The first “thankful” column Furman Bisher ever wrote, in 1955

AJC file photo

For decades, the annual column the late, great Furman Bisher would run on Thanksgiving completed Atlanta readers’ holiday traditions. I just happened to stumble upon this column from 1993, in which he reprised his very first one, from 1955.

Furman Bisher
Originally published Nov. 25, 1993

Ran into this fellow the other day and he said, “Why don’t you rerun the first Thankful column you wrote? I’m sure lots of people would like to see it again.”

And I said, “What about the people who weren’t born yet, for that was 38 years ago?”

“See, ” he said, “you’ve got a whole new audience. Trust me.”

So, trusting in him, and with a few alterations and observations, I take the plunge into the past, and some things I was thankful for in 1955.

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I’m thankful for the right to play the game you want to play and back the team you want to back, though it isn’t necessarily set forth in the constitution.

I’m thankful for the right to call the umpire a blind bum.

I’m thankful for the driver who dims his lights without waiting for me to dim mine.

I’m thankful for the batter who hits a home run in the last of the ninth with the bases loaded, especially if it’s for the home team. (In this case, it became a single by Francisco Cabrera, our latest export to Japan.)

Fireplace, ice cream – and even TV

I’m thankful for “September Song, ” in the hoary and uneven tones of Walter Huston. (A little dated for young folks, but if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth looking up.)

I’m thankful for an open fireplace and the crackle of burning logs.

I’m thankful for little boys, who litter a home with toys and junk and dirty clothes and love. (And against great odds, I’m happy to report that they turned out all right, all three of them.)

I’m thankful for the quiet that falls over a stadium just before the chilling sound of our anthem. (Sorry to report it’s not as reverent as it used to be.)

On April 15, 1950, Bisher wrote his first column for The Atlanta Constitution in the office of legendary editor Ralph McGill. Bisher kept the typewriter for the rest of his career. Family photo

I’m thankful for ice cream, chocolate, vanilla, peach, cherry – just ice cream. (And now you can add frozen yogurt.)

I’m thankful for rain, and the way it makes you glad to be inside.

I’m thankful for good neighbors and a good neighborhood, pine trees and hardwoods, even the skittering squirrels that dig up the bulbs and steal away with them. (The neighborhood is different, but the feeling isn’t.)

I’m thankful for a kid like Jimmy Orr, who just went out for the team. (The kid from Georgia turned out pretty good for a walk-on.)

I’m thankful for “Monitor” and “Nightbeat, ” programs that show radio isn’t surrendering. (That dates that, but they were bold ventures for the time.)

I’m thankful for the disc jockey who realizes that the purpose of the show is to play some music. (That’s a reference to a dinosaur, the old disc jockey, who spun records and yarns, and has now been supplanted by the audience that talks back.)

I’m even thankful for television once in a while. (Even then, even then.)

Furman Bisher and his colleague, the late Lewis Grizzard. AJC file photo

I’m thankful for payday.

I’m thankful for good-natured bus drivers and friendly cabbies.

And another game to go to today

I’m thankful for twilight in the winter, when lights begin flickering on in kitchen windows and mothers go out to call in the roamers.

I’m thankful for Eddie Haywood at the piano. (He was a player and composer – “Canadian Sunset” – and a name that probably won’t strike up a memory, but should. He was Atlanta-born and bred.)

I’m thankful for Norman Rockwell covers. (Still am. Now they have their own museum.)

I’m thankful for politicians. May as well be. We’re going to have them anyway.

I’m thankful I’m not an undertaker.

I’m thankful for spring training, sweetest time of a sportswriter’s year. (No t as sweet as it used to be, but then tell me anything that is.)

I’m thankful for Whitlow Wyatt and Tonto Coleman and Clyde King, who prove that you don’t have to compromise principle in sports. (Whit and Clyde are still with us, and Tonto was a man I thought enough of to name a son for.)

I’m thankful for “16 Tons, ” and how Tennessee Ernie sings it from his toes up.

And I’m thankful we have another game to go to today, not the traditional freshman match of those times, but Georgia and Georgia Tech on Thanksgiving again. All of which reminds me that being thankful requires almost no effort at all.

The cartoon Mike Luckovich drew when Furman Bisher died.

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