Paying the Price for Misbehavior

Sunday, December 19, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Game 5: Augusta

Rain was our constant companion on our drive from Charleston to Augusta.  With only 150 miles to travel, we arrived in Augusta in the early afternoon.  With several hours to kill before the evening game, we set out to search for some letterboxes.
Though it lacks the beautiful setting of Charleston's graveyard of the same name, the Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta was the site of some very interesting letterboxes.  Two were planted by an Asheville letterboxer who goes by the trailname of Dixie.  A skilled carver and storyteller, Dixie loves mysteries and legends.  She specializes in cemetery letterboxes and always tells a fascinating story to go with her beautiful stamps. 
To complete the perfect letterbox combination, she also creates clues that are challenging and thought-provoking.  The backstory for her "Curse's Key" letterbox in Magnolia was a tale about a local Augusta legendary character:

"Wiley Barron was Augusta’s most picturesque figure of the post-civil war period.  Barron owned the Atkinson Hotel on Ellis Street and controlled the large gambling operations there. One gambler killed himself following heavy losses, but before he did he cursed Wiley:  'You have taken everything I have.  When you die, may you not even have a grave to shelter you.'

"This spooked Barron, and he started enforcing many new regulations in his parlor to ease his conscience. He also secretly gave money to anyone who had come upon hard luck and asked him for help. In 1870, 24 years before his death, Barron bought a plot in Magnolia Cemetery and had a granite mausoleum constructed so he'd be certain there would be a grave to shelter him.  Extremely superstitious, Barron instructed in his will that his body should be placed in the vault, the door sealed and the key thrown into the Savannah River.

"Barron's fortunes changed, and upon his death at age 88, he was so broke that a proper coffin couldn't be purchased. His body was simply bricked into the mausoleum. The key to the mausoleum’s door and gate was then thrown into the Savannah River, as he had decreed in his will. Of course, this was his assurance that no one could ever pull him out of his grave, and he would beat his curse."

Not surprisingly, the stamp in the letterbox was the "key" to Barron's mausoleum.  Also inside the box was a clue for another letterbox hidden in the cemetery.  Both boxes were worth sloshing through rain to search for, even with the temperature at 36 degrees.

2010-11 marks the inaugural season for the SPHL Augusta RiverHawks.  Though the city had a previous minor league team, hockey had been gone a few years, so the new owners are eagerly trying to build up local support to make good on their investment.  Before the game and between periods, they were talking to fans on the concourse, answering questions, handing out programs, and thanking their visitors for attending.
To this point, the team is winning as many games as it loses, and the RiverHawks gave Biloxi's Mississippi Surge, one of the league's leading teams, a run for their money.  Both teams played well but Mississippi outscored the Augusta 4-3, due mostly to Augusta's excess penalties, including three game misconduct infractions handed out to two players and the RiverHawks coach.

Kevin Fukala, who was acquired with much hoopla from a league two levels above the SPHL, was the subject of a recent article in the local newspaper: "Fukala has a faith as strong as his fists."  Praised by the reporter as a "soft-spoken man of faith," Fukala went through pre-game warm-ups without his helmet to ensure that fans could see his trademark mohawk. At a critical juncture of the game when his team still had a chance to win, Fukala foolishly tried to instigate a fight with a Mississippi player, who did not respond.  When an official tried to restrain him, Fukala repeatedly tried to break free to resume his attempt to fight with an unwilling opponent.  His egregious behavior resulted in his ejection from the game and being assessed a total of 29 penalty minutes for various infractions.  (In contrast, the entire Mississippi team had 10 penalty minutes in the game.)  As a result, the Augusta team played short-handed for the remainder of the game and lost any opportunity to win.

We sincerely hope that the RiverHawks owners aren't pinning their hopes on Fukala as a way to bring fans into the James Brown Arena.  His belligerent combativeness is an extreme example of the type of misconduct that has led many to believe that hockey is a game of skirmishes, not skating and skill.

Game Stats
Shots on goal:  81
Penalty minutes:  64
Attendance:  1,137
Broken sticks:  2
Flying pucks:  4
OHE (overall hockey experience):  3.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5)

Trip Stats
Miles driven:  2,679
Goals scored:  26
Shots on goal:  315
Penalty minutes:  196
Letterboxes found:  51
Temp range:  14° to 64° F.