Sloan :Just a good ol’ boy and his dog
Two weeks ago today the world said farewell to a likeable, hard-working country boy by the name of Barney Odom.
If you recognize the name, chances are it’s because you remember his unusually talented pet – a mixed breed dog named of Flatnose whose penchant for climbing trees put the pooch and its owner in the national global spotlight.
“The Lord has something to do with this dog,” was the only way Barney could explain the extraordinary gift his dog possessed.
The dog first caught the attention of locals in Barney’s hometown of Dovesville, a tiny, laid back Darlington County community with a population of just over 500 residents. Before long the TV news reporters caught wind of Barney and his tree-climbing dog.
The pair quickly became a must-see attraction across the Pee Dee and the state.
Up until that point, the son of Harley W. and Louvinia Stanley Odom lived a relatively quiet and unassuming life. All that would change on Nov. 26, 1986, when Barney and Flatnose boarded a plane and flew across the country to make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
I recently went back and looked at a clip of the appearance on YouTube. I found it quite interesting. The tree-climbing dog was the main attraction, of course, but before Flatnose did his thing, Barney was given a chance to chat a little with Mr. Carson.
The interaction between the two was priceless. Not intimidated by the bright lights and the crowd, Barney was just plain ol’ Barney. His South Carolina drawl, country charm, and laid back demeanor left Carson and the crowd in stitches.
Barney walked on stage wearing a blue jean jacket, white button up shirt over a yellow t-shirt, jeans, and white sneakers. Not the slightest hint of Hollywood glam and glitter.
Here is a little bit of that interview:
JC – “How are you doin'?”
BO – “I’m doin’ all right. I seen a lot of thangs out here.
” JC – “You’re from the Carolinas. You said ‘thangs’ right off.”
BO – “If you can’t understand me, I talk – try to talk – a little bit plainer.”
JC – “I understand you perfectly. I spent a lot of time in the South when I was in the service. They speak a little different in Georgia than the do in South Carolina and in North Carolina and so on.
” BO – “They speak a lot different down here than they do in Dovesville, too.”
JC – “Is this your first trip to California?”
BO –Yeah, first time I ever been on an airplane. I brought me an extra pair of britches or two on a case I needed’em, you know what I’m talkin’ about?” JC, crowd laugh
BO – “They had a show on that plane. I never woulda believed that.” (pause) “The only thing I worried about was it fallin’, but I wouldn’t a’ never knowed anything about it anyhow.”
JC – “Are you going to stay out here for a while.”
BO – “We’re headed back tomorrow. I got to get into that turkey, you know what I mean?”
JC – “Have you lived in Dovesville all your life?
” BO - “I’m a ol’ country boy.
” JC – “Are you married?
” BO - “Yeah, I’m married. I hear you been married three times.” Laughter
JC – “So you’ve been married one time?”
BO – “Yeah.”
JC – “Did you get married when you were young?”
BO – “Well, I dated her for a bout a year and she said ‘Barney, will you marry me?’ I said, ‘Frankie, you’re gonna have to give me a few years to think that thang over.’ We dated on about six months. She said, ‘Barney, if you don’t marry me, I’m gonna quit dating you.’ You know, I thought a lot of her. I loved her. So I made a deal with her. I said I’d marry her if she works and make the living. We shook hands on it and I’ve been working ever since.”
BO – “Mr. Johnny, she fooled me. But I enjoy her. She’s alright. You gonna get hitched up again?”
JC – “If I can get the same deal you tried to get.
” JC – “Do you have any children?”
BO – “I got four boys – one that’s 25, one that’s 24, and one that’s 23. The youngest is 17 and his name in Barney Jr. People ask me, ‘Why wait ‘ til the last one to name him Barney Jr.?’ I tell’em I don’t know. I didn’t name’em. My wife did. And I been wonderin’ about that myself.”
Barney then brought out Flatnose who shimmied up a makeshift tree trunk, grabbed a pillow from the top and got a kiss from bandleader Doc Severinson.
Barney’s life was a whirlwind for a year or so. It eventually settled down and the country boy and his dog returned to a quiet life in Dovesville.
According to his obituary, Barney, who worked for Sonoco for 36 years, “enjoyed being outdoors, using herring or flounder nets, and catching spots. He was of the Baptist faith.”
Flatnose died in 1993. Frankie died in 2015. Barney had been in poor health for the last few years.
There’s a road in Dovesville named after Flatnose. You can go by Barney’s old place and see the marks on a tree in the backyard where Flatnose honed his climbing skills.
Those are not the only marks the good ol’ boy from Dovesville and his dog left on this world.
Rest in Peace, Barney. Give Flatnose a pat on the head for all of us.
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florence newsjournal.com.