžuential people in my life that helped shape my funny and sometimes twisted sense of humor. Believe me, there are many other colorful characters that poured into me. Še thing to remember is this: We were all created di‹erently with di‹erent looks, talents and gi's. How boring would the world would be if we were all just alike and acted the same? Shake up those around you with your skills, motivate your community with your talents, light up someone's world with your brilliance. Šis is how we can change the world. SINGING TO CHICKENS, STREAKING THROUGH A NURSING HOME AND THE SECRET TO LOVING LIFE WRIT TEN BY B ARRY L ANCASTER

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