My wife calls me her “Time Lord.” I hate to be late. Let’s just say I am passionate about punctuality. I like to plan ahead; she adores spontaneity. I have pre-printed checklists; she is more of a spur-of-the-moment kind of person. I help her make her appointments ON TIME! She helps me to slow down and smell the roses.
I still keep a calendar, but I grudgingly admit that retirement and a new marriage has improved my sense of smell.
As I have learned, one of the genteel aspects of being retired are those occasions when I can relax and enjoy a day without any schedule or time commitments. Such was the case this week when Patrice and I traveled to North Georgia to spend a couple of days with family who had driven down from Indiana for their first-time visit to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
We gave them a guided tour in and around Georgia’s Alpine Village, known as Helen. Driving home, we both remarked at how refreshing it was to simply take our time walking in and out of the various shops, eating when we were hungry and never bothering to look at a watch. Even better were the sweet fellowship and insightful conversations that such a relaxed atmosphere encouraged among the family.
We took the same attitude as we drove the three and a half hours home. Looking for antique shops and flea markets along the way, we were in no hurry. I even set the cruise control on the speed limit. Nothing was gonna add any anxiety to this day.
I had thrown my “Time Lord” crown out the window. My wife has yet to recover from the shock.
About halfway home, we passed through the hamlet of Royston, Georgia. Pretty much a one red light town, this community is rarely a destination in and of itself. Unless you are driving south to Elberton or north to Hartwell, you are not likely to pass through the community known as the home of the famous “Georgia Peach.”
With our carefree attitude guiding our day, Patrice and I noticed the sign a block south of the red light on Highway 17. The arrow pointed westward toward the “Ty Cobb Museum.” Though I had been through Royston a few times, I had never stopped to investigate this hidden treasure. If you do not know who Ty Cobb was, then check your passport, you might be a Communist. Any true red-blooded patriotic American loves his momma, eats apple pie, and knows his baseball heroes. And Ty Cobb, aka the “Georgia Peach”, is a true baseball hero.
Walking into the museum, we met Wesley Fricks, the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Executive Director. The museum itself is surprisingly small but beautifully organized and packed with memorabilia, fascinating pictures, and video footage of a century before. For those philistine illiterates of America’s National Pastime, here are a few facts about Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb.
- Born in 1886, Cobb spent 22 years (1905-1928) in the Major Leagues.
- His lifetime batting average of .367 ranks first in MLB history.
- He was the first player inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
- He hit over .400 three times and captured twelve batting titles.
- He won the 1909 Triple Crown and the 1911 MVP.
In recent times, many have characterized Cobb as a mean, aggressive, even dirty player. However, historians are beginning to recognize that this negative image misrepresents the man who some consider the greatest player of all time. Early in his baseball career, Cobb had invested in little known stocks called Coca-Cola and General Motors. By the time he retired from baseball, his astute investments had made him quite wealthy. He gave generously, donating money to build a hospital in his hometown and was known to have helped many of his contemporary ballplayers when their baseball careers hit a slump or ended. He strongly supported equality for African-American players during a time when few others would. He started a college scholarship fund for needy Georgia students that is still active today.
Following our walk through the displays, Mr. Fricks took time to share their expansion plans for the museum. As we left, he shouted, “Have y’all had lunch yet?” Seeing our shaking heads, he suggested we go back to the town center and grab a sandwich at the Old Corner Hardware Store Lunchroom. Chuckling at the recommendation, we nevertheless have learned to listen when locals recommend places to eat. Walking into this former hardware store, we discovered a culinary gem. Their sandwiches proved to be amazingly delectable, their strawberry sheet cake delicious and their savory chicken and dumplings so tantalizingly tasty I told the owner, Kelley, that “I’d propose marriage if I didn’t already have a bride.” Lord have mercy and butter my biscuit, that was some good eatin’.
As we engaged the owner in conversation, Kelley explained more about the history of the store. In 1899, the building was the local funeral home. A thirteen-year-old Ty Cobb worked there with his best friend, the owner’s son. When a flu epidemic felled many local citizens, the funeral home director offered to make the boys baseball bats in return for their help. The boys accepted, and the legendary Ty Cobb’s first real baseball bat came from leftover casket wood.
Walking to our car with a refilled glass of iced tea and a Key Lime sheet cake, we once again marveled at the unexpected conversations and lessons learned from a relaxed, enjoy-the-moment approach to an afternoon’s drive down the backcountry roads of East Georgia.
Funny how simply taking the time listening to people, engaging in respectful conversation, can provide insights and lessons that our hurry-up culture would have us miss. It is taking me a while, but I am gradually getting used to this retirement thing. My new mantra — drive slower, listen longer, smile more, offer worthy praise, stop and smell the peaches, be gracious, and don’t forget to introduce yourself.
Besides, I think my wife has hidden my Time Lord crown.