Artis, Chip, and the Dolphins

Artis Gilmore, the first college player I remember watching.
Artis Gilmore, the first college player I remember watching.

In 1969-1970, Artis Gilmore, Chip Dublin, and the Jacksonville University Dolphins basketball team introduced me to the world of what’s now commonly referred to as “March Madness”,  the NCAA college basketball tournament. As an eleven year old, sixth grader and a safety patrol I escorted Artis Gilmore and Chip Dublin throughout Justina Road School as they visited following their unbelievable run in the 1970 NCAA tournament.  I remember being amazed watching the 7’2″ Gilmore duck through each doorway, and I carried his autograph written in green ink in my wallet for years.

My family followed the Dolphins’ success throughout the season and attended several games. At the beginning of the season we watched the team play in the small gym on campus, but by the end of the season several games were moved to the Jacksonville Coliseum to accommodate the ever increasing crowds. The high scoring games were exciting and since they only lost one regular season game we always enjoyed cheering for the winning team. (Sarah would be pleased to know that her Seminoles spoiled their perfect season.)

The  ’69-’70 Dolphins not only went on to the NCAA tournament, they beat Western Kentucky, Iowa, Kentucky, and Saint Bonaventure on their way to face the legendary UCLA Bruins in the championship game. We heard students celebrating on campus from our apartment a little over a mile away. Each victory was followed by the honking of horns and shouting in the streets by JU students and enthusiastic Jacksonville fans. Their final opponent, the Bruins, were not only the defending champions, but had won the tournament five of the previous six seasons.

JU stars Rex Morgan, Artis Gilmore, and Vaughn Wedeking holding basketballs representing 1969-70 season wins.
JU stars Rex Morgan, Artis Gilmore, and Vaughn Wedeking holding basketballs representing 1969-70 season wins.

While the season did not end with a national championship, losing 69-80 to UCLA, the Dolphins still hold the record as the smallest school to ever play in the NCAA Basketball final. In addition, they were the first college team to average over 100 points for an entire season despite the fact there was no shot clock, no dunking, and no three point shots. Artis Gilmore averaged 26.5 points per game and 22.2 rebounds per game, and he still holds the NCAA career rebounding average of  22.7 rebounds per game.

That 1969-70 basketball season hooked me on college basketball and March Madness.



Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 12

Exercise King Badge
Exercise King Badge

Another week, another badge! This week I’ve been crowned a Lose It Exercise King for exercising at least three times a week for eight weeks. In addition, I lost another 1/2 pound so I’m still making slow, steady progress.


In other health/diet related news…what does the label “One a Day” mean to you? Call me stupid, but when I read those words, it screams…”take one vitamin a day”! Well, apparently, one a day actually means take TWO a day! This weekend Meghan pointed out that the label on the One a Day bottle indicates the serving size: 2 gummies.

One a Day = two a day
One a Day = two a day

So for over a month I’ve been taking half of the recommended daily vitamin. I guess that’s better than none at all, but I’m not sure I’d have ever noticed the discrepancy between the name of the product and the directions: Chew two gummies daily.


Despite feeling stupid for missing this important piece of information, there is a bright spot. I’ve been taking (chewing) my gummie vitamin everyday after lunch to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now I can have two gummies daily…twice the treat! This week I’ll just concentrate on the proper daily vitamin dose!

A New Florida Expedition

Sunset at Cayo Costa State Park
Sunset at Cayo Costa State Park

For the past month I’ve been following the travels of Justin Riney and Expedition Florida 500. He’s on a yearlong journey around Florida’s coastline and waterways while marking the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida in 1513. During the fist leg of his adventure, Justin’s stand up paddling the state’s coastline and stopping in communities along the way hosting beach cleanups, collecting data and research to further understanding of ocean science.

Justin Riney paddling along Florida's Gulf coast.
Justin Riney paddling along Florida’s Gulf coast.

The second part of the adventure takes him inland on the state’s rivers, lakes, marshes and other freshwater ecosystems. He’ll canoe, kayak, stand up paddle, and explore Florida’s waterways. Justin and his team post pictures, videos, and blog daily to document the journey.



The expedition’s primary goal is to highlight the importance of stewardship efforts as they relate to the ocean, coastlines, waterways, and marine ecosystem. – Expedition Florida 500 website

Sarastoa Mangrove clean up event
Sarastoa Mangrove clean up event

I’ve enjoyed following Expedition Florida 500 and look forward to the daily posts. I’d like to participate in one of the upcoming events. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover the expedition in time to participate in any events that occurred while he was paddling in the Gulf, but I’ll be watching for Justin’s return to north Florida as he paddles up the Atlantic coast. Hope to join an Expedition Florida 500 event this summer!



March Madness – Love is in the Air!

Yesterday, Dad and I relaxed in the hot tub watching a basketball game when he said something that inspired this week’s memo. He said, ” As far a I’m concerned, this is our anniversary.” I asked why, and he went on to say that he knew he loved me in March 1977, only a few months after we met. He said as he watched NCAA basketball games eating strawberries, he knew it must be love because he had never watched the tournament or eaten strawberries before. But he found himself not only doing things he’d never done before, but proclaiming to enjoy them, and he could only explain that as love.

When he said that, I realized that he may be right. Can you believe I went to a hydroplane boat race with your dad? And I found myself listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Loretta Lynn. Country music? How did that happen? It must be love.

I don’t mean to say that we had nothing in common. We both loved Western North Carolina and in fact, that’s what brought us both to WCU. We loved the North Carolina mountains and rivers and hiking and camping. We both loved the beach. While I’d never sailed, I’d been convinced since seeing the movie, The Dove, that I would love sailing and I just couldn’t get enough of the beach. We both enjoyed sports…not always the same sports, but sports. We both loved spending time with our families. We had a lot in common.

However, I think Dad is right. When you find you’re willing to consider new favorite things because of the person you’re with, it must be love. While Dad and I both enjoyed the Southern cooking at the Jarrett House, dad started eating chili with spaghetti and I started eating chili dogs. While we both enjoyed listening to Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles, I started listening to country music and he started listening to Top 40. While we both enjoyed sports, I started watching tennis and soccer and he started watching basketball and track. What else could explain such strange behavior? If you are willing to change your plans for someone else or adopt their love of a pet, you may be in love.

I wish I knew the secret behind what makes a happy, long-lasting relationship; but I don’t. Patience is certainly required, as is flexibility, good communication, and honesty. But maybe the sign that you are willing to change, not because someone expects you to but because you want to…because you truly do enjoy these “new things” simply because you enjoy spending time with someone…you may be in love.

Love…it’s crazy…like the NCAA basketball tournament…it’s madness. Watch for signs of strange changes in your behavior that can only be described as love. We’re celebrating 34 years of marriage in August, but I guess this month really is our anniversary…our 36th anniversary of falling in love.

May you experience this crazy thing called love.


Modern Gift Registry

While looking at wedding ideas and information for Emily’s upcoming wedding, I came across an interesting website for gift registry. I know it’s difficult for the bride and groom to register for gifts using only one or two locations when there are so many options available. Department stores, discount stores, specialty stores, online stores…which to choose without overwhelming the gift givers.

The site,, allows users to select items from any location to create one universal gift registry instead of either registering at just a couple of stores or going crazy setting up registries at dozens of retailers. The site offers registries for weddings, babies, non-profits, and even small businesses. It looks like a modern way to update the age-old registry process. Check it out. What do you think?

Obituaries, Cemeteries, and The Lord’s Time

The symbols on tombstones are as intriguing as the inscriptions.
The symbols on tombstones are as intriguing as the inscriptions.

Not everyone understands why I love to read obituaries and visit cemeteries. It’s not that I have a fascination with the dead. It’s not to look for death notices for people I know. And it’s certainly not for the same reason Benjamin Franklin said he read the obituaries every morning:

“I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, then I get up.”

Instead, it’s because reading an obituary is an opportunity to learn a person’s story. I’m captivated by stories of adventurous trips, military experiences, and unusual hobbies documented in obituaries. I’m interested in the names of loved ones and long lists of descendants. I’ve been known to read aloud the obituary of a person I’ve never met to share some interesting information about a stranger’s life.

Cemeteries hold the same fascination. Walking through cemeteries reading headstones makes me wonder about the lives of their residents. Reading the names, dates, Bible verses, and tidbits of information about the deceased can keep my busy for hours. I’m especially amazed by many of the inscriptions in old cemeteries…the man who died at 20 and left behind a wife and six children…the young woman who was preceded in death by three or four children…or clever inscriptions that leave a smile on your face…Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

This week an obituary of a Mississippi man, Harry Weathersby Stamps, has gone viral. MSNBC calls it the best obituary ever, and I agree. His family should be saluted for sharing Harry’s life with all of us. This is the ultimate example of “reading aloud” an obituary of a stranger with others, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. (You’ll have to read the obituary to find out why this post is called Obituaries, Cemeteries, and The Lord’s Time.)

Harry Weathersby Stamps

December 19, 1932 — March 9, 2013

Long Beach

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal–just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.


Old Florida

If you love images of Florida in days gone by then you need to check out Old Florida on Facebook. Each day a half dozen or more pictures are posted of everything Florida.

Remember these postcards?

I think I may have stayed at here in Daytona.
I think I may have stayed at here in Daytona.
Postcard from one of my favorite restaurants in the state.
The Columbia is one of my favorite restaurants.

I love these citrus labels.

My early years teaching were in Weirsdale.
My early years teaching were in Weirsdale.
Florida grapefruit...the perfect way to start the day.
Florida grapefruit…the perfect way to start the day.

Of course there’s pictures from favorite Florida tourist attractions.

Glass bottom boats...the highlight of a trip to Silver Springs.
Glass bottom boats…the highlight of a trip to Silver Springs.
Long before Sea World Marineland attracted those who wanted an upclose dolphin experience.
Long before Sea World, Marineland attracted those who wanted an upclose dolphin experience.

Of course, old churches, hotels, houses, and landscapes are regularly posted as well.

Orange Creek Methodist Church
Orange Creek Methodist Church


Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs

I enjoy the Old Florida posts. Hope you do as well.


Weigh In Wednesday – Week 11


Now this is a badge I can be proud of! The Heating Up Badge recognizes consistent exercise and burning “an amazing amount of calories” for two weeks in a row.  To earn this badge Lose It! users need to burn 140% of your daily calorie budget in calories in a week…for two weeks in a row. Yes, I’ve been consistent with walking during the past two weeks and this badge recognizes my efforts.

Despite all of the calories burned through exercise, I only lost 1/2 pound, but I’ll take it!

This week I plan to stop cleaning my plate. At each meal I’ll leave one bite on my plate. I remember reading somewhere that by simply leaving a bite you can eliminate 1000 calories over the course of a month…not much, but another small step toward my weight loss goal.

Leave a Message After the Beep

answeringMachineThat was the challenge presented in the tenth round of Three-Minute Fiction competition. This short story contest from All Things Considered challenged listeners to write a piece of fiction of no more than 600 words in which their story would be in the form of a voice mail. That’s it…pretty simple.

If you love short stories make sure you check out the Three-Minute Fiction page on the npr website for fourteen of the entries. You’ll want to read not only the winning entry Sorry For Your Loss by Lisa Rubenson but the others as well. Make sure you click the link at the bottom of the page to go back to Older Stories so you can read my favorite A Call From the Cabin by Kevin Windorf.

According to the website, more than 4000 entries were received and Lisa Rubenson’s winning entry will be published in The Paris Review.

I’m looking forward to round 11.

Always Pack a Bathing Suit

luggageAs I talked to Sarah a few hours before she caught her flight to Chicago she mentioned that she still needed to pack a bathing suit. I couldn’t help but smile since my standard piece of advice through the years…ALWAYS pack a bathing suit. So even though she’s flying to Chicago a few days after a snowstorm shut down air travel in the city, Sarah knows that a bathing suit is a required item on her packing list.

This advice is most appropriate as we start thinking about Spring Break, camping, kayaking, sailing, boating, and the beach, but why wouldn’t you pack a bathing suit regardless of your destination? It takes up very little space and even on a trip to Chicago in the winter there may be an opportunity to wear it. Does the hotel have a hot tub or a pool that shouldn’t be missed? Maybe you could even join a local polar bear club and take a dip in Lake Michigan.

I’ve prepared and saved a number of travel lists on my iPad (the perfect use for an expensive piece of technology). There’s a list for camping, one for the beach, one for the mountains. A bathing suit is on every list. Who wants to shop for a bathing suit while on the road? Worse yet, who wants to miss out on the fun for lack of this essential piece of attire?

It’s simple…ALWAYS pack a bathing suit!