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Tail of the Weak 4.19

Updated: Jan 26


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.

My stupid heart is banged up and broken—torn all apart but keeps on keepin' on

-“My Stupid Heart” by Ty Manning

My Stupid Heart, original song and artwork by Ty Manning.

Tyrus J. Manning III is a good friend of mine. We share a lot of the same characteristics.

We're both bearded wedding officiants—he performed my wife's and my renewal vows in 2013; and, I returned the favor at his wedding in December of the same year. We are both guitar-playing, country-singing, songwriting, south Georgia fools.

Reverend Uncle Dave fixin' to marry off Ty Manning. Georgia Theatre, Athens GA, December 2013.

But, when it comes to hearts, that's where the similarities end—Ty has a big one. One of the most-celebrated high school art teachers in the history of art teachers, Mr. Manning has brought much joy to many kids in Morgan County over the past two decades.

Over the last few weeks, Ty was selected as a finalist in a field of five within the Atlanta metro area for Fox TV Channel 5's Good Day Atlanta “High 5 for Teachers” contest. After several weeks of voting, the man with the big heart came out on top and Morgan County High School received a $2,500 donation from Montlick and Associates, sponsor of the contest.

There is, although, another side to Ty Manning's big heart. He's already been through two surgeries to repair a leaking hole; and, as of this past Monday, he went under the anesthesia one more time for aortic valve replacement, tricuspid valve repair, and the maze procedure to decrease atrial fibrillation. Sometimes—like kitchens—big hearts need big repairs.

Speaking of kitchens, the one in Ty's Buckhead home was in need of a do-over as well. That's when Fester Hagood—another fine songwriting friend from Bishop, Georgia—and a host of other earthbound angels stepped in. Fester hatched a plan and organized Cinco de Ty-O, a benefit to help raise funds for Ty's surgery and kitchen repair. The benefit concert—featuring a slew of musical friends, family, and well-wishers—was held at The Foundry in Athens, Georgia the evening before Ty-O went under the blade.

Cinco de Ty-O flyer. Artwork by James Brandon Jones.

As of the latest reports, he is doing well and recovering quite nicely—and two days ago, he was bestowed Morgan County High's “Teacher of the Year” award. I'm not surprised. For all the love that Ty Manning has given out, he is receiving it back tenfold—from family, friends, musicians, students, and teachers. His kitchen floor is doin' a whole lot better too.

Back when I was in the second grade at Memorial Drive Elementary in Waycross, I sat on the front row directly in front of my teacher, Mrs. Holtzendorf. In the row to my left, the first desk was occupied by David Colley, whose pencil had fallen on the floor between us.

Leaning to the right as far as he could to retrieve it, the yellow No. 2 was just out of reach. Seeing his plight, I leaned to the left from my desk in a futile attempt to help. That was the day I learned that no good deed goes unpunished.

7-year-old Uncle Dave. 1960-61

We were both leaning so hard that our desks turned over, spilling us out into the middle of the aisle on top of the elusive pencil. Mrs. Holtzendorf—who looked every bit as menacing as her name sounded—jumped up from behind her desk to put a stop to what she considered a certain act of tomfoolery.

Once our desks were again upright, she demanded our hands, stretched our fingers back until our palms lost their color, and whacked us each soundly at the base of our thumb with a wooden ruler. I knew the value of a ruler in measuring inches and such; but, that day it measured a hard ten on the scale of pain.

Ninth grade Physical Science class. Uncle Dave sitting left of David Colley. Ware County High School, 1967-68.

The next incident involving the two of us was seven years later in Coach Jake Popham's ninth grade Physical Science class. Following lunch, I was standing next to my desk in the classroom—waiting on the bell to ring and minding my own business—when David walked up, pushed me down into my seat, and let go a laugh. I didn't see anything funny about it—in fact, all I saw was red.

I sailed into him and we wrestled around and around the classroom until I managed to pin him down briefly on the coach's lab desk, his head near the water spigot. We gave it up when somebody yelled, “Coach Popham's coming!” No punches were ever thrown; but, things surely got physical in science that day.

In spite of our 14-year-old shenanigans over 50 years ago, David Colley and I remained friends. Both of our families attended Calvary Baptist Church until we graduated from high school and lost touch. We've been friends on Facebook now for 10 years or so; and, I learned a week ago that he was preparing for open heart surgery.

I also know—from his Facebook posts—that he has a loving family and a strong faith. And, those two things go a long way when you're dealing with something as scary as open heart surgery—and second grade school teachers with German last names packing 12-inch rulers.

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REFERENCES Wikipedia

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Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin


#MorganCountyHighSchool #FoxChannel5 #GoodDayAtlanta #HighFiveforTeachers #MontlickandAssociates #BuckheadGeorgia #BishopGeorgia #TheFoundry #AthensGeorgia #MemorialDriveElementarySchool #WaycrossGeorgia #CalvaryBaptistChurch

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