The Freewrite Traveler Review

This is my first draft experience with the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus. After a two-year wait and many delays, it is finally here and I finally have mine. I am now typing on the device. Initially, I have noticed that the typing experience is a bit different. I am a fast typist so it is a bit slower for me than usual. The other noticeable difference is that there is a bit of a lag time with the text appearing on the screen.

Improvement over the Alphasmart devices?  Maybe not.  It’s just a different device.  If you have an Alphasmart, don’t get rid of it.  Hold onto it tight with both hands.  

I wrote a previous blog about whether this device was fact or fiction.  It is definitely fact but will it be a good device to write fiction?  That remains to be seen.  At the moment, I’m still a bit frustrated by the lag time.  They need to fix this. My brain and fingers operate at a faster speed than this device can handle.

It is definitely a drafting device. If you are like me and feel the need to correct or edit as you go, it’s going to be a painful adjustment.  

What’s the return policy on this thing?

Just kidding.  

It’s going to be an adjustment.  It’s new.  It’s different.

Couldn’t someone have upgraded the Alphasmart instead?

So what do I like about it?

It’s very portable and lightweight.  I can take it with me everywhere.  If you just want to write and nothing else, this is a good tool to take with you. 

It’s great for outdoor use.  You don’t have to struggle with the brightness issues like you would with a laptop or tablet.  

It automatically synchs to the cloud.  You won’t lose your work.  Once you hit your wifi, it synchs.  Done.  The process of linking it to my Google Drive account was easy.

Some interesting features:

You can scroll through the lower screen to show word count, reading time (time it takes to read what you’ve written) and number of characters. There is also a timer, clock, and information about your folder/wifi connection. I think the word count feature and timer are two things I would use the most.

What I don’t like about it?

Ugh.  the lag time between typing and text appearing on the screen.  Could be a deal breaker.

The white keyboard annoys me.  It’s going to get dirty.  What were they thinking?  I guess it looks pretty out of the box.  It won’t look so pretty after continuous use (if there is any).

This device is designed for writers as a “distraction free” device.  I suppose it does that.  I’m not sure you need a special device for that just discipline to NOT be distracted and write on whatever device you have.

After waiting in anticipation for over two years for this device, I can tell you that I honestly feel let down.  It wasn’t worth it and definitely not worth the price.  I paid $349 for it two years ago, it’s now $429.  Check it out for yourself at www.astrohaus.com. I would have rather used that money for a new MacBook Air.

I really wanted to like this device and justify its cost.  If I’m really being honest, I can’t.  I’m feeling a little buyer’s remorse right now.  I will try it a little longer and see if it fits into my workflow but my first impressions of tech devices are usually pretty accurate. 

If you are a writer and thinking about this device, don’t spend the money on it.  You don’t need it.  Get a newer laptop or see if you can get an Alphasmart device on eBay.

TALKING TO A GOD WHO DOESN’T TALK BACK

I have always been a believer.

Since an early age I have believed in God. Nothing has ever changed that. Unfortunately, there have been times when I have been lazy and neglected talking to Him. Honestly sometimes my prayer life gets pretty boring. It hasn’t been because I don’t believe or care. The truth is that it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back,

Yes, I know and have heard all of my life that God speaks in different ways. I have all heard all the explanations why He doesn’t talk back but – you know – sometimes those easy explanations just doesn’t cut it for me. It would be a whole lot better if God talked back in the way we communicate with others.

I’m sorry but I don’t believe these people who say that God told them something. God didn’t tell you who is going to be president or that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth. I can’t keep my eyes from rolling when I hear someone say that God told them something.

I went through a period in my own life when I was on a mission to actually hear from God. I did all the things that preachers and books said would work and none of those things compelled God to speak to Milton Hooper. Through that experience I came to a couple of conclusions as to why He never talked to me. I am not a super duper spiritual person or preacher and if He wanted to talk to me He would. He’s God and there is nothing I can do to make God do anything.

Even with failing in my quest to hear from God, I continue to believe.

So why doesn’t God talk back?

Billy Graham once said: “God does speak to us today, not in an audible voice, but in written words — the words of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, given to us so we can know Him and discover how He wants us to live. He also gave it to us so we can have hope — hope of God’s forgiveness, and hope for His presence with us, both now and forever.”

Other Theological experts say that God doesn’t speak is that we have the Bible and He has said everything that He needs to say.

Seriously?

God CAN talk to us but most of the time He doesn’t. I don’t know why. He’s God.

After years of sitting in churches with loud preaching and “moving of the Spirit” it wasn’t until I spent a week at a monastery that I learned the amazing discipline of silence. That is the closest I have ever been to hearing God. It seems that the noise of the world we live in drowns out any chance we have to hear God speak to us. Even with the discipline of silence, that still doesn’t mean God will talk back to us like you and I would to each other. The problem with anything else is that we are competing with other voices – especially our own.

This is why it would be so much easier if God would just speak. Then we would know for sure that we have heard from Him. I am very skeptical of people who say that God spoke to them. It is clear that He doesn’t make it a common practice to vocalize anything to us. That really puts us at a disadvantage in prayer. It also makes critical evidence of proving His existence to those who don’t believe. It sure would help if he spoke. I have never understood that. Wouldn’t MORE people believe if He did?

So why do I still believe in a God who does not speak?

Faith.

Faith isn’t always easy or something tangible like an audible response from a sovereign God. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I could probably do a lot better job in the earnestly seeking part. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee He will talk back but maybe I can more easily recognize other ways He communicates to me.

God doesn’t speak to us from a burning bush or in a conversational manner because He has given us free will. He wants us to choose to believe Him, not because He speaks from an audible voice. It doesn’t make it any easier. I still would like to hear Him. I would love to hear Him say my name.

Even if He doesn’t, I will continue to believe. One day it is certain I will hear Him.

Can You Really Type On An iPAD?

I do a lot with my iPad but the one thing that has always been a challenge is typing. I have tried numerous Bluetooth keyboards and cases but I always wanted the flexibility of using my iPad as a tablet and not transform it into a full-time laptop. Although I like using some sort of keyboard, I have recently tried using the iPad onscreen keyboard as my primary keyboard. I have been experimenting with it and have been surprised that I can type pretty well with it,

It has taken some adjustment since I am usually a fast typist. I have had to slow it down a bit but I have discovered that I can still type pretty well on the iPad.

Let me give you some pointers on using the iPad keyboard:

Trust your muscle memory

If you are an experienced typist, you can still type without “pecking” at the keyboard. I had heard that you can trust your muscle memory and it’s true. Even if I can’t rest my fingers on home row, I can still type at a slower speed without looking at the keys. I will occasionally glance down to make sure I am hovering over the right keys but you can trust your fingers to know where the keys are.

Position the iPad at the right typing angle

To get your best results typing on the iPad, you have to get the most comfortable angle for you. It won’t work well if the iPad is completely flat and you might also get in a position where you can rest your palms on the corners of the iPad. Hovering can make you hands and wrists tire easier. You won’t need much of an angle but just enough elevation to help you type better.

Turn on autocorrect

Make sure that you have autocorrect enabled. It will help correct your mistakes and take the frustration out of the experience,

Make edits later

If you are like me, you like to correct your mistakes and typos as you type, but you have to learn how to let it go and edit your text after you have typed your draft. Get in the mindset of typing and correcting it later.

Where is the tab key?

The iPad keyboard does not have a tab key. Why? I have no clue. It is one of the most annoying things about typing on the iPad keyboard. You can install third party keyboards but that can be just as frustrating. The Pages app also includes a tab key in its application although it is in an awkward place.

Sliding upper key

Another neat trick with typing on the iPad keyboard is that to type the characters above each letter you simply pull down on the key so there is no need to shift or use an alternative key combination to type the characters.

Moving the cursor

The iPad keyboard does not have arrow keys either which is another annoying problem however if you hold down two fingers on the keyboard, it turns into a temporary trackpad which allows you to easily move the cursor around in your text.

Change keyboard

If you just don’t like the full keyboard, you also have an option to split the keyboard and type with your thumbs as you would on your phone. You can do this with the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode. I can tell you that sometimes the split keyboard is a faster typing experience. To do this you hold down the keyboard key in the lower right and select “split”. You can also move the split keyboard by dragging the keyboard key to reposition it.

Practice and patience

The best way to learn how to use the iPad keyboard is by practicing and being patient. I will often practice while watching TV and typing phrases I hear being spoken. It is also important to be patient with yourself. There are some days I try to type and I’m just not with it. I making lots of mistakes but I keep at it and continue to try to put the work in to train my fingers and my mind in using the onscreen keyboard. It takes time.

I am getting better but I’m not ditching my external keyboard yet. There are times that I need to use it but I am trying to not get lazy and default to it just because I am impatient with learning.

Of course, I typed this blog using the iPad keyboard. Yes, it took a bit longer but it wasn’t a dealbreaker. Sometimes it’s okay to slow down. It was also more convenient and quieter than using an external keyboard.

Try it. You might like it.

He Was An Old School Football Coach

I never knew Robert Davis personally but I certainly knew him. He was a legend in Warner Robins, Georgia where I lived from 1984-2009. Davis was the former coach of the Warner Robins Demons football team. I spent many Friday nights watching the games he coached. He created one of the top high school football teams in Georgia.

He was old school football. He believed in running the ball and playing defense. One look at him and you KNEW he was a football coach. He always reminded me of the high school football Bobby Bowden. At Warner Robins High, Davis led the team to a 253-41-1 record with 18 regional championships, three state championships (1976, 1981, 1988), and two national championships (1976, 1981).Davis won 354 games which has him ranked as the third winningest coach in Georgia High School football history. He never had a losing season. At Warner Robins High, Davis led the team to a 253-41-1 record with 18 regional championships, three state championships (1976, 1981, 1988), and two national championships (1976, 1981).

The first time I met Coach Davis, I was working part-time as a sports writer for a local newspaper. I remember how I was scared to death and nervous that I would ask a dumb question or make a rookie mistake in my first postgame interview with him. On this night, Davis was not happy with my competition from the other newspaper. During the week, the other newspaper had published a story about his football players stealing pizza from a local pizza hangout. When we entered Davis’ office for the interview, Davis ripped the reporter from the other newspaper then turned his back to him. Davis looked at me and said “Go ahead son, I will answer your questions”. I made sure I asked good questions.

After losing a state semifinal playoff game in the Georgia Dome, I once again interviewed him after the game wondering how he would be after a disappointing loss. He was kind and honest about losing the game. He was frustrated that his team couldn’t seem to get past the semifinal round.

In 1997, I was stunned when I heard the news that Davis was leaving Warner Robins to become the head coach of a new school in Macon. I couldn’t believe it. Macon had done the unthinkable in snagging the coach who had owned the other Macon schools rarely losing a game. That was the end of an era at Warner Robins. Davis also built Westside Macon into another strong contender. Davis retired in 2008.

I have read many tributes today from former players, coaches and fans whose lives have been impacted by Davis. It is certain that his legacy will carry on.

Shock & Awe of Electric Football

Long before Madden NFL and other sophisticated video games of today, an earlier generation enjoyed a unique football game called Electric Football. This was the first football game I experienced as a young football fan in the early 1970s. At the time it was the high tech game of its day.

Electric football was a game which featured a tabletop football game played on a metal vibrating field which sounds a little strange today but it was a popular game back in the day. Norman Sas invented the game when he was president of Tudor Electric.

Sas based the game on a vibrating car race game that Tudor already made. The game featured actual moving players as they reacted to the vibrations created by the electro-magnet motor under the metal field.

Electric Football was an immediate hit and became one of the hottest items at Christmas time through the 1960s and 1970s and to date has sold 70 million games.

So how did this game work? Gamers didn’t have individual controllers but strategically positioned miniature football players on the metal filed. The players had plastic bases with brushes or prongs underneath the bases which caused the players to react to the vibration of the field when a switch was activated to cause the metal to vibrate and the players to move around the field.

Special players were used to pass, punt or kick the ball. The ball was a small ball made of felt. It took some practice to master the pass. If the ball made contact with the receiver player or its base, it was considered a completed pass.

As you can imagine, it took a while to play a game. It could also be quite frustrating as players would often respond in unintended ways with players going in opposite directions or running into the sides of the field.

The game still has a loyal following with electric football leagues in Charlotte, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and other regions throughout the United States. A group called the Electric Football Nation has contact information for leagues and tournaments. There is also the Miniature Football Coaches Association which has everything you want to know about Electric Football but unfortunately the site has not been updated since 2018 but you can still find some interesting information about the game.

Dr. Bob Owens is currently the top-ranked coach in the country according to the Tournament of Champions website. They have upcoming tournaments in Irvine, California and College Park, Maryland. The top 12 coaches advances to participate in the Tournament of Champions to play for the National Championship.

If you are interested in owning your own electric football game, check some of these out:

So You Want To Write A Book? Let’s Be Real.

I just released my latest book this past week. Yay. But it could also be my last book. I don’t know if I will write another novel but focus more on short stories and shift to more emphasis on my blog. I really don’t know what direction I will follow next. I am very unpredictable – even to myself.

Writing a book is a lot of work. If you think you can just write a book, have it published and make money from it – think again.

Don’t quit your day job.

For me, writing the first draft is the easiest part of writing a novel. The hardest part is editing and formatting it. It is torture. Slow, mind numbing torture. By the time I have finished the editing and formatting process, the story is very old to me.

As I stated above, this past week I released my latest book. This was my third self-published novel. Yes, I hope you caught that when I wrote SELF published. After finishing my novels, I take a significant amount of time – over a year on my recent novel – attempting to have it published with a traditional publisher. I have a cabinet full of rejection responses from publishers and agents. In fact, now you can’t even query publishers without agent representation. It has been no better with querying agents either. They are so swamped with submissions that you don’t stand a chance if they don’t know you.

Fortunately, there are self-publishing options out there to help writers to get their work published. That is the route I have taken. With my first novel, I naively assumed that if I just put my book out there that people would buy it. Let me give you a dose of reality here – not even your own family will buy your book. Just having it out there on Apple or Amazon or Barnes and Noble is not enough. You really have to go into it with being content that you have published a book. Writer’s hitting it big like this only happens in Hallmark movies.

For my second book, I amped up marketing by sending out promotional items to friends and acquaintances who could promote the book. I even paid for advertising. This resulted in disappointment as well. Aside for one of my favorite radio broadcasters, I have no proof that anyone followed through with promoting my book. When you promote your own book, you have to face the reality that you will be disappointed in the support. I won’t lie. It hurts when that happens but you also learn to manage your expectations. Book promotion is definitely a gamble when you are self-published.

When I finished my manuscript of Lovers Dead Mother, I had a contact who loved it and pitched it to a Hollywood Agent. My contact felt like it would make a good story for a movie. After sending it to the agent, following up a few times, I received no response. Zero. My initial excitement over the idea that a Hollywood agent was going to read my manuscript was soon doused with a cold water of reality.

You have to really love writing to do this. You can’t assume anything. I am getting to the place that I am learning to simply be content with what my writing is. It is nothing more than a hobby. Sure, there will always be a dream that I will “hit it big” but that is less anticipated that it was when I started. You just have to love writing. Period. Nothing more.

I started this writing journey when a sports editor gave me a chance to write my first article. I was hooked. That opportunity opened the door for me. Of course, had I known this earlier in my life, I might have pursued a degree in some type of writing or journalism. Unfortunately life doesn’t always roll out in an expected way. I’m not an expert in writing or grammar. More than likely you will find mistakes or some grammatical errors if you are that anal about stuff like that.

That’s another part of writing a novel. Everybody is an editor. It doesn’t matter how many times you edit your writing I can promise you than someone will find a mistake which violates someone’s rules for writing. That is another dose of reality that will hit you right between the eyes. If you are excited about your book and share it with others, some asshole will find something wrong with it instead of reading the story. Trust me on this. On my second book I decided to ask people to be my test readers. I only wanted them to read the story to make sure it flowed. I specifically stated I only wanted them to read it and not edit the book. You can guess what happened. There was wrong tense here or comma missing there. Except for my wife, I don’t ask for test readers anymore.

The best thing I have done to help me with me edit a book was to install a read aloud app which reads the text to me. You would be amazed how many things you can find to correct when the text is read back to you.

It’s still not easy. Is it rewarding? That’s hard to answer. You can’t really be motivated by rewards because you might not get it in the form of book sales or 5-star reviews. It does feel good when you finally hold a printed copy of your book. It is then that you feel like your book is complete.

Some athletes say they play for the love of the game, as a writer you have to do it for the love of writing. Anything else is gravy.

Just In Time for Halloween: Lover’s Dead Mother

This week my latest book is being released. Lover’s Dead Mother is a paranormal romance which should make a good read for fans of Halloween and scary stories. “Lover’s Dead Mother” is a paranormal romance novel about Garrett Fisher is a hard-working paralegal for a prestigious law firm in Nashville, Tennessee and he has problems with relationships.  The problem is his mother.  She is clingy, needy and sabotages any relationship he has with a woman.  The problem is…his mother is dead. Garrett’s dead mother ruined his last relationship with Sheldon Lewis, a rising Country Music artist.  Sheldon even writes a song about it and becomes an overnight hit. The more Garrett tries to free himself of his mother’s ghost, the more havoc she brings into his life. She causes some mysterious deaths which directly affect Garrett’s life.  Garrett finds comfort in his feelings for another woman, Alexandra Carrington, the ghost of Carrington Mansion.  There is a war brewing in the spirit realm.  Will Garrett finally break free from his mother’s grip?  Can he finally find true love?

Here is my interview with the author of “Lover’s Dead Mother”:

THIS BOOK IS SO DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING YOU HAVE WRITTEN BEFORE. WHY THIS ONE?

I just write whatever inspires me. I don’t think you can put me in a category or genre. I have written a medieval romance (Knight of Redemption) and Christian fiction (Passing Toward The Prize) so I’m sure people don’t know what to expect from me. That keeps them guessing which is probably a good thing.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF THIS BOOK?

Actually, it all started with a device I have used for writing drafts. It is an Alphasmart NEO which is a keyboard with a small LCD screen. I had wondered what would happen if someone from the spirit world wrote messages on it. I had heard of automatic writing and connected the two and this story evolved from there.

THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE PARANORMAL AND GHOSTS. DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS YOURSELF?

No. I have never see or encountered anything. I think there are explanations for these types of things other than ghosts and what people say about this activity. That’s probably why I could write this book so freely because I don’t believe in them so – to me – it IS fiction.

IN THIS BOOK, THE MAIN CHARACTER HAS A MEDDLING MOTHER WHO IS A GHOST. HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR MOTHER?

My mother passed away a few years ago. Sadly, we did not have a relationship and she definitely made my life difficult with her manipulation and interference. I guess you could say she was partly the inspiration for this story. Some people say to not speak ill of the dead but no one said you couldn’t write a fiction novel about it. Seriously though, I think people deal with their estranged relationships in many different ways.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

It didn’t take long to write the first draft but it took a long time to get it ready to be released. For me, writing the first draft is the easy part. The hard part is the editing and formatting. It has taken about two years to get it released but some of that was due to allow me time to attempt to find an agent or publisher to publish this book.

TELL US ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR A PUBLISHER.

It’s a pain. When I first started in writing, you could approach publishers and submit your manuscripts directly to them. Now, you can’t. Most require agented submissions. Querying agents is just as difficult as it was to query publishers. So, after allowing about a year to go the traditional route, I have deferred to self-publishing.

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE HOLLYWOOD AGENT WITH THIS BOOK?

Shortly after I finished writing the book, I had contact with someone that helped me with contacting an agent in Hollywood. I can’t tell you their name but after sending my manuscript, I received no interest and no response about his interest in making it into a movie or anything more. I guess that’s how it can be in Hollywood.

WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL?

There could be a sequel but I don’t plan on it at this time. I have other projects to work on. It really depends on how well the books does.

WHAT HAS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT THE BOOK?

My wife said she wouldn’t read it at night before going to bed. She describes it as being scary and gorey. I don’t really think it is gorey but there are some intense scenes in the book. Another said it reminded him of “Psycho”. I don’t know. I have read it so much between editing and formatting that it doesn’t affect me anymore. I just hope the readers will enjoy it.

Links to the book:

ebook/kindle format:

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Would Jesus Wear A Mask?

The big debate in today’s world seems to be about wearing or not wearing a mask in response to COVID-19. I am amazed how people will lose their minds over this.

It’s just a mask.

So if there were a pandemic like COVID in Jesus’ day, would he wear a mask?

During the time of Jesus, there was plenty of sickness and disease around. The most commonly feared sickness was leprosy. You can read a lot about that one in the Bible. There were also a lot of Old Testament laws regarding what to eat and what not to eat which was ultimately meant to be a way to protect people from disease. No one protested that these things were unconstitutional or violated their freedoms.

So what about Jesus? Would he had worn a mask?

There is a lot of confusion about Jesus because he was both fully man and fully God. It’s hard to know how he would he have been affected. You won’t find anywhere that he was ever sick but he did get tired (John 4:6), hungry (Mark 11:12) and thirsty (John 19:28). There aren’t any references to him being sick.

The first thing I thought about this was if he did get sick he could just heal himself. So why bother with a mask?

When the religious people (Pharisees and Herodians) questioned him about paying taxes to Rome, his response was to render to Ceasar whatever belonged to Ceasar. (Mark 12:17) He didn’t incite or encourage a riot or political debate about it. If the situation would have called for it Jesús would have worn a mask. He certainly wouldn’t have made it a politician thing or said if you wore a mask you were not one of his followers.

While Jesus was God and probably wouldn’t have NEEDED to wear a mask, he would have done it for others and promote safety for people who weren’t God.

It is sad to see such a insignificant thing has caused such a ridiculous debate in our times. Jesus would have supported public safety. While he wouldn’t have mandated anyone to wear a mask, he would have followed the laws and mandates of the government.

Wearing or not wearing a mask wouldn’t have been a spiritual thing with Jesus. You wouldn’t have been viewed as weak or living in fear if you wore a mask. He wouldn’t have questioned your faith about it. Jesus would have done whatever would have been a good example for the people to do.

Whether you choose to wear a mask or not to wear a mask, let it be. There’s no need to loose your mind about it. Jesus sure wouldn’t have.

He Was THE Voice of Georgia HS Football

There are some things that enhance a fan’s experience with sports. Perhaps the lasting impression for most of us are the voices of the people who report about the game. They are the voices of the game.

For me, I will never forget the voice of Brent Musburger in the 1976 NBA finals when the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns battled through three overtimes in Game 5 where the Celtics prevailed 128-126.

The voice of Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. Who could forget him?

And without a doubt, the voice of Al Michaels in the 1980 Team USA win over the USSR on the miracle on ice in the Winter Olympics with his “do you believe in miracles?”

I also have the memories of UGA football games with the legendary Larry Munson. His voice was the identity of Georgia Bulldogs football.

Last week we lost the man I called THE voice of Georgia High School football.

Tommy Palmer was that voice. Anyone who knows anything about Georgia High School football knows his name. His voice was a constant part of my experience every Friday night in the fall. Whether I was driving home after a game or listening at home, I would tune into his scoreboard show. His slow Southern drawl and moments of humor made it more than just reading the scores from the games. He also recorded podcasts each week for the Top Ten Teams and Top Games. Tommy also provided commentary for the state championship games.

I don’t remember when I actually started listening to Tommy but he was a part of my Friday night routine and a voice I will never forget.

Palmer revealed in May that he had been battling cancer since Aug. 17 and would enter hospice care after being given the diagnosis the his cancer was terminal. I had heard he was ill but I did not know it was that serious.

Palmer grew up in Claxton and worked in radio for 60 years, starting at age 16. He began work in TV in 1981. He began producing and hosting the Scoreboard Show in 2005. It reached a network of more than 50 stations in the state and took callers after the games who shared details of games they attended. Palmer also would interview coaches.

I never met Tommy Palmer but I have shared some emails and Facebook posts with him. I also shared a copy of my book “Passing Toward The Prize” with him. I also read his own book “The Daisy Boys Club” which is a great read about his life growing up in Daisy, Georgia.

The 2020 season won’t be the same for me without Tommy Palmer.

Friday Flashback: My First High School Football Game (November 21, 1975)

Every year at this time I look forward to the new Georgia High School Football season while looking back to the past of games I have attended. Since moving away from Georgia in 2012, I have not attended any high school football games in other places I have lived. Georgia was my home for over 40 years of my life. With all the teams, players, games and stats being stored in my head from all of those seasons, I can’t really see myself getting involved in another state. Today I reside in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and live within ear shot of a high school football stadium but I don’t have the same feel for high school football here as I did with my time in Georgia.

I attended my first high school football game on November 21, 1975. I was 11 years old. It was a game between the Clinch County Panthers and Charlton County Panthers. The teams were playing in a region playoff game at Memorial Stadium in Waycross, Georgia as a neutral site.

At the time we were living in Homeland, Georgia where my dad was the pastor of a small Pentecostal church. I attended Bethune Middle School in Folkston which was part of the Charlton County school system. My dad had attended high school and played football at Clinch County so he was quite interested in attending this game which was the first time his alma mater had played in a playoff game.

During the regular season, the teams had split their games with Clinch County losing at Charlton County 15-10 and the Panthers winning at home 14-7 during week eight. This created a need for the teams to have a playoff since they both had 5-1 records in Region 2-B.

The neutral site of Waycross Memorial Stadium might as well had been Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for me. If you have ever been to this stadium, you know how that stadium is configured having once been the home to a few minor league baseball teams. It was an old stadium with some of the seats under the roof which had been behind home plate during its baseball days. My parents let me sit on the Charlton County side which was only a section over. I even went to the concession stand and got me a hot chocolate which was needed on a cold November night in South Georgia. I enjoyed my warm beverage while watching the game. The game was a defensive battle between the two rivals which bookended the Okefenokee Swamp. The Panthers actually dominated the game but not the scoreboard as they came up short 6-0 to end their season. My dad was disappointed in the outcome as he talked about it on the drive home how his Panthers had dominated the game but weren’t able to win the game. I didn’t share his disappointment as I was happy on the inside since I had been rooting for the Indians to win the game.

Waycross Memorial Stadium, Waycross, Georgia

The win for Charlton County was short-lived as they lost to Lincoln County the following week 13-0 in the state playoffs. The Indians eventually won the first of their four state championships in 1999. Clinch County won their first state title in 1988. They have won eight state titles.

I still fondly remember that first game and that was a start of a long history of following Georgia high school football over the years. I would attend three more different schools after we moved from Charlton County in the summer of 1976 with stops at Waresboro, Villa Rica and finally finishing at Tompkins High School in Savannah.

That first game began my interest in Georgia High School football. I have attended many games over the years but you always remember your first experience. Incidentally, the last Georgia High School football game I attended was in December 2010 at the Georgia Dome with my dad to watch his Clinch County Panthers defeat Savannah Christian 24-14 in the state championship game.