Stirring up memories
How 'bout them Dawgs...and those 54 caps?
September 26, 2006
There's no question where the Causeys—James and Eva Causey of Brinson—will be this Saturday. No question at all.
Eva will be setting up the snack table and popping corn. James will be rubbing his hands together waiting for the kickoff. It's September. It'll be Saturday, and the UGA Bulldogs will be about to take on Ole Miss. James wouldn't be anywhere else.
It's been that way since he was a boy in Macon playing football himself at the now demolished James Porter Field. Saturday afternoons, though, he wasn't playing; no, he was listening—listening to the Georgia Bulldogs game on radio and thrilling to names like Theron Sapp and the celebrated Billy Henderson, who lettered four years in both baseball and football and went on to become a Georgia legend as a high school football coach.
Two times along about then, James actually got to attend a game. At one he saw Zeke (the Brat) Bratkowski, the All-American quarterback, heave some passes.
When James graduated from high school, he didn't go to Athens; he stayed right in Macon to take up what would be his life calling—he became a firefighter.
While serving for 12 and one-half years in Macon, he was on the front line fighting a tremendous fire at Wesleyan College, about the biggest blaze the city has endured. After almost 13 years, James moved on to Hawkinsville where he served as chief. Then he was off to Fort Rucker, Ala., where he worked for the federal government in crash and rescue. An exciting and active career.
Over in Alabama, in the early 70s, James met a fetching Decatur County woman, Eva Heard Hendley—they recently celebrated their 32nd anniversary. Eva put a sparkle in James' eye in more than one way. She started him on a hobby that's become a major part of his life—collecting Georgia Bulldog memorabilia. I asked how he got started.
"Started with caps—one or two. Then three or four. Then..."
Now James glances at the back wall of the living room. "Isn't that beautiful?" he asks. It is—especially to a Bulldog fan. There are 53 caps (He owns 54, but one is on his head), photographs (one autographed by Hershel Walker), mugs, everything you can imagine. Some I couldn't. A Bulldog hand puppet—you can guess what it says—and a model of the stadium—a gift from a grandson.
That collection really grew. It's practically a museum! James remembers that while he and Eva lived in Enterprise, Ala., while he was in crash and rescue, several of their friends barely knew his name was James. They called him "Bulldog."
When retirement time rolled around in 1990, James and Eva didn't think twice about where to move. Eva was going home to Decatur County, home to Brinson. (I wrote about Eva in Stirring up Memories back in 2003.) That's where they and the Bulldog collection live now. Retired is not the word for James, though.
When they first arrived, he went to work at Winn-Dixie for several years, but he soon realized that was not enough. He felt he should be doing something more: he felt a call. He listened and responded, and then he enrolled at Andersonville Theological Seminary in Camilla. In 1997 he received his associate's degree. James is about education the way he is about his Bulldogs. He doesn't stop. Despite some serious bouts with bad health, he stayed in school. When he was just shy of his 70th birthday, he received his master's degree from Andersonville. He made an A in every class he took!
James is now pastor at Beulah Thomas Baptist Church on Woodhull Road. A year and a half ago when he began at the church, attendance was around 18 folks each week. The Sunday before I visited James and Eva, 40 people filled the congregation. "We have two new Sunday School classes!" James exclaimed.
It's a good and busy life for the Causeys. "God is first; then Eva, then the Bulldog hobby," said James. He also said I could quote him!
Here's one of Eva's good football snack dishes. It's perfect for Decatur County cooks during this peanut (and football season).
Microwave Peanut Brittle
1½ cups raw shelled peanuts, skin on
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Stir together peanuts, sugar, syrup and salt in a 1½ quart glass casserole or microwave-safe container. Cook 4 minutes on high. Stop and stir well. Return to oven, microwave on high 4 minutes more. Stop. Stir in butter. Microwave 2 minutes longer.
Remove from the microwave, add vanilla and baking soda, quickly stir until light and foamy. Pour onto a lightly, greased surface. Spread about ¼ inch thick and let cool.
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network