Jones Photo Album
Greensboro Photograph: George
South and Dick Bourne hold a photograph that once hung in Jim Crockett's
North Carolina • May 13, 2003
When George South was ten
years old, his brother would drop him off right in front of the Charlotte
Park Center every Monday night. He would wait in line, ticket in hand,
ready to continue his forays into the exciting world of Mid-Atlantic
Wrestling. Those Monday nights at that venerable old building that sat in
the shadow of Charlotte Memorial Stadium would form the foundation of a lifetime of
adventures in the world of professional wrestling.
Wrestling was what kept George
South on the straight and narrow. Born in Boone, NC, his parents died in
an automobile accident when
George was six years old, and he would move to Charlotte, living at
different times with his brother and his grandmother. Largely unsupervised, every opportunity presented itself for
George to find himself in a lot of trouble, but what kept him on course was wrestling. If he got in trouble, he wouldn't
to watch wrestling that Saturday on TV on channel 3, and he wouldn't be
go to the Park Center on Monday night.
And worse yet, he wouldn't be
able to follow the exploits of his childhood hero, "Number One" Paul Jones.
George South loved Paul Jones.
He celebrated when Paul won the U.S. belt from Terry Funk; he missed three
days of school when Paul lost the U.S. belt to Blackjack Mulligan.
"What do you mean, why
don't I have my homework? Don't you know, teacher? Paul Jones lost the
belt!" Anyone ought to understand how such a traumatic and disastrous
event could disrupt one's life for days at a time, George thought.
But those losses only meant
passing the time until wrestling would come on TV again and he could go to
the Park Center again and scream for Paul Jones to regain his
championship - and to once again wear the belt.
I grew up watching
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, too. My heroes were Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo
McDaniel, Ole and Gene Anderson, Ric Flair and of course Paul Jones. These
guys were larger than life. I eagerly, yet patiently, waited for Saturday
afternoons when Bob Caudle and David Crockett would welcome me back for
another hour of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. And I lived and died
by their triumphs and misfortunes.
That was 28 years ago. George
South had already been a die hard wrestling fan for a couple of years by the
time I was hooked.
And here we were 28 years
later, George South inviting David Chappell and me to Charlotte to meet
and have dinner with "Number One" Paul Jones. Paul and George had developed
a friendship over the years, first professionally, then personally.
They visit once a week. Paul wears the scars of over 30 years in the ring,
taking those bumps night after night, year after year. But he still has
that twinkle in his eye when you get him to talk about drawing a sold out
house in Greensboro to beat Terry Funk for the U.S. Championship. Or
shocking a sold out Charlotte Coliseum by turning on Ricky Steamboat. Or
working a 90 minute broadway with Wahoo McDaniel against the Anderson
Brothers in Richmond. Get him talking about those glory days, and it seems
as though "Number One" is ready to get in the ring again at that very
Heck, George wants him to!
It's George South's dream to have Paul put the Indian
Death Lock on him in the center of the ring. It's not going to happen, but that doesn't stop George from
talking about doing what in his mind would be the ultimate tribute doing
the ultimate job.
After dinner, we close out the
evening by taking a "Mid-Atlantic" tour of Charlotte, with Paul
taking us by the old Crockett offices on Carmel Road and Briarbend Drive,
the old Charlotte Coliseum (now called the Independence Arena), and of course the
Charlotte Park Center, where 28 years ago George South bought his ticket
and took his seat, and years later would climb in the ring himself.
We finish our drive coming to
a slow stop. George South has come full circle. As he did 28 years ago, he
waits in front of the Charlotte park center, but this time his childhood
hero isn't getting in the ring, he is sitting beside him in his van parked
right in front, right at the spot where he used to patiently wait, ticket in hand.
Paul Jones is telling us all about all of those Monday nights in that jam
packed smoke-filled auditorium. Tonight it sits empty, bruised and battered.
The sun is dropping down behind the adjacent Memorial Stadium. George
South has tears in his eyes. We sit quietly for a moment, and then pull
away from the curb. Paul Jones smiles and starts in on one more
c. 2003 Mid-Atlantic Gateway