Pogofest 2005 - Miz Beaver's Diary
March 31. The day I picked to fly to Jacksonville, FL, via Atlanta also was the day Atlanta had a tremendous downpour. The flight was delayed at Salt Lake City because Atlanta sent word that we would be unwelcome if we arrived on time. By this time I was certain I would never make my connections in Atlanta. But I learned something that day. When all the flights are delayed, making your connection is no worse than it is any other time.
On the flight to Jacksonville, the captain announced that the flight attendants would remain seated for the duration of the flight. Darn! I was looking forward to my half-can of Coke and my cardboard pretzels. We circled JAX for about 30 minutes, waiting for a chance to land between storms. This was made even more interesting by my seatmate. A flight attendant by profession, who sat alongside of me, wringing her hands and saying, “Oh I wish he would hurry and get this plane on the ground. I don’t like this!”. This did little to make me feel better!
My rental car had good windshield wipers. I ran them on high speed for about the first 30 miles. The Hampton Inn looked very inviting, and the buffet Janice Parks had ready looked even better. The Washington State Taflins (The Pogopedia Taflins.) were there, along with the Minnesota Taflins. Minnesota was well represented with Steve Thompson (Pogo Prez), Charles and Marlys Taflin and two new attendees, Gail DeBoer and Ronald Buege. Also returning was the famous Gary Claxton. (Did I mention his connection to Claxton Fruit Cakes?) It was a fun evening.
April 1. Friday morning, we met in the lobby and went to breakfast at Shoney’s. Steve and I have eaten so many breakfasts at Shoney’s they have a table reserved during Pogofest. Before we left the hotel, we had the pleasure of meeting some new fans at their first Pogofest. In the lobby, we met Bill and Barbara Gonzales.
They had come from their home in Alabama. Bill was a very interesting person. He was an air traffic controller in Mexico City when Pogo was debuting on the national comic strip stage. Bill had access to American papers. He learned English by reading Pogo. Now I want you to ponder on that for a while. Do you wonder what kind of English he learned? His English sounded fine to me, but of course he has lived in this country for years and undoubtedly had an opportunity to un-learn some of what Pogo taught him.
Steve, Ron and I went to the Swamp Park for the boat trip and the train ride. The weather was warm, but overcast. It was a good day to see the park. We didn’t have to cope with hot sun. The swamp was fun, as usual. We saw alligators, of course. We also saw some snakes. (Of the harmless variety).We bought souvenirs and did all the usual tourist things.
The renowned “Oscar” is alive and well and estimated to be 90 years old. I first “met” Oscar in 1988. He used to hang out on an island near the visitors center. Or any other place he wanted to go. A few years ago, some young male ‘gators decided to challenge him to see who was the toughest ‘gator in the swamp. Oscar proved that he was the smartest. He just moved back into the swamp a ways where he sunned himself and huffed at tour boats, passing too closely. Early this year, the park management became concerned about Oscar’s advancing age and decided to move him in to a lagoon where they could keep an eye on him. He is now in a lagoon near the boat dock. Do you wonder how they moved him? Can you herd a 90 year old ‘gator? Don’t ask me, I forgot to ask them. But if you go to the Okefenokee, he is easy to find.
Shortly after lunch, it started to rain. In spite of the rain, we had a nice reception at The Railroad Depot and then visited the upstairs of a new comic shop in Waycross, The Planet Groove. Janice Parks entertained us with her “one of a kind” Pogo collectibles. Everyone had an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell about their collecting. Dick and Neta Moon, Ray Young and Harold Wimberly arrived in time for the reception. Dick was especially glad to be here. They were having their Annual April Fool’s Rod Run and he loves cars. We were getting concerned, because without Ray and Harold, Pogofest just wouldn’t be the same.
April 2. The rain ended during the night and the weather was nice, but windy. We went back downtown, to Planet Groove where we set up “Miggle’s Emporium” Gary, Ray and Steve sold and traded things from their collections. The Pogofest Assoc. was there, selling T-shirts, caps etc. The Swamp Festival people had a Bed Race, a Hot Dog Eating Contest and a Coca Cola Chug-a-Lug Contest, along with a downtown Street Fair.
The car people were at the fairgrounds from 9:00 to 5:00, but there were lots of cars wandering through Waycross. There were hot rods, classic cars, custom cars and cars I don’t even know the names of. Even if you were not a car fan, you would enjoy seeing them.
We had a Pogo Fan Club dinner on Saturday evening, followed by Steve, telling us (along with slides) about the collection he recently purchased. This was followed by our annual fundraising auction and the drawing for an original Pogo daily strip. Again this year, it was won by someone not in attendance. Again this year, it was won by Phil Knotts. I believe his previous win was about 2002. I know the drawing was honest because I had a stake in it, and I would have noticed. Besides, all attempts at bribery were refused.
We were disappointed that we did not have further opportunity to talk to Bill and Barbara Gonzales, but they received word early Saturday that there home in Alabama was in danger of flooding, so they left very early. We hope they will come back next year. We all want to know what it is like to learn English from Pogo.
Back Home. I had a great time, as usual. The folks in Georgia are so friendly and nice that it is a pleasure just to be there. The rain was not fun, but I have been going to Pogofest since 1989 and this is the first time I have been rained on, so I certainly won’t let that bother me. I don’t know for certain, but I think Pogofest next year, 2006, will be March 31 and April 1. I will post more information later. But now is the time to start planning for Waycross in the spring.
Miz Beaver's Photos. The photos below are all thumbnails. Just click on the photo to see a full size image.