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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 2.22

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.

I never did like cats. There, I said it. Now, let me try to absolve myself.

Uncle Dave, Sister Deb, Cousin Wanda Cheshire, and Sport. Doghill, 1962
Uncle Dave, Sister Deb, Cousin Wanda Cheshire, and Sport. Doghill, 1962

I grew up on Doghill, Mt. Pleasant Road, in Waycross, Georgia. I was surrounded by dogs. Neighbors' dogs: Rex, Corky, Tojo, Smutt—kinfolk's dogs: Trouble and Bullet—and dogs of my own: Sport, who was with us from the time I was seven until I was 18. He passed on one winter night when I was miles away in my Oxford Hall bedroom at Georgia Southern College—and I felt him go.

Uncle Ed Griffin, Uncle Royce Carter, and Uncle Vance Carter holding Tom
Uncle Ed Griffin, Uncle Royce Carter, and Uncle Vance Carter holding Tom

I was very much acclimated to dogs. Cats, on the other hand, were almost always never around. Grandma and Granddaddy Carter had an old, orange cat named Tom, who probably served a real purpose around the farm—like killing mice or snakes—but, he was so damn indifferent, like most cats are.

I believed that cats would not nor could not give you a seconds worth of affection. I tried, believe me, only to see them skitter off in the other direction. They are a bit mysterious, too—with their big, cat eyes—all-knowing—reading your inner soul if you stare too long.

I was lying in bed on Doghill late one muggy night, reading The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I had cranked out the louvered windows at the head of my bed and was soul deep into readin' about the Devil, when I heard a movement in the straw azalea beds just outside the window.

Before I could say, “Get thee behind me, Satan”, a cat hurled itself against the window screen, screamin' his fool head off! Holy cat litter, it scared me! Now, why that cat chose that particular moment in time—let's just say it only served to reinforce my belief that they are—I don't know—evil, alien, possessed like Linda Blair?

In late 1992, I bought the Lotz house next door to where I grew up on Doghill. It was a beautiful home that held a lot of memories for me—listening to the first Beatles album in James Cocke's long, wood-planked bedroom, we used to call the little back porch; playing Spoons, a card game, in the breakfast room; and lazing around aimlessly on Saturday morning watching cartoons like Linus the Lionhearted.

I was a divorcee at the time; and, the house was relatively empty save for an antique desk, a rollback sofa, TV, stereo, and my bedroom suite. My daughter, Megan, would turn 10 on her birthday and desperately wanted some kittens. Megan's mother agreed, “Yes, she can have kittens—as long as they stay at your house.”

The power of Daddy Love is strong—but it can't hold a candle to the power of Kitty Brainwave Manipulation. I bought a big bag of kitty litter, a litter box, and a scooper; and their new home was the long, wood-floored bedroom where I used to listen to Meet the Beatles.

Sugar and Booger were secluded behind two French doors, which I would tiptoe to, ever so quietly, throw the door open, toss the food bowls in, and slam it shut before they raced into the rest of the house. It was they who were imprisoned; but it was me who, more and more, felt trapped in my own home.

Several tracks from that old Beatles album—“It Won't Be Long”, “Don't Bother Me”, and “Not a Second Time”—began to resonate in my head as my feline ambivalence grew by the day; and, it wouldn't be long before they were relocated to another home.

Recently, my wife, Lynne, had a part-time job sitting with a dear, older cat-loving lady up the road in Blackshear. Miss Gerry had never been married, loved Gregg Allman, and lived by herself except for a couple house cats and several more in the yard. A few weeks ago, Miss Gerry passed away; and Lynne came home toting a feral, outdoor cat inside a pet carrier.

Uncle Dave and Tiger Tom. 2017
Uncle Dave and Tiger Tom. 2017

Somehow, in the grand scheme of life's wonders, that cat and I started bonding. He is a curious devil with green eyes and beautiful gray and white markings. I named him Tiger Tom; and he pays more attention to me than the dogs we own. He's been making the most of his new home; but still slides outside when he's inclined.

About a month ago, Lynne called me out of bed at two in the morning to tell me that Tiger Tom was wailing for help somewhere in the back yard. We found him in the biggest pecan tree on the lowest limb—12 feet off the ground.

I leaned our 6-foot ladder against the tree, stood in my underwear on the topmost step of the ladder—the one that says, 'THIS IS NOT A STEP'—wrapped my left arm and hugged my right leg around the tree, then shoved my right hand as high as I could reach, only to fall short by about three inches.

I told Lynne to leave me on my precarious perch, run inside and get the bag of cat food, and shake it at the bottom of the tree, while steadying the ladder. That was all it took for Tiger Tom to inch his way close enough so's I got a death grip on the back of his head and pulled him free.

I risked my neck to save that cat's life—and, I'm sure Sport's rollin' over in his grave.

20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival

Advance Weekend Passes:

REFERENCES Wikipedia Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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