To successfully navigate the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, one must have a sponsor to steer the drunk from continuing on his or her destructive path.
My dad had just such a sponsor. He is the guy in the photo (below).
I’ve listened to my dad, through smoke-filled rooms, give testimony to his life with and without alcohol.
I preferred without.
Thankfully, he did too.
After sitting through more than a few AA meetings, I’m convinced that all alcoholics really just trade alcohol for coffee and cigarettes. In our little town in South Alabama, there was a house on the banks of a small river. In this house, converted to a meeting place, I heard my dad give most of his AA talks and, not coincidentally, where I learned to drink coffee.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the guy standing to the right of my dad was actually KFC Colonel Sanders.
It sure looks like him.
I halfway expect him to pull out a bucket of fried chicken — original recipe!
He was actually a man named Bud Rose.
He lived in Memphis, and I remember him talking to my dad in our house in Saraland about getting sober. He had a Big Book and spoke about admitting that he was “powerless over alcohol … and that his life … “had become unmanageable.”
Yes. It was.
Dad drove to Memphis a lot to speak or to listen to Bud speak.
But Bud had a secret (sort of). And I’m hoping that this doesn’t constitute some old FBI secret.
Bud’s claim to fame was being a bodyguard for the American gangster from Memphis, George Francis Barnes Jr., better known as “Machine Gun Kelly.” Occasionally, he’d lift up his shirt and show a large and gruesome scar on his stomach that was produced, allegedly, by a machine gun.
For a similar visual, see Lyndon Johnson showing off his surgical scar to reporters.
Sometimes I get the chance to talk about terrorism and its history in the United States. Bud’s story makes for a nice and colorful introduction to the topic.