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Phil Hudgins

Mother’s Prevention magazines offer no magic, just memories

My mother’s hope for a fabulous figure arrived monthly, dispensed in a small magazine called Prevention that offered tips on how to get the flatter belly, firmer buttocks and stronger legs of a young woman.
Mother must’ve thought the magazine’s title alone was a guarantee — that Prevention would prevent old age from creeping in just by its very presence. Every month, she read the latest issue and then put it with all the others. But I seldom saw her succumb to any physical exercises.

Want an unusual gift for your Valentine? Try a bottle of Lithuania

Lithuania, the southernmost Baltic state, must be desperate for attention — or at least male attention. The country’s foreign ministry has launched the very first national perfume, appropriately called Lithuania. It features fragrances of moss and wildflowers and — here’s the kicker — wood fires.
There’s a good reason for the smoky smell.
“For Lithuanians to identify themselves with this perfume, we’ve added the smell of wood fires that can be associated with pagan rituals, as well as moss and wildflowers,” said Mindaugas Stongvilas, an expert in emotional communication.

Should schools teach morality? Perhaps it’s now come to that.

Two years ago, my wife and I were visiting in Louisiana when I picked up the New Orleans daily, The Times-Picayune, tore out the op-ed page and stuck it in my briefcase. I kept it because the headline on a particular column, one by André M. Perry, caught my attention. “Why schools must teach morality,” it read.
Well, it’s not up to the schools to teach my children morality, came my first thought. It’s up to my wife and me and our church. Who knows what kind of values a teacher would impart to my kids or grandkids?

Greatest inventions? Well, it depends on the need at the time

What are the greatest inventions ever?
One of them, I might have said in the summer of 1955, was air conditioning because my grandmother, Mama Stevens, was living with us and my brother and I slept in the attic on a mattress laid on the flooring. Our baby sister moved into a bed with Mama, who was a rather large woman. Sister quickly learned to hold onto her side of the bed to keep from rolling over against her bed partner.

How should we feel about one who steals from Salvation Army?

The last I heard, law officers were still tracking down places a Salvation Army bell ringer might have set up his kettle to collect money for the needy.
Unfortunately, he himself was the designated needy.
That’s right. Some guy used his mama’s good name and the Salvation Army’s good reputation to collect a few bucks for himself. I don’t know if he smiled and said “God bless you” when someone dropped money into the red kettle, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Why are so many people attracted to the weddings of British royalty?

“What are you doing on April 29th?”
I hadn’t even poured Cheerios into my big, plastic Atlanta Braves bowl, and here my wife was, asking what I would be doing five months from now.
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Well, that’s when Prince William and Kate are getting married,” she says excitedly.
“Oh,” I say. “I think I’ll be sorting my socks that day.”
The last time a royal couple walked down the aisle, my wife got up in the middle of the night to watch the whole affair live on television. I slept.

Thanks for wartime service should go only to the wartime veterans

It was Veterans Day, and I was standing with a group of middle school students as historian Bill Dean talked about World War II and some of the photos and artifacts he has collected over the years. They were on display at the Northeast Georgia History Center, where busloads of students came all week long to learn something about a war many of them knew nothing about.
During a lull in the presentation, a woman who must have been a teacher stepped up and asked, “Are you a veteran?”
I said, “yes.”

What would Charlie and Rufus have said if they’d written a book?

His name was Charlie. Before him was Rufus. They were blond cocker spaniels.
I’ve been wondering about them: What they would have said if they had written their own books.
Yes, I know, dogs can’t write books. But a dog named Bailey did, at least through the mind of his human friend, W. Bruce Cameron. The name of Bailey’s book is A Dog’s Purpose.

Somebody stop me, lest I learn to enjoy grunting and sweating

Somebody asked Chauncey Depew, the politician, if he took regular exercise, and he answered, “I get my exercise acting as pallbearer to my friends who exercise.”
The apostle Paul told Timothy that physical exercise didn’t do much good.
A doctor friend of mine said many years ago that one of his colleagues was going to die of a heart attack if he didn’t stop jogging so much.
But where are these exercise naysayers today when I need them?  I can’t find anybody these days, not even an overweight, laid-back doctor, who will encourage me to cut down on exercise.

A few things have changed since those childhood vacations on the lake

Used to be when my parents’ children traveled together on summer vacation, Daddy was the driver. And he didn’t like to stop except in emergencies, like being nearly out of gas or someone being in severe pain because of a busted bladder.
Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go — just up and over a few mountains to Lake Rabun, Ga., a mere two counties away. I was in puberty before I knew that the Sunshine State to our south was a favorite destination for vacationers. I thought everybody went to the mountains.

Bandit the dog steals fisherman’s heart, becomes everybody’s buddy

Charles Ivey was on his way back from Arkansas when he called Peggy in Gainesville, Ga., to check in. He’d been trout fishing on White River with a bunch of other guys, and his wife would be interested in what he was bringing home.
Usually it was a T-shirt, but this year he was bringing home a dog.
He really didn’t want him because that was the ugliest dog you’ve ever seen. He was dirty, and his ribs were practically touching in the middle, he was so malnourished. He’s white with a brown ring around his left eye. He looks like Petey, the mutt in the Little Rascals movies.

Two generals fill parlor with memories, stories of George Patton

Eugene Phillips sat on a settee he and Nadine bought soon after they married in 1941. Steve Arnold sat on a small bench. You could almost reach out and touch the respect each man had for the other as they talked.
Both of them are retired Army generals. Both of them fought in wars. Both of them feel a special tie to another general, George Smith Patton, the man who performed miracles in battle during World War II.
Brig. Gen. Phillips fought in that war and served with Patton. Lt. Gen. Arnold commanded Third U.S. Army, Patton’s outfit, in the 1990s.

What would it take to make the cover of AARP Magazine?

The face seemed out of place under the magazine nameplate, “AARP.” But there it was: the unwrinkled face of unretired Valerie Bertinelli, the actress who grew up with us, the actress who lost 50 pounds and gained a lot of money pushing Jenny Craig all over the country, the actress who just turned 50 and qualified for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons.

Mother didn’t know about telling stories for fun and profit

Our mother always told us children not to tell stories. That was a nice way of saying, “Don’t you lie to me, young’un.”
But now I realize that telling stories is not only sanctioned, but profitable, too. In fact, a guy named Bil (with one l) Lepp makes a living off of lying. He travels all around the country, telling tales so tall that a 40-foot ladder couldn’t reach them.
And he’s not alone. The woods are full of professional storytellers — many of them expert liars and proud of it.

If a man doesn’t make the bed and wash the dishes, is he sorry?

My wife has been gone visiting a few days, and I’ve been fending for myself. It’s not hard to do, really. I don’t have to make the bed; there’s no one here to complain if it’s not made. Just throw the covers up and it’s done.
I don’t wash dishes — or put anything in the dishwasher — until the odor of spoiled food begins to permeate the whole kitchen. That usually takes a couple of days unless I have the air conditioning on. Then I can go three days.
I haven’t filled the sink but once anyway. I went out to eat last night, and I plan to go out again tonight.

Are you taking everything too seriously? Find a way to lighten up

It’s April Fools Day as I sit here and stare at my computer. One of composer Franz Schubert’s symphonies is playing on the radio. It may be the one he didn’t finish, the “Unfinished Symphony,” we music aficionados call it.
 Schubert composed only two fully orchestrated movements of Symphony No. 8, and then lived six more years. That would be plenty of time, you’d think, to complete a traditional symphony — two more movements.
I have a theory about why he didn’t finish it.
It was a joke.
But few people got it.

Sister Elaine: A good sport, unwittingly witty and a trouper

My brother Kenneth and I came down with the measles at the same time; I was 8, he was 12. Our dad gave us a choice: We could haul our little splotchy bodies to Mama and Papa Hudgins’ house down on the farm or to Mama and Papa Stevens’ house in town. But we couldn’t stay home.
We chose the farm, where Mama Hudgins sequestered us in a dark bedroom with the shades pulled and the calendar turned to the wall so we wouldn’t strain our eyes trying to read it. 

Dave can teach you something about photography—and life, too

Interviewing Dave LaBelle, you’re not sure if you’re talking about photography or the gospel. Turns out, it’s both.
You’re also pondering life, something Dave photographs everywhere he goes — pretty much without restrictions.
“I look at life much like Ecclesiastes,” he said from his home near Chattanooga, Tenn. “There’s a time to laugh and there’s a time to cry, and that’s the way our lives are. If you have too much of one, you’re going to be out of balance, and it’s going to smother you.”


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