Happy 90th Birthday Mr. Dick Flood, the legendary “Okefenokee Joe”

The legendary “Okefenokee Joe”, Mr. Dick Flood

I made my first visit to the Okefenokee Swamp in 1997. I wasn’t able set foot within the refuge again for many years, but I “visited” there weekly thanks to a great man, Okefenokee Joe. Being reptile enthusiasts, my friend and I had worn out our VHS copies of the PBS masterpieces, Swampwise and The Joy of Snakes. We stared wide-eyed at that old television set as Joe would drop a big Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake in a pillowcase and, fast as lighting, spin the bag and knot it. On our snake hunting excursions, my friend often went shirtless wearing blue jeans and boots to emulate Okefenokee Joe (although he didn’t have the same build as Joe!).

At the time, we didn’t know him as Dick Flood, the young front man for The Country Lads. But we were familiar with his Okefenokee music and his cassette was always playing in the car as we drove all night to another snake hunting destination. Swampwise was the “opening title track” to all of my snake hunts in my college days. And if I weren’t allergic to cats, I would most definitely have gotten one and named it Skeeter!

Since 2015 I’ve returned repeatedly to the Okefenokee Swamp and share most of these excursions with my young daughter. Thanks to smart phones music downloads (yes, Okefenokee Joe is on Spotify!), I was able to share Okefenokee Joe’s music with her while paddling the canals of the Okefenokee. That’s How a Gator has Fun is always our favorite paddling song. I chuckle as she frustratingly gets the chorus of Frog Giggin stuck in her head. And one our best experiences together was listening to The Everglades Symphony echo across the water and through the trees at dusk on the Big Water overnight camping platform.

My daughter and I enter the Okefenokee Swamp. March 10, 2022.

More recently I purchased every book and CD available by Okefenokee Joe and Dick Flood. Being the gracious man that he is, he threw in a few autographed extras and sent me a nice email: “Hey Mr. William Wise!  I am happy to make your acquaintance, and I am greatly honored by your kind words about Dick Flood and also this gigantic order you have placed,  Do not believe I have ever received such a large order.  Have to find a bigger box to put it all in. Ha ha ha! I can do that.” I plan to order a few more books for some aspiring young herpers in our Children’s Church.

His swamp music gets me in the right mindset – one of peace, tranquility and a simple life – when I sit to edit my photographs and work on blogs for my Okefenokee Photography Project. Reading Swampwise brings back all the stories I remember from the PBS shows we watched until the VHS tape was unplayable. And Snake Hunter Snake Talk – man, if we only had that book as aspiring young snake hunters in the 1990s! The devotional music on Because I Believe feeds my faith as a fellow born-again believer.

So what do you get a man like Dick Flood for his 90th birthday? Looking at his life, it is evident he already possesses all that matters: friends, family and faith. So I’ll just write him this birthday post and hope that those who follow this blog and don’t yet know Okefenokee Joe (is that possible???), will tap into the writings and music of the maestro that wrote the score of Okefenokee and the Old South. Happy Birthday Mr. Flood! You’re a good man.

3 Comments

  1. Wow! No no … Double WOW! Goodness gracious ….What a nice birthday gift! You sure did a lot of braggin”there about ole Joe… Shucks you’d think ole’ Joe was famous or something….Well sir I’ll tell you what; If I wasn’t famous before you sure have set me on my way….. Ha ha ha!! Honest to goodness you have really honored me. I am just about floored…. I guess my messages in my songs were quite and inspiration to you and your friends when y’all were younger…. And now with your daughter at the helm of the canoe while listenin’ to one or more of ole’ Joe’s story tellin’ songs… Wow! You bet! For me that is truly quite an honor. Gettin’ kinda’ old now and quite a bit of the job of educating our younger generations is up to you younger than me folks…. And that my friend is exactly what you are and have been doing… And doing it well.. Thank you so much my brother…You have many times more than merely made my day!! Best birthday ever!!! Yep! You made my 90th well worth waitin’ for!!! And just think… It’s all in print…Where I can read it over and over again… Ha ha ha! Many thanks and Although I know there is no need to mention this…. Keep it “Swampwise’!!! .. Yeah keep it “Swampwise”!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You have long inspired many, many people. You’re just too humble to admit it! lol. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, and again, Happy 90th! I’ll post another tribute when you hit 100!!!!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s