The Redwines hit the road to the country of Georgia

Jim Redwine

On April 25, 2022, Peg and I were eating excellent barbeque in Pawhuska, when I received a cell phone call from my friend, Benes Aldana, who is the president of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. I have been on the NJC faculty since 1995. NJC’s goal is to help good judges to be better judges.

NJC’s reach is mainly the United States and its territories but judges from many countries attend classes in Reno, and NJC is invited to send judges to many other countries to mentor their judges. I have worked with judges from Palestine, Ukraine, Russia and other places for NJC. Therefore, Benes’ call was not unusual.

Benes started our conversation this way, “Jim, would you and Peg be interested in going to Georgia to mentor its judges?”

Now, my Grandfather Redwine, born in 1848, was a teenager living in the state of Georgia during the Civil War before he moved to Indian Territory after the war. I have heard all the “Georgia Cracker” remarks I care to hear from Yankee friends over the years. I replied to Benes that my experience with Georgian judges was they were generally good judges and probably did not need any northern elitists, including me, to tell them how to run their courts.

Then, while Benes kept trying to break in, I loudly gave him a piece of my family’s Georgia history that you may have seen referenced before in Gavel Gamut. After the Civil War, my grandfather became a Baptist minister in what would become the southeast corner of the State of Oklahoma. He and my grandmother had a total of 18 children, enough for their own church congregation. One day, Grandfather was preaching at a rural camp meeting while standing on the back of a buckboard hitched to a skittish horse. Some loud noise spooked the horse that then ran away causing Grandpa to fall off, hit his head and die. His immediate family and his church family buried him right there. No one gave much thought to a permanent grave marker, as they all already knew where they were.

In the 1960s, America was in the throes of the Vietnam War with many pro and many anti; from time to time I was both. The federal government ramped up a program that sought support for the war by recognizing all veterans by placing bronze markers at their graves. A federal man contacted one of my numerous first cousins in southeast Oklahoma and told him that even though our Georgian grandpa had been a Confederate he was still entitled to a marker and if my cousin, Paul Redwine, would show the federal man where grandpa’s grave was, he would give Paul a marker for it.

Paul sought information from my Uncle Henry, Grandpa’s oldest son, who was very patriotic but also, unfortunately, was a purveyor of fine moonshine in those southeastern Oklahoma hills. Paul suggested that he and the federal man should visit Uncle Henry at his still to get information about Grandpa’s grave and toast Grandpa with moonshine before going to honor Grandpa’s service. They proceeded to Uncle Henry’s where the three of them raised ♪ A Parting Glass ♪ to Grandpa with such vigor they never found the grave and also lost Grandpa’s marker. Now, I ask you, Gentle Reader, was any of that due to Grandpa being originally a Georgian? I don’t think so.

About this time in my story to Benes, he was finally able to interrupt my recitation and said, “Jim, I mean the country of Georgia. You know, the one next to Russia and close to Ukraine?”

Peg and I looked at each other and took a collective deep breath. Before I could answer Benes, Peg said, “It’s another Jim’s Adventure! Let’s go.” Peg has often supported my somewhat different approach to things. She is no longer phased by my offbeat actions. Heck, she is sometimes even the originator of our on-the-edge activities. What it comes down to is Peg and I were on campus during the 1960s and have never escaped. We are still captive to the Civil Rights movement, the Anti-War movement, the Women’s movement and probably, most importantly, the Beatles invasion and Paul Simon’s prescient ballad, ♪ Still Crazy After All These Years ♪.

Now before we get into future columns that will deal with the country of Georgia, I want to point out my father’s family was in the South during the Civil War, but my mother’s family was in Indiana. My Indiana Great Grandpa was wounded at both Chickamauga and Shiloh while fighting for the North with the 44th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Hey, just like many American families in the 1860s, we covered both sides.

In fact, it has been my position since Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine and its 2008 and 2014 invasions of Georgia that one of the main reasons these wars seem to never end is because they are almost like civil wars. Perhaps we can delve into these issues soon.

Note: Jim Redwine is a retired Indiana state court judge. He studied law at Indiana University. He grew up in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and graduated from Pawhuska High School in 1961.