Monday, November 30, 2009

Autographed stocking stuffers, anyone?

OK, for "Cyber Monday," yours truly is offering an "inventory blow-out" on paperback copies of my book, Like the Cats of Kilkenny: A True Story of the Civil War.

Any of ye faithful socks in the dryer who are interested in a copy for Yuletide purposes, shoot an email to:

I'm offering free shipping, and will be glad to add a personalized message before signing. Just mention that you read about the offer in this blog.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Backalley bandit caught in the act!

So, yours truly was minding his own business, watching some Sports Center recaps last night.

Then, all of a sudden, the north side of my house was flooded by spot lights.

That's not an entirely unheard of circumstance, as the motion detectors I have out there cause the lights to come on as soon as someone pulls into my driveway.

But, there wasn't a car in the drive this time. And, I didn't see anybody on foot when I looked thru the windows.

Maybe some strong wintery winds were blowing branches? Nope.

What could it be?!

Kinda freaked me out when it happened the 2nd and 3rd times. I even went out there to try to figure out what was tripping those motion detectors, but found nothing. Hallowe'en was a month ago!

Didn't get much sleep last night, worrying about what I might have creeping around out there.

Then, as I was sipping coffee this morning, I spotted the culprit: the biggest raccoon I've ever seen was gingerly making his way across the property wall.

I wonder how he got so big?

Probably from going thru so many post-Thanksgiving trash cans in the alleyways of College Park . . .

Well, at least the mystery is solved and I don't have to worry about the paranormal explanations that were running thru my head!!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hardly a rivalry anymore . . .

Yours truly remembers a time, not so long ago, when we Gator fans had to chew our nails a bit when we had to play Coach Cornpone and crew.

Not so much these days.

Don't get me wrong, the Gators played well in the Swamp this fine November evening, ripping off a season-high average of 9.25 yards per play--nearly as much as the Tennessee and South Carolina games COMBINED!

But, it wasn't anything spectacular.

In fact, Coach Meyer's play calls were pretty vanilla.

It was the pathetic game plan on the other side of the gridiron that contributed most to the Gator numbers.

I mean, really. Opting for the field goal when you're on the 2-yard line and trailing your "rival" by 30 points?!?!

Bobby Bowden has clearly lost his mojo. And, he should lose his job, too.

There was indeed one legend in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium tonight: Tim Tebow. It sent chills up many a spine to watch all the flash bulbs going off in the endzone in anticipation of his last play before the home crowd . . . like fireworks.

Until FSU gets back on track, and that could be years, the guys in orange and blue need to seriously consider finding a new "rival."

In fact, given the last coupla seasons, perhaps 'Bama should fill those shoes. Next week's SEC championship game up in Atlanta will be the true measure of our team this year.

In the mean time, "IT'S GREAT TO BE A FLORIDA GATOR!"

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Friday, November 27, 2009

An epic gridiron battle

Well, ye socks, I'm feeling doubly guilty this fine evening.

First, because I finked out on going to tonight's big regional semifinal game between Apopka and Dr. Phillips at Bill Spoone Stadium. (It's just too cold outside for this Florida boy to be sitting on aluminum bleachers, even with all the extra Thanksgiving-induced cushioning!)

Second, because I turned off the TV coverage in the first quarter when the Blue Darters had run-up the score 21-0. I figured they had the game well in hand.

But, then I got the phone call: "Are you watching this?!?!"

What I thought was going to be a blow-out ended up being the most contentious high school football game in Florida history. And, the underdog ended up knocking off the #1 team in the state.

But only after quintuple overtime!

Wait . . . is that a word, "quintuple?" Did I spell that right?



Fortunately, the Blue Darters ended up on top, 58-52.

Congrats to #65 and his teammates, and good luck down in Port St. Lucie next week. Topple those Titans, and I'll commit to a seat at the Citrus Bowl to watch you win the state championship.

Sound like a deal?!?

Go big blue!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things to be thankful for today

Besides all the usual, sappy stuff . . .

1. I didn't have to watch either the Macy's parade or the dog show that followed.

2. Ham!

3. Cooler weather.

4. Minced-meat pie!

5. Food coma.

6. No traffic.

7. Round 2 of the hogathon.

8. Valda's coconut cream cake.

9. Football!

10. Leftovers

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I plan on following this bird's advice tomorrow . . .

Kind of a new spin on all those Chik-fil-a commercials?!

I hope all ye socks are able to get outta work/school a little early today, and get started on being thankful!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Squeezing in a few more things

I chose the title of this post very carefully, as shall be made evident later.

Before heading back home today, we decided to check out the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. After all, it was literally next door to where we stayed the night.

The thing yours truly has always appreciated about any of the Hard Rocks visited to date is the memorabilia.

C'mon, sometimes even folks from Orlando like to play tourist, and it's fun to walk around staring at cases of guitars, drumsticks, and various articles of (questionable) clothing that once belonged to famous people.

Today's meandering thru the Biloxi location featured some pretty cool items, sprinkled as they were between a bunch of national chain franchises like Ben and Jerry's, Starbuck's, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

The most jaw dropping item was a pair of jeans that Elton John *supposedly* wore back in the 70's. But, looking at them, I doubt even Twiggy in her prime could have managed to get them past her kneecaps . . . much less a grown man!

Oh, well.

Time to get back on the road to the land of the fun and sun.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Biloxi - Day 2

Yes, ye socks, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Mini-Vacation continues.

Day 2 began with leaving the casino culture behind in favor of some real culture on the grounds of Beauvoir, the magnificent old home of Jefferson Davis.

Yours truly had visited the site many times before, so kinda knew what to expect. I was glad to see the home had been restored following Katrina. The former presidential library and museum, however, was completely obliterated and ground will not be broken for its replacement for another coupla weeks.

The grounds were markedly different, many fewer trees. And, the graceful marble arch that once greeted visitors was still laying in pieces near the veterans cemetery like a big jigsaw puzzle.
In strolling thru the rubble, we encountered a former groundskeeper (Gary) who knew everything about the history of Beauvoir and gave us a unique guided tour.

While this historic site still hasn't recovered 100% in the 4+ years since Hurricane Katrina, it was nice to see how much time and effort was being poured into Beauvoir. It is very evident how much the place means to the community, which makes it all the important that any of ye socks planning to visit this little corner of heaven add a stop here to your itinerary.

That being said, it is now time to head back to casino-land. There's the much-heralded strawberry shortcake to be sampled at Boomtown before checking in at the Beau Rivage.
More later.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Biloxi is noticeably different

Even 4+ years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, abundant evidence of her fury may be found across the region.

Today marked the first time yours truly had returned to this little corner of heaven since the storm.

Frankly, it was shocking.

On the drive down US90, where so many beautiful old homes once stood sentinel over Biloxi Beach, only a few new facsimiles and far too many ghostly foundations remained.

I was told that all the casinos had pretty much been rebuilt. But, I can tell you that Treasure Bay (where yours truly will be spending the night) is nothing like it was before.

They used to have this really cool pirate ship permanently moored in the gulf waters. Of course, that's gone. In the mean time, they've moved all their gaming into the first two floors of their old hotel on the other side of 90. And, they've pretty much ditched the whole pirate theme, which begs the question why they even bother still calling themselves Treasure Bay. Replacing the former kitsch is a bunch of colorful art glass, like the chandelier pictured here. (Apologies for the image quality in advance, took 4 shots and believe it or not this was the best one!)

One of the first things I noticed in walking through the casino is that they have covered up all the slots where passive wagerers like myself used to drop quarters on their way to and fro. Kinda funny when you think about it, slot machines with no slots. But, I guess they are now catering to the more active gamblers who will perch themselves in front of the machines for hours on end. They don't want to be bothered with feeding coins into slots or collecting them as occasional winnings. Instead, they simply feed greenbacks and bar-coded vouchers into the one-armed bandits.

Oh, wait, you probably shouldn't call them "one-armed bandits" anymore. While most of the machines do have a little lever on the side that you would expect on a slot machine, everyone I observed was simply mashing the plastic buttons on the front. The traditional method requires too much effort and, I suppose, will eventually go the way of the coins.

I will say this about Treasure Bay: they have a great buffet. Tonight it featured Dungeness crab. And, we were lucky to have a wonderful waitress named Ok Sun who not only taught us her shell-cracking techniques but also filled our plates in the process.

Beyond recommending the buffet, I would caution any of ye socks planning to stay at the Treasure Bay hotel on two points. First, request a room above the 4th floor, or your only view will be of the maintenance decks. Second, bring your own blanket, as the comforters weigh approximately fifty pounds and the unwitting slumberer could potentially break an arm just rolling-over.

More tomorrow on the changes in Biloxi as this mini-vacation continues.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

On the road again . . .

Today's journey carried me to the crapitol of our fair state, perhaps more aptly described as "the belly of the beast" since it has for too long played host to that unmentionable institution of lower learning.

Fortunately, I have found a little corner of heaven even in these parts.

Chez Joanna is a quaint little B&B that offers a private room with full bath en suite.

There was also a crackling fire in the hearth, sweet brownies, even sweeter wine, and good conversation to be had before retiring for the evening.

Vacations never seem to come as frequently as they ought . . .

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ingrafted branches

Yours truly was a little disappointed this morning, as our regular Thursday meeting was derailed.

We are still in the middle of studying the letters of St. Paul, more particularly Romans 11:11-24.

You know those verses, the ones about ingrafted branches.

Anyway, in light of what's going on between the Anglican/Episcopal and Catholic churches this week, I thought they would be particularly topical.

But, that's not where the conversation led us.

Oh, well. Maybe, we can re-group after Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A break in the case of the missing Macys

Thanks go out today to Sharon Wilson for forwarding this old deed record, dated 1906.

It reserved a half-acre piece of land in the Pine Castle area for my great great grandfather Paul Macy, part of a larger tract that Deacon J.W. Matchett (his brother-in-law) had acquired for the local Baptist church.

So, why is this so interesting?

Well, for many years, yours truly has been trying to figure out where the patriarch and matriarch of the extended Macy clan are buried.

William H. Macy purchased 8 spaces at Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando in the late 1800s. But, the sexton records clearly show that neither he nor his wife were buried there.

On the other hand, I have the original receipt from undertaker E.A. Richards for the funeral of Mrs. Martha Dean Macy that proves at least she died locally and should have been buried near the funeral home in Orlando.

Said receipt was dated 1906, just like the deed.

I'm beginning to think that Mrs. Macy was buried on the land detailed in this 1/2 acre deed. Maybe, her husband was, too . . . .

Any thoughts or suggestions are, as always, appreciated.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Just got done watching my favorite Tuesday night show: NCIS.

The original series, not the new Los Angeles wannabe.

Anyway, this week's episode featured our favorite military crimefighters solving a case in the middle of a massive power outage.

It was kinda funny watching them have to adapt their gumshoe skills from internet technology and fancypants forensics to . . . well . . . gumshoes.

Anyway, got me to thinking just how reliant we've all become on technology to perform our day-to-day tasks.

Can you imagine going thru an entire day without blogging, surfing the net, blabbing on the cell phone, etc., etc.?!

Not an altogether bad thing to imagine.

But, let's keep that scenario in imagination-land.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Are we losing our backbone?

Well, if ye olde cliche about small business being the backbone of our economy is true, we are certainly losing said backbone here in Florida.

According to a recently released report compiled by the Small Business Administration, the Sunshine State ranks dead last . . . behind not only the other 49 states, but also the District of Columbia . . . in the percentage of our workforce that is employed by small business. The national average is 50%. We are at 44%.

The same report does show us #1 in one category, but it is hardly a superlative we should be advertising. Apparently, we are #1 in terms of losing small business jobs . . . at a rate of 4% per year.

Now, I know all too well that we are in the middle of a recession. But, these two statistics make it clear that there is something systemically awry in this little corner of heaven that transcends the national malaise.

That being said, I am proud of the work being done by our local state legislators to reverse this trend, particularly Rep. Eric Eisnaugle who hosted a "Small Business Summit" in downtown Orlando this evening. And, I was honored to accept his invitation to directly address my concerns to the panel, which included Sen. Andy Gardiner, Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon, and Representatives Steve Crisafulli, Mike Horner, Kurt Kelly, and Scott Plakon.

While I was armed with a specific statute that negatively impacts my own construction/contractor concerns, it was the overall environment in Florida that I asked them to address when the state legislature re-convenes.

I pointed out that our illustrious governor has an advisory council with the responsibility of reviewing his administration's impact on small business and proposing remedies for the issues they uncover.

As a co-equal branch of government, I encouraged them to consider establishing some similar group to review the impacts of existing and pending legislation.

The amazing thing is that I think at least some of the panelists were really listening to what I had to say.

Kudos to Eric for hosting this summit, his staff for organizing it, and the panelists for being willing to enter a room full of disgruntled small business men and women!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Remember, Historic Homes Tour Today!

Just a quick reminder as yours truly gets ready to run out the door.

The annual CPNA Historic Homes Tour is THIS AFTERNOON, from 12:30 to 5pm.

Register at the College Park Neighborhood Center, behind Princeton Elementary School.

Hope to see you there!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Florida 24, South Carolina 14

Well, ye socks, looks like the Gator Haters are out in droves, whining and crying about how a win isn't a win if it's not pretty.


10-0 is still 10-0, and even more impressive if the record includes going undefeated in the SEC. The fellas in orange and blue haven't done that since 1996! This is a great team, deserving of its #1 ranking.

Three highlights from this afternoon's win over the Gamecocks:

1. Riley Cooper's 68-yard TD run cut thru the host's D like a hot knife thru butter.

2. Tim Tebow's rushing TD now has him tied with Kevin Faulk for the SEC's combined scoring record. (Remember, he already beat Herschel Walker's rushing TD record.) He is well on his way to winning another Heisman.

3. Justin Trattou took the wind out of SC's sails when they were threatening to hang some more points on the board. The lumbering defensive lineman intercepted a deflected pass and racked up 53 YAC's in what proved to be the nail in Steve Spurrier's proverbial coffin.

Get ready, Gator fans. Ignore the haters. Urban and crew have something cooking that I think you're gonna like . . .

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Friday, November 13, 2009


And, now for the latest item in the "words really do have meaning" file in honor of Friday the 13th and all its associated paranoia.

Ye socks who fear that day are said to suffer from TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA.

A daunting word for something so inane, no?

Not so daunting if you break it down into the original Greek components, though:

TRIS = Three
KAI = And (ye brothers of Beta Theta Pi already knew that one)
DEKA = Ten

Methinks it behooves us to be a bit more specific in labeling today's fears, though. I mean, after all, it's more than just the fear of three-and-ten. It's a fear of the combination of 13 AND Friday, right?!

In that case, I would say those of you who fear Friday the 13th actually suffer from: FRIGGATRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA.

Whaddaya mean, that doesn't sound nice?!

FRIGGA just means Friday!

Ah, well. So, sometimes words take on a greater meaning than is sometimes intended. I'm not the first person to make that mistake . . . there's a town full of people like that on the banks of the Potomac!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ice on the moon?!

I just love how the eggheads over at NASA get excited about their big scientific experiments.

They have good reason to be excited this week.

It seems they decided to intentionally crash a rocket into a cold spot near the moon's south pole.

Yeah, they MEANT to do that. That's it. That's the story.

Anyway, the collision produced a mile-high cloud of dust.

But, more importantly, included in that dust was an estimated 25 gallons of ice!

Why is that important, ye socks might ask?

Well, ice means water. And, water means life, or at least the ability to sustain it.

Maybe, this latest discovery will discourage The ObamaNation from cutting NASA's manned space flight budget ($3 billion) in the vain attempt to pay for their schemes to hi-jack health care in this country ($1.2 trillion and growing).

Then again, the issue of life has not been their strong suit in the past, has it?

Hmmmm . . . ponder . . . ponder . . .

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saluting Veterans!

As we pause to acknowledge the service and sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform today, I'd like to direct ye socks to a neat section of the Library of Congress web site:

There you can search or browse thru some firsthand accounts of our nation's veterans . . . some dating all the way back to the First World War.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annual Historic Homes Tour this Sunday (11/15)

Hoping to see some of ye socks in this little corner of heaven this Sunday (11/15) from 1 to 5 p.m. Yours truly will be helping with registration at the College Park Community Center. Should be fun. Here's a map of the homes on this week's tour for your perusal.

View CPNA - Historic Homes Tour - 11/15/09 in a larger map

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Thomas Jefferson Bell

Still helping First Baptist Church of Pine Castle to compile their history, and ran across these two old photos of the founding pastor.

Thought I'd share them with ye socks.

One is a standard portrait.

The other is a bit more interesting, in that it shows the good parson standing outside a recently erected temporary church structure composed of palm fronds . . . now that's old Florida!

If any of you out there in the blogosphere have similar images or additional info on the early Baptist ministers from this little corner of heaven, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

While you were sleeping . . .

Sneaker . . . er Speaker . . . of the House Nancy Pelosi pulled a fast one on you, America.

Borrowing a page out of the Mussolini and Hitler play book on national socialism, she rammed an unconstitutional piece of tripe disguised as healthcare reform legislation through Congress in the middle of the night.

You know, if it won't bear the light of day, then vote on it when the public is fast asleep.

And, I suppose that's the problem, isn't it? We all need to wake up and stop the madness.

Pelosi and her goose-stepping goon squad, with a FIVE VOTE MARGIN, rushed-thru roughly 2,000 pages of incomprehensible gobbledy-gook with a price tage of $1.2 trillion.

Mark my words, ye socks, unless cooler heads prevail in the Senate, this assault on America's fragile economy will:

1. sink small business

2. cause our already astronomical deficit to soar to dizzying new heights

3. force us all to buy insurance policies from Washington

4. cut Medicare spending by $400 billion.

Hope and change = dope and deranged.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gators (9-0) school Vandy, 27-3

Ok, so maybe it wasn't quite the Romp in the Swamp that a lot of the Orange and Blue faithful were expecting out of this match-up.

But, at least it was a welcome distraction from all the disturbing news headlines.

The biggest news in Gator Nation occurred hundreds of miles away from Gainesville, though.

Alabama defeated LSU to clinch the SEC's western division.

That's right, Gator fans, we're gonna have to face The Tide in Atlanta once again.

The prospect has me shuddering . . . just a little.

And, that's probably because today's play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium seemed so uninspired.

Steve Addazio's offense allowed Tim Tebow to get sacked no fewer than four times. Meanwhile, Charlie Strong's defense managed exactly ZERO in that category. Let's hope Urban Meyer can get them to flip those stats when we go up against The Evil Genius next week . . .

Sidebar: congrats to ye Northwestern, Navy, and Clemson fans out there in the blogosphere. You know who you are. I'll bet you all wished you had the same things to fret about at 9-0! XP

Orange and Blue!

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Friday, November 06, 2009

When crazy strikes too close to home . . . and work

Friday is always the best day of the work week. But, this particular Friday held particular promise in this little corner of heaven. Mostly because the weather was cooperating with astonishingly low humidity and mild temperatures.

But, then all hell broke loose at lunchtime in this office building at 1000 Legion Place on the northern edge of downtown.

I'm not going to regurgitate all the facts surrounding this senseless act of violence. If you want all those details, check out

What I will say here is that this particular bit of madness hit WAY too close for comfort.

I mean you see stuff reported in the news like Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, etc., but you never expect it to happen in your back yard.

And, I'm not speaking entirely figuratively when I say that.

The building in question is pretty much across the street from where yours truly sampled the apple pannini featured in a post earlier this week.

It's also less than two miles from my humble abode, just the other side of Lake Ivanhoe really.

Then, when the SWAT team finally apprehended the nutcase responsible for this nightmare of a Friday, it turns out it was at his mom's apartment . . . just two miles away . . . a straight shot down Curry Ford Road from ye olde workplace.


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Thursday, November 05, 2009

One day of blog silence

For the victims at Fort Hood, Texas.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A grim anniversary

Yes, ye socks, it has now been one year since our great experiment in democracy was hijacked.

Hope and change, indeed.

More like "dope and deranged."

One year and trillions of dollars in spending later, GM now stands for Government Motors.

Unemployment tops 10%.

And, The ObamaNation's minions in Congress are poised to socialize another 1/6th of the US economy.


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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

As American as Apple Pannini . . . er . . . Pie

The lunch hour found yours truly at Citrus Restaurant on North Orange Ave.

A little ritzier than my typical lunchtime haunts, to be sure.

One of the specials was a pannini whose innards included slices of the proverbial forbidden fruit . . . about as close as I was likely to get to apple pie on this Election Day 2009.

Of course, the politics of the day was covered in the lunchtime conversation.

I believe the general consensus is that Virginia and New Jersey will switch back to the GOP column, at least as far as their governors' mansions are concerned.

But, that's about where the consensus ends.

Whether or not one chooses to read anything more into this off-off-year election results is none of my business.

If you really want a tough choice, try to figure out what more peculiar pannini ingredient the folks over at Citrus might try to inject into the lunchtime menu . . .

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Help find 26 missing names!

As noted in previous posts, yours truly is trying to compile the history of First Baptist Church of Pine Castle and could use a little help.

More particularly, I have found several sources stating that, on 6 August 1887, Rev. Thomas Jefferson Bell organized several local families "who felt the need for a place to call their spiritual home into a Baptist congregation. Twenty-six names appeared on the first membership roll."

But, nowhere . . . nowhere! . . . have I been able to find those names!

Any help solving this little mystery would be greatly appreciated . . .

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

The largest outdoor cocktail party in the world

Wow, things got pretty scary for the Georgia faithful up in Jacksonville yesterday.


Richt and his Dawgs are just going to have to own those numbers.

Meanwhile, Superman . . . er . . . Tim Tebow now owns Herschel Walker's former record number of rushing touchdowns.

Can ye socks smell what Urban is cooking?!

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