Muscogee and good friend Frank Foley

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MIDLAND — Rural acreage in this Muscogee County community, roughly 15-miles from Columbus, is emotionally appealing and becoming with woodlands and rolling hills where quail hunting once was as good as you could expect.

Now incorporated into the Columbus-Muscogee consolidated government, Midland does have a post office on County Line Road.

Ole timers remember the way it was when their forebears hunted quail. It usually took place by riding a mule with the dogs out front training their noses in the direction of huddled quail birds, nervous and edgy — soon to explode as if they were shot out of a cannon.

Originally, Muscogee County was Creek territory and gets its name from a branch of the tribe which ceded its lands under duress to European settlers nearly two centuries ago.

Columbus, named for the Spanish explorer with whom we are all familiar, was once the home of the Haiman’s Sword Factory, which made swords, sabers and Colt Navy pistols which were used in the “last land battle of the Civil War” nearby.

The Chattahoochee, which has its beginnings in North Georgia (Jack’s Knob in Union County), forms the border of the state of Alabama. The fishing is good on this river of controversial waters which the Supreme Court may have to decide its use as Georgia, Alabama and Florida are not of selfless persuasion when it comes to the Chattahoochee.

Columbus was big in textiles for years, but its main industry for almost a century has been Ft. Benning, the U. S. Army installation where infantrymen are trained for battle in parts of the world where the Chattahoochee is unheard of.  Dwight Eisenhower was once billeted here and so was George Patton and Omar Bradley among other military luminaries.

Up the road in Talbot Country, James Rutland, who teaches instinct shooting, which has improved the aim of countless quail, dove and duck hunters in these parts, has often been solicited to enhance the aim of infantrymen at Ft. Benning. James was a track hurdler at Georgia and a good one, too. As often as I can, especially before hunting opportunities, I call on James to see if he can sharpen my aim.

Columbus has always spawned University of Georgia aficionados. Some were pace setting leaders along with a colorful character or two. With an invitation to dinner here recently at the country home of Frank and Libba Foley, brought about recall of bygone days when Frank’s grandfather, Judge Frank Foley, was a mover and shaker in the county and emotionally joined at the hip with his alma mater where he was a baseball pitcher of note.

Judge Foley was a participating architect of the creation of the Georgia Student Educational Fund which was designed to principally support Bulldog athletics but also provided financial assistance to deserving boys and girls in the state. It was created in 1954 when Georgia Tech, allied with the corporate expansion of firms across the country, was living off the fat of that association while Georgia squandered its best asset — which, as Judge Foley’s principal associate, Dan Magill, the Bulldog Club secretary, proclaimed was the fact that Georgia was “the majority party in the state.”

What was missing was leadership which would come about, from all places, Auburn, located less than an hour away. The Tigers had a disenchanted basketball coach named Joel Eaves who was hired by UGA’s President O. C. Aderhold to “right the ship.”  Eaves hired Vince Dooley and you know the rest of the story.

Eaves didn’t have the promotional flair of Magill but he had a grasp for administrative fundamentals —  work hard, don’t spend if you don’t have it, keep your nose clean and most importantly, keep your nose out of his business.

That last preachment, in time, would cause Eaves problems, but at the time he was hired, it was the best thing that could have happened to Georgia athletics. I stood by an enlarged photo in the Foley’s living room of Theron Sapp breaking the drought against Georgia Tech in 1957 and recalled the vagrancies of Bulldog football during those times.

Dan Magill was right. The Georgia people are the biggest asset for the state university of the Empire State of the South.

When the institution has failed to fulfill its potential, it has been the result of poor leadership.

Dinner with Frank and Libba and their inner circle of Georgia friends was a reminder of the love and loyalty of UGA titans from the past — in a setting where an indolent fire gave off emotional warmth, accented by a view of the countryside where a love of the land and harmony of the people made for a weekend which brought about aspirations for good memories to linger.

Loran Smith is the executive secretary of the Georgia Bulldog Club.