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Ain’t it a shame about Chunky?

By Walter Geiger I had not lived hereabouts for long when I was invited by the Barnesville Bulldog Club to go on its first ever bus trip ‘“ a men only excursion that kicked off a series of legendary trips. That inaugural journey was to Knoxville, Tennessee where some 40 of us had the privilege to watch as Herschel Walker pounded Bill Bates into dust en route to his first touchdown as a Dawg. I knew Chunky Shiver before the bus departed but became aware of his quick, caustic wit on the trip. He took over the bus driver’s microphone and kept the crowd in stitches with his ribald jokes and antics. As we neared the stadium, our Greyhound parked in a long line of buses that numbered into the hundreds. Chunky took to the mic to admonish us not to miss the bus after the game, reading the bus number to us multiple times. After the game, everyone made it back to the bus except Chunky. The bus rolled without him. Back at the hotel, I got on the phone and called every emergency room and police station in Knoxville looking for him. His brother, the late Big Money Shiver, sat at the bar and moaned ‘˜Ain’t it a shame about Chunky’ over and over. Finally, we checked Chunky’s room. He was in bed asleep, having beaten us back there somehow. Chunky died Saturday night just before Georgia kicked off its game at Missouri. He finally lost his battle with cancer ‘“ a battle he fought on his terms, giving not a single inch to the dreaded disease. I have never known a more courageous man. He faced cancer down, spat in its face and dared it to kill him. Chunky kept his wit to the end. He was the undisputed king of the one liner. Shortly after he was diagnosed, I ran into Chunky in the Thomaston Street kitchen of Louise Jackson, who would fall victim to cancer herself. Chunky, who had always smoked Marlboro reds, was sipping a drink and smoking an unfiltered Camel. Shocked, I asked him why he was smoking Camels. ’I had to switch. Those damn Marlboros were killing me,’ he quipped. Upon our first move to the country, I needed a tractor and went to Chunky who dabbled in the equipment business. He found me a tractor and mower DOT had retired and said it was perfect for me. Knowing nothing about farm implements, I asked about wear and tear. He pointed out the six-foot high grass along Highway 18 and asked, ‘Does it look like they used it much?’ I bought the tractor, put hundreds of hours on it and it served me well. On another football trip, this one in a van to South Carolina, we had just pulled in to a huge parking lot, opened up the back of the van and the cooler it housed. Chunky was leaning over the cooler when a UGA student wearing the proverbial Coke bottle glasses tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he could buy a beer from us. Chunky took one glance at the boy and said, ‘Damn, son. I didn’t know this game was in 3D.’ Everyone laughed, including the boy who got several beers and enjoyed Chunky’s company as everyone did. Chunky Shiver kept his wit to the end. In his last days, he told a visitor to his death bed he wasn’t sure about salvation. ‘I don’t know for sure which way I’m going but I’ve got friends in both places,’ he related. Chunky loved to entertain in his home and grill steaks for the crowd. On our last trip there, his wife Molly, who lovingly cared for him to the end, did most of the cooking while Chunky did what he did best, told stories. Laura asked him if he was going to be cremated. His response was swift and sure. ‘Hell, no. I want to lay up in that coffin at the funeral home and have all the women come by, look down at me and say ‘˜Don’t he look good!’.’ Indeed, the funny man with the iron will did look good as he lay on that velvet pillow with just a touch of his trademark smirk on his lips. Ain’t it a shame about Chunky! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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