Friday, October 18, 2013

Rogue History and Brother Frank

     I know I have mentioned a few times before that I am a 42 year old college senior.  Well, in addition to my job as a student of history, I was recently elected to serve as Treasurer for the UAB chapter of the National Historical Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta.  I know, it sounds really important, and I can't lie....it is.  I think I'm going to retire my shorts and t-shirts that I normally wear, and buy a seersucker suit.  Maybe, I'll have a pipe to go with it.  The classic Southern Historian.  Probably not.  It's hard to change your style.  Phi Alpha Theta puts on a series of events with guest speakers in the library, and they can be a lot of fun for a History geek like me.  I even took Jesse to one of these recently, but that didn't turn out to well.  Believe it or not, the boy got really bored listening to a speech on the history of Civil Rights in Birmingham.  Oh well, it is what it is I suppose.  For this particular blog post I decided to write about the most recent Phi Alpha Theta Colloquium, a discussion on "Post Nazi Cities:  Urban Reconstruction under Three Cold War Regimes in Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Wroclaw."  If that don't fire you up, nothing will.  This talk was presented by one of my favorite professors, and I was looking forward to it.  I will spare you the particular details, but some interesting things happened at this event.  Also, Grandma and Grandpa have arrived from Wisconsin, and the kids are fired up!  The other night I began to wax poetic about old school stories involving my family.  My brother Frank in particular.  Well, I figured I would share some of those legendary tales in this setting. 
     The setting was the Henley Room at Sterne Library on the lovely campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.  This room is like an oasis in a sea of periodicals on the 2nd floor of this fine book bank.  This event was right up my alley, because the speaker is a professor that I have taken twice, and I currently am a student in his "Europe Reconstructed" class.  Dr. Demshuk makes history exciting, and that is alright with me.  I arrived early to help set up, because I'm a man of importance these days.  I've even got a checkbook with Phi Alpha Theta on it.  Don't hate!  This was an unusual day at the old library.  The electronic stuff didn't want to work right, and things just seemed off.  I began to mingle with my fellow historians, after all I am quite a talker, so mingling is a strength of mine.  While I was talking about something or another an older fellow came right over to me, stood directly in front of me, in my personal space, and began to open a bottled drink.  I'm an ex-cop who used to teach Defensive Tactics, Pressure Point Control, and Expandable Baton defense, so I believe in the concept of personal space.  I like to have a "Reactionary Gap" between me, and any potential predators.  This guy was all up in my "Reactionary Gap!"  I said, "Hey Partner, are you bringing me a drink or what?"  He looked down at me through his glasses that were on his nose, and said, "No, son, I don't think so."  I did not realize who this older gentleman was.  He is a "Distinguished Professor."  Professors have different ranks, and this would either be a full-bird Professor or a "General" professor, and either way it's not the one you want to call "partner."  The reason why Mr. Distinguished Professor was opening a soft drink by me, was because this event had no food.  Normally, these things have food and refreshments, at least I think they do.  I caught on to this, because every Professor that walked into the room looked over at the table that normally has the food, and upon realizing no food was present, had a look that was a cross between disappointment and irritation.  I suppose these guys aren't any different than your normal college student, and free food is always a draw.  Once the presentation kicked off I noticed that there was one guy who came in late, and that I did not recognize.  You get to know the people in your particular area of study, and this guy was not familiar.  The information was coming at me, fast and furious like, a little overwhelming to be honest.  I was trying to soak it all up, and then I noticed that one of the professors had nodded off.  This was amusing, and I smiled.  Then my attention was drawn to the area immediately behind the speaker.  The guy whom I didn't recognize was not only asleep, but out like a light, with legs outstretched mouth wide open and head laid back.  I began to wonder if this guy wasn't just some homeless fellow that wandered in off the street for a nap.  I have had experiences with homeless folks taking baths in the public library bathroom in the past, so it was feasible.  It was distracting to say the least!  This guy was out.  Probably drooling a bit too.  I tried not to laugh, because I was enjoying the presentation.  The talk went on for a while, and we came to the Q and A portion, and the professor that was asleep woke up like Lazarus rising from the dead, and blurted out, "Well, who is paying for all this stuff??!?!"  The question actually fit into the situation, and it was answered.  The guy behind all of the activity was still asleep, and I think snoring.  Head kicked back, mouth wide open...snoozing.  I don't know where this guy came from?  Well, all in all, even with no food, folks sleeping, and me making a distinguished professor uncomfortable, it was a successful event!
     My brother, Frankie can't smell.  He also has one leg, and within the last few years survived a massive heart attack.  My bro, is a survivor to say the least.  He's got some interesting stories too, and if you follow his Facebook posts, you already know that.  He lost his sense of smell by falling off the top of a moving vehicle many years ago, and I was relaying this story to Grandma and Grandpa the other night, and the flood gates of Frank stories opened up.  I told them about the time he had been out tipping a few back and decided to back his Datsun up our driveway.  The driveway at the house I grew up in is like Mt. Everest, straight up and down.  Treacherous traveling to say the least.  Frankie decided one night that he was going to hit in reverse, and back up the thing.  Bad idea.  He ended up running through Daddy's fence, and causing some kind of commotion, provoking the response from dear old dad, "What the hell is wrong with you, boy?!?!?!"  But wait, that's not all!!  He had another incident involving our driveway.  He left the same Datsun in neutral one night, and as he stumbled in the house, the vehicle found its way back down the driveway, and into the woods.  They had to call a wrecker to fish the thing out from the depths of the wilderness.  My father's response was again priceless, "There is really something wrong with that boy."  I've got a bunch more, from "The Great Whispering Pines Horseshoe Tournament of 1990" which I won by the way, to "Dumpster Diving with Frankie."  I only did that once.  Once was enough, let me tell you.  Frankie is a master of the Yard Sale Sciences, and quite the aficionado of junk.  This knowledge is what led to my father referring to Frankie as "Lamont."  As in Sanford and Son- Lamont.  I could go on and on, but Maddie just gave me some wet pants, and I'm not really sure how they got wet.  I don't know if I really want to know.  Time to go.  The quote, "Why is this wet, Maddie?" has been used many times in my history.  Phi Alpha Theta Treasurer and Uber Dad extraordinaire out!!