A sure-fire way to tell if you're getting old is if you find yourself reading the obituaries. That's not something the young does. But it's something that I do.
One of the last times I was in my home town (for a funeral), as I was leaving, someone said "See you next time." Meaning "See you soon, I hope." But it just as well could have meant "See you next funeral." It seems like the only times I ever go back to my hometown if for a birthday or a funeral. And there seems to be more funerals than birthdays.
Anyway, this past weekend, I found myself checking the obituaries on the Savannah Morning News Web site when one caught my eye. Not anyone I knew, but you know they sometimes will include a nickname on a notice, right? Well, this was an obituary for Arthur "Goatman" Thomas. I'm not making fun of the late Mr. Thomas or making light of his family's loss, but his nickname brought back some memories and some thoughts.
I remember The Goat Man. Or at least I think I do.
Now, I'm not talking about the Maryland (and other states) Urban Legend of some half-man/half-goat creature. And, no, I'm certainly not talking about the guy who originally put up the goatse.cx Web site.
No, I'm talking about the Goat Man. The guy with the wagon pulled by goats that travelled all over the country, particularly the South, many years ago.
When we were small, sometimes parents (or more likely, grandparents) would tell us to get a bath because we looked (or smelled) like the Goat Man.
I had no idea what they were talking about. Until one day, while at my grandparents' (father's parents), we were pointed to a man with a wagon and goats traveling the road. We were told it was the Goat Man. I don't remember much about the man or his entourage, other than seeing it. But it stuck in my mind that the Goat Man was real.
Later, in school, someone mentioned the Goat Man and someone else said "Ah, there's no such thing." My mentioning I had seen him brought derision. Oh, well. The heck with them, I thought. I knew what I was talking about.
Over the years, I heard that the Goat Man had died. In fact, I heard it many times. In the early 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s. I figured he had died, since he's got to be too old to be gallavanting across the country (or even Georgia) with goats.
Not everyone in the South had seen the Goat Man, of course. Heck, many have never heard of him. The Wife, for instance. First time I mentioned the Goat Man, she looked at me like I was crazy. She might be right, but not because of anything to do with the Goat Man.
Anyway, I decided to do some research about the Goat Man, and ran across several mentions of him. Velociman mentioned him in 2003. I even found some pictures of him. Including some that give his name: Ches McCartney. Heck, even Porter Wagoner's message board mentions him. (Gosh, I hope you know who Porter Wagoner is.)
Do you remember the Goat Man? Or am I the only one old enough have heard of him?