News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Fond memories of childhood friend

My Blount County best friend from childhood loved a good practical joke.

He also loved Auburn University football.

I write of him in the past tense because he finally gave in to multi bouts with cancer, one of which metastasized in his pancreas.

The last time we sat on his front porch about six weeks ago he offered me a chair with a cushion. It shouted that an Auburn family lived at that address.

“I’d rather stand,” I joked, and he laughed the laugh of a person who was enjoying life.

Johnny Butler’s funeral was last week.

Getting to an Auburn football game was a taste of heaven for him. That is why his family neatly tucked his Auburn cap inside his casket.

We were 18 when we together saw our first live college game. It was a game for the ages, the 1957 7-0 Auburn win over Tennessee, played in a drizzling rain.

His loyalty never wavered. That game hooked him. He refused to upgrade when I went to college in Tuscaloosa.

Johnny enjoyed knowing that I know the quarterback of that national championship team. You know him, too – Decatur’s retired dentist Lloyd Nix.

The Auburn cap inspired my urge for us to pull yet one more joke together.

On our last visit, I told Johnny about how some Auburn friends desecrated our crimson red SUV with a hideous orange and blue Auburn bow.

He loved the prank and understood that I wanted to use the bow to retaliate in a Roll Tide way.

In the meanwhile, David Cauthen, the alleged perpetrator, thought he might like to get the bow returned because the joke had run its course.

I stalled.

Returning it to David didn’t stir my sense of adequate retaliation, so I gave it to Johnny on Thursday.

It looked good alongside the Auburn cap.

“War Eagle,” my friend.

Tom Wright is executive editor.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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