The Smell of Team Spirit: Whiskey Jack

The Foghorn Leghorn
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It was so long ago, and frankly, my college days at Auburn (1966 -1973) were not particularly fun and full of wonderful memories. There are not overwhelmingly bad memories from those years, mind you, but biology majors like me had little time for the social and athletic diversions that my business major roommate indulged in while I studied. The boZos (botany-zoology majors) had labs, labs and more labs, and saw daylight only on field trips.

But Auburn’s recent football prominence did not go entirely unnoticed. It did make me scan back through the archives of those years in the “loveliest village of the plains” for any stories I could retell myself, to possibly help me incite some mild college spirit–just enough to feel a bit of vicarious pride for orange-and-blue sports excellence–for what that’s worth on the current inflated scale of cultural treasures.

I could see in my mind’s eye my skinny self sitting on the hard bleachers way up in the nosebleed section of Cliff Hare Stadium along about 1969. I don’t remember any particular game. What I did recall upon swishing that memory around my mind’s palate was the pervasive smell of bourbon and Rebel Yell, of English Leather, White Shoulders and puke.

And from that, my mind circled briefly around that early exposure to liquor, and from there to Whiskey Jack.

It was a US history pre-requisite that found me there. I recoil at how little curiosity I had in those days for anything that was not directly related to biology. Consequently, at mid-term, my grades could not touch the automatic A’s the professor gave to all the jocks.

I found another fellow-swimmer barely keeping his nose above water. Turns out, he was the incoming student body president. We devised a plan, an end run around our academic indifference toward the goal of a guaranteed B or better. There WAS a way, the worldly-wise fellow-sufferer had learned.

Whisky Jack, it seems, had earned his name over the decades. And it turns out, if you wined and dined him and fawned over him and sucked up in a big way, your grade would rise magically.

Imagine the human embodiment of Foghorn Leghorn. Add fifty pounds and a BrylCream comb-over. That was Whiskey Jack.

We made a date to come to his house for a night on the town. He poured the drinks. (There’s that smell memory again.) And my accomplice and I quickly attempted to move the evening along and get the suffering and boot-licking behind us. But he would have none of it–far too tame for his taste. The plot thickened.

“NAh, you boys got small ideahs. We gonna go to ‘Lanna and find us some guhls.” We blanched at the thought: a night with pickup babes and Foghorn Leghorn as sugar-daddy.

And there the memory trail goes cold. I’m certain we didn’t go to ‘Lanna. We must have stayed closer to Auburn and one of us successfully drove us home. It’s all a blur. Except for the clear memory of the  B I got in US History.

Don’t tell my kids.

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Published by fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow, what a super phrase for the discussion of whisky memories: “swishing that memory around my mind’s palate.” In English teacher talk, is that an analogy? a metaphor? a ____? Help me out.

  2. Oh please don’t ask me to make any sense of what I write. That’s asking too much of a folk writer. I guess it’s just a sensory-laden illusion to a mouth activity happening in memory–a synaesthetic metaphor. There.

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