Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fate, Or Something Like It

Fate or something like it.

Fate (noun) - the force or principle believed to predetermine events.

I can’t help but believe that fate played a part in finding this photo of Johnny Weaver.

George South frequently visits a little used bookstore called Value Village on Central Avenue in Charlotte. He has this uncanny knack of finding wrestling related books in there. As an example, he once stumbled upon a book on the 1960s era New York Jets only to find a photo of Wahoo McDaniel making a tackle. Things like this happen often to him.

This past January, he visited this store and saw a book about the inaugural season of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. "Carolina Panthers Sunday" by Wallace Sears. If you know George, you know what a big Dallas Cowboys fan he is, and you probably also know that as much as he loves the Cowboys, he hates the Panthers to the same degree. So normally you would think he wouldn’t even bother picking up a book on the Panthers, much less thumbing through it. But he was strangely drawn to this one.

The book chronicled the opening day game; it was a photo journal of the entire day. George picked it up and opened it and there in the center of the first page he turned to was a beautiful photograph of Mecklenburg County Deputy Sheriff Johnny Weaver.

Weaver had gone to work as a Deputy Sheriff after his career in the wrestling business had ended. He had been working in the front office of Jim Crockett Promotions when the Charlotte based wrestling company had been purchased by Ted Turner in 1988. Not wanting to move to Atlanta, Weaver left a 30 year wrestling career and joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1989. He worked there 19 years until his death in 2008.

So consider this: What are the odds that photographer Joel Sartore would pick Johnny's bus out of the dozens of buses that morning, would take Johnny's picture out of the thousands of officers working security that day, and would have selected that photo for the book? What are the odds that 13 years later, George would have spotted that old book out of hundreds of old books buried away in that little used book store, and would have turned to that one page out of the over 200 pages in the book and found that photo of Johnny Weaver?

When I told my friend Peggy Lathan this story, she was the first to suggest fate, or something like it, played a role. "It was just meant to be. Johnny knew that book was in that little book store and led George right to it. He knew none of us would have found it otherwise."

I kind of like believing that's true.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway