There was once a halfback at the University of North Carolina who was awesome in the sense of that word before the youth snatched the word and sucked the strength out of it. His name was Charlie "Choo-Choo" Justice and he could run, pass, kick, and dart through hordes of defenders like an eel zipping through vaseline.
He once ran what the film showed was 173 yards to return a punt 73 yards and a score a touchdown against Tennessee.
There were a lot of magazines like Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post at that time and toward the end of the year they all published their picks for the "All-American" team; the best players in all of college football across America.
In one of the Charlie Justice years, he had no "best" year as they were all awesome, every magazine included Choo-Choo on the All-American lineup except one: Look Magazine.
That triggered widespread hatred against Look Magazine across North Carolina to the point where a newsstand in Raleigh, the state capital, posted a sign over the counter that read, "Opinions expressed in magazines sold here are not necessarily those of this newsstand."
As Election Day 2008 neared, a lot of conservative media celebrities lamentably felt the need similarly to distance themselves from Sen. John McCain and his campaign.
I was about to lift a few paragraphs from the fabled columnist Charles Krauthammer who brilliantly distanced himself from those distancers who, in words that could issue from no tool other than a Krauthammer, were "leaping to Obama's side before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years."
Charles broke the conservative ship-jumpers down into categories of traitors (neo, moderate, genetic, etc.) and named names.
I decided not to steal more than the above paragraph from Charles. Anger evaporates unless carefully nurtured, and we can't afford even natural and organic anger against other conservatives, much less the hot-house farmed kind, so let it rest with the fact that we all know who they are, and they do, too.
The only vengeance I choose to visit upon that crowd is a legend straight from the era and area of the late halfback Charlie Justice.
Fiction and non-fiction exist everywhere. In the South there's a third category; namely, "Don't ask about what I tell!"
In those old football days the hottest rivalry in the South was the Duke-Carolina game. The Carolina mascot was Ramses, a real life ram who lived on a farm near Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Duke mascot was the "Blue Devil," a cheerleader dressed in the costume of a devil in blue, complete with blue pitchfork. The big game, days before the big game, was for "special forces" from both colleges to try to capture the mascot of the other side.
Upon success, that prize — the ram or the Blue Devil — would be held in fairly humane confinement to be repatriated amid great laughter and fanfare in the middle of the field at halftime of the Duke-Carolina game.
One year the Carolina commandos struck first and struck well; they captured the Blue Devil in costume as he was carelessly leaving a cheerleaders' practice alone. They jammed him into the trunk of a car in Durham and sped through Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Graham, Haw River, Burlington and then off the main road onto dirt roads until they got to the rather primitive backwater community of Altamahaw-Ossipee, N.C. (A New York State Republican chairman, Richard Rosenbaum, used to laugh so hard at that name he couldn't enjoy the rest of the story.)
The Carolina cadre knew of a fundamentalist church that was having a midnight service that night and, since they had the Duke Blue Devil as their prisoner, they decided to have some extra fun.
They drove as close as they could get to the church and, holding their captive tightly, advanced to a tree with a sturdy limb that extended almost to one of the side windows of the church. They dragged the Blue Devil up to that limb and waited for the right moment.
It came shortly after midnight. The preacher progressed from enthusiasm to exhilaration to outright yelling and, just as he was entering the cusp of catalepsy, they shoved the Blue Devil, back-first to avoid injury, through the glass window of the church right into the middle of the service.
The parishioners, stunned by the apparent arrival of the devil himself, darted for all possible exits including windows and thin sections of the church wall. The sole remaining member of the congregation was an unfortunately overweight woman who, alas, could not manage to move from her seat. That woman and the Blue Devil, seated on the floor pitchfork and all, stared at each other for a moment or two in silence. Ultimately she spoke.
"Mr. Devil," she said. "It's true I've been in the choir of this church for 18 years. I been a member of the membership committee for 21 years, the house and grounds committee for 26 years, the Bible rebinding committee for 32 years, the rectory repainting committee for 35 years, the iced tea committee for 41 years and I've been a member of this church for 44 years.
"But I just want you to know, Mr. Devil, I''ve really been on your side the whole time!"
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