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My Boyhood Friend Lewis Grizzard - a Great American

Updated on August 21, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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Lewis Grizzard left this world a less funny place for his absence in 1994. He went from being an aspiring student of newspaper writing at the University of Georgia (and sports editor for the local Athens, Georgia, paper) to sports editor of the Atlanta Journal by age 23. Thank God he was so dedicated to his craft, because we lost him before his 48th birthday due to a heart surely weakened by the love of so many. Well, maybe not his three ex-wives or Georgia TECH fans, but everybody else.


His column was the first thing most folks between Richmond and Dallas read four out of seven days every week in 450 of the nation’s daily newspapers. His sense of humor took him from the back roads of Moreland, Georgia, all the way to Albert Hall in London. When another Atlanta paper tried to run an annual “Best Of” edition, they had to create a category called “Best Columnist Besides Lewis Grizzard.”


His meteoric rise as a writer included three years he referred to as “being held prisoner of war in Chicago, Illinois, where they have two seasons: winter and the Fourth of July.” He served his term there covering football, but his conclusion was “football up here is like watching two mules fighting over a turnip. Who cares? They ain’t serious as us.”


Lewis was as equal opportunity as it comes when it came to poking fun at people. But, yes, he gave Northerners a particularly hard time.


“People ask me, ‘Why do you hate Yankees?’ I don’t hate Yankees. I’ve got a friend who hates them. The man reads the obituaries in The New York Times for fun. Now, that’s a man who don't like Yankees. I say, come on down. Breathe our air. Marry our women. The only thing we ask is don’t tell us how you used to do things in Cleveland. We don’t care. You don’t like it here? Delta is ready when you are. We’ll have you back in Cleveland by evenin’ if that’s where you want to go.”


But Lewis’ favorite target for making fun was himself. “Do you know why Baptists won’t make love standing up? Somebody might see them and think they were dancing.”

"Naked means you don't have any clothes on. Nekid means you don't have any clothes on - and you up to something."

"I'm not getting married again. I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house."


Twenty-five books and a couple of CDs are all we have left of Brother Lewis. And with every passing year, fewer and fewer among us remember who he was. But some of his truisms with live forever. "That dawg would bite you!" RIP Lewis.





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    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Rebecca and Jaye: Y'all know Lewis! As long as he's remembered we haven't totally lost him.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Of course I remember Lewis, Kathleen. I'm a southerner with a sense of humor! It was sad that he died at only 48, for I can imagine his writing growing more pithy with age, can't you? And I would like to know how he'd have viewed society in today's shrunken world. You don't have to "talk southern" to get Lewis' humor...but it helps.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wow, that is awesome. I loved his column. He was a trip. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You know him!!!

    • profile image

      Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      my boyhood friend and idol, Weyman C. Wannamaker, Jr., a great American.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks phdast7! Still miss him - always will. "If you ain't born to talk like this, you can't learn to talk like this."

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Oh Kathleen -- I loved Lewis Grizzard and I still love him. A wonderful columnist with such a gift for languge and humor and common people. Smart as a whip, but never pretentious.

      Thank you for reminding us Southerners and sharing some of his classic lines with all of us. He is worth reading if you don't know his work and worth reading again if you do. :) Sharing.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Next time I'm headed to Benning I'll have to stop in and take a look. What a great mother-in-law! Thanks for the read!

      Guess who's taking my daughter to dinner tonight? A couple of old OPM coyotes!

    • profile image

      John Collins 

      6 years ago

      My mother-in-law used to mail me his column when I was overseas. Loved 'em. By the way, there is a Lewis Grizzard Museum in his hometown. Thanks for the article.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      He sure did. Imagine what he'd have to say about all that is going on today? For one thing, I'll bet the AJC wouldn't be down to half the size it was. Folks would still be buying it just to read his columns! Thanks for the comments.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      HA! I continue to miss Lewis as I grew up with him and his columns in the local paper. Besides buying Vannah White a "better set of boobs" he made the world a better--and more amusing--place.

      "Elvis IS Dead and I Don't Feel Too Good Myself"

      Heck, this is deep stuff! LOL!

      SSSSS

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      No, James, I'm afraid my play on some of his words has been misleading. Lewis often wrote about his boyhood friend (whose name now escapes me) and always introduced him as "my boyhood friend, xxx - a great American." My closing comment about the dawg biting you is also an inside joke to those really familiar with his stand-up routines. I probably shouldn't do that. But thanks for the read and the comments.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      I remember reading quite a few of his columns. And you knew him as a boy!? That is awesome.

      It is a shame he left this world so soon. He certainly left behind a lasting legacy. Great Hub! Thanks.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Winsome: He would so love being grouped with Rogers and Twain, but you'll find he was much more irreverent. Pleasure to let you in on Lewis. Enjoy!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good for her - and for you for passing this information on. Thanks for the comments!

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 

      6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi again,

      Lewis' widow, Dedra promised him she would keep his work alive and after being discouraged by publishers who either did not get the Southern humor and culture or wanted to hold on to the rights, found NewSouth Books who immediately "got it" and started publishing some of his best out of print works as ebooks. You can find them here: =:)

      http://www.newsouthbooks.com/bkpgs/detailauthor.ph...

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 

      6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      I'm stll laughing as I write this--what a funny man! Somehow I have missed out on Lewis and will immediately remedy that. He sounds like a Southern version of Will Rogers and Mark Twain, two of my favorites.

      Thank you KC for introducing me to this great humorist. =:)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Glad to spread the word on this greatly missed icon. Thanks for the comment.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      A good tribute to this man. Sounds like he had a great sense of humor and was well liked by many.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Glad to hear Lewis still has fans! Thanks for the comment.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Great tribute, and I do remember that one about the Baptists. Ha. So funny. Thanks for writing and sharing. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      As promised, Stephanie Henkel. Enjoy.

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