Words are his business, and Lewis Grizzard tosses them around like confetti to make people laugh. His autobiography is as hilarious as an evening at a comedy club.
Grizzard got his first sportswriting job when he was 10, covering a boys' baseball league for a Newnan, Ga., newspaper. Today, he's a syndicated columnist who writes about anything and everything for 450 newspapers nationwide."If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground" is a behind-the-scenes look at what went on in newsrooms before computers replaced manual typewriters and the glue pots used to paste pages together.
Grizzard believes that "a lot of sportswriters used to get high on glue fumes, then do things like actually pick up a bar tab, wear paisley ties with striped shirts (with frayed collars) and ask for the bowling beat."
There were a zillion cliches available to writers looking for another way to say that one team "defeated" another. Georgia's football team, for example, may have "pummeled, crucified, annihilated or made mincemeat of" its opponent. One basketball game was so close "it could make coffee nervous."
While still in college, Grizzard joined the staff of the Athens (Ga.) Daily News, where he learned how to cover stories about chickens stuck in trees, how to interview a small-town sheriff suspected of operating a speed trap, and how to drink.
"I would work for the Daily News for a thousand days," Grizzard said. "Each of those days were precious. Like nothing before, like nothing since, I have cried in reminiscence more times than I remember. If only it, like so many things, could have lasted."
From the Daily News, he went to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and left there to become sports editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. During three winters in Chicago, he was divorced by his second wife and began to hate his job.
He returned to Atlanta to write a sports column for the Atlanta Constitution in 1977, the year in which the book ends.
Grizzard, now 44, can cite at least 25 reasons for loving newspapers, including these: "They ain't heavy, except on Sundays. Automobile dealers can't do their own commercials. They don't play any loud rock music." - George Hackett (AP) .