“The Butcher’s Boy” tells his story

“The Butcher’s Boy” tells his story
Photos courtesy of Harmon Wages.

The autobiography of Harmon Wages

Growing up delivering groceries from Pinegrove Market Deli, where his father was the butcher, Harmon Wages knew everyone and all their stories. The December release of his autobiography, “The Butcher’s Boy,” is a way for people to learn all of his.

While many will recognize him as the former NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons, others who have never heard his name will now get to know the “stray bullet,” as he calls himself, who’s had ups and downs and has come out the other end stronger for them.

It was a reconnection with former classmate, Martha Kavanaugh Hunt, that led Wages down memory road, revisiting youthful memories and catching her up on the 50-plus interim years since they’d seen each other.

“He just told me what he’d been doing and a lot of things I didn’t even know because I had not myself followed Harmon’s entire career,” Hunt recalled, “and I said, ‘You’ve gotta write a book, you’ve just gotta write a book.’ I said, ‘What else do you have to do, really? You’re retired, let’s put it on paper.’”

Harmon Wages fondly remembers his childhood in Jacksonvile, revisiting it in the stories shared in “The Butcher’s Boy.” | Photos courtesy of Harmon Wages.
Harmon Wages fondly remembers his childhood in Jacksonvile, revisiting it in the stories shared in “The Butcher’s Boy.” | Photos courtesy of Harmon Wages.

With the help of Atlanta journalist and co-author Stan Awtrey, he did just that and, with Hunt editing, “The Butcher’s Boy” came to be. In it, Wages revisits his childhood, delivering groceries on his 26-inch Higgins, spending time at his beloved creek behind the market — “Every boy should have a creek,” he says — his NFL career and the years following it up to present day. Being able to share the book in Jacksonville, his hometown, is an incredibly sentimental experience for him.

“I just wish that some of my buddies that I grew up with were still around,” he said. “…The guys that I went to the creek with and fished with off the top of the Fishweir Bridge. Having this come out in Jacksonville is just a real treat because that’s my home.”

Putting these stories to paper has allowed Wages to relive some of the greatest moments of his life, including the 1969 game against the New Orleans Saints during which he became the fourth player in NFL history to complete what he called a ‘hat trick’ — throwing, catching and rushing for a touchdown. Today, that list is comprised of 11 people, with San Francisco 49er Christian McCaffrey becoming the most recent player added to that list this past October.

While the accomplishment itself was indeed something to be proud of, Wages was even prouder of the fact that he achieved it with his father watching. Earlier that week, he’d learned that December game would be the last his father would ever be able to attend in person because of a severe heart condition.

To this day, Wages said, he can still remember the sound of his father’s voice when they spoke after the game.

“My daddy comes up to me after the game in that old man shuffle,” Wages recalled, “he comes up to me and says, ‘Sonny boy, I didn’t know you could do that.’”

Harmon Wages | Photos courtesy of Harmon Wages.
Harmon Wages | Photos courtesy of Harmon Wages.

Wage’s father is buried with the game ball from that day.

It’s stories like these and more that Wages looks forward to sharing with his hometown community and beyond once his book is released.

Having read the book more the 20 times as its editor, Hunt said, “I think that no matter — whether someone has followed Harmon and has known him all of his life or someone is young and doesn’t even know his name, I think this story is going to engage the reader no matter what the background is, no matter whether they know of Harmon personally or not.”

“The Butcher’s Boy” was released last month. Wages plans to arrange events and book signings in the Jacksonville area.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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