because being a stud was his lot in life and, you know, whatta ya gonna do? He put his arm around me and took me in. Forty five to 60 seconds after we first met, he had my back. Johnny was reserved. He wore new clothes and was clean as a whistle. He had shiny red hair that was soft and cut into a helmet shape and his white, freckled skin had the texture of cream cheese. I asked him what his full name was and he faced me with a cocked head and eyes that went off to the side meaning “I told you this already, you dummy” and said “I’m Johnny COOOOleee!” And then he gave me the first of the many, many Michael Nation smiles I received at GG. I’m telling you that puts you into the most wonderful dimension. After about an hour at Double G, I relaxed and began to understand why my sisters loved this place so much. Johnny and I got to be buddies. There was this genuine sweetness about him that drew me in. All of the campers were sweet but he was super sweet. Like a defenseless flower, he was precious and innocent. The boy had no sin and I’m serious when I say I had his back. We’d all cut up in the cabin and all start hollering at each other, or at the moon, or other cabins as they walked by. Whatever, we knew we were the best. Johnny couldn’t pronounce my name but he tried. I was walking down the road to Cabin 2 after supper once and he came rushing out in a panic. Somebody had done something unspeakable inside, probably Eeebun and Jayuff getting ready to duke it out again, and Johnny needed help. He looked down the road and saw me and hollered “CLAAAABBOOOOOSE!” It stuck. All the other campers called me that and soon, the counselors I’d buddied with joined in too. I was delighted. As I said, I replaced a counselor mid-way through that season's summer camp. There were two two-week sessions and I only got to do one of them. Regardless, those two weeks had a profound impact on me. At the end of that session after everybody was packed and started leaving, some of the girl counselors cried. I would be a liar if I said I too didn’t struggle with my emotions. I don’t know if it was a lack of sleep; going from order and boredom to irresistible chaos in a matter of hours; learning that I lived in a bubble before GG as it related to campers and counselors or whatever, telling Edmund, Jeff, Steven, Jackie, Mark and the two Johnnies I’d see them next year was tough. I would count every day from that July to next June and come hell or high water, I would most certainly be back. I got home not depressed and went back to the odd job boredom thing until it was time to register for high school. I was tall and skinny and the football coach was in the hallway and he said I should play like all of my big brothers did so I signed up. At school and at football practice, I blended in and mixed and mingled in a new environment and I had a pretty dang good time. However, Double G was still on my mind all the time and I talked about it to anybody who’d listen. I stunk at organized football. I was too slow and stupid to be anything but a tackle or an end but I did go both ways and I loved defense. As soon as the ball moved 1/32 of an inch you could slam into the guy in front of you and be in the backfield before anybody could react. The pickle is that you had to be bigger and stronger than the guy in front of you and the guy I practiced with was Peter Bowl - a 6’7” 250 pounder who could stay up with cornerbacks in the 40. Sweet Jesus, no sir. But I did carry the bang off the ball part to PE class for the shirts and skins sand lot football sessions. With no ref, you could cheat like the dickens and get away with it and I became pretty disruptive when the other side had the ball. It got to the point where a starting varsity fullback on the other side stood up in the huddle and screamed, “Come on dammit! Who’s got Claboose?!” Right there on the line in my naked upper half and gasping for air, I laughed and Johnny Cooley flooded my mind. I was who I was in large part because of him and his buds. I decided, then, that I deeply loved “those people.”

 Later, we’d all sit up with Mom on Saturday night in the TV room and, curled up on the couch, she’d have a whole half gallon of ice cream in one arm and a big spoon in the other. We howled at stuff like Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter describing his enemies as “Lusty, zesty men, seething with vital hormonal secretions..” and when SNL was over, the conversation kept going. These were some of the best moments of my life with Mom. Sometimes the conversations got serious but most of the time we just kept on laughing about things. I did GG summer camp until I was 19, as did a number of my sibs, so those exploits were in at least two out of five of these late Saturday night pow wow’s. In those conversations, Janie would inevitably come up and Mom always teared up at the observation, many years ago, that Janie first befriended Paul, then the next year it was Tim, then Monica, then Ann, then me, then Battle. Everybody grew up except Janie who just picked up with the next Glascock in line. Before Chris had his turn, Janie had a heart attack and died. Even in my early twenties, I didn’t yet understand death but I knew exactly why Momma cried. So back to now and looking at Michael Nation and wondering about Johnny, I Googled. On February 28, 2015, John McConnell Cooley died at the age of 53. He liked to sing and go on vacation and he spent a lot of time on the putting green. “He extended love, joy and hugs to EVERYONE he met.” I guarantee he did. And now it’s me who struggles as he writes. What a beautiful person! What a beautiful family! How lucky am I to have known him? For various reasons that are mine alone, I have permanently lost religion but that doesn’t mean I don’t talk to and lean on God every day. If you waver, let me suggest you meet a guy like Johnny. He had no stipulations. No holds. No caveats. His was unbridled, simple, warm and unconditional love. There is nothing on this planet more powerful than that. That’s God. That’s why I want to hug Buddy and Nora. That’s why Corinne acted like she did and that’s why, no matter what happens, I will always be happy and believe.•


Savage Glascock is 57 and he lives on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was born the 9th of 12 children who remain very close to this day. Savage has five children of his own who he adores. As a teenager, Savage spent his summers as a counselor at Orange Grove Summer Camp which was held at GG Ranch on Chickamauga Lake. It is from those miraculous memories that he tells this story.