On November 7, 2019, Lewis Grizzard was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. Grizzard was one of the South’s storytelling treasures.
He was a legendary humorist whose father was from Snellville. Lewis, Jr. grew up in Moreland, GA.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been running some of his old columns. Who can forget explaining the origin of grits and how to order your very own grits tree?
So many of us have laughed and cried with Lewis. I learned an old college friend had died in a car accident by reading one of his columns. I read his letter to his dying mother and wept. And then I read his story about the infamous UGA football game with Dicks being out of the game for injuries. It was perfect Grizzard. You know the kind, three tissues worth of laughter. He could make you weep from grief or from humor. The boy just had the talent.
My husband’s family were friends with Lewis, Sr. When he came through town he always stopped and visited. Only two of the family are around to remember his visits to the old house across from the Rock School. The older generation has all but died out. I wish I had written down those stories they would share about Lewis.
Lewis, Sr. probably would have been classified as Post-Traumatic-Stress Syndrome now. He may have been identified as “Shell Shocked”, the old World War II and Korean term. Lewis served in both World War II and Korea. He was a POW in Korea who managed to escape. He suffered all of his life from those war experiences, physically and mentally.
Ludlow Porch was one of Lewis, Sr.’s children. Some of you, I hope, are old enough to remember his radio programs. He had the same sense of humor as his daddy and brother, Lewis, Jr. They all had the same congenital heart defect, too. They could make everyone laugh, but each had a ticking time bomb. Ludlow’s real name Bobby Crawford Hanson (10/11, 1934 – 2/11, 2011). (For stories about Ludlow and his stepfather and stepbrother read Lewis and Me and Skipper Makes Three, Dec. 1991.)
I am so glad that Lewis Grizzard was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He deserved it. He should have been in there years ago. He went from sports writer to news reporter to the South’s spokesman. In 1979, his first book “Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You” sold an unheard of 75,000 copies in less than one week. Last year I wrote a book, Life is Hard. Soften It with Laughter. As a result, I was being interviewed by some book agents. They asked me if I could compare my writing style to other authors. I told them in my finest Southern dialect that I had been described as the love child of Erma Bombeck and Lewis Grizzard.
Granted the interviewers combined ages were maybe 30. They were both from “The North” side of the Mason-Dixon Line, but damn. They didn’t have a clue who two of the funniest people to ever write a story were. All I could do is smile and say “Bless your hearts. Your education in humor writing is sorely lacking, isn’t it?”
Friends, please introduce your children to Lewis Grizzard. They need to understand humor that is designed to be funny, not filthy. Entertaining, not demeaning. Laughter inducing, not laughable. Our world is a hard place to love these days. Soften it with Grizzard’s observations on life. It will make a big, positive difference in your life as well as your children’s.
Lewis Grizzard’s books and collections of AJC and Chicago newspaper articles are available through Amazon. AJC has been running some of his columns on AJC e-paper. Weyman C. Wannamaker, a great American, approved this message. (wink, wink, y’all.)