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Birney Imes: A walk in the park




Twice this past week I've found myself in the afternoon wandering about the just-completed soccer complex in Burns Bottom. Forget the criticisms about parking and not enough bathrooms -- shortcomings I'm sure will be rectified -- and just look around. The place is beautiful. 


Moore's Creek intersects the park, and a nicely designed walkway over it offers a bird's-eye view of the creek and its banks. Many of the old trees were preserved, and as the just-planted ones mature, the park will be even more beautiful. The majestic cypress -- an ancient specimen that was probably here when Lee and Grant had their chat at Appomattox -- has been spared as other touches from the past, such as a concrete street marker near the cypress. 


Friday afternoon around 4:30 Paul and Unteria (Teri) Hargrove were enjoying pecans from the old trees remaining in an as-yet undeveloped lot in the complex. Paul, who grew up and has always lived nearby on Fourth Street, is delighted with his neighborhood's new look. 


His wife, Teri, is not happy with the way people are driving through the new park, though. "They're going through here like it's a racetrack," she said. "They need some speed bumps. Somebody's child is going to get hit." 


Turns out Paul is nephew of Joseph Hargrove, a young man I helped coach half a lifetime ago. 


It was the summer before my freshman year in college; friend and former junior high coach Warren "Oop" Swoope had asked me to help with his team until I had to leave for school. My brother Gene was going to be the team's quarterback. About the only thing I remember about that brief stint was a black kid who could throw a football 50 to 60 yards, Joseph Hargrove. Fifty yards is a healthy toss for a high school senior; for a 9th grader it's astounding. Joseph not only had a strong arm -- as a running back, he was almost impossible to catch once he got into open field. 


Gene remembers the gist of the team's offense that year involved him either handing off or passing the ball to Joseph. 


What became of Joseph? I'd always wondered. 


"He's living in Crawford," Paul said. "He's been driving a truck. He's retired now. Teri has his number on her phone." 


Joseph Hargrove will be 59 next week, is married and has two kids. Football didn't figure prominently in his life. He played a year on the west coast after a stint in the Army. As for the changes in his old neighborhood -- he, too, grew up in Burns Bottom -- he gives the improvements a thumbs up. 


"I was riding through there today. It's really nice; it's like a new part of town," he said. 


On the subject of traffic, I'm happy to report there is a town with longer stop-light waits than Columbus. It's Birmingham, Ala. Downtown B'ham at sundown is as deserted as Columbus streets are at 8:30. No telling the cumulative waste of time those lights cause.  


On the way to a gardening expo in Verona Saturday morning, Beth demanded I make a U-turn, saying something non-sensical about a man standing next to a cow wearing a saddle. I did as I was told and sure enough, there in the shadows of El Kidd Western Wear was Walter Sartin, one of the store's owners holding the harness of a not-yet-grown 1,200 pound Texas longhorn wearing a saddle. 


The cow's name is Pecos and as Sartin said, "His sole purpose is my entertainment and to attract attention." 


From what we could see, Pecos was doing a good job of both.  


Saturday afternoon we hosted a lemonade stand in the front yard for the grandchildren. The father of one of the little merchants posted a picture on Facebook and a couple of people showed up. More than a few passing motorists, charmed by the enthusiasm of the sellers, stopped to offer encouragement and make a purchase. 


Running a lemonade stand is hard work. At least one of the sellers fell asleep in his car seat on the way home. If grandmother will furnish the lemonade and poster board for the sign, the profit margin on such an operation can be pretty good.



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