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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 2.42

Updated: Jan 25, 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.

They didn't call me “Head-on Dave” for nothin'. While I never, ever was involved in a head-on collision with another automobile, wildlife was another story...or two.

Uncle Dave in front of Greg "Slick" Griffin's house on Doghill, 1967
Uncle Dave in front of Greg "Slick" Griffin's house on Doghill, 1967

When I was 14, I loved to traipse around the woods behind Greg Griffin's Doghill house with a .22 rifle in hand, terrorizing the local squirrels. Daddy bought me a 20-gauge shotgun for Christmas and took me quail hunting out at the old Carter farm property over in Brantley County once.

Early to rise, cold weather mornings just wasn't my idea of sport or leisure. By that time, I had picked up the guitar and the ordinary hobbies most south Georgia boys are drawn to—fishing, hunting, car mechanics—I could care less about. Thus, deer hunting was definitely out of the equation.

Living in Tallahassee, Florida in 1980, I was playing in a country band that had taken the name of my former band, Down Home. I was spending some time with a young lady from Crawfordville, who owned a little yellow Mazda; and, we had taken it out into Leon County for a fish fry at our lead singer, Ed Thompson's parent's house on the Ochlockonee River.

Ed Thompson, lead singer of Down Home. Tallahassee Opry House, 1980
Ed Thompson, lead singer of Down Home. Tallahassee Opry House, 1980

Late that night, as we headed out their front door, we were admonished, “Watch out for deers!” It was the first day of deer season; and, I chuckled under my breath, “Yeah, like they're all gonna be frolickin' around on the first day of hunting season.”

We proceeded back out on the two-lane highway, smoking some illegal substance, when I drew the Mazda around a curve in the road. The headlights shone on a couple deer, frozen on the right shoulder about 200 yards ahead. There was no one else on the road that night, so I eased over into the oncoming lane, where the headlights picked up a third deer standing on the left shoulder.

We were fast closing in on them when I decided I'd split the difference, get in the middle of the highway, and roll right through. Just as we got on top of them, the left side deer bolted into the road, slammed into the left front panel of the Mazda, spun then bounced off the back bumper, falling in the road behind us.

I stopped the car, dragged the limp-necked doe into the grass, turned around in shock, and headed back to the Thompson's river house. We had only been gone about 20 minutes when they met us at the door, in boxer shorts with pillow hair. I told them what happened; and the excitement was palpable as they yanked on their britches, grabbed their flashlights, and ran to their truck.

It was their first meat for the freezer; so they were thrilled with me—unlike the owner of the yellow Mazda, who held my artwork hostage until I made good with the car repair.

Fast forward to 1988, when I was working the graveyard shift at the Waycross Post Office, living seven miles west in Waresboro, a small farming community that used to be the county seat of Ware County. I had it timed perfectly—alarm clock at 2:40 a.m., jump in my clothes, throw on my red Coca-Cola cap, motor the '73 blue, Ford F-150 quickly down Albany Avenue, and punch the clock at 3:00.

Night after night, week after week, month after month, my routine was flawless—until the deer made a mess of my radiator five miles out at 2:46 one morning. I got out, walked for two miles to the next convenience store, and used the pay phone to call my fellow postal clerk, Tom Barnes, who had a routine of his own, but kindly broke it that night to come pick me up.

Son-in-law Jamie Stewart with a fine kill, 2017
Son-in-law Jamie Stewart with a fine kill, 2017

My son-in-law, Jamie Stewart, is a rabid deer hunter, who lives for deer season, loves the early morning reverence of a cold deer stand in a tall pine tree, and is quite a successful meat provider. Me? I just run over them with a vehicle.

American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns Download or Buy


Wikipedia Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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