January15/ 2010

HOME TOWN CONFIDENTIAL:  Tyler Hansbrough and I both have one – a bona fide Home Town.  With the corporate transiency in the 70s-80s, lots of you were not “born & raised” in a clearly defined place.  Tyler and I were.  Such an identity can be “risky business”.  Local boy making Good = GOOD.  Local Boy getting hit with 51 federal indictments = Not So Good.

He is 25 years my junior.  I was long gone before Young Ruffin The Fixer Poole was born, much less raised.  Who coulda Ruffin Poolefigured – this month’s political scallyway is from my home town.  Holy Chamber Of Commerce Nightmare, Batman!

Yes, Mike Easley’s “fixer” Ruffin Poole is from my home town ….. His granddaddy was “a city father”.  A sordid tale ripped from the pages of a Tennessee Williams novel …. “about a small southern town and what goes on while the pigs are cookin’ and the tobacco is flue-curin’.” 

My home town was near ‘bout perfect for growin’ up in the 60s.  I being, of course, a middle-class white boy.   TV would call us Springfield or Poplar Bluff or a similar “could be anywhere in America” town with Wally & Beav and Richie Cunningham and his buddies as my pals.  We were not Mayberry.  We weren’t THAT small.  Ayden or LaGrange mighta been Mayberry.  But not us.  How big were we?

The population of my home town would fit into The Dean Dome filling up the upper and lower levels and spilling into the concourse.  Around 23,000 back then.  It’s since dipped below 20,000 as career opportunities aren’t so great.   Mike Easley’s predecessor Governor-For-Life Jim Hunt’s grandiose scam – Global Transpark went kaflooey ….. like Mike Easley’s whole life is about to.

Some, who migrated away like I did, deride where we all grew up, but not me.  EVER.  It was near ‘bout perfect for a home town.   My memories are all positive allowing for the neurotic scars associated with puberty.

Southern small towns are always run by a handful of city fathers who control the keys to the local economy …. bankers, merchants, lawyers, “developers” and, in our agrarian area, own the tobacco warehouses and the cotton gin.

Ruffin The Fixer Poole’s granddaddy was “a developer”.  He built the mall among many other things around town.  Municipal puppetmasters may / may not be benevolent but envy and jealousy are universal emotions  so they develop enemies.  Some they earn by the nature of the deals they strike.  Some they earn just by “living in one of those big houses on Walker Drive”.  

When Young Ruffin’s granddaddy died, the children scuffled over the sizable estate.  Ruffin got moved to da beach where he actually went to high school.  These days, my homies would be OK if da beach wanted to claim Ruffin.  ….. and his 51 federal indictments for being “the fixer” for Mike “Who Me?” Easley – THE MOST corrupt Governor of North Carolina “since Reconstruction”.   It’s always “since Reconstruction” for some reason.  Damn carpetbaggers!

NOTE:  A shout-out here to BobLeeBuddy Don “Kolchak” Carrington whose dogged detectiving unearthed the Mikey & Ruffin scallywaggery.

Did I mention that Charles “Amphibious” Shackleford is also from my home town?  Oh Lordy!  In a ranking of ignominious “homies”, he’s darn hard to beat.  With Young Ruffin The Fixer spending part of his youth at da beach, “Mr. Amphibious’” ignominity is safe.  I’m not sure how that is measured.

Until recently Young Ruffin The Fixer was thought highly of around town.  At The Governor’s hip and fast tracking as a mover/shaker in state Democratic circles.  He is “a handsome boy” comparable to another “fallen from grace” political fellow in these parts.  Philanderin’ Johnny – “the humble mill town boy” who got seduced by that Jezebel in that hotel bar. Prehaps you’ve heard about it?

Every town has “somebodies” who were “from there”.  Charles Manson was from somewhere.  Joe Montana, Madonna,  Jeremiah Wright, Orville Wright, Orville Redenbacher were all from somewhere.  But none of them were from my home town.

Silver screen siren Jaime Pressley is.  Cedric “Cormbread” Maxwell is.  Jerry Stackhouse is.  Incoming Roy Boy – Reggie Bullock is.  Me and Leo and Will and Coby and George and Jay and Floyd and Betty Lou and Teena and Mercer and Tom and Ed and all the Parrott boys; we’re all from there.  None of us ever had 51 federal indictments against us.

My second cousin Paul did do hard time for selling AK47s to Filipino guerillas back in the early 80s.  The family doesn’t talk much about that.

As much happens in my home town as happens anywhere.  In the early 60s the sheriff raided a whore house that Eunice McLawhorn was running outta her motel “Eunice’s Court”.  That was a big deal.  I wasn’t sure what a whorehouse was so I looked in up in the dictionary but I thought it was spelled with an “h” so it was some time later I figured it out.  YIKES!  Eunice’s daughter, Esther, was in my high school class.  I never “knew” Esther in any sense of the word.

Last month, the county sheriff uncovered a major underground marijuana operation.  Local scofflaws had dug a really big hole and buried a school bus in it.  !!!  They rigged that buried bus with growing lamps and covered it with a trap door …. quite ingenious but quite illegal.

During the War of Northern Aggression, Johnny Reb built an ironclad “gun boat” up the Neuse River apiece.  On its maiden voyage in April 18 & 64 it ran aground right outside “my home town”.  Having traveled a total of only 22 miles.  Local Civil War buffs dug it out 110 years later and now display it out by the Frosty Morn Plant.   It’s not exactly The Queen Mary or The Nina, The Pinta or The Santa Maria but I bet you don’t have one outside your home town.

It may sound like I’m making sport of my home town.  Maybe I am, but I CAN …. Its MY HOME TOWN.   I better not catch you doing it.

“Wait a minute, BobLee.  You haven’t even mentioned the name of your Home Town.”
Well I’ll be darned.  You’re right.  I haven’t.

“They” say Young Ruffin The Fixer is going to sing like a canary and send Guvner Sleazy much further up the river than that old Confederate gunboat ever went.  Mike Easley is from Southport and Rocky Mount.  He’s their problem, not mine.



My story on “AttaBoy Joe” Hobbs has rocked academia to its very core.  Numerous classroom gladiators have written to say (1) “attaboys” in general are rarer than Conservative commencement speakers ….. (2) the last “attaboy” from an appreciative parent to a teacher was recorded by Socrates just before he drank the hemlock.


Could “the unexpected attaboy” be the long lost key to restoring civility to a world in dire need of “nice” ???

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