Friday, May 30, 2014

So many signs everywhere we turn

Have you noticed a proliferation of signs lately?

Signs are cropping up everywhere--on churches, storefronts, cars and trucks, yards, bulletin boards...

I'll blog more about this soon but for now there's an old tune that keeps coming top of mind when I see so many warnings, predictions, celebrations, shout-outs, exhortations.

Turn up your sound and listen and reflect on what signs are doing to or with us:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A quiet stroll among sleeping heroes

Two days ago marked my 65th Memorial Day.

I observed it by walking--for almost two miles--among and around the sleeping souls of dead heroes at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Walking about an hour each day is my daily routine, but this particular stroll was special.

There, at the little cemetery about 25 miles east of Knoxville, Tenn., (a short drive off I-81) I felt the essence of Memorial Day.

Old Glory flapped proudly in a breeze, while hundreds of simple white markers, each with an American flag, seemed to stand at attention.

This a solemn, peaceful, reverential place. People kneel and pray and hold hands and take pictures here. They touch the markers, close their eyes and remember their loved ones. Or maybe they just come here to pay their respects on Memorial Day.

Because this is where heroes slumber but should never be forgotten. Many of them served in one of the World Wars, in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq. They were soldiers, airmen or seamen. Men and women sleep here.

Heroes all of them.

I never knew Jay Rogers Daniel Jr. (May 17, 1956-March 7, 2014) but his headstone says this U.S. Army seargent was a Vietnam veteran. He was also a "BELOVED FATHER, BROTHER AND PAPAW."

Likewise, I never had the honor of knowing Albert Charles Stephenson (Oct. 14, 1956-March 1, 2014). This Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S Air Force is now "SAFE IN THE ARMS OF GOD," according to his tombstone.

Thank you for your service, Jay Rogers Daniel Jr. and Albert Charles Stephenson, and rest in eternal peace in the arms of angels in Heaven.

Last but not least, I remember my Dad, Lawrence C. Timbs, who died at the age of 90 in January 2012. He retired from the U.S. Air Force and saw action in World War II and Korea. And my Mother, Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs, Dad's ever-devoted helpmate who died on July 4, 2013. They do not sleep at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery; instead, they rest peacefully about 100 miles away near Elizabethton, Tenn.

Happy Memorial Day, Mom and Dad.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quail Hollow quandary

Some of you know that I'm an "ambassador" (volunteer) at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

This is the big-time PGA tournament that's held each spring at Quail Hollow.

A few weeks ago, my path at Quail Hollow crossed (almost) with golf prodigy J.B. Holmes of Campbellsville, Ky.

Click here to read my column about Mr. Holmes (who won the tournament) and to learn about my long-ago connection with his hometown. The piece was published in The (Rock Hill, S.C.) Herald.

And in case the link is no longer active, here's the column:

Special to The Herald
By Larry Timbs

I would never have dreamed it in 1975 when, in the dead of winter, I moved from balmy Columbia, S.C., to frigid Campbellsville, Ky., and rented an $80-a-month farmhouse. I had taken a job—“way back then”—as the country and western song goes, working as a $160-a-week-reporter for the Central Kentucky News Journal in Campbellsville.

But here I was, 39 years later, in late April and early May of 2014 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., working as a volunteer—as I have for the past seven years—for the Wells Fargo Championship.

This year, however, proved to be extra special at the fabulously beautiful and lush green golf course that some say rivals even Augusta National and the Masters as THE tournament on the PGA tour.

For one thing, the weather was picture perfect—gloriously sunny, warm, with a refreshing breeze. The golf Gods seemed to be embracing the genteel old Quail Hollow Club and its esteemed 7,200-yard champion golf course.

A guy from Campbellsville, Ky., won. A man who they say competed on his high school golf team when he was in third grade.

His name, as I’m sure many reading this column knows, is J.B. Holmes.

Mr. Holmes, described in the Charlotte media as having a quirky sense of humor, sank one last squeamish 38-inch putt, on the 18th hole, and clinched his fist in victory.

What a story and what a PAYDAY ($1.24 million) for the golf prodigy from Campbellsville (population 11,000 in 2012) who has overcome brain surgeries, a broken ankle and tennis elbow.

At Quail Hollow, Holmes defeated the likes (among others) of Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Web Simpson. (Tiger Woods, a crowd favorite who won here a few years ago, wasn’t in the field at Quail Hollow because he’s hurt. 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson, who usually competes in the Wells Fargo Championship, decided to sit this one out.)

The down side of it was I actually witnessed very little of Holmes’ magic. That’s because I worked nonstop shuttling members of the Quail Hollow Club from the members’ parking lot to the clubhouse. I drove a six-seat golf cart all week long (hauling members back and forth from their cars to the club), and about the only golf action I saw was when I could steal a glance at the jumbotron.

And there, spectacular as life on the big screen throughout the last holes of the Wells Fargo Championship, was J.D. Holmes.

Occasionally one of my golf cart passengers would tap me on the shoulder and ask me if I knew where Holmes was from. I grinned and told them proudly that he comes from a little town in central Kentucky called Campbellsville. And then I’d share with them that I've been there and know it well and that it’s probably a place they’ve never heard of, but now they’re going to hear about it big time…

Everyone I spoke to said it was refreshing to have a "new face and new name" win here.

When it was all over—and Holmes had his trophy and amazing payday, as well as big boost in the FedEx Cup standings, I raced from my golf cart to the clubhouse. I wanted desperately to snap a picture of Quail Hollow’s latest victor. I had my iPhone with me. If I could just somehow get past all the security and get access to him and tell him I represented his hometown newspaper (the Central Kentucky News-Journal) I felt confident he’d give me a few quotes.

I went to the clubhouse. No J.B. Holmes. I went to the Media Center. He had just left there—and gone to the clubhouse, according to one man in a blue Wells Fargo blazer. I bolted back to the clubhouse—and a police officer told me Holmes would probably come out of the locker room and be shuttled to his hotel in Charlotte or to the airport.

Police officers and smiling sourthern belles in brightly colored sundresses with huge bouquets of flowers lingered outside the locker room entrance.

We waited and we waited and we waited.

But no one saw J.B. Holmes.

I missed getting his picture and those quotes. (Max Heath, my old demanding editor in Campbellsville—and my good friend for many years who in 1998 established a scholarship in my name at Winthrop University--would have been disappointed in me.)

Maybe J.B. Holmes had had his fill of the media and hangers on and escaped through an underground tunnel. And surely by now he was back in Taylor County, Kentucky, where I worked as a reporter and news editor for the twice weekly Central Kentucky News-Journal in the late 1970s—and where two of my children were born.

I like to think he’d have talked to me if I could have met him.

Maybe another day.

Note: Larry Timbs, who has fond memories of Campbellsville and Taylor County, Kentucky, worked as a reporter and news editor for the Central Kentucky News-Journal in the 1970s. He credits that first newspaper job in Campbellsville as launching his career as a journalist. He retired in May 2012 as an associate professor of mass communication/journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. He has recently published a novel titled “Fish Springs: Beneath the Surface”—available in bookstores and via Amazon starting June 1, 2014.