Randy Davis was a name that I first heard early in my life. He was friends with my dad as he was friends with so many people in this area. In addition to any personal connection there was a constancy the Randy in the community. He was involved and you were likely to come across him anywhere.
To really understand the magnitude of his loss to this community you would have to have seen him in action over the last 40 years or so. Without any pretense of flashiness, arrogance, or entitlement he became a giant in this community. He didn’t achieve this status through wealth or political power. He did it with love for his hometown.
As the owner and operator of WLAQ radio, Randy, along with his daughter Elizabeth and his son Matt, made localism their business. Years after the other local stations sold out to distant corporations, WLAQ is still locally owned and operated. They still cover local news, sports, culture, and events. The station has been heavily involved in covering and promoting local high school sports as long as I can remember. Local commentators discuss politics, local organizers promote their events. On air personalities even pronounce the names of local communities correctly.
WLAQ is a local institution. There used to be a dozen or so station like it in this vicinity. Now it stands alone. You can now easily find story after story of people who can credit that station with their own success - from an opportunity becoming a career to a small spotlight getting a local business in front of customers. The station was Randy’s labor of love. His work there is the epitome of what we wish to celebrate at ABG.
Randy was also instrumental in attracting the local minor league baseball team to town. While I was initially against the idea, the team has been a success on the field as well as a welcome addition to the community.
What I can’t effectively cover here is the number of individuals who have a personal story about Randy Davis. Because he just did things, the right things, without needing credit for it, he made a difference to so many people that we’ll never know about. Facebook is astir right now with posts from people who knew him and can attest to the man he was. His kindness lives on in his absence.
His family and friends lost a loved one. They knew him the best and they will certainly miss him the most. But I cannot stress enough how much Rome and northwest Georgia lost when Randy Davis left this world. For such a kind, goodhearted, and humble man to have had such an impact is almost unheard of theses days. We need more men like Randy in our world. Every small town needs that sort of leadership and dedication.
Sam Burnham, Curator
College football is back. Those are just delightful words to string together. The sport of football is ingrained into the culture of Georgia and the South in general. It is hard to imagine life here without football.
But that’s exactly what almost happened.
In 1897 the University of Georgia played the University of Virginia in Atlanta. During the course of the game, a young Georgia player from Rome named Von Gammon was seriously injured. He was transported to an Atlanta hospital where he later died from his injuries.
in the aftermath of such a terrible tragedy the state legislature decided to do what governments so often try to do - legislate away the possibility of tragedy. They passed a bill banning the game from the state.
This would be a huge shift in state history. In retrospect we can see there would have never been Bulldogs, particularly Uga. There would be neither Sanford nor Bobby Dodd stadiums. No teams at Georgia Southern, Ft. Valley State, Morehouse, or Wedt Georgia. No Friday Night Lights. All of that would be wiped out before it even started.
But something unpredictable happened. The legislation had already passed the state house and was headed to the governor for his signature, which he had already pledged. That’s when a Southern woman, Rosalind Gammon, mother of Von Gammon lobbied on behalf of the sport her son loved. In an spirited plea to the governor she laid out her case saying “it would be inexpressibly sad to have the cause [Von] held so dear injured by his sacrifice,” She also added she said football was “the most cherished object of his life.”
Keeping in mind that Rosalind Gammon would not be legally allowed to vote for over 20 years later when the 19th Amendment secured the vote for women. She had no political weight to throw around. The governor could not be voted out of effectively taken down by a woman. But Mrs Gammon laid out her case eloquently and effectively. The love of a mother and the strength it possesses carried more influence than a lot of powerful men who tried to budge the governor and the assembly.
Governor William Yates Atkinson vetoed the bill. The University of Georgia fielded a football team in 1898 and the rest is history. Rosalind Gammon saved football in Georgia. To this day monuments tell her story in Downtown Rome as well as on the 3rd floor of Butts Mehre in Athens.
If you enjoy football, take a moment to remember this amazing woman, the love she had for her son, and her fight for the game he loved.
Sam Burnham, Curator
There’s a lot of arguing and rudeness going on right now regarding vaccination for COVID-19. People’s emotions and political leanings are leading to some really nasty back-and-forth that just isn’t helpful at all. I think it would be wise to take a step back and add a little bit of Southern decency to the conversation.
My personal feelings on the issue are a bit mixed. I don’t trust Washington about much of anything, regardless of who is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So a vaccine developed under Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” and pushed by the Biden Administration isn’t impressing me at first glance.
So here’s what I did. Every time I found someone who had gotten the vaccine I asked them about it. Which one did you get? What side effects did you have? Why did you decide to get it? Where did you get it? How much of a hassle was it? I made a study of my own. I didn’t ask Facebook or Twitter, I asked people face to face. After talking to about two or three dozen people and considering all the information I gathered, I went online and scheduled an appointment for a first dose of Pfizer at a local pharmacy.
I went in about 11am on a Sunday and a few people were already in line. There was a little confusion because there was a substitute pharmacist on duty but one of the techs helped him get his bearings on that location’s system and the rest of the process went smoothly. The needle was not very big and was barely noticeable. I was out the door with my card in a matter of minutes. My only side effect was drowsiness. By about 4:30 that afternoon I felt ready for bed. I toughed it out a few more hours to keep from waking up at 2 A.M. and then slept quite soundly.
I had an automatic appointment for shot #2 and found myself in the neighborhood 3 hours early and thought I would try to get ahead of schedule. I found the same helpful employee from the first jab and, with no one currently in line, she worked me right in. The second shot was a little more uncomfortable. The medication seemed “thicker” if that makes sense. My only side effect was a soreness that felt like I had a golf ball buried in my shoulder muscle. This lasted about 36 hours or so.
I decided to take the shots because I work in a place where I come in contact with A LOT of people. I also have aging family members. I also wanted to stop wearing a stupid mask everywhere I went.
I’m sharing my story here because I see the case numbers rising among the places and people I hold dear - The South and rural America. If my story helps one person feel more comfortable about the vaccine and that saves them from serious illness or death, it will have been worth it to write this article.
I think there’s too much nastiness, too much preaching, too much vulgarity, and too much arrogance being hurled at people who are vaccine hesitant or skeptical. So I just wanted to share my personal story, my experience. I got vaccinated despite my own reservations. I had my doubts but I tried it anyway. Now I don’t worry about this dastardly virus or the jerks that scream and holler about it all day. I’m going on with my life.
I invite you to do what I did. Find vaccinated people you encounter. Ask them the questions I asked. Don’t take dangerous livestock medications. You aren’t a cow. Ask other humans you trust about their experiences and make an educated decision for yourself.
I’m sick and tired of this virus and I try not to use the language it puts in my head, especially not here. So I ask you to get vaccinated and go to ball games, concerts, restaurants. I ask you to go on with your life.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire