Transcontinental memories of ’so many fun’ mark the end

Editor’s note: This is Furman Bisher’s final column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Read more:
Past columns. His last one is below. Read his first one including his moving tribute to his late son and several others.
Photos of his career. Even one where he’s playing football.
Video: Bisher reflects on his very first column for the paper

It was April 15, income tax day, in 1950 that this all began. Usually, such a run as this rarely ever carries on this long. Perhaps my act has worn thin. Perhaps I have over-stayed my time. But to an old warrior such as I, it isn’t easy finding an appropriate ending place.

My mind wanders back to the Falcons’ first flirtation with glory. They led the Dallas Cowboys into the shadows of a Sunday afternoon in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 60,222 fans in a state of exhilaration, a division championship a breath away when the defense broke down. It was over and a city was left heartbroken.

It had been such a colossal event that even Red Smith, the scholarly columnist of the New York Times, had flown in to write of it. After the game, I gave him a lift back to his hotel, and as he collected his tools of trade, and opened the car door, he put a hand on my shoulder and said:  “One more day in a cold, dreary press box — God, I love it.”

That said it for a lot of us.

Many a time that memory flashes across my mind, though the number of Sundays has dwindled down, as has the number of columns. Once I wrote six columns a week. I thought I was supposed to. Then five, then four, then three, then down to one. That means I have one day in seven in which to write something that stirs the blood, or something that misses the plate. A stinker. I don’t know that there is a graceful way to take leave. It doesn’t require a lot of space, I know that. (Cheers from the layout editor.)

I do know, as well, that it tugs at the heart. Ye gods, how many of these have I written? So many that many of the keys on this old Royal typing machine are worn thin. (And this column was first given a test run on the machine on which I wrote my first column in 1950.)

How many continents has it been, how many nations, how many flights, how many airports, how many sagging beds in bawdy rooming houses, and how many languages, with or without translation? Oh, and yes, and how many fellow travelers, wonderful friends on all those continents, and on the streets in this town and in my own land?

Then the Olympics, winter and summer, arousing memory of the most excruciating trip of them all, following the Winter Games in France. Catching a train in Notre Dame de Briancon to Chambery, to Geneva, to Frankfurt, to Atlanta, thence to Richmond, then Charlottesville to preside at a dinner. So much for that. I wouldn’t mind doing it again, but my body would disagree.

The Italian heavyweight of some six decades ago, Primo Carnera, known to some as “The Ambling Alp,” returned to the United States for some personal appearances long after he held the title — whose legitimacy was strongly questioned. Nevertheless, he had been the champ. He was a source of much interviewing, of course, during which he was asked what he remembered most pleasantly of his fighting days in this country. “Oh, much good time,” he said, in his fractured English, “so many fun.”

That says it for me in any language. “So many fun.”

Perhaps we shall see each other again at Thanksgiving, or the Masters, but I take my leave today with deep regret. Selah.

444 comments Add your comment

Fahim

October 10th, 2009
2:59 pm

Thank you, Mr. Bisher for all of the years….you are a true gentlemen and nobody shall ever replace you.

jaxjacket

October 10th, 2009
3:19 pm

Dear Mr. Bisher, A sad time for me and I suspect all sports fans in the South to read this column. I came into the world the same year you started writing, have been an avid sports fan for most of those years, and always enjoyed reading your work. You have set the standard for excellence in sports reporting and commentary, and I will certainly miss your insight. Thanks so much for all you have shared with us over the years, and my best wishes for you as you retire.

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 10th, 2009
3:24 pm

Sometimes I agreed with you and sometimes I disagreed but I always respected you. Yours is a writing style that could get me to read your column even if the subject didn’t interest me. Your baseball columns were my favorites because as with any true baseball fan, it has the perspective of history.

Been reading your columns since I was small boy (the Lotheridge-Martin Era at Tech). Don’t know if sports will ever be the same without your columns to read.

I’ve still got my “I Beat Bisher” T-shirt from all those years ago. I intend to hang on to it. Vaya con Dios, Mr. Bisher.

steve

October 10th, 2009
3:25 pm

thank you furman you and jessie and lewis made reading the ajc a bright spot of every day god bless.

leland

October 10th, 2009
3:30 pm

Mr. Bisher–thanks for many a pleasant read, and the best of everything to you and yours. Leland

uga1989

October 10th, 2009
3:32 pm

Thank you, Mr. Bisher.

Alabama Jack

October 10th, 2009
3:36 pm

Thank you for every thing and God bless.

JSS

October 10th, 2009
3:47 pm

With all of the respect that can be put into words, I wish you the best… Remember the old Southern saying: “I’ve never met a stranger.” You saw the transition from sport to an event… Don’t be a stranger, there is always an extra place at the table… May fate be kind to you…

Bat Masterson

October 10th, 2009
3:48 pm

I have enjoyed reading your columns, God’s speed.

tipping hat to hall of famer

October 10th, 2009
3:50 pm

Thanks for the memories!

Atlanta Native

October 10th, 2009
3:53 pm

You will be missed and our view will be less without you.

Dean

October 10th, 2009
3:55 pm

When I was 12 years-old, 43 years ago, I started delivering the Atlanta Journal. Empire Blvd., Oak Dr. and Ward Dr. were my borders. Every day for the next 2 years (I moved up to Zesto! Lakewood Heights location.) I read the paper from front to back over the course of my route. Mr. Bishers stories and columns were always the highlight. For what it’s worth, “For what it’s worth…” was my favorite. God bless and good luck, Mr. Bisher.

gymjacket

October 10th, 2009
3:59 pm

Well done sir.

william cranman

October 10th, 2009
4:02 pm

Thank you Mr. Bisher for your eloquent columns over the years. Hopefully we will see your columns again down the road, especially at the Masters beacuae a Masters with out you Mr. Bisher would just not seem right. Thanks again and enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.

James Lee Adam s

October 10th, 2009
4:03 pm

Thanks–Bitter sweet day–What memories–what a void

130on2

October 10th, 2009
4:23 pm

Just a pause Furman, just a pause.

Selah

130on2

October 10th, 2009
4:31 pm

I started delivering newspapers 52 years ago. Almost every day before I started my route I would sit there on a bundle of papers and read your article. You have always been the best. Good luck and thanks for all of the great columns.

Robert

October 10th, 2009
4:32 pm

Dear Furman, Thank you for a job well done. Your writing has been a part of my life for many years. I’m glad you got to go out on top. With best regards, Robert Reeves

bigdawg88

October 10th, 2009
4:34 pm

I have to admit that I didn’t always agree with you, being from a different generation and what not, But I’m sad to see you go! You are a true gentleman.
Selah

gtgoguy

October 10th, 2009
4:41 pm

Your columns harken back to a time when it was a daily treat to get the Atlanta Journal in the afternoon and read your column. I’ve never known the paper without your daily or weekly words and I will miss them. From this Georgia boy at heart now relocated to the upstate of SC….thanks for each and every word. God bless.

Ronnie

October 10th, 2009
4:43 pm

It’s been a pleasure to read you for so many years. Good luck!

MattyB

October 10th, 2009
4:44 pm

Best to you and yours, sir. It’s been most enjoyable!

Todd

October 10th, 2009
4:52 pm

Thanks for all of your hard work and wonderful insight. Hope to see you Thanksgiving weekend, in Atlanta or Athens, for many years to come. Best to you in your future endeavors. GO JACKETS!!!

CB Johnson

October 10th, 2009
4:55 pm

Thank you sir. Sure hope we hear from you on Thanksgiving!

College Park Native

October 10th, 2009
5:23 pm

Mr. Bisher, memories keep us close in touch, with yesterdays we loved so much. Thank you for giving us so many of both all these years. Wishing you good health and happy times ahead, and
least a FEW more Thanksgiving Day columns.

mark josey

October 10th, 2009
5:40 pm

Dear Sir, what a sad day for all AJC readers. I have read your columns for 35 yrs. and oh how much I have enjoyed them. Selah and take care.

Jon Parker

October 10th, 2009
6:03 pm

I am in Atlanta for the 55th class reunion for Grady High School class of 1954, and I read about your retirement in the paper. I want to congratulate you on retiring from an amazing and productive career. I have enjoyed your columns and your book with/about Henry Aaron. I also have a story, and it is probably a story, about you and me.

I began carrying (delivering) the Constitution in 1952, and the Rock Springs Apartments were on my route. We picked up the papers in the Highland Virginia area at about 4:30am and took off on our routes after a pep talk by the district manager. I seem to remember that your apartment was on the upper floor. I would walk into the entry area and toss yours up over the railing. One time, I hit the milk bottles in front of your door; and one came crashing down. I cleaned it up and left.

We paper boys also had to collect for the paper which was $.45 per week or $2.05 per month. Occasionally, you and others would ask that I come back at another time to collect. The “story” that I enjoy telling is that I am certain that you beat me out of at least a dollar. However, perhaps with the spilled milk, we are even. If not, I will count it square in future story telling, because of the enjoyment I have had from your columns.

Best wishes in your retired life.

Jon Parker
Houston, Tx

J. Tucker

October 10th, 2009
6:21 pm

Mr. Bisher, I have enjoyed your coverage of the world, of people, of happenings and yes of sports, and all it holds. Your coverage and writings of those many events, many people and many icons of the sport, always came across unbiased and even. So when you may have been biased, I left your column feeling not slanted, but rather of a peaceful understanding of your viewpoint. Those who you transcended against their beliefs would have been hard pressed to hold grudge for your style of composure and writing. Your literary style could be well used by others of your profession who have been unable to jettison their reportings as clean, clear and unbiased. I will personally miss your purveyance of your literary gift and talent. I wish only the best for you and your family in the future.

ozzfest

October 10th, 2009
6:23 pm

I once BEAT BISHER when I was a teen….all those years ago.
To think Outlar, Grizzard and Bisher no longer covering dixie like the dew, a sad day as I turn and face eternity.

Willie Davis

October 10th, 2009
6:27 pm

Mr. Bisher you are the best!

Thanks and God Bless!

Athens Dog

October 10th, 2009
6:42 pm

Mr Bisher, I once met you in Augusta, at the little golf tournament they have there. You truly covered the sports world in Dixie ‘like the dew’. As the paper has changed through the years, you were the constant through the turmoil and turnover. Thanks for the great career. Know that you will be the standard for sportswriters in this part of the country for years to come.

westcobbstinger

October 10th, 2009
6:57 pm

Mr. Bisher, Thanks for all of the great words. I have your column from 1995 when the Braves won us a title. It is in a frame along with my tickets to game 6. God Bless.

Monticello Dawg

October 10th, 2009
7:15 pm

I have been reading your columns since the mid-50s, and enjoyed them. Also recall a Sunday local TV show where the AJC reporters would rehash the games they had covered the Saturday before. I believe you, Jim Minter, Harry Mehre, and others made up the panel. Quite interesting.

Capt Bob

October 10th, 2009
7:46 pm

Mr. Bisher, Thank you for all the wonderful pictures you’ve painted. I’ve never read a finer columnist. I will miss your Thanksgiving “thanks”, most of all! God bless you and keep you!

No hater

October 10th, 2009
7:54 pm

Furman, I’m 70 years old and go way back with you. I remember back in the 50’s when you and Harry Maire and 2 others” cant remember who” were on wsbtv sundays. We never missed that show.My 2 older brothers, one attended UGA the other went to Tech loved you guys feedback on saturdays games. That was the Bobby Dodd days at Tech. Wally Butts was at UGA. I wish you could explain to me why fans are so impatent with their ball teams these days. I’m sure you remember when Bobby Dodd had his dry spells at Tech. As did Coach Butts at UGA. As fans we just accepted those lean seasons. But now days, no matter how well a team did the past season, if they can’t consistantly be in the top 10 in the country. The fans want to run them out of town. Why has this attitude become so prevalent these days? Thanks for all the great columns over the past years. Good Luck. N. L. Boykin

mike mccutcheon

October 10th, 2009
8:19 pm

Mr. Bisher, I have always taken pride in being the topic of one of your colums when I was born the son of Red McCutcheon in 1948. Your Sunday sports panel with Minter, Outler, and others always was one of the viewing highlights of my weekend as a child. Drafted in 1968,my folks sent the paper to me overseas. Your column was my comfort food. Throughout the years that has never changed. God bless you sir, and when I count my blessings this November 25th you shall be high on the list.

Drexel Gal

October 10th, 2009
8:34 pm

First, Paul Harvey passes away. Then, Mr. Bisher calls it a career. Although I wish Mr. Bisher a long and happy retirement, 2009 will be remembered as the year my two favorite commentators went silent.

Best wishes, and thank you for the more than forty years I have been reading your words.

Ray

October 10th, 2009
8:46 pm

Thanks, it won’t be the same

Chris Bridges

October 10th, 2009
10:44 pm

The best, pure and simple.

Keeper

October 10th, 2009
11:04 pm

Furman, I look forward to continuing to read your good work here, uncompromised by editors or corporate interests. Fellow fans, just turn the page to an uncensored venue, and enjoy!

http://furmanbisher.wordpress.com/

Jerry Glazer

October 10th, 2009
11:06 pm

Mr.Bisher,
I have been an avid reader and admirer for over 40+ years. I realize times change and I’m glad you stuck around during these recent years when the order of priorities has changed, from journalism being at the top of the list to the new electric frontier when greed has shown it’s ugly face–publishers doing everything possible to kill newspapers and force readers online where every click leads to the unknown– a virtual commission, banner ad, click through this & that and not much quality content. But fortunately none of this applied as this dinosaur loved reading 2 sports sections daily, was excited to receive the Sporting News which at that time was the best of the best, and was proud as a native Atlantan that you were there along with the best sports columnists of our time and all time! Times may change but memories won’t–thanks for doing so much for so many of us that grew up with you, best wishes always..

Gene

October 10th, 2009
11:13 pm

I remember the Sunday sports program very well, and the Atlanta paper with those black dashes showing pass trajectory. You were a part of Atlanta’s transition from the Crackers and Tech football to the Braves and Falcons. It has been a great run. Good luck to you, sir. I will miss your fine writing.

Chuck Uga

October 10th, 2009
11:19 pm

THIS IS AS SAD A MUNSON’S RETIREMENT. BEST WISHES TO YOU MR. BISHER. YOU AND MR. OUTLAR ARE ALL I CAN THINK OF WHEN THE AJC SPORTS DEPARTMENT IS BROUGHT INTO A DISCUSSION.

NOW I THINK I MAY RETIRE AS A UGA FOOTBALL FAN.

BuzzGT

October 11th, 2009
1:46 am

I read most articles for the information that they contain. I enjoyed reading Furman Bisher’s for the emotions that they invoked.

Tom

October 11th, 2009
2:13 am

Mr. Bisher,

I’m so sad to see you go, but happy to have grown up with you. I discovered the joy of reading as a 7 year old when I began following Hank Aaron’s pursuit of the home run record in the Atlanta newspapers back in 1974. I had no idea that I was learning a skill that would enrich the rest of my life. I’ve looked forward to your columns ever since. Thanks for the memories.

Selah…

For what it is worth

October 11th, 2009
2:18 am

Mr. Bisher – I wanted to let you know how sad I am to hear of this final article in the AJC. I have been a follower of your column for the last 40 years and have, for the most part, really enjoyed your incitefullness and your articles. You, sir, are a rare breed and will be truly missed. I wish you the best that life has to offer. You WILL be missed.

For what it is worth

October 11th, 2009
2:24 am

Yes – I have to post one more time. I still own a tee shirt that I one from “I beat Bisher” from the 1970’s. I really prized that tee shirt at the time – and now I consider it more valuable than ever. For you guys back then were real men of character (sorry, that is not to say that the current sports commentators are not, just that times have changed). You are the greatest, Mr. Bisher. It’s too bad that the time of writers like you is passing – the really sad part is that most people don’t realize what they will miss.

David Duncan

October 11th, 2009
2:31 am

Mr Bisher:

I will never forget my years at Ga Tech(1953-1959) and enjoying your sports column. After I graduated from Tech and moved to South Carolina, I tried to find the Atlanta Journal in the library so that I could read your column. You have blessed me with many memories about sports people and sporting events. Thank you so much. I hope to see you in heaven.

Randy Pollock

October 11th, 2009
3:56 am

I will remember your Thanksgiving columns the best, settling into the sofa under a lamp while my mother and grandmothers cooked the turkey and the poor Detroit Lions received yet another kickoff from yet another nasty opponent. Thanks for helping teach me what pleasures writers–and writing–can bring.

Ross

October 11th, 2009
5:28 am

I remember that Falcons game like it was yesterday. Bartkowski and Andrews and Jackson and Johnson and Jenkins. But the mental image I get is of Fulton Kuykendall and Al Richardson running amok, and then collapsing in confusion under the disciplined approach of Danny White and Drew Pearson.

Do you remember when Tony Cloninger had all those RBI in a game against the Giants? I still remember working on the front porch during that game. For some reason we didn’t go fishing that day. I was about 7 or 8.

Or how about when Bob Lee and Eddie Ray conquered the Vikings on Monday night? Was that the same season as the victory by 5 field goals alone over the hated Rams? I think they were both Monday night games.

Well there’s a lot to remember, and some to forget. Thanks for your efforts. I’ve been reading you a very long time.

-ross