Remembering 'Boomer'

by Penny Wilson

I’m sure there are people all over Coweta County today who are remembering and telling their own special Boomer stories. I’m remembering many a tale that I’ve heard that I could, and will over the next few days, repeat, but I just felt compelled to put into writing some of my personal recollections.

I counted Boomer a close friend, but not nearly as close as did my husband, Johnny. It was not unusual for Boomer to call Johnny three or four times during a televised baseball or football game.

Sometimes they’d have a short conversation about the game. But sometimes Johnny didn’t get to say anything but “hello.” Boomer would assault him, talking a mile a minute without taking a breath between words or sentences, with something like “didyouseethatcall?hewassafe!Ican’tbelievehecalledhimout!terribleall!OKbye” and hang up. We referred to that as “being boomerized.” Braves games on TV won’t be the same anymore.

Boomer also called Johnny often for information - times of games, what channel something was on, etc. He’d say to Johnny, “Look it up on that thing,” which is what he called the computer. He expected instant answers, and was annoyed if for some reason Johnny was unable to find what he wanted immediately.

Johnny and a group of other guys from Bonnell used to go the Rec Center to play basketball during their lunch hour, and Boomer was always there standing outside waiting for them. He played in jeans. They never lacked for a scorekeeper, because Boomer would yell out the score after every point that was made. His high rafter-scraping shots were remarkable, particularly because they usually found their mark.

The last time we visited Boomer was the Wednesday before he died, and we were at the door leaving after both of us had said “I love you, Boomer.”

For some reason Johnny turned around and went back over to the bed and put his hand on Boomer’s arm and said, “I just need to touch you, Boomer, and tell you I love you.” I guess he had a feeling he wouldn’t get another chance.

We always joked that you are nobody in Newnan society unless you’ve chauffeured Boomer to some sporting event, and you only reach elite status if some of the games were out of town. If you witnessed an especially exciting win or a singularly devastating defeat for the Cougars, you could count on a very long ride home if you had traveled very far, like to Macon or Hinesville, with Boomer in the back seat. When he was wound up, he talked non-stop all the way home.

Boomer could dive into a back seat faster than anybody else I’ve ever seen. You hardly had to stop the car. He perfected a move that nobody else has ever duplicated. But, of course, he had practiced it for many years. Every time we got a new car, one of the first things we did was to notify Boomer so he’d recognize us when we honked at him, and so he’d be able to signal us if he wanted us to stop and give him a ride.

Our children grew up riding to ball games with Boomer to entertain them. After they were grown and had left home, Boomer was always asking about “little Johnny” and “Jo Ann,” getting both names wrong even though he had known them since they were born - they are John Scott and Joanna. We gave up correcting him years ago.

It’s been so long that I almost forget that I went to high school with Boomer. It was my 10th grade year. If you asked Boomer if he went to Newnan High School, his answer was “I went for four years - one in the ninth and three in the 10th.” And he said it with such pride that I don’t feel that it’s disrespectful to his memory to repeat it. He loved NHS!

For years, Boomer has called me every Mother’s Day. You could just about set your watch by it. He always called around 1:00 or 1:30, after we had gotten back from church and finished lunch, to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. My children usually called later in the day, and I always thanked them for the call, but laughingly told them that Boomer had beaten them to it once again. That’s a call I’ll surely miss next month.

I can honestly say I don’t remember ever having known Boomer to say or do anything hurtful to anybody. How many people can you say that about? I wish I could have one more Boomer hug. I wish I could take him one more Dairy Queen medium vanilla milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry. I wish I could tease him one more time by saying that Georgia is better than Tech. I wish I could give him one more ride.

I could go on and on. Boomer was one of those rare individuals who really enriched your life just for having known him. I’m sure other cherished Boomer memories will be occurring to me as I think of him in days to come. But for now it has soothed my aching heart a little bit to record these thoughts and share them with some others who loved him. And there are a lot of us.

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