BLSays: The Search for Big Un Concludes… sigh. PLUS…

    BobLee
    October07/ 2018

     

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    The Search for “Big Un” Concludes… sigh. – PLUS

    .

    A “George Hand” died in a Clinton NC nursing home on August 17. The only specifics in the 23-word obituary notice was his birth year. That was reason enough for me to re-open a Cold Case File I have maintained for 40+ years – Whatever Became of “Big Un”?

    If dusty memory serves me… George Hand became “Big Un” in 1962 courtesy of the legendary ED EMORY of ECU / Wadesboro / Lots of Places Fame. Ed Emory’s first teaching / coaching gig out of ECU was as Assistant FB coach at Jesse W. Grainger High School in Kinston under the tutelage of feisty George L. Thompson in the early-mid 1960s.

    It is as likely that Coach Thompson or Randall Joe Holmes named him “Big-Un” but Ed Emory has more celebrity value so let’s go with “Ed Emory did it”. Ed, George, George and even Joe are all gone now and no living Red Devil will dare question my memory on such a thing.

    By modern football standards, “Big Un” wasn’t all that big… maybe 6’0” / 215-220 tops with much of that being his head. Every high school football team has “that guy” who requires a special order helmet. George Hand required a 8 ¼ as I recall. YIKES! Big Un

    “Special order” Riddell helmets were/are expensive and George was never above 2nd string. But ya can’t send a kid out without a helmet although Ed Emory mighta tried to… to toughen him up. Concerns of “concussions” were as non-existent “back then” as concerns for heat-prostration and pretty much any other life-threatening injuries.

    Our starting O-line averaged “maybe 180-185” in rain-soaked uniforms holding a concrete block. So “Big Un” was a big un by comparison.

    George was among my 4-5 closest pals thru that 4-year Rite of Passage at Grainger Hi. We shared an irreverent sense of humor and many classes.  George’s dad was in the construction trades.  They lived in “Greenmeade” as I recall.

    “Big Un” might denote “a big lug”… Lennie from Of Mice & Men or Hoss Cartwright, kinda slow on the uptake but kind to animals. George WAS “kind to animals” and quite smart. Smart enough to merit an appointment to West Point Smart.  WOW!

    I matriculated amongst Silent Sam, Charlie Scott, The Dean, Dooley’s Boys et al… and George to West Point on The Hudson and The Lone Gray Line. … and something happened.

    I heard that George dropped out of West Point his Junior year which is unusual. That first Plebe year is where most “dropping out” occurs. I never saw him to ask, nor heard any accounts of what “dropped out” meant.

    He completed a degree at some Eastern NC college, likely ECU, and taught for a couple of years at our alma mater … again… and something happened.

    Apparently an altercation with a student… and George’s teaching career was “filed in 13” along with his military career.

    .

    A year or so later and George “Big Un” Hand simply vanished… reason unknowm – location unknown.  I was out-of-state during all that.  All I know is I never hear from – heard of – my high school pal until that obituary this past week.

    .

    When Goggle came out I “goggled” him a few times but there are multi-100s of George Hands out there. On my corporate travels I would occasionally check a phone book (A WHAT?) for “George Hand” to no avail.

    Our class of around 200 has held 10 year reunions religiously and they have been well-attended. Alas, the In Memorium Wall is growing considerably these days.

    I would ask some of the fellas if anyone had heard of/from George. Nope… just shoulder shrugs.

    I resigned my curiosity to that Cold Case File. Content that maybe George and DB Cooper were living large in The Lost Dutchman Mine or in Shangri-La.

    That his obit was only 23-words involving a non-descript nursing home in Clinton NC where he had only been a resident “a short time” and listed no family/friends… the thought that my old high school pal had been “living large” these 40+ years was shelved.

    Had we reconnected somehow, could I have helped him along?

    Did “Big Un” ever wonder whatever happened to me? GULP!

    George HandRIP George “Big Un” Hand

    If this world was not a good fit; perhaps, the next one will be.

    Is there “a Big Un” in the dusty corridors of your life?

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    More

    I may have finally solved a lingering issue of no small consequence to me.

    As noted recently, I have become quite active on Twitter. Which is akin to being a very busy Roto-Rooter serviceman… wading knee-deep in verbal sewage in 280-character clumps; but somebody has to do it.  20-years as a provocative Internet Legend has prepared me for the experience.

    NOTE: I NEVER recommend anyone “Tweeting”, regardless of one’s socio-political bent. The millions of mental cases that do it are quite enough.

    My particular twitter-style does not involve direct one-on-one combat with opposing POVs but it does happen. I do come up with some awesomely clever lines causing my LIKEs and RETWEETs to go TILT.

    If you go to HOME you will see several posts of “Deep Thoughts & Tweets” which are “Best (Worst?) Of” collections from the past week or so.  Mine AND AgentPierce (uh oh).

    These highly partisan comments will NOT “be on the final exam”.  Except maybe as Extra Credit Questions.   These are not live tweets that you can LIKE or RETWEET. But you CAN post comments at the bottom as always. Our BLSays Rules Of Decorum remain in effect.

    By keeping partisan provocative stuff THERE, I can regale you HERE with fascinating tales of people I’ve known… places I’ve been… and how I might run The Universe… if only Life was Fair.

    Next Time

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    BobLee
    • Wolfdon Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Bob Kennel, do you remember playing baseball with James “Bubba” Creakmoe and Joe Jones on the WP team in 1954-55? Two Wilson boys.

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        Not speaking for BK, but I betcha BK knows their batting averages and shoe sizes.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Now I’m working with a Sampson County crematorium on enough info on George Hand to fill out a death certificate. … Paul The Cremator seems to really appreciate my assistance. This is getting “strange” even by my standards of “strange”. …. No, his name is NOT “Paul Bearer”.

    • 58 Wolf Kennel Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Sounds like you had a good Kinston reunion Saturday. George Whitfield, Kinston class of 1954, ate some bad barbeque in Goldsboro (impossible). got sick. and couldn’t come up for the BC game Saturday.

      Relative to your column, I had a good friend George Slaughter with whom I played football when we beat the Red Devils in a 1953 playoff game. He was a relatively large halfback. His wife had a shop in New Bern which was devastated by Florence. They both left town to collect their thoughts and George tragically committed suicide. I don’t really know how they count deaths from hurricanes. George was a very good man.

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        I trust you and Your George had maintained your friendship over the years. … How do you communicate with “Coach Whitfield”… smoke signals? Does he even own a cellphone? Hell, does he even own A TELEPHONE?
        .
        Thought your LADs were gonna comeback and sweep last night. Likely to close it out today despite 40,000 Tomahawk Choppers. BREWCREW are ON A ROLL! I’m a BIG Craig Counsell fan.

    • MMF.Kansas Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Now that you found Big Un… do you think you could find “whatever happened to Rena Stapleford”?

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        OMG!! RENA STAPLEFORD . “The Pony-tailed Princess” … “A Dream Walking”. Before I open that file ARE YOU SURE you want to know? A boyhood vision of 60+ years is a precious commodity… too precious to risk?
        .
        NOTE TO READERS: Rena Stapleford was, for our neighborhood, Olivia Newton-John in Grease (pre-Trevolta “bad boy”). 4-5 years older than MMF and me. I hope Your Neighborhood had “a Rena Stapleford”.

    • Ron Hill Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Coach Emory decided to have a wrestling tourny our sophmore year, one loss and you were out. I somehow got to the finals…..against Big Un. He was enormous and I was 135 maybe. Anyway I tried to flip him over my back and he landed right on top of me, driving my front tooth back in my jaw. Killed it dead, couldn’t get a cap until I got older. Never smiled for any pictures for 20 years

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        Knowing everyone involved, somehow all that makes perfect sense. Did BL get you the word about Coach Holmes’ passing?

    • NCSU68Grad Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Yes, BL, I think that everyone has a “George”. It would not surprise you that one of my close HS friends eventually became the HS principal. He never came to the reunions and folks say he was a bit stand offish as he did spend a stint in Nam. Maybe resentment that another classmate, who did the Silent Sam routine and then the JD from UNC never had to serve. He was really close to that the lawyer, but chose NOT to go to his wedding. Both were smart. Both had good sense of humor.

      Both choose to keep to themselves……

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        Doing “this type of columns” for 20 years I have learned that “small towns in the 60s” shared MANY similarities. Names were different but scenarios remarkably similar.

    • LonnieB Reply
      2 weeks ago

      As usual I enjoyed your blog.Big Un was a friend of mine also and I also lost contact with him. Also of note Coach Holmes died a couple of months ago in a nursing home in Manteo. Keep up the good work.

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        Coach Holmes “in a nursing home” !!! Nope, sorry THAT won’t compute!. He was “like a Greek God”. “Greek Gods” don’t die “in a Manteo nursing home”. Greek Gods die in battle with their sword & shield.
        .
        They are all gone now – Jones, Thompson, Emory, Holmes. 🙁

    • TJohn.76 Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Can’t speak for “everyone” but I had a “Big Un” in my life too. A guy I was close to in high school. We went to different colleges in separate directions and simply lost touch. His folks moved out of town and he just wasn’t “a reunion type guy” I guess. And Yes I often wonder what became of him ???

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        I guess I’m glad to close the file on Big Un… but was hoping for a different closure.

    • Sue Frye Reply
      2 weeks ago

      George and I commuted to summer school in 68 to ECU. I had transferred there from UNCG and had lost some credit that wouldn’t transfer. He never spoke about West Point, but he kept me laughing with his sarcastic sense of humor..He lived close to me in our ” not fancy” neighborhood you mentioned. He was very smart, but I sensed a sadness about him. I think he was an only child, maybe just lonely. He was so polite and kind and I also always wondered what happened to him. I sincerely hope his life was happier than it seems. He was a good guy….💗

      • BobLee Reply
        2 weeks ago

        Yes, he was an only child. I vaguely remember his parents. Because we never saw each other after GHS graduation I have no clue what burdens he was carrying into his 20s… and beyond. For many years I kept wishing he would just turn up one day. The nursing home has practically no information on him so I doubt we will ever know. Maybe everyone has someone like that in their life?

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