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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 4.16

Updated: Jan 27, 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.

Like everybody who had a fairly normal life as a child, Easter memories hold a special place in my mind. My earliest recollections are of two songs I used to hear played on our record player at home—“Easter Parade” written by Irving Berlin—and “Peter Cottontail” composed in 1949 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, the same guys who wrote “Frosty the Snowman” a year later.

The Easter baskets we received on Sunday mornings back in the Fifties were covered with colorful, see-through cellophane wrapping. Nestled atop the fake green grass within were the obligatory chocolate rabbit, along with yellow, marshmallow Peeps chicks, jelly beans, and candy-coated, marshmallow eggs, which if you ate enough of those in a single afternoon, you'd surely turn the same color as the green ones.

L: Brother Gary, Uncle Dave, Sister Deb, and Dear Mama. 1960  R: Bro. Gary, Uncle Dave, Sis Deb, Mama and Daddy. 1967
L: Brother Gary, Uncle Dave, Sister Deb, and Dear Mama. 1960 R: Bro. Gary, Uncle Dave, Sis Deb, Mama and Daddy. 1967

It was imperative that we dress up as much as our parents' pocketbooks would allow and attend Easter church services—in my case that was at Calvary Baptist in Waycross, Georgia;and, from my earlier years as a kid, I recall a slick pair of white buck shoes and a handsome brimmed hat.

In 1967, by the time I was entering high school, Daddy had retired from the Air Force and was working at Jacobson's Clothing Store downtown, enabling me to dabble in fine men's fashion at a discount.

My immediate family of kin on the Griffin side was a large group, containing at least 13 cousins, making the Easter egg hunts after church highly competitive. When our family was stationed overseas in Tripoli, Libya, memories of the 1959 Easter picnic and egg hunt right outside the walls of Mussolini's summer home are etched in my brain—thanks to Daddy's 8 mm silent movie camera, which I got hold of earlier that Sunday morning, accidentally tripping the speed to slow-motion.

Uncle Dave and Brother Gary just outside Mussolini's summer palace.  Tripoli, Libya, 1959.
Uncle Dave and Brother Gary just outside Mussolini's summer palace. Tripoli, Libya, 1959.

The religious importance of Easter Sunday is not lost on those raised up in the Bible Belt; but, for a little south Georgia boy whose religion was running barefoot through the backyard pasture at the first sign of springtime weather, it seemed unholy to hear my parents admonish me, “Not until Easter!”

I never understood why they used Easter as the threshold for shoe-shucking—especially since they were both children during the Great Depression. When you add to that the fact that Mama was raised on a farm outside of Hoboken, Georgia, then I was truly baffled.

Over the years, I've since reckoned that it must've been an old pioneer fear of the dreaded Creeping Eruption—which sounds fairly awful; but, after reading about it online, it's not near as bad as a straight up hookworm infection, whereby the tiny larvae penetrate your skin, and migrate to your lungs before settling in your gut. Up until Easter that is. Then I just suppose they pack up and leave the guts, lungs, and skin of south Georgia children and head north to Cleveland for the summer.

Along with being the barometer for barefootedness, Easter also marked the dates of the annual Washington, D.C. Senior Class trip of Ware County High School's Government class.

Like every group who went before us, the journey by train in 1971 was looked forward to as a symbolic rite of passage. Chaperoned by several of our 12th grade instructors, we were getting a taste of the freedom that graduation would provide in its ceremonious finality a few weeks later.

We stayed at the Hotel Harrington downtown—just five minutes from the White House where President Nixon was firmly ensconced 14 months prior to the bungled Watergate break-in—seven minutes from the Capitol steps where we posed for a panoramic group picture that has been rolled up for 48 years with the remains of a 1970s rubber band littering the bottom of my fireproof safe—and a two-minute jaunt from Ford's Theatre, which is a not-too-gentle reminder of how my head felt after Robert Gibbs slammed open my hotel room door as I sat crouched on the other side with a loaded water balloon. Seventeen-year-old shenanigans.

I was lucky to survive—but, alas, poor Abe.







Wistful Washington Memories thanks to Vickie Kimbrell Collison, Wendell Bagley, and Graham Dukes, Jr.

Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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