In this issue: Homer usually lives by the credo that “if you can’t say something nice about somebody, it is best to say nothing at all.” This time, Homer bends this rule a bit and airs his opinion about Hank Beavers and Hank’s dog, Champ.
If you saw Hank Beavers driving his old International Harvester pickup truck from his home in Suches to his part-time job at Faded Glory Farm you might experience memory flashbacks to the movie, “Deliverance.” Hank sometimes looks the part of a real redneck. I have to admit, Hank is an honest, God-fearing young man. With his long reddish beard, angular facial features, prominent mustache, and beat-up floppy felt hat he could easily pass for an old ‘moonshiner’ stereotype of yesteryear.
Hank has regularly done the mowing, bush hogging and landscape work around the Inn for the three years since Ray Whitlow died in 1982. Hank also works part-time as custodian at Wilscot Baptist Church and part-time at the U.S. Post Office in Morganton during the Christmas holidays. Isabel describes Hank as being honest, industrious, and probably one of the most giving and selfless people you will ever meet.
Hank is actually a pretty savvy guy, but his dog and constant sidekick, Champ, is probably the dumbest dog I have ever come across. This dog is dumber than a bag of hammers! Champ is truly brain-challenged and doesn’t possess a lick of sense. Ever since Champ was a puppy, Hank has shared his beer with him; whenever Hank buys himself a six-pack, Champ nearly always gets one of the six. Champ has tried just about every brand of beer that they sell at Melvin’s Convenience Store just over the Tennessee state line. Champ isn’t choosy, he’s been known to drink everything from PBR to Heineken. As a result, Champ has become an overly obese Beagle-mix who couldn’t find his own food dish in a one-room bungalow.
Ol’ Champ doesn’t chase anything these days, but he sure does bay a lot. When Hank brings Champ with him to Faded Glory, Champ howls at anything and everything. Enough, already, I say!
In addition, Hank and Champ consume more junk-food between them than a human family of four. while Hank is as skinny as a rail, and Champ casts a very large shadow. Of course, Hank loves that dog with all his heart, and the feeling is, indeed mutual. I sometimes miss Ray when I see them together. Champ can usually be found staggering around in the bed of Hank’s pickup truck, and, at high speeds, he likes to hang his head out over the step-sides and let his long ears flap in the wind. Micah once joked that if Hank ever drives his pickup truck into the Toccoa River, “that dog will surely drown just because the tailgate isn’t open.” I suspect that even Hank knows that Champ isn’t playing with a ‘full deck,’ but he loves him anyway. I guess that unconditional love sometimes goes both ways!
Because Isabel had felt guilty about her decision a year ago to exclude Hank from the sale of Ray’s favorite pickup truck, she recently offered the 1948 Ford pickup from the Stoddard barn to Hank for a nominal amount of money. Micah suspects that she just gave it to him, but knowing Isabel as I do, I think some money changed hands in the transaction. Anyway, Hank gratefully accepted and is now the proud new owner of a true country classic pickup truck.
The fact that the Ford was a virtual mausoleum for Ray Whitlow’s grandfather, never bothered Hank one bit; Hank’s love of old trucks trumped any anxieties he may have had about the fact that a corpse sat behind the wheel with his lunch pail beside him for 30 years. I did hear Isabel say that Hank has decided not to tell his girlfriend, Willa-Jean Turner, the real story behind the truck.
After having its front seat re-covered and the exterior paint lightly compounded, the Ford now looks brand spanking new, and it is now Hank’s proudest possession. Unlike his treasured but worn-out International Harvester, Hank has vowed to keep the ’48 Ford looking like a show truck. Frankly, since Isabel doesn’t have any emotional attachment to the truck, she really doesn’t care either way, but Micah believes that Hank really will keep it shiny and clean. The jury is out, and only time will tell.
With things as busy as they are here at the Inn, Isabel has recently talked with Micah about offering Hank a position as a full-time employee. Since Micah became a full-time employee of Faded Glory just three years ago, he is hard pressed to keep up with all of the duties that our increased growth have presented to him and our current staff. I’m sure that when Isabel and Ray started the Inn, neither of them ever suspected that this area of north Georgia – or the Inn – would grow as quickly in popularity as they have.
Hank’s a good guy, and even though he hangs around with the dumbest dog in the county, I think he would make a pretty good addition to our Faded Glory family.