Best Of Grizzard – Don’t Lock Me Up

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Perhaps the most sought after and informative publication about the funny and often controversial life of bestselling author, Lewis Grizzard, Jr., is not in his own words.

After his death on March 20, 1994, at the age of 47, a dozen of his closest friends and associates (in 1995) each wrote an informative chapter (or two) that revealed much about the private life of the escapades. not so deprived of their friend, patient, associate and his fourth wife, etc.

In 289 pages published by Longstreet Press, Atlanta, Georgia, they present an anecdotal biography that covers many aspects not directly covered in his 25 books and hundreds of columns from the 450 newspapers he wrote each week across the country.

Beginning with his childhood buddy in Moreland, Georgia, Dudley Stamps, and continuing to the end with a final revelation from his wife, Dedra Kyle Grizzard, the book contains “great stories, warm memories, and a few warts. in a good mood” by those who knew him best at different times in his life.

I (JHS) started writing about Lewis Grizzard, Jr. in 2022. Previously, I had only heard of his legendary ability to entertain, critique, provoke, and above all, make readers laugh. My goal is to introduce him to a new generation of fans 28 years after his death. America definitely needs a laugh.

Thin-skinned people need not pick up any of his books or articles written from his home base of the Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

If you’re a member of the speech police that LG attacks in its books, you’ll be hard pressed to enjoy all the fun material protected by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

After being exposed to one of the above collections, I convinced the wife of my old high school buddy who had just closed her used bookstore to help me out and find copies of her works. She was able to provide me with all of her writings.

After reading about half of them, I got hooked on the humor and have now moved forward with my goal of finishing them all before my next birthday (or some alternate event).

In addition to the twenty-five books LG wrote, there are companion books by his third ex-wife, Kathy Grizzard Schmook, “How to Tame a Wild Bore (1986)” and “Peter Stoddard’s two volumes” The Dawg That Did Not Hunt” (2019) and “The Dog Who Loved Prowling” (2021) which deal with aspects of his complex life from other real or supposed sources. Mr. Stoddard’s books are mostly about Georgian football.

All contain many truths and exaggerations that they and Lewis jointly (but separately) led to the creation of the comparison of the Moreland kid’s work to Mark Twain and William Faulkner as early Southern writers.

However, “Don’t Fence Me In” is different from LG’s own description of what he thought was important to present to his legion of readers in a way that caused laughter, tears, anger and criticism from sources often immune to attack. except from Mr. Grizzard. Many of them today try to express and improve their political views, through the divided population of newspapers, cable news stations and all forms of social media.

The personal experiences that each of the twelve contributors shared with the public added new dimensions to the mystique of the LG subject.

His banter, his drinking and his disgust on many subjects are openly revealed to the reader.

His personal views on subjects such as race, religion, politics, homosexuals and Yankees, etc., as described in his 25 prior works, are extended by post-death publication and the opinion of 12 contributors about it.

The inside back jacket cover succinctly describes LG and “provides a fresh perspective on one of America’s greatest comedians and journalists.”

A previously undisclosed area of ​​his story is philanthropy and the support he gave to the less fortunate as his financial success continued to rise. Efforts to label him a racist fail when you learn of his help and support for his longtime driver, James Shannon, an African American. James is quoted by Jim Minter, former editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as stating at the end of LG’s life, “James was probably Lewis’s best friend” and cared for him twenty-four hours a day. day.

Minter in his chapter expresses the great respect they both had for each other:

“The day before his last operation, Lewis was worried about what would happen to James if things didn’t go well. When they didn’t, James told me (Minter) that he had lost his two best friends. Catfish (LG’s famous black Labrador dog) who died a few months ago and now Lewis. Then James left town. He said he could never work for anyone else!

Dedra Kyle Grizzard, wife number 4, was from Cleveland, Tennessee, who married Lewis four days before his death on March 20, 1994, in a small ceremony held at Emory Hospital before a small group of friends, from parents and medical personnel.

Dedra had a daughter, Jordan, from her previous marriage whom Lewis adored and loved as a stepdaughter even before the relationship became legally official on March 16, 1994.

Dedra and the others who had been friends, pals, employees, drinking and bar acquaintances, and golf and tennis mates, were criticized by the word police as being after his money. The fallacy of this argument is that most of them knew Lewis before he achieved his success across America, with some starting their friendship in the small town of Moreland.

The three chapters written by widowed Dedra Grizzard with the help of Judson Knight tell a much bigger story than just being another “gold digger” after Lewis’ money for nearly four years. She tolerated his many weaknesses and seemed to really love him until the end.

As a result, she would later partner with Lewis’s golf buddy and business manager Steve Enoch to form Bad Boot Productions, which is described as “a company that controls the intellectual properties of Lewis Grizzard”.

She tolerated the bad, appreciated the good, and was very happy with her relationship with her daughter, Jordan.

The story goes that in February 1993, Lewis first asked young Jordan, not Dedra, to marry him before asking his mother.

The book is full of confirming and contradictory stories from Lewis Grizzard’s friends and acquaintances that provide further insight into the complex genius and life during his 47 years.

If you can buy a copy from the Longstreet Press in Atlanta or get one from the usual website sources, it’s great additional reading for both pro and anti-Grizzard readers.

Dedra Grizzard’s final chapter gives her version of what she believed showed her husband had finally found some semblance of happiness at the end of his journey despite his many surgeries and complicated medical history.

(I’ll leave it to any reader to explore and discover his latest tribute to his vintage “Georgia Dawgs” with Dedra and Steve Enoch’s outfit)?

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You can reach Jerry Summers at [email protected])

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