One of the people I would most like to see have a chance to reconceive the Olympic Games is Jerry Glower, the former Mississippi State football player and fertilizer salesman who now flourishes as a country comedian (SI, April 30, 1973). In a Clowerian Olympics, the competitors would do a lot of yelling: "Wooooo," "Whaw!" and "Goodness gracious!" Also, animals would be involved. In his new album, Ledbetter Olympics (MCA 3247), Clower reveals that the Ledbetter family, his former neighbors down in East Fork, Miss., have taken it into their heads to host the alternative Olympics. Udell Ledbetter wants to be in charge of the cockfight.
"Udell," Clower exclaims, "they don't let you fight no roosters in the Olympics!" Udell is disappointed to learn this, because he wants to enter Ole Skeets.
Clower can see Udell's point: "Ole Skeets is some kind of bad rooster. I have seen this Rhode Island Red wing-whup a dog and run him right out of the yard."
Another time, Clower recalls, a hawk made the mistake of seizing Ole Skeets by the back and flying off with him to the "top of a hill way over yonder. Skeets whupped that hawk and made him fly him back over there and put him back in that yard."
July 20, 1980
Roosters aside, the Ledbetters figure that the baptism hole at the East Fork gravel pit will be a good place for the aquatic Olympic events, because there is a sweet gum tree there with "a proper height limb for ever' diver to come off of." There's also a vine to swing out on and do a "preacher's seat" off of. A preacher's seat is a kind of dive, or jump, whose virtue is that it makes a particularly satisfying splash. A drawback of traditional Olympic diving, surely, is that nobody wants to make a splash. Isn't a good spa-loosh half the pleasure of entering water?
This is by no means Jerry Clower's best album, however. It features a good deal of chauvinism and flapdoodle about love and military preparedness. But if I had never heard it I would never have known about the pig-feeding exhibition Jerry witnessed as a boy, which was also attended by "every bank president in the county," a "swine specialist," the entire high school band, the recorded voice of "a world-famous star" and "little cheerleaders doin' the boll weevil squeal."
I don't see why the Russians expect anybody to show up for an Olympics that doesn't make room for the boll weevil squeal.