Tuesday, June 30, 2009

30 JUN 09: Last of the Mohican

As I drove into the business parking lot Monday, something clearly was missing. Where was "Indian Joe" - the life-sized Native American statue, bound to a chair and gagged? Was this statue moved out of Columbus, so no one could accuse Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation graduates of involvement in the coup in Honduras?

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The Indian Joe mascot is about to disappear for good from a longtime Columbus business. Victory Pawn and Trading Post on Victory Drive is going out of business, and will close 15 July. I suppose it's either that, or change the name to "Defeated Pawn."

Victory Pawn has been in business at several stops on Victory Drive more than 30 years. But store employees told your blog Monday the latest move turned out to be a fatal one. The shop shifted to the old Action Marine building near Rotary Park, after a November 2007 fire. Maybe if the Action Marine sign still wasn't posted outside....

But wait, you may be saying - aren't pawn shops supposed to be thriving during a recession? And isn't Columbus South in a renaissance? The Victory Pawn staff says it hasn't been true there. Business never rebounded from the 2007 fire - or as one woman put it, too much money was going out the window and not enough was coming in. You'll notice the Georgia Lottery never seems to have this problem.

Victory Pawn staff member Bonnie Alford gave another clue to the business's dilemma, as she talked with someone on the phone. "We're exactly 2.1 miles west of the old location," she said slowly. That old spot still has a Victory Pawn sign - and customers at the Candlewood Hotel about to open next door will be disappointed to find they can't get cash for an extra night.

Bonnie Alford blamed the lack of business on "lots of dummies who don't know east from west, and north from south." She added some customers consider the 2.1-mile move a very long distance. And you thought gas prices had been dropping over the last few days....

So if you want bargains, Victory Pawn may be the place to go for the next 15 days. "Everything must go," signs on the window declare. What sort of things?

+ Several pairs of boots - which look like soldiers gave them up after their final tour of duty at Fort Benning.

+ A shelf with small television sets. But you'll have to go to another pawn shop to find converter boxes, to make them work.

+ Possibly a couple of school buses. They're parked on the fenced-in grounds next to the building. And since neither say "Muscogee County" on them, apparently they aren't stolen.

But Bonnie Alford told me there's one item at Victory Pawn which is NOT up for sale - the statue of Indian Joe. She admits several customers have inquired about buying the bound and gagged mascot. I sincerely hope those married men consulted their wives first....

So where was Indian Joe Monday? He wasn't kept inside Victory Pawn, and Bonnie Alford assumed store owner Rick Johnson had taken it away for the weekend. Perhaps Johnson's trying to arrange for the statue to make guest appearances at Westville.

Someone stole Indian Joe from the front of Victory Pawn in July 2000, and it became a major news story. But the statue mysteriously returned to its spot three days later. To this day, we don't know what sort of Fort Benning training exercise required it.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader wants us to go back to that phone call Columbus Police officer J.D. Hawk made to a Georgia state trooper....

Hey Richy Rich; Did Officer Hawk get a ticket when he was speeding to his home because it was on fire, and a distance away? Seems like someone said his kids were there and he wanted to protect them!!! If this is true, one must wonder why he even got a ticket considering the emergency. Regarding the tape, Seems to me Hawk was saying the incident would be embarrassing to law enforcement and not that he was threatening the trooper [or whoever he was] with [embarrassing] personal retaliation. One must wonder if the trooper did give a ticket for speeding when a law officer's house was on fire, was that trooper was impeding the rescue of the officer's children???? Play It Again Sam!

J.D. Hawk explained in Recorder's Court in January 2008 there was a fire in the kitchen at his home, and his 13-year-old daughter was there alone [4 Jan 08]. That's why Hawk was driving 103 miles per hour on Manchester Expressway. But we never heard of serious damage to the home or harm to the daughter - so apparently Columbus fire units won the race.

We've never posted the voice mail recording to trooper J.D. Perry, because it would consume a lot of disk space and require editing out some personal information. So Monday night, we pulled out the recording and transcribed it. With a phone number left out, here's what J.D. Hawk said:

This is Captain Hawk from the police department. I'm calling in reference to that citation that's being rescheduled for the third of January, in which I am now being held in contempt of court. I think you might want to talk to me prior -- unless somebody told you not to talk to me, regarding the judge. But -- I don't have a problem with the citation, but I do have a problem with the "contempt of court," since I was instructed NOT to be in court, and the only way I'm going to defend myself is have to bring some stuff out which is probably going to embarrass you and the court, IN court, and go public.

So.... you know, I'd like to try to resolve this contempt issue in advance, but if you don't want to talk to me, I have no choice but to bring it out in public. So you can beep me at 706-xxx-xxxx, if you'd like to talk with you prior to this. And I don't want to talk about the speeding charge, but the contempt charge. Thank you. Bye-bye.

J.D. Hawk did NOT say the contempt of court defense would embarrass law enforcement - but that specific trooper, as well as Recorder's Court. If someone discovers the Recorder's Court judge that day was Mark Shelnutt....

Some more speeding tops our review of the Monday headlines:

+ WXTX "News at Ten" reported fast drivers on Celia Drive have become such a problem that one telephone pole has been knocked down three times this year. The answer to this should be obvious - consult a bowling pin factory about making a special pole.

+ "Miss Georgia 2009.2" Emily Cook accepted the keys to a new car, which she'll drive for the next year. Pageant officials breathed a big sigh of relief when Cook did NOT give back the keys, and announce her resignation.

(The Ledger-Enquirer reports Emily Cook accepted the Miss Georgia crown Sunday, while wearing a T-shirt and shorts. So? I've seen Olympic swimmers accept gold medals wearing less than that.)

+ WLTZ reported Fort Benning Staff Sergeant Michael Johnston was named the Army's Drill Sergeant of the Year. Johnston appears on a giant screen at the National Infantry Museum, telling visitors over and over that he's a soldier first. Talk about an annoying lobbying tool....

+ Auburn University officials admitted they're adding hundreds of new security cameras across campus. They won't say how many, or where they're going -- but I assume one will be hidden in the visiting team's locker room at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

+ Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford made his campaign for Alabama State Senate official, after doing everything but that in Phenix City in May. Ford says he'll run as a Democrat against Myron Penn. With his career party shifts now listed as D-R-I-D, you might say Ford has shifted back into first gear.

+ Alabama Congressman Artur Davis removed a campaign web site survey on improving the state, after the legalization of marijuana received the most votes. This may explain why Georgia's Governor still has NOT revealed that "Sonny Do" list from 2006.

+ The evening news revealed former Harlem Globetrotters player AJ Stallworth is bringing an expansion basketball team to Columbus next winter. The team in the American Basketball Association is called the Columbus Life. The Life?!?! OK, which local church provided the money for this team?

+ Instant Message to WBFA-FM "98.3 The Beat" and WFXE-FM "Foxie 105:" Aw, c'mon - two different candlelight vigils tonight? In different parts of Columbus?! At the same time?!?! I didn't realize the death of Michael Jackson was such a competitive business.

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