Moreland, Georgia. Population 382. Unless someone died last night.
I was on my way home from Newnan when I took a detour southward along Highway 29. I had just made a speech at the Southern Lit Fest literature festival at the Coweta County courthouse. I had time to kill, a full gas tank, and the sun was setting over America’s Fourth State.
I’ve been reading about Moreland since I was a little boy, but I’ve never actually seen it.
The first time I ever read about it, I was an 11-year-old kid whose father had just shot himself. I was a lost child without anyone to love me.
One of my father’s friends gave me a book entitled “Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You.” I read it in one sitting. It was funny. It was touching. It changed the trajectory of my life. The author was from Moreland.
That same year, I read every single book by the author at least a quarter million times.
I was an untalented kid. I was overweight, redheaded, and a straight-C student with dim prospects. Moreover, I came from fundamentalist people who were so tightly wound they suffered debilitating constipation and refused to wave at each other in the package store. Books were all I had.
At age 12, I sent my favorite author-columnist a letter, typed on my typewriter, double spaced and everything. I licked the stamp and mailed my envelope to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, c/o Mister Grizzard, 72 Marietta Street, Atlanta, GA, 30346.
I told him I thought he was amazing. I said I was sorry about the death of his dog, Catfish. I told him that he was my hero. He never wrote back. He was pretty busy.
So anyway, the sun was shining. I was driving with one finger on the wheel and a Coca-Cola in my other hand. In my center console was a Styrofoam cup of boiled peanuts. Still warm.
I bought these peanuts from a side-of-the-road stand outside Moreland where a man with exactly three teeth talked my leg off for upwards of 30 minutes. I wish I’d known what he was talking about, but he could only make vowel sounds.
I saw the sign ahead.
WELCOME TO THE TOWN OF MORELAND.
I sort of went numb. There are moments in your life when the past and present merge. This was one of those moments for me.
I tried to imagine what Moreland might have been like long ago, but here’s the thing: I didn’t have to. I’ve been imagining it most of my life because I’ve read all about it.
I knew about Moreland’s First Baptist Church—proudly washing feet for 200 years. When I saw the white siding, the dual church spires, I felt as though I had already taken communion there.
I saw what I assume was the old Cureton & Cole general store, where kids used to buy Zagnut bars, Mary Janes, and jawbreakers. The place where old men used to sit on a porch and discuss who exactly was running around on whom.
And there’s the barbecue pavilion, where I guess they still hold the July Fourth barbecues. Each year they cook 2,000 pounds of pork and several metric tons of stew which has been, I am told, outlawed by the American Heart Association.
The festival started in ‘47 when folks got together to celebrate after the hometown boys in uniform had whooped Hitler’s everlasting aspirations. People start lining up at 10 a.m. There is also a children’s bicycle parade.
The Moreland Welcome Center is next to the old W.A. Brannon Mercantile, a two-story redbrick structure built in 1894. It looks like an old Steinway factory. To the left is the old knitting mill/cotton warehouse.
When I saw the welcome-center sign I pulled over.
I knocked on the door, but it was late, the lights were off. So I sat on the steps and listened to the crickets on a June night in a sleepy Georgia town, located somewhere just below the Gnat Line. I don’t think a single car passed me.
In this private moment, I was no longer an adult. I was an 11-year-old boy, hopelessly lost, underconfident, often sad, but faintly optimistic about his future. A boy I can hardly remember.
“Dear Mister Grizzard,
“…You’re my favorite writer. I have all your books but my mom doesn’t let me read any of your stories with the cuss words, but I read them anyways. …I am sorry about your dog Catfish. I cried really hard when he died. And also my dad is dead just like yours. Please write back if you can cause I really would like to be friends if you want. But I understand if you can’t. Thank you for your time. —Sean Dietrich”
Great little town, Moreland.
Lander - June 6, 2022 7:10 am
Mr Grizzard missed out on what could’ve been a really interesting friendship. Blessings to you.
Ron - June 6, 2022 9:45 am
I wrote to you too. Just like Lewis Grizzard you never wrote back. But that’s ok. You must be pretty busy. I guess all writers and bloggers are.
Emily Ray - June 6, 2022 10:17 am
I am glad you keep reading Sean even if he didn’t write back. I imagine he will. I sense a story teller in you and encourage you to write it! Yes, I am a retired English and creative writing teacher. Yes, writing will be a thrilling, hard, and all around fulfilling practice. Yes, I am being preachy. Yes, you touched me. Set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes and get at it! Mrs. Emily Walls Ray
Audra S Isenhour - June 6, 2022 9:46 am
I think the world would be a better place all around if everyone read the books and columns written by Lewis Grizzard. I knew in my heart as I started reading your writings that there was a bit of Lewis in there and so I hung around. You, Sean, touch places Old Lewis never did. I thank God for your tender, thoughtful, and often funny look at life (also the photos of you and Sweet, smiling Jamie). You are precious in His sight!
Carol from GA - June 6, 2022 10:03 am
You do remind me of Lewis Grizzard…a “writer and master of southern humor”. Thank you…as always!
Gwen - June 6, 2022 10:09 am
Wow!!! Sean, I think Lewis, (whom I also adored and still do), would be quite proud and thankful for you.❤️
Emily Walls Ray - June 6, 2022 10:10 am
Sean, your bittersweet trip into Moreland and memories made me sad until zi remembered why you were driving to Georgia in the first place. Read Sharon Creech’s LOVE THAT DOG 🐶 for the opposite write-the-author experience. I am so grateful you continued writing after age 11! Emily from Alabama (Roll Tide!)
James Hooker, The Fastest Man In Pompeii - June 6, 2022 10:13 am
I wrote a letter to Annette Funicello. That little snot did not write me back. Thusly , I began my lifelong flirtation with misanthropy.
Mike Brown - June 6, 2022 10:24 am
Lewis Grizzard lives on through his legacy and, of course, his influence on writers like you. There are youngsters and a few old geezers like me today who want to grow up like you. Thank you for gracing Coweta County this weekend at the Southern Lit Fest. I missed your program as I was herding local authors on Court Square as they ended their day in the sun signing their books (hometownnovel.com). Your faith intertwines with your storytelling… God bless. Mike
Beryl Dixon - June 6, 2022 10:47 am
When I introduce you to my friends. I reference Grizzard. I tell them, “Sean is a classy Lewis. Equally funny and talented, but no comparison when it comes to character and lifestyle. I just can’t think of a better word than “classy” for comparison- probably because I not a writer. 😂😂 but I can take some “scandalous” pictures. Beryl
Allan Nichols - June 6, 2022 10:58 am
Ironically, I just finished Louis Grizzard’s book. I found it in a book exchange at a washateria in Black Point in the Bahamas. I read his weekly article that appeared in our newspaper every Saturday, and he also made a personal appearance in Beaumont, Texas back in the 70’s.
I see a lot of him in your writing, and really enjoy reading you.
Paul McCutchen - June 6, 2022 11:28 am
I grew up close to a small town and yes it would close around sundown. That is just the way things were.
Judy Myler - June 6, 2022 11:31 am
I also have all of Lewis’s books. I am considerably older than you and they represent a time gone by. I met Lewis a couple of times when he came to Albany,Georgia, for American Heart Association fundraisers. I’m disappointed he did not acknowledge your letter – perhaps this was when his health was declining. I looked forward to his columns in the AJC.
But then you came along and your writing brings me much joy and peace. I now live on Amelia Island and we have the most wonderful locally owned bookstore called Story and Song. The owners have established a foundation and often bring authors to our little island. Maybe I’ll meet you someday – it would be an honor.
stephenpe - June 6, 2022 11:32 am
I loved Lewis, too. I read all his stuff back in the 80s I guess. He was a dawg meanin gators could not like him but I could not help it. I wrote something about him once somewhere and his widow contacted me about writing something for his anthology she was trying to get printed. Never heard back. He was a southern treasure, just like you Sean.
James Payne - June 6, 2022 11:44 am
As a Lewis Grizzard fan it’s a pity that his love for the Bulldogs didn’t convert you!
Julie Bethell - June 6, 2022 11:55 am
I loved his writing as a child, too! My heart hurts for the young and tender Sean who never heard back from Mr. Grizzard. What a gift his writing was for you. Sounds like God thought it was time for you to revisit all those feelings and memories. Sometimes ancient history feels like yesterday.
Jane Hicks - June 6, 2022 12:02 pm
Moreland is a great little community. I have a relative by marriage that is from Moreland. She knows everyone! The trains that wake me up every time I stay at her old family home always remind me that the Atlanta urban spread is not far away. But it will always be the little town where Mr. Grizzard grew up in. Your writing has always reminded me of his writing but with additional love and feelings! Thank you for sharing your heart with your readers!
Amy Wells - June 6, 2022 12:06 pm
When I was a kid, my oldest brother used to get a Lewis Grizzard book every year for his birthday. Unbeknownst to him, my parents and I would read it cover to cover being careful to not break the spine.
Marjean Brooks - June 6, 2022 12:11 pm
Sean, this made me cry. I too had a jarring experience with a well-known Christian author/artist at a book signing. I’d waited a long time in that line but she didn’t care or acknowledge beyond a nod when I told her I was a writer too, hoping to be in her shoes one day. It takes so little to encourage someone—you’ve learned that beautifully from your past experiences. Thank you for always taking the time to notice the little people, the discouraged and the under dog. You are making a difference, inspiring those you meet and making people laugh in the process. A beautiful combination.
And welcome to my hometown. Birmingham is proud to have you.
Co-author of The Way of Grace: Finding God on the Path of Surrender, InterVarsity Press.
Catherine - June 6, 2022 12:12 pm
Oh how I loved Lewis Grizzard! How uplifting and humorous his writings were~I still have copies of his books and I continue to read them over and over. What a special legacy his words have left us. In fact, your writings and musings remind me much of him. Thank you for YOUR words that bear a beautiful and funny soul…you are already leaving a legacy of your own, Sean of the South…
James - June 6, 2022 12:14 pm
I’ve made the comment to more than one of my friends that your writing reminds me of Lewis Grizzard. His books and columns, like yours, are treasures on my bookcase.
Had the pleasure of meeting Lewis once at a book signing in Dallas, TX. While he was autographing his book for me I asked if he would like to hear a Texas joke. He looked up at me over his glasses and said “sure”. My response was “OK, if you use it in your next book you’ll have to quote me”. His rasor sharp reply was “ No sir, I will not. You see, if I use your joke that is literary license. If you use my joke and don’t quote me, that, sir, is plagiarism.”
By the way, the joke was “why did the chicken cross the road in Texas? To prove to the armadillo that it can be done”. Lewis did crack a smile.
Jan - June 6, 2022 12:20 pm
I agree with Lander. I have always admired the work of Lewis Grizzard and have all of his books. I think Mr. Grizzard missed a blessing when he missed knowing you!
Kathleen Murphy - June 6, 2022 12:26 pm
Mr. Dietrich ~ I feel the same about your writing. I look forward to your columns to remind me that there are still good people in the world. I have been accused of being a Pollyanna . A badge I wear proudly. Take care
A Kind Karen - June 6, 2022 12:35 pm
I gave my daddy Lewis Grizzard books for gifts. We both loved his columns, which ran in our local paper. The one about a woman’s dad standing in the rain waiting to give her a sack of homemade biscuits still “clutches” me, as Rafe Hollister said. I never wrote Grizzard, but I did sent a note of admiration to Rick Bragg, who also never wrote me back. But thank you, Sean for writing back! Your daily words restore my faith in humanity.
Rhonda - June 6, 2022 12:48 pm
joseybell - June 6, 2022 12:50 pm
Dear Sean, Now I understand why you answer all your mail.
Ted Hinson - June 6, 2022 12:59 pm
Grizzard was one of my favorites too. I can still see the bear chasing his grandma in my mind’s eye. Sitting here smiling, thinking about it. Hope you find some humor in life today.
Deanna - June 6, 2022 1:03 pm
I love Lewis Grizzard. I also have all of his books. One of my favorite quotes of all times is “That dod will bite you”
Deanna - June 6, 2022 1:05 pm
The line is supposed to say That dog will bite you
judysnively - June 6, 2022 1:13 pm
Lewis Grizzard….was also a favorite of mine. He died way too soon!
Your writing is definitely in the same league as his!
Richard Owen - June 6, 2022 1:14 pm
Agree w/others here. Lewis missed a great opportunity.
Caroline - June 6, 2022 1:27 pm
Dear Sean, I too have all of Lewis’s books and cried when Catfish died. I named my cat Mullet in his honor, though Catfish might not consider it an honor to have a cat named in his memory. The other day I ran across Lewis’s obit in the AJC that I saved. There was a cartoon of Lewis arriving at the pearly gates with his old Olivetti typewriter and Catfish greeting him. I met Lewis at the Chamber of Commerce dinner in my hometown in South Georgia. He was such an entertaining speaker and writer. You’ve always reminded me of him. I now live in Beaufort, South Carolina, but moved here from the Florida panhandle near your old town.
Heather Miller - June 6, 2022 1:44 pm
Lewis Grizzard missed a great opportunity.
David Britnell - June 6, 2022 1:49 pm
I sure do enjoy reading your stories Sean!
Jimpa - June 6, 2022 1:54 pm
Sean, looking at Moreland on Google Maps, and I’m sure you saw this next to the Moreland Mill, is the Lewis Grizzard Museum…
Kelley Hinsley - June 6, 2022 1:58 pm
I knew it complete when I saw the word Moreland. He was like a friend of mine in my head. I grew up in a similar dog patch with about 500 people in West Tennessee, otherwise known as North Mississippi. Everything he wrote about related to a place i knew too well in my early days. Thanks for sharing Lewis again with me.
Dottie Coltrane - June 6, 2022 1:58 pm
I’m going to tell myself that Lewis Grizzard was too sick to answer your letter. It would have meant so much if he had. Bill Torpy is my favorite columnist in the AJC now. He is not as humorous as Lewis Grizzard, but he keeps the politicians on their toes.
R.D. Betzel - June 6, 2022 2:09 pm
Lordy, how I miss Lewis! He missed a wonderful opportunity by not responding to your letter, Sean. Lewis would apologize for any influence he might have had on your today writings, but deep down he’d be humbled to think he had helped you find your voice. Thank you for your writings; please keep them coming. Who knows? One day you may get a letter from some struggling youngster.
D Masmar - June 6, 2022 2:12 pm
Being a northerner, I had never had boiled peanuts until we moved to Mississippi–not my favorite but I tolerated them–along with fresh shrimp
then returned to Iowa and no more boiled peanuts and only frozen shrimp!!!!1
Bob Rennick - June 6, 2022 2:13 pm
My wife and I got off the Interstate at Moreland because I knew about it from reading Lewis Grizzard’s books. I asked the waitress at the Waffle House if show could direct me to a museum or other place that recognized Lewis Grizzard. She said “never heard of him” so, on our own we found the little house with some cheap memoriabelia and bought a ball point pen and maybe a letter opener.
Rita Kelly - June 6, 2022 2:15 pm
I still miss Lewis Grizzard’s humor! We saw him on stage once in Huntsville, AL. Speaking of Alabama, welcome!
Carey Rogers - June 6, 2022 2:22 pm
I hope you stopped at Sprayberry’s in Newnan for the BBQ and cracklin cornbread. I too read all his books as a youngster and even made the pilgrimage to Moreland. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak while I was a student at Auburn. Sorry bout that. Although I no longer live in the South, his books take me home, to a different time. I’m a fan of yours because you remind me of him. I think he and Catfish are up there smiling down at you with pride at the way you are continuing his folksy, small town town writing style and wishing he had answered that letter.
c lyn burnette - June 6, 2022 2:23 pm
Sean, I don’t know what year you sent your letter to Lewis Grizzard, & I’m sure by now you know he died in early 1994. We also have every book, many of them signed. He released his latest the last quarter of each year. If you ordered directly you could request a signed copy. I ordered his latest every year, signed, to give my husband on his birthday, 12/15. The order in 1993 was returned with a note that Lewis was in the hospital & had a blood blister on his middle finger. He was unable to sign the book. I sent back that we’d take it whenever he was able. The signed book came later but before his death in March 1994. We celebrate & mourn him to this day!
I knew I liked you when I discovered you!
Susan Marler - June 6, 2022 2:27 pm
Lewis Grizzard. We have every book, some tapes, and I can still hear his voice. “That dog will bite you” still makes us laugh. Wonderful southern writer from my husband’s home of Atlanta, and my adopted home when I came to college here in ’66. Sorry he didn’t write you back but he could have been quite ill then. Still missed by many here in Georgia, and an icon. Glad you made it to Moreland.
Patricia Gibson - June 6, 2022 2:43 pm
Sean, how can I find out when you will be somewhere close to me? I live in Newnan but that was probably a private event.
kip - June 6, 2022 2:51 pm
I wrote to you too, and you never wrote back. But you write this column which arrives every day so I’m pretty happy.
Gordon - June 6, 2022 2:57 pm
I have also read many of Lewis Grizzard’s books and have loved them all. In many ways, your writing is much like Lewis’s. He would be proud. I, too have visited Moreland and have visited the grave of Lewis. It was very humbling. I’d encourage you to return, visit the welcome center when it is open, and visit the grave of the wonderful regional writer Lewis Grizzard.
Don+Gardner,+Jr - June 6, 2022 3:04 pm
I was also a big fan or Lewis Grizzard. He was certainly a great writer. I am glad you followed in his footsteps.
One thing I noticed about Grizzard, after his mother passed, the language in his books became for harsh, vulgar and I began to lose interest. I suspect he avoided that kind of language while his mother was living, but once she passed, he turned to more “colorful” language and his writing “went south”, but not in a good way. I’ve always heard that if you can’t say something without using profanity, then you need to work on your vocabulary. There are still a long of good, honest folks who appreciate a good clean joke and the language used to tell it.
Sean, I hope as time passes, you will continue to take the high road that has taken you to the level of success you currently enjoy.
Glenda Hinkle - June 6, 2022 3:08 pm
He was my favorite writer, too. I even have an autographed copy of one of his books with one of his favorite sayings…..”dear Glenda, ain’t no ford ever gonna outrun a Chevrolet.” I cherish it. You, dear Sean, are as good or even better at writing as Lewis grizzard.
Tim Peace - June 6, 2022 3:12 pm
Lewis Grizzard forever! I was introduced to Lewis around the age of 22 or so…in the early eighties…when I sang in a close friend’s wedding. Hardback copies of “Don’t Sit Under the Grits Tree With Anyone Else but Me” and “Elvis is Dead and I Don’t Feel Too Good Myself” were my gift for being in the wedding. Those books began a long love affair with the musings of the great, Lewis Grizzard.
I’ll take a “one up” on you here. I, too, wrote to Lewis, expressing my admiration. In my case, I received a typed and signed letter, in return, from Lewis. It is framed and is hangs in my home office. It was a sad day, indeed, when he died.
I expressed the fact that I really missed Lewis to the little sister of the girl in whose wedding I sang in. (Lil’ sis is a writer herself.) She replied with a link to Sean of the South. I’ve been reading and following you ever since. You have done a wonderful job of filing the void left by Lewis Grizzard for this KY country boy.
It was a dream of mine to meet Lewis…and that never happened. Here’s hoping my dream to meet you someday will.
Keep up the good work!
Sharon Spofford - June 6, 2022 3:13 pm
I grew up near Moreland, Lewis’s mother taught first grade in our school. I dated boys from Moreland and it was a great place to hang out. Also went to church there! Congratulations in reading Lewis’ books – I have them all, some autographed. Now that I know about you, I will read your work.
Mary Ann Gilbert - June 6, 2022 3:20 pm
I was right there in the car with you, seeing Lewis Grizzards town come to life again! Thank you for taking us along with you, Sean! You are just as awesome as he was!
M.A.Tarver Gallerani - June 6, 2022 3:29 pm
Sean, My grandfather, Jack Tarver Sr, was the publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the 1960’s-1980’s. Lewis Grizzard lived next door to my grandparents on Argonne Drive in Buckhead. My dad, a lawyer turned music club owner turned weekly columnist wrote under the pen name J.Garland Pembroke. This came from a Judge Garland in Pembroke, GA, or so I was told. I grew up reading Erma Bombeck, Lewis Grizzard, Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddon, and any other Southern authors I could get my hands on. I was lucky (I guess), cursing was pretty common in my house, though certainly not encouraged.
My dad would love your writing. Sadly, he passed away in 2015. Smoking two packs a day for fifty years will do that. But I just wanted you to know that in his absence, I look forward to everything you write. I only wish I could call my dad to discuss it.
I have lived in New England for almost thirty years, but I’ll always be Southern in my heart, and I never miss a chance to eat biscuits or barbecue (though these Yankees know very little about making either).
Please keep writing,
Margaret (M.A.) Tarver Gallerani
Peter Stoddard - June 6, 2022 5:43 pm
I once met your late, great father at Underground Atlanta. My late friend Jim McDaris owned Blues Harbor. I see you live in Wellesley. I lived in nearby Dover from 1965 to 1968 and loved it. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/atlanta/name/jackson-tarver-obituary?id=23111343
Peter Stoddard - June 6, 2022 6:01 pm
Margaret, I met your late, great Dad in Underground Atlanta. My late friend Jim McDaris owned Blues Harber. If you have Lewis Grizzard stories to share I would like to hear them. I wrote 2 books about him. “Lewis Grizzard: The Dawg That Did Not Hunt” 2019 and “Lewis Grizzard: The Dawg Who Loved to Prowl” 2021. I might write another. My cell is 678-725-5889
Ashley - June 6, 2022 3:32 pm
Sean, I loved Lewis Grizzard’s writing, but I love yours much, much more. Take care, and keep up the excellent work.
Carolyn Walz - June 6, 2022 4:28 pm
Don’t take it too hard that Lewis never responded to your letter. I worked for the AJC when Lewis worked there. Whenever I rode up on the elevator and Lewis was in there, he never responded to me either. I think he was busy.
wfsuga - June 6, 2022 4:34 pm
I wrote Lewis Grizzard once as well. And although he didn’t write back he put portions of my letter in one of his columns. It was about the yankee waitress in Michigan complimenting my two little boys on their manners and telling me (and I quote) “You can always tell Southerners because their children have manners. The kids up here are brats.” I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when my phone started ringing off the hook with friends calling to tell me that Lewis Grizzard had referenced my letter in his column. I think the column was entitled “The Hotbed of Homicide.” My fifteen minutes of fame, I suppose.
P.S. Go Dawgs.
Sara Allen - June 6, 2022 4:42 pm
I still miss Lewis. You remind me of him. Great men in my life always love dogs. Mine is named Felony. My dog not my man.
LINDA POUNCEY - June 6, 2022 4:51 pm
We know you are now the next great Mr. Lewis Grizzard and we love you every whit as much as we did him!
HT - June 6, 2022 4:55 pm
Cherry Hump candy bars were a favorite with some from that store…saved pennies for weeks.
Peter Stoddard - June 6, 2022 5:11 pm
Sean, Lewis would likely have written you back. Catfish died on Thanksgiving night, 1993. Lewis died on March 20, 1994. Lewis knew his chances of surviving heart operation number four were very poor. He was indeed busy during his final months, and he got thousands of letters he had too little time to answer. I detail this the Randy Martin MD chapter of my 2019 book, “Lewis Grizzard: The Dawg That Did Not Hunt”.
Judy - June 6, 2022 6:40 pm
My brother worked for The Atlanta Constitution and said Grizzard was really good about responding to kids fan mail and he was grieved he didn’t write to you.
Mike+Bone - June 6, 2022 6:59 pm
If you are still near Moreland, go over to the County Line Restaurant 7 E Oak St, Luthersville, GA 30251 There is a column in there for you. Trust me on this. Best grits in Georgia.
Lynda - June 6, 2022 7:24 pm
When I first read your essays I thought of Lewis Grizzard’s. I met him a few times at his early shows. I told an old friend of mine about you and sent him some of your writings. He loved them! He was living in Newnan and had been a Lewis Grizzard fan too. He got very sick and died not too long ago. He was a great guy! He said you were his preacher! You always had good lessons in your writings! He may have asked you to speak at his funeral in Atlanta.(?) You meant a lot to him. I am so glad I told him about you!
James Newman - June 6, 2022 7:58 pm
Sean-I did about the same thing when I discovered his column. My died died a horrible extended cancer death and his folk were from Newman(Moreland is a superb). Like you I read every book and the lost father thing was a big identifier. I imagined he understood me. My big family reunion was held in the Newnan Water works park in the fall. I did everything you did but write him.
I took my new wife to see him in 92 or 93 in Memphis. We ended up after the show seated at the table next to Lewis and Pepper Rodgers, the Ga Tech football coach. Pepper worked at the firm where my wife worked. Eating with the enemy. A couple of years later he was gone.
Just after that I discovered Rhetta Grimsley Johnson who I identified with also. Her grandmama lived in Valley AL on I-85 at the Georgia Alabama line across from West Point Ga. she spent summers there. They both wrote of the world I know
Cathy Bartlett - June 6, 2022 8:59 pm
Sean…I loved Lewis Grizzard too. My Uncle Jim started sending me your articles and you write so much like Him.He died way too young and even received a pigs heart. I cried when Catfish died too. I don’t think you realize how good you are and how many people can’t wait to get up to read your articles and yes stories.
You have a way to reach our hearts just like Lewis did. Just like I have kept Lewis’ articles I keep yours that are my favorite. Thank you!
John Henderson - June 6, 2022 9:29 pm
I’m a little older than you, but I was first introduced to Lewis Grizzard’s writing by a lady friend in about 1982. My first exposure to his writing was “They tore out my heart and stomped that sucker flat”.
The relationship with the lady didn’t last, but the relationship with his writing did. Like you, I’ve read everything he wrote about a gazillion times.
Your writing reminds me a lot of him, without the bitterness and mean streak he had towards the end.
Linda Moon - June 6, 2022 9:51 pm
I understand very well why you felt like a lost child, and I’m glad the book from your father’s friend changed your path. I recall that you received a Lewis Grizzard book from someone who understands little boys who lost fathers. You are pretty amazing yourself, Mister Dietrich, so I might give you another book sometime!
Barbara Parker - June 6, 2022 10:57 pm
Wish I had known you were speaking in Newnan. I live in Sharpsburg a suburb of Newnan and not as big as Moreland. I really want to see you in person someday as I enjoy your writing so much.
Patti - June 7, 2022 1:19 am
Time to reread my Lewis Grizzard books.
sueellen9497 - June 7, 2022 2:30 am
Thank you for this column…as soon as I saw “Moreland” I immediately thought of Lewis Grizzard. When I moved to Auburn, Georgia at 21 my landlady introduced me to his books and I immediately devoured them, and looked forward to each new one. I also enjoy your writing and thank you for all the memories you provoke.
Carol Chancey - June 7, 2022 4:45 am
What great reflections and observations about Lewis Grizzard. Our non profit operates the Grizzard museum in Moreland. Wish we knew you were coming by. We would and will give you the red carpet tour and at least a Coca Cola. Anytime you or any other Lewis fans pass through our little town, if we are not open, please call the number on our website morelandadventure com . We have people in town who will come open up for you- that’s the way small towns work We have regular hours. We are also building new exhibits which makes our schedule this summer a little out of sync. However we can get you in! We love to show it off to Lewis fans!
If you or anyone else is in the area July2 this year, we are hosting the 75th edition of the Annual Moreland BBQ! We have pork, chicken, and ribs with all the fixins! Drop in and stay a spell!
Ella Herlihy - June 7, 2022 6:58 am
This is from Lewis’s wife (and my neighbor). ❤️
“ I am sad that Lewis Grizzard did not write back to you Sean. After Catfish died lewis died 3 to 4 month later. He was quite sick. Great column.”- Dedra Grizzard
She posted it to her Facebook when I sent her the article.
Margaret Freeman - June 7, 2022 1:12 pm
Touching and oh the memories! The way you describe things and situations that could have resulted in a life of bitterness but are presented in your ‘It is what it is’ perspective is …..refreshing.
Barbara M - June 7, 2022 7:53 pm
Lewis Grizzard was an amazing writer. A lot like you but rougher around the edges. Shame on him, he should have written you back! Gone way too soon. RIP Lewis.
Paul Phillips - June 7, 2022 8:24 pm
Absolutely wonderful. You have followed in Grizzard’s footsteps.
Tina Thompson - June 7, 2022 9:59 pm
I’m not sure how you do it….time after time, after time. Don’t stop. Please don’t stop.
Melissa Williams - June 7, 2022 11:05 pm
The only reasons I used to get the Atlanta paper was to read Lewis Grizzard’s column and to read Celestine Sibley’s column. I knew there was something (other than tears) that got me addicted to you during the pandemic!! We both love Lewis Grizzard! May he telling funny stories to all the residents of Heaven!!💜
Stacey - June 9, 2022 6:03 pm
I fell in love with Lewis’s probably about the same time you did. I was by far the youngest person in the audience when he came to my college to do a speaking engagement. Since you came on the scene you are now my favorite Southern writer/humorist. I hope one day to catch your show too. Only now I won’t be the youngest in the audience. Ha!
MandaLynne - June 10, 2022 4:03 am
Mr. Grizzard was a wonderful man and I had the honor of taking care of him whenever he came to Emory Hospital. I was the only phlebotomist he would allow to draw his blood. Having been in a hospital many times due to his heart condition he knew the best and easiest place to draw blood. Other phlebotomists wouldn’t listen to him, they felt he was telling them how to do their job, and generally they were unsuccessful. I was the first one to listen to him and do as he requested and I was successful. From then on he made sure to be admitted during my shift and would request me.
I was there during his last admittance. I attend his impromptu wedding to Dedra in the hospital just before his last open-heart surgery. I think he knew he wasn’t coming through that one and he wanted to be sure that she and her daughter, Jordan, were taken care of. I still miss him.
Sally - June 11, 2022 2:29 am
I am a life long resident (63 years) of Moreland, as was my parents and grandparents. They never left and neither have I. Why leave when you know you are as close to Heaven as you could possibly be while here on earth?! Now, I have to say I have all of your commenters trumped. I played piano for Lewis’ funeral at Moreland Methodist church of which is just a stone’s throw from the Mill where you sat. If I had known you were in town, I would have taken you to his burial site in the Moreland Cemetery. You were just a couple of blocks away. (Most everything in Moreland is only a couple of blocks away now that I think about it.) His mother was everyone in Moreland’s first grade teacher, “Ms. Christine.” Now when I say, FIRST grade….I mean FIRST grade. We didn’t have Kindergarten. Most of us walked to Moreland School; it is located just behind Cureton Cole store. Mrs. Ruth Evans was the third grade teacher; her husband ran the store. If you were good in her class, you could walk over to the store to take him some lunch from the lunchroom ladies. He would sneak us candy that we were instructed to finish before we got back to Mrs. Evans’ class. I could go on and on. Like I said, as close to Heaven as I can be here on earth.
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - June 11, 2022 10:23 pm
Geoff Roberson - June 13, 2022 5:33 pm
Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane. I too discovered Lewis Grizzard at a younger age and wore out a library card checking his books out. I too cried when Catfish died, along with when I heard my then favorite author had too passed. When I saw the title of the email/blog I already knew the topic. Whether you take it as a compliment or not, I find your writings as thought provoking and funny as I did his. I also find myself lost in your writings as I once did in Mr. Grizzard’s. I just want to say thank you for keeping the true art of writing alive.
Nancy Carnahan - June 24, 2022 8:23 pm
I don’t want to start a fight, but a discussion would be okay. I sort of think it should be ‘whupped’ instead of ‘whooped.’ To me whoop sounds joyful but whupped doesn’t.
I loved Lewis Grizzard and was sad when he died, way too young.