CAPTAIN WHO? MAX FLY, PRIVATE EYE, AND THE GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

 

He had one of his nightly capers broadcast on the evening news, not only that but a country singer recorded a song about it. If that wasn’t enough, he knew Max Fly, Private Eye.            Max had the pleasure of spending some time with him, but not on that particular night which, upon conclusion, became a part of Atlanta’s folklore.
After reporting about our wild days in Atlanta during the ’70’s and ’80’s, when Lewis Grizzard and Ron Hudspeth, two local characters, would spin yarns at a bar off Peachtree Street in downtown Buckhead, I received many responses from long ago friends, some of whom spent time with me as well as without me at that Buckhead bar, as well as other guys who wanted to share their stories about Lewis Grizzard. One friend went to high school with Grizzard in Moreland, Georgia and another remembered the name of the bar – Harrison’s.
There was another character that wasn’t mentioned because I couldn’t recall his name.  I was reminded who he was and immediately I wondered how in the world I could forget his name. It’s former Atlanta Falcon’s football player and ex South Carolina Gamecock’s All American running back, Alex Hawkins.
On many occasions, while we were there, he would stumble into the bar. I do mean stumble. His friends would yell out, “Hey, it’s Captain Who!”
He acquired that nickname from the days he played for the Baltimore Colts when he was one of the team captains. Before a game against the Chicago Bears, the captains of the opposing teams were being introduced and the Captain for the Bears was Hall of Fame middle linebacker, Dick Butkus. The referee said, Captain Butkus, this is Captain Hawkins. Butkus blurted out, “Captain Who?” Prior to that, he was known as Captain Midnight, due to his late night escapades.
The guys who frequented Harrison’s were a loosely connected fraternity of drunks. It was fun to be with them, but you didn’t want to pledge.
To say Alex was colorful would be an understatement. After his football days with the Atlanta Falcons, he worked as the color commentator for their games (he was the only excitement that team had at the time). He was a sports reporter for a local TV Station as well.
When Hawkins was in the bar along with Lewis Grizzard and Ron Hudspeth, nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted the evening to end. Hawkins was in a class by himself when it came to telling side-splitting stories. This is the story that made the evening news and it is priceless.
Evidently, Hawkins stayed out all night, which wasn’t unusual for him. His wife was out looking for him and was unable to locate him. When he walked in the kitchen the next morning she screamed, “Where have you been?”
He replied, “I have been out in the hammock all night. The moon was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave it.”
“You don’t expect me to believe that, do you? We took the hammock down two weeks ago,” his wife said.
After giving her a blank stare for a few minutes, he quipped, “Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
That yarn started flying around Atlanta and immediately another parable was added to the legendary life of Alex Hawkins; it was reported on the local news stations and a song was recorded about it by country singer Collin Raye. He has a video on you tube. Here is the link if you wish to listen to it. It’s an entertaining song. https://youtu.be/BewKY_BpVXg
Alex played in an era when the money wasn’t crazy, but the players were. Most of them were just big kids who never grew up.
He turned 80 this year. Sadly, he is one of the oldest living professional football players and he is possibly suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, brain damage, previously referred to as dementia pugilistica because it was thought to exist mainly in boxers.
He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Green Bay Packers and he was just one of the many crazy characters that we were fortunate to meet at Harrison’s that made us laugh, and that’s a good thing.
In between reading Lewis Grizzard’s books, you may want to consider picking up “My Story And I’m Sticking To It,” by Alex Hawkins.”
You’ll be tickled.
Well, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

LEWIS GRIZZARD-ATLANTA-MAX FLY AND THE GOOD OL’ DAYS

 

 

The ’70’s and the ’80’s were wild times in the city of Atlanta. It was emerging from a sleepy southern town to an international city. Robert Edward ‘Outrageous Ted’ Turner was on the field, running CNN and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. As Outrageous Ted, he decided he could manage the Braves better than the current manager, so he fired him and took over the team, causing quite a stir in the traditional bourgeois baseball world. He had a way of staying in the news. He would say things like, “My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.”
We also had Maynard Jackson, serving as Atlanta’s first African-American Mayor, and then there was our Peanut Farmer, Jimmy Carter, up in D.C. running our country, I guess.
Behind the scenes, we had a couple of local celebrities, journalists, one of whom was about to break on the national arena as a great humorist along the same lines as Mark Twain and I was growing old right smack dab in the middle of all this.
It was during this time that a group of us middle agers were desperately attempting to hang onto our youth. We formed softball and basketball teams and joined metro Atlanta “Adult” leagues to stay in shape, attempting, and failing, to compete with the younger bucks. That was okay, it was really about having an opportunity to get together and have a few drinks and burn off a little pent-up steam.
Some of us even carried it over to meet once a week, I believe it was a Wednesday, at a local watering hole on Peachtree Street in Buckhead. Today, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you the name of the bar.
We would arrive around 4:00 p.m. and most of the bar stools were already taken. There was a group of local celebrities that hung out there; two being hard-drinking journalists, Ron Hudspeth who wrote for the Atlanta Journal, and Lewis Grizzard, who wrote for the Atlanta Constitution, two different newspapers that happened to be owned by the same corporation, Cox Enterprises. This was before these two guys became “Big” celebrities and authored books, chronicling their lives and times on Peachtree Street but they kept us laughing so hard, it hurt.
Hudspeth started a rag called The Hudspeth Report, one of those free papers you can pick up around the city. It’s filled with advertisements hawking everything and anything imaginable. Hudspeth would critique local restaurants and watering holes. This was a smart maneuver by him, as he was comped more than a few drinks and meals. I heard from an old friend that Hudspeth is still publishing this rag but now he lives in Costa Rica. I can only imagine why he is living down there.
Ron Hudspeth was fired in 1987 by the AJC for starting The Hudspeth Report, prompting his pal and drinking buddy, Lewis Grizzard, to resign in protest. Grizzard resigned on a Saturday and rescinded his resignation three days later. He said at the time, “I’ve quit four times, and this is the fourth time I’ve come back.”
I mean, why wouldn’t he come back? He was only writing four columns a week. What was not to like about that job? He was also syndicated in close to 500 newspapers around the country.
As they say in the rural South, Lewis Grizzard “dog up and died” in 1994. Wow, that long ago? Grizzard said one of his big worries was that “somewhere there is a great party going on, and I’m missing it.”
Well, the world is missing you, pal. He didn’t make it to 50. He was only 47 years old.
Here is the clip that brought back old memories and the many laughs we shared: