When we lived in Georgia, Lake Lanier was about 25 miles north of my home in Lost Forest, in Fulton County and offered some very good bass fishing. Sometimes I would take my 12 foot aluminum, boat and fish around the edges, always staying within electric motor range of the launch spot and other times I would go with a friend, Phil, who had a luxury, bass boat.

Phil, red headed with a temper to match, worked for me and in the fall helped me coach a Georgia Youth Football team, plus in college, had played middle linebacker for Auburn. He told me an interesting story about when he took his official visit to Alabama and met with the legendary coach, Bear Bryant. The Bear told him flat off, “Son, you’re just too small to play for me!” Phil played at 200 pounds and was 6 foot tall. He went on to Auburn and played against Alabama 3 times, winning 2 of the games. Phil was a tough guy!

During a stretch of unusually warm weather early in March, this particular morning, the sun was just peeking over the horizon, when Phil and I pulled up to a launch ramp, near Cumming and we were first in line behind a couple of fat guys that were trying to manually launch an old fiberglass boat. We got out of the truck, started to load our gear into our boat, but couldn’t keep our eyes off of those 2 guys trying to manhandle this old boat.

Walking over to them, I courteously asked the one nearest me, who was knee deep in the lake, if they needed any help and his reply, to say the least shocked me, “Hell no, we don’t need any “beep-beep” help and I’ll whip you’re “beep” if you don’t leave us alone”, he must have taken me for easy pickins’!

Taking this as a threat, I advanced on my adversary, but with the speed of a Southeast Conference linebacker, Phil jumped between us and I knew that the fight was on. One look at Phil, red hair and red face, was all it took for Junior Samples, of Hee Haw fame, ‘ole BR-549, to back up and mumble an apology. Quickly saying, “We’ll get out of your way and you fellas’ can get launched.” All the while, his buddy, also in knee deep water, was standing, slack jawed, on the other side of the boat and trailer.

With their help, we launched and went on our way fishing. For the morning we caught 2 nice bass, 5 pounders, but when we came back to the launch ramp, ‘ole BR-549 and his buddy were gone. We both laughed when we discussed the next day’s possible newspaper headline, “Business Executives Fight With Prominent Entertainer Over Boat Launching Rights!”

The 2 things about this incident that I remember most were, one, we were never properly introduced and two, he really was missing both front teeth.