I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.
Before I Tell You Who
this hub is dedicated, I will tell you who it is not. No disrespect to any whom I am naming. This piece is not dedicated to Robert Kraft, owner of The New England Patriots. This narrative is not about our President, Donald Trump. And . . .this true story about a real guy, IS about my good friend, Charles Babb.
Babb, to look at him, you would have trouble placing him. He looks very much like a successful wheat farmer in Kansas. And he would easily pass for a secluded writer who has made his pile of money and now enjoys his wife and grandkids. Charles Babb, I am telling you, would do any of these positions, but he was an expert banker in my hometown of Hamilton, Al.
I will tell you upfront that Babb, when he reads this, will respond, “who wrote this? Ohhh, that Ken Avery. Must be a friend of Les Walters,” and that reply would be his true response, not false humility. Speaking of humility, if Babb really wanted to be arrogant, I think that he would choke and not be able to breathe.
The Very First Time That
I was blessed to meet Charles Babb, I was working at the Hamilton Progress, Hamilton’s newest newspaper. I left the Journal Record in Aug. 1984. And yes, Les Walters, was the News Editor at the Hamilton paper and I was busy trying to take a hold of what Walters expected of me and how he wanted me to do things. Walters, do not get me wrong, was not a ferocious overlord, but he knew what he wanted at the Hamilton Progress.
It was on a Tuesday when Charles Babb, vice president of the Hamilton-based First National Bank, walked into our Production Area where I was working on a Display ad that was to run in the ensuing Thursday edition and Les was looking over some negatives that he wanted our News Editor, Susan Cordell, to process, and then write the veribiage underneath them. The Old School name for information underneath photos then were called “Cutlines.” I could tell you a lot more about the whacked-out terms we used, but we knew what they were . . .and I guess this gave us just a little pride in knowing something the “Average Joe” didn’t know.
Babb was talking to Walters and during their conversation looked at me while I sipped a cup of coffee, that I did from age six. Then Babb said, “is that Creek Bank Coffee?” I was stunned. So was Les. I mean, here this Vice President of the town’s most-successful bank, asking me about a true rural term: Creek Bank Coffee. Believe it or not. I told you in the beginning that he could have held any of my aforementioned positions.
What was even more confusing aside from Babb’s term about Creek Bank Coffee was how he dressed for work at the bank . . .not a three-piece suit and tie, but a sports shirt slacks and regular shoes. Did I tell you that he was a Vice President of the First National Bank? It’s a fact.
When Babb Asked About
“Creek Bank Coffee,” now there were two stunned guys: Les and me. Needless to say that Babb’s question had ignited both of our focus as to what this term meant. In a few seconds, Babb, who took on the role of a very fluid salesman as he told us about how he had grown-up and his buddies would head to the creek that ran behind his house and they would fish all night long—but not without a warm fire and the fixture (if you are anywhere near rural): the aluminum coffee pot.
To look at the aluminum coffee pot (see the one in this hub) and you will not see any features that The Queen of England would be tempted to use in Buckingham Palace, but if you like coffee, then Babb told us the simple explanation, “you just fill the pot with clean water and dump two good scoops of coffee and sit this on the fire while you take care of the fishing,” he said.
And that was it. Nothing elaborate, but something that I held onto from that morning on to 2019. And from that moment when Babb taught us about “Creek Bank Coffee,” I have that memory to enjoy with every cup of coffee I drink.
But what’s more important is my friendship with Charles Babb, whom I always say to him, “Hi, ‘Creek Bank,’ what’s going on?” Babb grins and we talk for a little while.
At the present time, Charles has long since retired from the banking business and now he enjoys his children and grandchildren. When I do get to town these days, and see Babb, I just have to ask, “Got any ‘Creek Bank’ Coffee?”
With Babb's friendly smile, my day is always made better.
March 10, 2019_______________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery