THE LUNAR REPORT – “HOW TO BE FIDO” April 20, 2017

I taught the youngest guy how to be a dog. I sat mostly in silence with the middle guy for a good while before convincing him what a dweeb I was. I warned the oldest guy about where to not put his head. And I told the oldest of them all that my legs had never felt smoother.

This is my life as a granddad. At least it was during a recent six-day Easter trip to Texas with the bunch. “The Bunch” is what I call my son and his wife and her daughter and sister and mother and my son’s children and a couple of nephews. “The Bunch!” I really want nothing but the best for The Bunch. My hope is that my behavior around each of them didn’t dash their hopes of me!

I think I treated the nephews and the sister and the mother with fun but with respect as well. My son and his wife, though? Well, that’s up to interpretation. Whatever I said to those two, I hope they accept my apologies or appreciate my understanding of them both. Those are important notions to an old dad of a long-time and loving son and a relatively new but wonderful daughter. But the notions are pretty much unimportant ones.  At least they are when it comes to the meat of “The Bunch!”

The most beautiful of The Bunch is the oldest child. A young woman who is close to being as wonderful as her mom. They both posses the ultimate beauty. Inside and out. But I am such a dork. I mean, I appreciate their beauty, but what drives me is being able to make them both laugh! And I made the mom laugh a few times – at her own expense. I apologize for those times. But the daughter, my granddaughter, set me up for the following punch line.

As we were preparing to leave the hotel to return to North Carolina, the granddaughter, a 14-year-old, asked me to give the shaving cream and razor she left in my room to my son to pack and bring back home. I assured her that I would and then said, “Oh, crap! I saw that in the shower and I used it! Man, my legs have never been smoother!” I am not sure if she and her mom were embarrassed by my comments. But, damn it, they both laughed!

The oldest grandson is a wonderful kid. He’s only around ten years old. But just like the oldest nephew, a seventeen-year-old, he so readily offers and delivers the help anyone around him needs. I asked the nephew for help a couple of times, and he obliged. In his natural ways. But just as natural were the ways my grandson helped. Without having been asked. Look, there were eleven of us traveling in a van from North Carolina to Texas. Five adults, two young teens, and four young-ins. Most of my time was spent on the far back bench seat. Underneath that seat was my luggage. At some point during the trip, I needed something from my luggage. So I struggled, trying to pull my bag from underneath my seat. And suddenly, without my request for help, the oldest grandson appeared and crawled on the floor of the van to pull out what I needed. He assured me he would take care of it. So, I raised and spread my legs to give him access to the luggage. Well, the kid would have succeeded, I think. But the closer he got to me, the more I understood his sense of humor. So I said to him, as his head approached my crotch, “Dude! Watch where you put your head!” Once the kid stopped laughing, he said to the nephew, “Man – did you hear what Paw Paw said?” And – I never retrieved my luggage.

I think I identify mostly with my “middle grandson.” While he is not even close to being as insecure as I was a kid, he is much closer than the others. Like I always was as a kid, this one seems to feel guilty about minor things, is way too apologetic about stuff, and is not afraid to shed a tear or two. Well, I am not at all sure how he feels about me right now. During an Easter egg hunt at a park in Dallas on Easter day, I noticed that he was sitting alone on some cement steps with his head down. I walked away from all the others and sat down next to him. We said very little at first. He just needed someone next to him for a while. Then, we began to talk. He told me what was on his mind. Then I told him what a dweeb his granddad was as a child. About how my older brother used to pick on me. About how my brother and sister used to call me dumb and stupid. About how I reacted when I lost at Monopoly! I said to him, “Man – I never won at Monopoly! And my brother and sister would just gloat and laugh and I always ended up throwing the Monopoly board off the table in anger! I was such a jerk back then.” That kid wiped away a couple of tears and said, “Paw Paw, you are not a jerk.” And then he smiled! Finally he smiled.

Then – there’s “Sweet-P!” That’s what I call the youngest. The spelling of his name begins with a “p.” And he is a very sweet kid. But I will be honest with you. I have never known a child like this one. When I see and hear things from Sweet-P,      I see the next Robin Williams or John Belushi or Chevy Chase or Johnny Carson on the horizon. This kid is a bit gullible as well. Or. Maybe the kid just actually understands the value of becoming a dog right now in his life. The kid is five years old. A couple of years ago, he asked to have a bite of the food I was eating. I told him that he would have to beg for it. Like a dog. I said, “Speak!” He very quickly caught on and responded with a dog bark! At that point, I labeled Sweet-P as “Fido!” A couple of mornings ago, at the free breakfast at the Dallas hotel where we were staying, Fido began eating his Fruit Loops without a human inspired spoon. And each time I told him to speak, the kid would bark. Later in the trip, we were eating lunch outside somewhere, and he began to bark and pant like a dog. And God forgive me for this, but I asked Fido to show me how he scratches his ear. Naturally, the kid used his right hand to show me. That’s when I said, “No! Dogs use their feet to scratch their ears!” The kid took off one of his flip-flops and began to scratch his right ear with his right foot! And he did it many times during the following few days! After our last meal together, during some times when Sweet-P seemed to get out of control a bit, all I had to say was, “Fido! Sit!” Man! The kid would sit! And bark! And, again, would scratch his ear with his foot!

Look, here is my message to my son and his wife and others: For the love of God, at some point do your best to protect your children from such a demented granddad!

In the meantime, thank you and your young-ins for giving an old man such joy!

CLASSIC LUNAR – “THE PURPLE DRESS” From June 23, 2010

Mama loves the color purple.  She says it’s Jesus’ favorite color.  When I first saw that dress, I didn’t even know Jesus had a favorite color.

I still have an image of that dress today.  It was nothing special, really.  Even by June Clever standards.  But when I was ten, it was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen.  And it made Mama just as beautiful.

I told her how much I loved that dress.  She must have said something like, “Well aren’t you so sweet.” And that was it.  Nothing more. Nothing more was necessary.

Mama has always been one of those “go-the-extra-mile-for-my-kids” kind of Mom.  She can’t go the extra mile in her actions so much any more.  But when she can, she does.  When she can’t, she emotes as much.  Today is her 90th birthday.  She deserves just some emoting.

When I was a kid, like most kids I guess, I would procrastinate from time to time.  But I got that trait from my Mom or Dad or someone in my family upon whom my therapist can reasonably help me pin that blame.  For argument’s sake, I’ll blame Mama.  That will certainly help me rationalize the way she bailed me out from time to time.

She did some things she probably shouldn’t have.  I remember not having done some school work before going to bed a few nights.  The mornings after those nights, I’d wake up worrying.  I was a worrier.  Like Mama.  I guess she understood me because of our similar emotional patterns.  But when I woke up expecting the worst from the day ahead those few mornings, I found my work all done.  By Mama.

Now, maybe I would be more of a responsible human being today if she had just let her child suffer the consequences of his inaction.  But I credit Mama with the love and understanding I have for my own son.  That I’ve had for almost 26 years now.  And maybe I have done that man an injustice.  If I have, well – he’ll just have to take that up with his own therapist.  Like Mama with her children, I cannot stand to see my child suffer.  Even in the slightest of ways.

One night before going to bed, during my sixth or seventh year, I noticed one of my gold fish was sick.  It was just floating.  On its side.  In that tiny little bowl that it shared with its mate.  I thought it was dead.   It should have been.  And if it wasn’t, then surely it would be the next morning.  I didn’t want to leave the little thing.  I loved the little gold guy.  Mama, as she always did, assured me everything would be okay.  “You need to go to bed,” she said.  So I did.  And I don’t remember doubting her.  She was always right when she gave reassuring information like that.  At least in my eyes.

And.  I was a bit of an idiot as a child.  Thinking back on it now, I should have known that little side-floater would die.  I should have known that no parent or anybody could have saved that fish.  But I went to bed as an innocent and trusting little idiot-boy, never doubting at all the love and strength and ability of that woman.

When I woke up the next morning, I ran into the living room where the fish bowl stayed.   On top of the upright piano.  There was only one fish there.  The sick one was gone.   Mama let me down.  For the first time ever.   The woman let me down.  That was a difficult moment for me.

I walked to the bathroom.  There I saw Mama for the first time that day.  She was just sitting there.  On the closed toilet.  Leaning over the bathtub.  She looked old and tired that morning.  Her right arm and hand were in the bathtub.  She was moving water around.  So very gently.

She had been there all night.  Hunched over that tub.  Nursing that damned little gold fish back to health.

Its mate was happy to have it back in the bowl later that morning.  Mama was happy to get some rest.  After seeing us off to school.  I was simply in awe.

Several years later, I was beginning to grow up.  I was about 9 or 10.  Out in the world.  Or at least out on the block.  In the neighborhood.  Taking care of myself.  Exploring.  Doing things that would surely cause Mama to hemorrhage.  If she only knew.

I wasn’t worrying so much anymore.  Growing away from the love of my life just a bit.

Jimmy Jordan’s older brother, Jickie, helped us build a tree house in the Jordan’s back yard.  It was more of a tree platform.  But is was ours.  The guys’.  Jimmy’s, Jody’s, Johnny’s Arthur’s, Paul’s and mine.

The foundation was triangular.  The flooring was made of equal sized planks.  The planks hung over the joists slightly on the wide end.  Greatly on the narrow end.  As I explored our place, the entire construction, I trusted my friends and their brothers just as much as I had always trusted Mama.  I was growing up.  So I stepped onto the floor that was over-hanging the narrow end of the triangular foundation.  My foot landed on the outside of the joist.  The other side of the plank let go and flew straight up like little Arthur on a seesaw when his large sister Rebecca sat opposite him.

I dropped from our tree platform.  Straight down.  To the ground.  I think Mrs. Jordan’s close line broke my fall just a bit.  But I couldn’t move.  It was my back.

Some neighborhood men made a makeshift gurney.  They carried me to a station wagon.  And to the hospital.  That’s where I remember seeing Mama.

I was in such pain.  I was worried.  Again.  I was crying.  But there was Mama.  Standing in that room.  Wearing that beautiful purple dress.  She took the time to put on that dress before meeting the neighborhood men and her son at the hospital.

I don’t remember anything she said or did.  Maybe she said or did nothing.  She didn’t need to really.  That purple dress said and did it all. It may not seem like much.  But it was another extra mile or ten to me.

And, I’m not Jesus.

But on that day, purple was my favorite color, too.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “SHORT LIVES” February 25, 2017

Last night, I asked this question on Facebook:

“What goes through the minds of lifelong and dear friends when their lifelong and dear friends simply oppose the political beliefs of those they love dearly?”

 

The responses I got were actually all wonderful ones. And I heard from three really beautiful and longtime friends and loved ones. Friends who disagree somewhat with my simple political views.  But then, today, things happened. Serious things.

So, I thanked all my friends for responding to that rather nebulous question. Below is my response to them all. I wouldn’t post this on The Lunar Report if I did not think it was important. So thank you guys for bearing with me!

“Thank you all for replying and helping here. And to Gary and Preston, I totally understand you both. Gary, I am sorry for what you guys have been going through, but I am very happy about the remission. And, Preston! Hearing from you made my day! Knowing you is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me. It is! And I miss your smile, your eyes and your beautiful kindness. The healthcare issue you both mentioned is a more specific issue than what my original post is about. But, damn it! Your responses helped me in the most perfect ways.

Do y’all mind if I tell you about my day? Please bear with me here.

This morning, shortly after reading the posts from you, Gary, and you, Preston, I drove 30-minutes to watch my youngest grandson play basketball. He’s only five, so, at this point, his strongest skill is to charm the three little girls on his team. And he really gets into that!

 

After that game, I had some time to kill before my oldest grandson played in a tournament game. So, I was able to go to lunch with my son, his wife, all four of my grandchildren, and my daughter-in-law’s mother. Man! I had one grandchild on my left, another on my right and their parents sat directly across from me. There were laughs, there were smiles, there was nonsense, and there was some serious love.

 

My talented nine-year-old grandson played his heart out. Still, his team lost that later game. But his team won, too. Before the game, his dad, one of the coaches, organized, again, a pre-game center court prayer circle that included the other team, all coaches and even the two referees. It was quite a moving moment.

So much so, that I had to look away to keep my emotions controlled a bit as my son delivered that prayer. So, I looked up, through the skylights in the gym. There I saw a clear blue sky with fast moving and wonderful white clouds drifting by. That’s when I thought of my mother. She would have been so damned proud of her grandson, her great grandson and all of their Saturday afternoon associates at that moment.

 

We all parted ways after the game. After that, I returned home, and I met two new young friends. Marcellus and Desmond. They are neighbors that I had never met until late this afternoon. They are both around nine or ten years old. I was on my porch when I first saw them. They were walking down my walkway. And Marcellus was carrying a small box – one that I readily recognized. It was the same shaped box of the medication that I need daily and had been expecting. It hat been delivered to my neighbor’s house by mistake. Marcellus handed me the box. Offered his name and extended his hand for a kind and gentle shake. Desmond stayed back a bit, but presented such a warm and friendly smile when I asked his name and thanked them both.

Shortly after meeting my two young friends, I heard some disturbing news about a guy I also call my friend. We really weren’t pals. We were co-workers who enjoyed each others’ company during and after work for a few years. But this man made everyone he ever met feel like his best friend. He did! Well, my friend died suddenly today, doing some volunteer firefighting training in Michigan.  His name is Ron Savage.

Look, I am not looking for pity or sympathy or anything like that. But my family and their love of God and of each other and their laughter and successes and failures, Marcellus’ and Desmond’s lives and my long-time friend’s death kind of brought this day and my original post full circle. And it kind of forces me to use a cliché. Life really is way too damned short. It is way too short to ever allow a simple vote for a man we have never known alter in any way the love we have for those we do know and meet and cherish. It really is, y’all!

Forgive me for becoming so emotional here. But true emotions really should be reserved for those we have grown to cherish during each moment of our damned short and loving lives!”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “I AM BENATRIPPEN!” February 21, 2017

Discussing body rashes on The Lunar Report is really something that turns me off.   But, dang!   I have had a rather itchy rash for days.

So, today, I went to Walgreens. I told the pharmacist there about the rash and that I thought it was shingles. I asked for some over the counter recommendations I could use until I see a doctor in a couple of days.

 

The Walgreens’ guy was very helpful. He showed me an ointment that would relieve the itching. Then he said, “And I recommend also taking Benadryl. Now, it might make you a little drowsy, but it may help.”

 

I took the man’s advice. About fifteen minutes after taking a couple of doses of the drug, the itching just stopped. And, naturally, I said to myself, “Damn! That Walgreens’ guy knows his stuff!” Then, the Benadryl really kicked in.

That’s when I read the fine print on the package. I think. My vision was terribly blurred by that time. “There will be marked drowsiness. Do not use alcohol when taking this drug. Excitability may occur.”

A mistake or two was made. And the printed warnings came way too late to correct them.

The pharmacist used the words, “… a little drowsy.” And never mentioned the alcohol or excitability things. So, I had a couple of drinks after the itching was relieved. You know. To celebrate. But “a LITTLE drowsy?”

Man! Just a few minutes ago, I tried to go to the bathroom and fell down like five times! I kept falling asleep on the way to the john! But I was so excited, I just picked myself up, had another drink and laughed.

So, look. Once the rash clears, I am having a “BYOB Party” at my place! You are all invited, especially the Walgreen’s guy. And I will provide all the alcohol!

But you MUST Bring Your Own Benadryl!  I promise you, I will run out of mine long before the party!  Help me out and share yours, though.  I promise, also, that I will crunch it up and share the straw!

In the words of Tony “Scarface” Montana: “This is paradise, I’m tellin’ ya.”

 Man! I love this stuff!!!!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “LIGHT WEIGHT PROTESTS” February 17, 2017

See, by now, you guys must think I am just a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man who has never fought for justice and civil liberties. Well, in the words of our president, “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

Just today, in light of some student protests here in Charlotte, I have been pondering my past. Today, some local students walked out of school to protest the interactions between ICE and immigrants. Well, I am here to tell you that those students are light weight.

 

Walking out of school? Just walking out? They used today as the perfect opportunity to ditch school for the day. This day also happened to be a “make up “ day for bad weather that happened a while back. So, of course they walked out! I mean, come on! Even a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man like me would have done the same thing.

 

I organized my first protest fifty-one years ago. And at the time, I , too, was a young public school student. At Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. Back then, kids had what they called, “play periods.” That’s when the teacher would take us outside to “play!”

 

 

 

 

As a sixth grader in 1966, “play period” meant “kickball!” And kickball during play period was the most fun kids my age had back then. And Fishweir had some pretty good and new kickballs that were full of air and quite kickable!

 

 

Well, late one morning, as our play period began, we went outside to enjoy some kicking and the beautiful day. The very first kicker that day pounded the ball, as hard as he could, toward the sideline and the top of the chain link fence. It really was a powerful kick. But the damned ball wedged between the spikes on top of the fence and an old and hard oak tree.

 

 

 

 

The ball deflated. Immediately.

 

 

 

Well, that seemed to baffle, what I call our “play period guy.” I really don’t know what the hell the guy did, but he was about sixty years younger than our teacher, so he watched us play every day.

 

 

 

And he really did garner more respect from the twenty-five or so twelve year olds than did our ninety-five year old teacher. But on this day, he decided to, instead of finding another ball, make us clean up the playground. Seriously.

 

Well, that disturbed us all terribly. So, I organized all of us kids to have a sit down strike. We formed a semi-circle, sat side by side, clapping our hands, swaying left and right and chanting, “We shall overcome.” Again, I am being very serious here. The poor play period guy was baffled. He had a dirty playground, a busted ball and twenty-five twelve year olds swaying and chanting. He did all that he could do at the time. He let us protest!

 

Eventually, a real teacher or someone came out to break up the discourse. Our teacher never showed. I think she was getting an oxygen treatment or something. But whoever it was made us go inside. And, we did not have to clean the damned playground! We won! Play period guy lost!

Because of what happened in Charlotte today, and because of my twisted memories and thoughts, I just had to contact my daughter-in-law and son. They have four children who are home schooled. I really did have to ask this question and make this statement:

“Did your kids walk out of school today as a protest like some kid’s in Charlotte did? If not, then I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with each of them. They blew a perfect opportunity to spend a beautiful day AWAY from schooling!”

Neither of them have responded, yet! They must be as baffled as I am about a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man suggesting such a thing!

CLASSIC LUNACY – “DELIVERY ROOM” From February 13, 2012

FROM FEBRUARY 13, 2012

The kid’s name is Princeton Jordan Moon. Some in his family call him PJ. Others call him Prince.    I think his mom prefers that we say, “Princeton” when referring to her youngest child.

I call him “Sweet-P.”

Just a few years ago, Sweet-P was born. He entered his world in one of the most raucous ways imaginable. His mom, my daughter-in-law, was in labor for nearly 14 hours before he finally came to her on February 9. And my son and his wife’s mom were by her side for every minute of that stressful adventure. But there was other stuff going on during that laborious day – stuff that was even more stressful than giving birth.

I wrote about Sweet-P’s birthday shortly after he was born. That was five years ago. I thought I would take the occasion of my youngest grandchild’s birthday to share that Lunacy again:

Here are the most important facts and occurrences of the night of Wednesday, February 8, 2012. My son’s wife had been in painful labor for nearly nine hours when the main event of the evening began. If you don’t know my family, then it’s not what you think. If you do know my family, it’s exactly what you think.

At nine o’clock that night, the only ones in that Mooresville, North Carolina hospital room were my son, of course his wife, and his wife’s wonderful mom. It really was a long, painful and stressful day for my daughter-in-law. And for the other two there. The anticipation, the discomfort, the anxiety and apprehension must have been brutal for those three. But the process was about to begin. And it did.

At precisely 9:05 PM Eastern Time. That’s when all hell broke loose. There was pain. There was jubilation. There was a certain degree of ease and relaxation. Then more pain. More jubilation. More angst. More joy.

It was a two-hour ride on the Myrtle Beach Swamp Fox. An unrelenting roller coaster. Energetic panic, screaming, yelling and God’s name taken in vain. It all came from that room during those two hours that night. It was so bad that the hospital staff became a bit panicky themselves and quickly, yet professionally, entered that room to see what was troubling the mother-to-be.

My account of things here is second hand, so I am taking some fictional liberty. The night nurse, upon hearing the screaming and yelling, burst into the room.

“My God, is everything okay here?”

“He was all over his freakin’ back!” my son explained.

“Who?” the nurse asked. “Has the doctor been here? Is your new son here? Coach Sandusky’s not a family member, is he?”

“We’re getting screwed,” my son replied.

“Look, there’s no need to file a malpractice claim, sir,” the nurse seemed to beg. “We’re doing our best here.”

“Oh man, he traveled!” said my son.

Nurse: “Well, yes sir. The doctor does live in Gastonia.”

Son: “He was hacked!”

Nurse: “Well, we did have to call him away from a cocktail party in Statesville. ”

Son: “What are you doing, Roy?”

Nurse: “Actually, the doctor’s name is Ervin.”

Son: “What the hell are you talking about?”

Nurse: “Look. Your doctor’s name is Ervin. He was at a cocktail party in Statesville, but he is traveling here as we speak, and he is not hacked. He is a professional. He would never show up for a delivery hacked.”

Son: “What?”

“Everything will be just fine,” the nurse said. “Just relax and breath. ALL of you.”

“How in the hell could you miss that shot?” my son asked.

“Sir, we keep immaculate records here,” the nurse responded. “I assure you, no shots have been missed.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No sir.”

“That last second crap just pisses me off!”

“Look, we are prepared here,” the nurse said. “We leave nothing to the last second.”

“Damn,” my son replied.

“There is no need to curse, sir.”

“What? Uh… what? Oh, never mind. So what’s up with my wife and our baby?”

“Well, sir, I’ve been trying to explain, and….”

“Explain what? When?”

“Sir,” the nurse said, “For the past two hours I have been trying to explain what’s going on and I just don’t…”

“Look, lady, I’ve been beside myself for the past two hours. Do you have any idea how stressful things have been for me and the wife?”

“Well, sir, yes I do. That’s why I have been in and out of this room all night, trying to explain to you that everything is under control, and that you have nothing to worry about. We are doing all that we…”

My son interrupted. “See, here’s where you screwed up, lady. You never, EVER, try to explain ANYTHING to me while the wife, mother-in-law and I are watching a Carolina-Dook game on television! UNDERSTAND?”

“Uh, yes sir. I do now.”

CLASSIC LUNAR – “MANGUM REPORT – REVISED” February 6, 2017

SPECIAL “BEAT DOOK” EDITION OF THE LUNAR REPORT.  FROM NOVEMBER 6, 2009

 

(The original was written and posted about eight years ago, during football season.  Well,this is hoops time!  My revisions only deleted references to that strange oblong leather ball!)

Granddaddy Mangum and Dickie.

Just a couple of side bars here. When my brother, Dickie, was a toddler, he lived with my parents in Victory Village, the married student housing on the UNC campus at the time. Word has it that his first words were, “Beat Dook.”

 

Dean Dome!

 

Two days after my son was born, the wife and I drove him through the UNC campus and past the Dean Dome.  We told him that if he decided to attend NC State, we would disown him. But that if he chose Dook, we would shoot him.

 

Now to the meat of all this. The UNC-Dook rivalry actually began way before either school had a basketball team. It began with a major dispute that involved land and bastard children between the Duke family and my family, the Mangums. (My Mom is a Mangum.) There are details in an article written in the Raleigh News and Observer about 23 years ago. The entire article is below.

Mangum Dormitory

At any rate, the Duke family money went to Trinity College (now Duke University), and the Mangum money went to UNC. And the rivalry began. And it all started with MY family and that miserable Duke family.

One more thing. As they say around here, “Go to hell, Dook!”

The News & Observer (includes Chapel Hill News) (Raleigh, NC)

The News & ObserverMarch 5, 1994

The UNC-Duke rivalry’s hidden side.  Leading families feuded for years
Author: CRAIG WHITLOCK; STAFF WRITER
Edition: FINALSection: NEWSPage: B1Index
Terms:UNC-CH; Duke;

Washington Duke, Willie P. Mangum HISTORY

Article Text:

It happened long ago, in the year 1794, but just as lustful folks are prone to do these days, Taylor Duke ignored the risks and seduced a local gal by the name of Chaney Mangum.  Duke, a weather-beaten Orange County farmer, figured nobody would learn about the indiscretion, least of all his wife. But when Mangum bore his bastard son nine months later, it blew his cover.

It also ignited one of the most enduring blood feuds ever seen in these parts.  The Dukes, for whom the university is named, and the Mangums, some of the University of North Carolina’s biggest benefactors, have been at loggerheads ever since, with the vendetta spreading to the worlds of business and politics.  And more recently, basketball.  

Tonight, the feud resumes in all its glory when the UNC Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils take the court in Durham.  The winner not only will claim basketball supremacy, but will momentarily gain the upper hand in a family feud that has boiled for 200 years.  

Both clans are rooted in the rural villages of Red Mountain and Bahama, in what is now northern Durham County.  On the surface, the backgrounds are similar.  Both families grew tobacco.  Both thrived in business and influenced politics.But family members, particularly during the 19th century, shuddered at the thought that the Dukes or Mangums had anything in common.   Over the years, they’ve battled over politics, competed for higher social standing and, on occasion, lusted after one another.  

William Preston Mangum II, a family historian, says the two sides don’t fuss as viciously as, say, the gunslinging Hatfields and McCoys.   But they don’t exactly get together for Sunday dinner either.”  I don’t want to say hatred, but underlying these two families is a desire to get the better of each other,” he said in a recent interview at, appropriately, the Washington Duke Inn in Durham.   “There definitely are ill feelings.”

Especially noteworthy is how the families took their rivalry to the rarefied arena of higher education.  The Dukes nurtured fledgling Trinity College in Durham, pumping so much tobacco money into the school that its trustees renamed it Duke University in 1929.  Less publicized is how the Mangums directed their generosity to the state university nine miles away in Chapel Hill.  The Mangums were crucial in helping the university survive its first century.   Willie P. Mangum served on the board of trustees for 43 years.   Adolphus Mangum, a professor, helped reopen the school after the Civil War.   Charles Staples Mangum founded the UNC School of Public Health.   Countless other Mangums graduated from UNC.   A dormitory and several academic awards are named after the family.

The campus connection is where the basketball game fits in.  Both teams have jockeyed all season for the country’s top ranking.   Between them, they’ve won the last three national championships and are two of the most successful programs of all time.  All told, it’s one of the most deep-seated and unforgiving rivalries in the nation.

Taylor Duke couldn’t have known at the time that his amorous urges would cause such a long-lasting fuss.   All he knew was that a comely maiden, Chaney Mangum, had caught his eye.  As can happen when such desires manifest themselves, Chaney Mangum bore a son.   At first, the father’s identity was kept quiet and the adulterous Duke was spared any public shame.   But the secret didn’t last long.  The couple had difficulty containing their affection.   One thing led to another, and the still-unmarried Chaney Mangum had another child.  This time, the Mangums identified Duke as the suspected father in both cases.  Angered by his cavalier attitude, they took him to court and forced him to pay $5 a year in child support.   The judgment was no small debt for the prolific Duke, who had 10 other children.

In the 1800s, the feud extended beyond the bedroom and into the! politic al realm.   For a time, the Mangums reigned supreme, although the Dukes did their best to discredit their neighbors.  Willie P. Mangum was the most famous of the bunch.   An 1815 UNC graduate, he served 23 years in Congress.   He was also a founder of the Whig party and ran for president in 1836.   He carried South Carolina in the election, but not his home state — thanks to opposition from people like the Dukes.  The Dukes were fervent Democratic Republicans and were vocal about it, something that caused Willie Mangum no small amount of consternation.

In the 1830s, a supporter wrote Mangum in Washington to report on the political troublemakers back home.   The writer singled out the Dukes, calling them, with uncanny foresight, part of “a Devilish clan.”  The Mangums weren’t above making fun of the Dukes, either.   One 19th century Mangum noted in his will that he owned a horse named Duke.

After the Civil War, the families’ fortunes changed. The Mangums, part of the Old South’s aristocracy, lost virtually everything. The Dukes, on the other hand, made the most of Reconstruction, thanks to tobacco.  Washington Duke, a legitimate son of Taylor Duke, raised bright leaf tobacco and entered the manufacturing side of the business.   Soon he and his three sons had created a fabulously profitable enterprise.  

Suddenly flush with money, the Dukes didn’t hesitate to throw their weight around.  In 1881, for example, residents of eastern Orange County wanted to split off and form a new county.   The leading proposal was to name it after Willie P. Mangum, the former lawmaker.  But Washington Duke nixed the idea.   He vowed to yank the Dukes’ considerable assets from the area if he had to live in Mangum County.   The threat worked: The jurisdiction became known as Durham County.  

The mostly forgotten conflict is detailed in Willie Mangum’s papers, stored at the Southern Histo! rical Collection in Chapel Hill.  “A lot of people have never heard that before,” says William Preston Mangum, the family historian. “But it’s a true story.”

After two centuries, the feud has cooled somewhat, no longer colored by nasty court battles or political fights.   But the two families remain ever loyal to their respective schools.   The Duke kids still go to their university.   And virtually all the Mangums go to UNC.  The bumper sticker on William P. Mangum’s Oldsmobile reveals as much: “Tar Heel by birth, Carolinian by the grace of God.”

Copyright 1994 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.Record Number: RNOB172307

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS JOE” February 4, 2017

 

Last night I had a telephone conversation with an old friend. He was my best friend during our high school years, but our last really meaningful conversation occurred in 1992, after my dad, Joe Moon, died.  We reconnected, relatively recently, on Facebook.  He and I have disagreed on some Facebook posted issues.

He’s a die hard Democrat.

 

I am a die hard Republican.

 

And, well you all know what that means right now in our current history.

Last night was very special to me. We shared our love and laughs for a good while, and then he laid his bombshell on me. My old friend, a die-hard Gator fan, said, “I need to tell you something that you will not like.”

I said, “Oh, Lord, John. What is it?”

“Well,” he replied, “I have also been a Duke basketball fan for a long, long time.”

That’s when my dad’s twisted and inherited humor kicked in. And when I said this.

“Good God, John! That’s worse than being a damned Democrat!”

John knows my dad and his sense of humor.

My “Daddy” words got a big laugh from my old friend.

Thanks, Joe! Last night you made my day once more. And the day of John – another good friend of yours!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “FAITH IN FRIENDS” January 29, 2017

 

 

Often, I look at my life and see nothing but failure.   It’s really hard, some times, to sift through thwarted plans, foiled loves and other dismal adventures and rediscover the other moments that have brightened our lives for decades.   Hell.   It really is.

 

I have dealt with failure all my life.   I suppose we all have.   Failed mortgages.   Failed jobs.   Failed marriages.   And other relationships.  Those unsuccessful moments overpower us sometimes.   But within those instances of total darkness, those times we cannot find the brightness again, our greatest despair is created.

This is one of those disparaging moments.

A few months ago, I chose to sort of “come out of the closet” a bit.   And I said some things.   Some things I believe with all my heart.   But my heart seemed to cause immeasurable despair among some hearts I truly love.   And I regret that.

In the most adamant manner.

 

So, I have tried my best to restore a few dear friendships and the love we have mostly always shared.  I have mostly failed.

Again.

Now that I am “out of the closet,” those friends seem to think that I am a different man than the one they have known for decades.   I recently told one of those friends, as I sort of quoted lyrics from a song, “I have lost my faith in many things.    But I will never lose my faith in you.”    Unlike my undeniable belief in each of them, they have lost all faith in me.   And it is so damned hard to find the the sunshine, the stars, the moon – the brightness those hearts so generously provided to my failed one for so many years!

And I hate like hell the notion of failing again without the trust and love they once had in and for me.

I truly do.

The darkness that has overcome their once beacons of faith in one of the many hearts that share their same love, well – that’s way too overpowering right now.

So, too, is the lack of that sweet and loving light that mostly grace all of our lives every day!

(Look, I have been writing this for a few days.  Just this afternoon, one of those long-time and dear friends acknowledged my love for her.  And she acknowledged her love of me as well.  Suddenly the sweet and loving light has reappeared just a bit!)

That one friend made my day today.   Faith in friends and all others, including God, make such a powerful difference.  It certainly eases the often necessary siftings.

CLASSIC LUNACY – “CULTURE OF FAILURE” From May 22, 2014

FROM MAY 22, 2014
Our society – our very own culture – thrives on failure.

Our heroes. The very people we hold in such high esteem are incredible failures. All of them! Highly paid professionals, like doctors, our athletes, our Hollywood stars – all of them – are failing. Even the best and most respected of them.

 

 

Most of the really great actors make, what?  One film a year?  It takes, roughly estimating, three months to shoot one.   So, for nine months a year, our Hollywood heroes are like 20% of the rest of us – unemployed!

How about NFL quarterback greats? DonMeredith, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, and Johnny Unitas?   They each completed only around 50% of every pass they threw.   They failed half the time.   Even the all-time NFL leader, Chad Pennington failed 30% of the time.   I don’t know about your job, but if I fail just 5% of the time, I am an unemployed actor!

Artis Gilmore, my hometown favorite NBA tall guy (he played college ball at Jacksonville University when I was in high school in that town!) is the all time field goal percentage leader in the NBA. Even worse than Chad Pennington, Artis failed slightly more than 30% of the time that incredibly tall guy shot the ball.

 

 

And Major League Baseball? Come on! Over 60% of the time, Ty Cobb failed to get a hit! Ty freakin’ Cobb!

 

 

And doctors?   Our most coveted profession.   We all believe with all of our hearts that OUR doctor is the very best. Well, I heard this years ago somewhere, so I won’t take credit for thinking of this myself.   But have you ever realized that 50% of all doctors finished in the BOTTOM HALF of their class?

 

 

 

Man.   We are all doomed!

Still.  Suddenly I’m liking my own success rate!