Frank Facts and Reviews

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Volume XVIII, No. 35

Yesterday, when I asked Dale Hudson to see if USM’s penultimate game with UTEP was going to be on television, he read out of the Hattiesburg American that it was indeed on TV at 7:00. I decided to record it (on the off-chance that the Eagles might finally “Win one for the Gipper”) and actually watched it until it became evident that my team would go 0-12 for the first time ever. Once they got behind, I was going to bed. And furthermore, I planned to sleep! That’s how cynical I have become in this dreadful, winless season of football.

I watched the great beginning. On its first possession, USM marched with determination and a certain professionalism, down the field (in three plays) for their first TD. UTEP, who had the ball first, had gone 3 and out. Then USM went 3 and out, and UTEP had to settle for a Field Goal (making the score 7-3). USM managed a Field Goal, making it 10-3, and then things began getting ugly. I watched as UTEP tied the Eagles at 10. but when USM threw an interception that gave UTEP an easy 7 pointer on the very next two plays, I decided to put my weary bones to bed and see how it all turned out this morning. Around three A.M.. I had to go to the bathroom, so decided to get the agony over and done with. Poor Ellis Johnson. I was so in hopes that he would be able to get a win, for his seniors’ final home game at the “Rock”. Alas, irony of ironies, the final score was a win for the bad guys, by ONE point!

While I had been watching the first quarter, the announcers were certainly kind and considerate when discussing my team’s rotten year, especially in light of the fact that last year was THE best year they ever had (12 wins, counting the Conference Championship Game win over Houston (and it was a BIG win, too), and the lousy Hawaii Bowl. However, careless losses to the worst two teams in CUSA (UAB and Marshal) certainly did not endear Larry Fedora’s vanishing image to my mind.

I just pray that everybody who kept screaming to Giannini to get rid of that loser, Jeff Bower, is thrilled with their terrible price that dastardly deed cost USM!


Draft Dodgers Anonymous

Neither Marcus nor I had ever been on an airplane before. Neither of us had any desire whatsoever for the first time, either. But we had no choice! We had been sworn in that afternoon, of our second bus trip to Jackson, and would be flown to Columbia, South Carolina, where we would have our basic training and become fulltime soldiers. I felt a certain gnawing at my innards, each time I realized that I now belonged, body and soul, to Uncle Sam. This was really rather ironic when I considered that Daddy had been Uncle Sam to all of our cousins! But the very idea of flying in an airplane, chilled me to the bone!

Believe me, Marcus and I looked calm and sophisticated when I glanced around at the majority of the plane’s passengers! One really Rural boy looked very close to tears, or hysteria, or both. I kept tabs on him, and we were barely air-borne when he had to make use of his little upchuck bag like that was issued to each of us.

Marcus, as it turned out, was much better prepared for our “Ordeal” than I was. As soon as the plane began taxi-ing on the runway, he reached in a pocket and brought forth a package of Wrigley’s spearmint chewing gum. “Chew this. It’ll keep your ears from popping!”

I took it without saying a word. I was literally too scared to talk.

And then the miracle happened: everything brightened! I stopped being afraid, and flying seemed as wonderful as it actually is! What a way to get from one place to another, regardless of how far away it is!

And now, although I did not realize it at the time: this was an omen: everything about the Army (well, maybe not every thing- but certainly almost everything)- was really magical.  I have never enjoyed anything so much as  those next two years!

2. We arrived at Columbia’s airport in the dead of night. My memory is totally confused as to just what happened and in what sort of order. I remember nothing about the landing (other than that I was so scared the plane was going to burst into flames when we hit that concrete so hard, going so fast!) But, of course we didn’t. The next thing I remember is waking up in the middle of the night, not being able to remember where we were, or what we had done before climbing into those Army cots. All around me, I could hear the sounds of men sleeping: snoring and other weird noises that I would not believe that I was able to sleep through! But, somehow I had. And now I felt that I would stay awake for whatever remained of our first night at Fort Jackson. And then I was sound asleep once more.

My second awakening was thanks to Marcus; once again calling gently to me, “Francis---wake up!”

“Why?” All of a sudden I had felt like acting silly, as usual.

“Because  they said to!” was his smart-Alec answer.

I glanced ruefully at our surroundings: we were all in a huge room, and still in what is called the Reception Center. We were to be here over two weeks. By the time we were moved. I had expected us to be finished with our second week of basic training! Wrong!


That first day in the Reception Center, I felt that I needed a shower. Smells of the airplane kept assailing my nostrils, and mingled with the putrid odor of unwashed male bodies. Marcus agreed, so we set out in the brand new flip-flops we had both purchased for a buck a pair, before leaving Ellisville. We were already drenched, when a tall black man came into the shower, and said, “You guys can’t take a bath here!”

“Why not?” Marcus asked him.

“Because this here shower is for cadre only!”

I made a mental note to look this brand new word up the very first time I came in contact with my next dictionary.

How were we supposed to know that it means the instructors?

Since we already much cleaner than we had been, we put our clothes back on and left.


Now, for a backward glance to our last few days at home:

Marcus had this good friend at USM, whose father was my favorite salesman at Carter-Heide (mine and George’s favorite clothing store in Laurel). I have long since forgotten their family name, but Charles was the son’s. He had his own automobile, and came to my house, where Marcus and I were always together back then, it seems. When he heard that we would probably take our Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, he insisted on giving Marcus the phone number of his friend, who worked in Personnel at Fort Jackson. When I saw what he was doing, I thought it unlikely that we should ever need his help. But here, the miracle continued to keep us out of harm’s way.

When we were finally assigned to a basic training group, we were driven to the most frightening looking place I could imagine! Instead of barracks, this was what was referred to as a Tent Outfit! And when we stood at our first Assembly there, the drill sergeant’s opening words were, “Look around you, men. This will be your home for the next four months!”

I literally died! I had every reason to expect that our college educations intelligence would keep us from being wasted in a Tent group! Tears welled up in our eyes.

Then we were back in “Our Tent” and I saw that we were the only two white men in there! The others kept speaking the same words over and over. They were brand new to us! They all referred to their Mommies, but it was not a very complimentary referral. I said to Marcus, “This is what we will have to listen to for four months!”

“Oh, Francis: I just hope John does not forget about us!” (John was the buddy of Charles, who was supposed to keep his eyes peeled for our names).

Mama always said, “It’s always darkest before the dawn!” and that blazing afternoon in South Carolina, this was certainly the case.

All at once, the loud speaker screamed out at us, “Imbragulio,” impeccably pronounced, which was in itself a minor miracle,” and Jordan, come immediately to the Orderly Room!” Then the message was repeated. We looked at each other: and then we began running to the Orderly Room!

There had been a mistake, we were informed. They had brought is to the wrong unit, and we were to be taken to Service Company immediately.

Never have I felt more sheer relief and joy! A Jeep came for us, and as we traveled the route to our new “Home”, we were both thrilled to see the beautiful unit (trust me: to us it was like exchanging Paradise for Hades) with its green lawn starting low, around the Band School (where our good friend, Dale Hudson was an instructor) and traveling all the way up a hill, to row after row of other barracks.

We were shown into what was to be out barracks, and told to put our duffle bags (which held all we were allowed to have at this time) and shower, if we liked (we liked) and to stand by for our first “Inspection”.

That very night, John came by to tell us what had saved us: He had been checking the assignment of new basic trainees, and had NO trouble finding MY name (it did have definite advantages in the military!); and when he saw that Jim Gibbons (a student we both knew and thought was our friend, from the High School in Ellisville) had deliberately put us into the toughest training unit he could find. He did this out of sheer spite! He said he had been “Screwed” by being sent to a 16 week cycle, rather than an 8 week one, and if he had to endure it, so would he!

Well, all I can say is, “Thank God for new friends over old and dubious ones!

(To be continued)



Ed’s patio was truly a minor work of art. I was so proud of it that I even tried to cook something on the grill. Whatever it was, we were never able to eat anything cooked on that quaint bonfire. This little mattered to me. I never liked cooking outdoors, and never really enjoyed the many “Sunrise Breakfasts” to which Anna and Helen were always insisting we accompany them on. I always enjoyed the breakfasts after the meal was ready to be wolfed down—it was just the obvious stupidity (as I called it) wagging charcoal and lighter-knots all that distance, when they could have used our handy electric stove.


      Kitty Mew-sings

      “ What makes my cat purr?

      What starts that motor she has inside?

          Is it the dish of warm milk I give her to drink…the catnip mouse she bats and tosses into the air…the lap she curls up in…or father’s favorite chair? Does she purr because she has a ball of yarn to tangle…a pencil to roll…or paper to tear into a million shreds? Is it because she can wash a patch of sunshine on the living room rug…or sleep  s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out along the top of the garden wall?  Maybe she purrs because she has a fence to sharpen her claws on…flowers to smell, butterflies to chase, and trees to climb.

Could she purr because she has so many places to hide? Under beds…in boxes,,,and bags…and bushes.

What makes my cat purr? Is it watching the goldfish in the bowl...rolling on the soft green grass…stalking bugs along the brick wall…or pouncing on hands and weeding the garden?

Perhaps my cat purrs because she likes me to rub her ears, and brush her back.

Why does my cat purr? Is it because she knows that she’s ever so beautiful…and that I love her?”

Ann Tompert



Movie Trivia Quiz #59

Color by Deluxe

1.     Who was the lad in How Green was my Valley?

2.     Who was The Purple Rose of Cairo?

3.     What actor’s first big hit was Golden Boy?

4.     Who played George Gershwin in Rhapsody in Blue?

      5, Who was Miss Moffat in The Corn is Green?

       6. Who played Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind?

       7. Whose horse was called “Silver”?

        8. Which “Brat Pack” Female was Pretty in Pink?

       9. What actor was in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

       10. Who was The Lady in Red in Dillinger?


Answers to Last Week’s Quiz

1.     Clara Schumann- Katherine Hepburn

2.     Dr. Doolittle-Rex Harrison

3.     Marie Curie-Greer Garson

4.     Lon Chaney, Sr.-James Cagney

5.     Henry VIII, in Young Bess Charles Laughton

6.     Elizabeth I, in The PrivateLives of Elizabeth and Essex Bette Davis

7.     Queen Victoria in The Mudlark Irene Dunne

8.     Queen Christina in the film of the same name Greta Garbo

9.     Edison in Edison, the Man Spencer Tracy

10. FDR in Sunrise at Campobello (Extra credit if you can name his Eleanor) Ralph Bellamy and Greer Garson







Sunday, November 18, 2012