I just gave a speech to a group of educated, wealthy civic leaders. It was an appreciation gathering honoring them for being so generous with their financial support. I never saw so many old faces, new teeth, and hearing aids.
What do you talk about at a celebration like this? Well, that was the easy part. I just reviewed the idiosyncrasies of some of my old college professors. I figured they represented fairly well those who had come before them from the beginning and the statue of limitations had expired, along with most of the professors on any libel suits.
The mere mention of a name from your old Alma Mater creates visions in the mind that can bring a smile to your lips and put a song in your heart…country-western of course. The head of our department was Mr. Moses who had a most remarkable skill for recognizing faces and remembering names of ALL current and former students. He carried a little black book with info that would rival your computer. I ran into him at a convention in Chicago and he immediately said, “Doc Blakely, what are you doing up here?” I said “Mr. Moses, I can’t believe you remembered me, how do you do it?” He pulled out his little black book and replied, “Aw right, the monkeys on my back. I have the name of every man who ever came through our department right here. I review each name every morning when I get up. Aw right, a person changes jobs I change the address, she changes phone numbers I change that, a man dies I scratch him off the list.” Mr. Moses was the practical sort.
We also had a lobbyist recruited by Mr. Moses, who was far ahead of his time. Vannoy Stewart was the man. Of course he taught some classes but he frequently went in the field to put out fires that Mr. Moses wanted extinguished. Mr. Stewart looked a lot like Lyndon Johnson and used the same tactics to raise money. He wore a double breasted suit, smoked Cuban cigars and drank high dollar Scotch. He drove the longest car on the road at that time, an Oldsmobile 98 with special extended bumpers. He was the inventor of the precursor to the stretch limousine. All it lacked was the steer horns as a hood ornament but Mr. Stewart nixed that, said he wanted to be noticed without being gaudy like the University of Texas.
One day Mr. Moses called Mr. Stewart into his office and said, “Vannoy, I want you to get to College Station, they’re having a convention over there and those Aggies are telling lies about us.” On his way out the door, with a fist full of Cuban cigars and a case of Scotch, Vannoy replied, “I can’t do that J.L., I’ve got to get to Austin to lobby the legislature, they’re telling the truth about us there.”
Doc Blakely is a humorist and motivational speaker who now resides in the Hill Country after living in Wharton 47 years. For more information, visit www.docblakely.com.