Friday, October 29, 2010

The Undefeated

Two undefeated teams will meet in Oxford tomorrow as the Auburn Tigers come to town to tangle with the Colonel's Rebs. Auburn is 8 and 0; the Colonel and the Hope of 21st Century Civilization Dash One (H21CC -1) are 10 and 0. Every game to which the Colonel has brought his good luck grandson for the past three seasons has been a Rebel victory.

H21CC-1 is going to the Ole Miss - Auburn game tomorrow evening--whether he wants to or not.

The Colonel knows that's a lot of pressure to put a youngster under.

Somehow, though, the Colonel thinks that H21CC -1 will be oblivious to the pressure. It will probably have a lot to do with the sugar high from consuming one cotton-candy stick and a large souvenir cup of carbonated liquid candy bar per quarter. The latter will necessitate frequent visits to the restroom, which should coincide nicely with the Colonel's need for peed.

It was at this point in the season two years ago that the Good Luck Grandson's uncanny ability to secure a win for the home team came into focus. Two years ago, the Ole Miss Rebels (the Colonel is using Ole Miss Rebels as often as possible in the sure knowledge that the PC Police are, even as the Colonel wastes the valuable rod and cone time of the five of you who regularly peruse posts hereon, plotting the demise of those horribly insensitive nicknames) had amassed an unenviable record of 3 wins against four losses. With tickets available for a song, and the Colonel unable to dump any of his season tickets, H21CC -1, then a tender tot of only 3 air-breathing rides 'round ol' Sol, scored a seat. The Ole Miss Rebels were heavy underdogs to a strong Auburn team. The Colonel's Rebs routed the Tigers and the legend of the Good Luck Grandson took flight on the fancy of fans throughout Rows 63 through 65, Section H in the hallowed confines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Ole Miss Rebels went on to beat Arkansas and LSU on the road and capped the season with a 45 to nuthin' drubbin' of detested intra-state rival Mississippi State. The first of two straight Cotton Bowl wins followed.

The current Ole Miss Rebel football season has disappointingly dropped to the same dismal record as was recorded in the first half of 2008. Idiot that he is, the Colonel did not bring the Good Luck Grandson to the season opener against lower division Jacksonville State nor to the SEC opener against Vanderbilt. C'mon, Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt? All the Rebels had to do was show up.

They didn't.

The frantic fans in Rows 63 through 65, Section H in the hallowed confines of Vaught-Hemingway (although a huge Hemingway fan, the Colonel never understood why the name of the stadium isn't Vaught-Faulkner) Stadium turned loss-hardened eyes on the Colonel and asked, with no little venom, "You're bringing the Good Luck Grandson to the next game, right?"

The Good Luck Grandson was in attendance for the next two games as the Ole Miss Rebels steam-rolled Fresno State and Kentucky--two teams arguably better than Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt. The legend of the Good Luck Grandson spread far and wide, now encompassing Rows 61 through 65, Section H in the hallowed confines of Vaught-Faulkner (the Colonel likes that better) Stadium.

Friends and fellow fans encouraged the Colonel to take H21CC -1 on the road to Tuscaloosa and Fayetteville, even suggesting that he should petition Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete (the Colonel spits on the floor) Boone for special seating for the Colonel and the Good Luck Grandson. The Colonel reminded his friends and fellow fans that he has been rather, ahem, dismissive of Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete (the Colonel spits on the floor--and gets an angry look from the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda) Boone over the last several years and it is more than doubtful that Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete (the Colonel spits on the floor--and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda heads for the kitchen for the frying pan that is used more often to correct the Colonel than to feed him) Boone would entertain said petition for special seating.

Needless to say, (but the Colonel will say it anyway) without the Good Luck Grandson in attendance, the Ole Miss Rebels lost to Alabama and Arkansas.

The Colonel's Rebs need three more wins for post-season bowl eligibility. Three (counting tomorrow's tilt with the Tigers) home games remain on the schedule. The Good Luck Grandson will be in attendance at all three.

That foot scrambling sound you hear is the Vaught-Faulkner concessionaires racing to increase their cotton-candy orders.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Corrective Action

In addition to making repairs to his mailbox--the victim of a failure of parental supervision--the Colonel must add clearing the brush away from the sign on his drive that reads "If you can read this, you are in range" to his list of projects for the day.

It is times like these that make the Colonel nostalgic for the years during which he lived in base housing or in neighborhoods off-base where his neighbors were all Marines. There is nothing more effective at correcting juvenile anti-social behavior than a fire-team of neighborly Marines. The Colonel is reminded this morning of an episode from one of his assignments at the home of the Second Marine Division.

In 1987, at the outset of his second tour of duty with the Second Marine Division, the Colonel (then a captain) and his lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, purchased a home off-base in one of the newer subdivisions of Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was within walking distance of the elementary school to which our children happily and eagerly skipped each morning, and also just down the street from the high school away from which teenage idiots (apologies for the redundancy) with cars happily and eagerly sped each afternoon. The Marines in the neighborhood listened with growing concern as our wives related to us each evening the increasing occurrence of high-speed travel along our street and the failure of Jacksonville's finest to arrest same. An extended weekend granted by the Division Commanding General gave the Colonel and a couple of his comrades in arms the opportunity to be at home during delinquent drive time.

Under the shade of a tulip poplar, and under the influence of a few adult beverages, the three captains sat in lawn chairs with a bucket of tennis balls at their feet. With arms loosened up by target practice at the expense of the Colonel's worthless Labrador (grist for another post), the three sat with growing expectancy for the high school's last bell signalling, "Delinquents, start your engines".

With an admixture of relief and disappointment the three observed the first few cars to pass doing so at or safely around the posted speed limit. Then came a late model sports car, obviously driven by the son of a civilian member of the community (Marines don't make enough to buy their children sports cars), not only travelling well in excess of the speed limit, but, by the sound of its engine, actually accelerating down the street toward the ambush. Three tennis balls impacted the driver's side window in a tight group that would have made Carlos Hathcock proud.

The car screeched to a stop.

A mop-headed teenager leapt from the car and then froze at the sight of the three captains who now stood, reloaded.

"My dad's a lawyer and he's gonna hear about this!"

"Fine! Make sure you tell him exactly where to find us!"

Half an hour later, another late model sports car idled slowly down the street and pulled up at the curb. A middle-aged man climbed out of the car and walked over to the three tennis-ball snipers.

"My son told me that someone around here hit his car with tennis balls," he eyed the bucket of tennis balls and the adult beverage empties at the captains' feet.
"Was my son speeding?"

"Yessir, he was doing about 45 heading for 55."

"Well, he won't do that again," the man loosened his tie and eyed the bucket of tennis balls, again.

"Mind if I join you?"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Range Reminiscence

The inaugural Eegeebeegee Evil Glowing Zombie Rubber Duck Resistance (EEGZRDR--pronounced: exerter) shoot was held Saturday evening here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere. Following the wild acclaim by which the inaugural Eegeebeegee Easter Egg Hunt (manly men hunting eggs the manly man way--with firearms) was received and for which a seasonal intermediate version was demanded by a clamoring crowd of cronies unwilling to wait an entire year for an opportunity to burn prodigious amounts of gunpowder and break lots of things, the Colonel's Number 1 Son, using brains and inventiveness obviously inherited from the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, developed the aforementioned EEGZRDR shoot concept, the scenario for which can be found and perused at

The details of the actual execution of the inaugural EEGZRDR will be kept a closely guarded secret for reasons which would be obvious only if the Colonel broke his sworn silence. Even then, the Colonel would be required to track down and (insert favorite euphemism for placing final entry in one's health record) the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon. Suffice it to say that the gist of the EEGZRDR combined four of the favorite pastimes of southern men--spotlighting, shooting, talking trash, and competing for points in spotlighting, shooting, and talking trash.

This morning as the Colonel and the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes 1 and 2 (H21CC-1, -2) policed brass on the firing line, the Colonel was reminded of his time shooting and policing brass on Marine Corps rifle ranges. In particular, the Colonel was reminded of rifle qualification week on the Quantico rifle range 27 years ago this week. The Colonel remembers that range week clearly for its coincidence with two seminal events in the history of his beloved Marine Corps.

Early the Sunday morning prior to that qualification week, the 23rd of October in 1983, the Colonel, then assigned as an instructor at The Basic School (the training ground on which Marine officers are prepared for their first assignments leading Marines), turned on the television and saw the pulse-quickening news of the bombing of the Battalion Landing Team 1/8 headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. The projected casualty toll on the Marines and sailors ashore there for duty as peacekeepers was hard enough to bear, but the Colonel was particularly concerned as one of his earliest mentors in the Marine Corps--Lieutenant Colonel Larry Gerlach--was in command of BLT 1/8 and was almost certain to be among the casualties.

The next Tuesday morning, as the Colonel and his fellow Marines sat in the dark on the 200 yard-line awaiting sunrise and the beginning of the day's rifle qualification practice, the talk about the tragedy in Beirut was interrupted by news that another Marine battalion landing team was participating in an invasion of the Cuban satellite, Grenada. It was a surreal moment. On one side of the world, fellow Marines were digging the bodies of their comrades out of the rubble of a massive three story building leveled by a truck bomb. On this side of the world, Marines were conducting an amphibious assault landing for the first time since Vietnam. As the Colonel and his range mates sat digesting the news and wondering what it would mean to them, their reverie was broken by the range loudspeakers announcing the instructions that all Marines can recite by heart:

"Attention shooters! That first relay, move up to your firing positions and assume a sitting position. This string of fire will be fifteen rounds. Five rounds sitting, five rounds kneeling, and five rounds standing. Shooters, you are in your prep time."

It snapped the minds of the shooters back to the task at hand, but with a bit more of a sense of importance given to it.

Lieutenant Colonel Gerlach survived the blast that leveled his command's headquarters, though gravely wounded; Grenada fell quickly to the Marines of BLT 2/8 (with a little help from an Army airborne brigade and two battalions of Rangers); and the Colonel qualified "Expert," for the fourth time.

Likely the Colonel will ever handle a firearm or clean up afterwards without reminiscing about some experience from his time in the Corps. And, that's probably a good thing. At his age, the Colonel is starting to celebrate the fact that he has memories at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Officially Offensive

During a pre-season intra-squad scrimmage open to fans, an Ole Miss Rebel quarterback escaped the defensive pass rush and lofted a long pass downfield to a open receiver who leaped to catch the ball and fell into the end zone for a touchdown. Cheers turned to groans as fans noticed a yellow flag on the field signifying a penalty that would nullify the touchdown. As the groans faded to silence, a plaintive voice called from the stands, "C'mon refs! It ain't the Bama game!"

It was both prologue and portent.

The Colonel waits with great anticipation for the sure to come "tell all" book by some guilty-concioused or disgruntled former Southeastern Conference football official. When that book hits the shelves, the Colonel will race to the store for his own copy and thumb quickly to the chapter entitled "Ole Miss must never be allowed to beat Alabama."

Last Saturday's game at Bryant-Denny is case in point for the claim that more flagrantly false fouls are called against Alabama's opponents, in general, and Ole Miss, in particular, than in any other games in the league. The only thing worse in the SEC than the officiating in Alabama football games, in general, and the game in question, in particular, is Les Miles' clock management.

Alabama is tough enough to beat. Having to play against them and the officials is too much to ask. Alabama should have been penalized on every down for having 15 on the field.

Not that the Colonel believes that the outcome of the game would have been any different had a) the officials not flagged the Rebel defense for roughing the kicker (the offending defender was clearly blocked into the kicker) and the Tide had to settle for 3 instead of the 7 it easily got after the penalty, b) the officials not flagged the Rebel special teams for offsides during an onside kick (the flag didn't hit the turf until well after the play was whistled dead and it was clear that Ole Miss had the ball), and c) the officials not called a foul on a Rebel player who was not even on the field, and gave new life to a sputtering Bama drive. The Colonel's Rebels could have figured out how to give the ball game to the Tide without the officials' help, thank you very much.

It has been thus for at least the nearly four decades during which the Colonel has subjected himself to the agony of Ole Miss Rebel football.

There is a bright side of this situation on which to look. Soon, his alma mater will no longer be known as the Ole Miss Rebels and the Colonel can find another team for whom to root. It will need to be a team with an inoffensive mascot--the Colonel ain't going through that battle again.

Hmmm. How 'bout them Scalawag State Carpetbaggers!

Friday, October 15, 2010

No End to Reconstruction

As the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon are painfully aware, the Colonel wasted his opportunity for a quality college education and attended the University of Mississippi instead. It could have been worse, the Colonel supposes--he could have gone to Mississippi State.

Ole Miss grads are a conflicted lot. An Ole Miss grad rarely refers to his alma mater as the University of Mississippi. He is an Ole Miss Rebel.

Ole Miss grads are, by and large, fiercely patriotic Americans, in spite of and to the horror of the decidedly liberal, America-despising administration and faculty. An Ole Miss grad loves the Union more deeply than any yankee who sneeringly still refers to southerners as unreformed Confederates. You want proof? The Colonel will stack the list of Ole Miss grads who demonstrated true love of country by service in uniform against any school north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Ole Miss grads are, for the most part, dyed in the wool traditionalists, in spite of and to the horror of the largely liberal and tradition-despising administration and faculty. Yeah, an Ole Miss grad would wave Beauregard's battle flag at a football game if allowed. He doesn't attach a desire to return to the horror of slavery to that gesture. It is more a matter of regional pride and yankee hate. The Colonel knows hate is a strong word. That's why he used it.

Ole Miss grads, tradition-loving to the end, are in mourning this morning. The nearly century-old symbol of Ole Miss, Colonel Rebel, has been replaced by a Black Bear. The Mississippi--Black Bear connection is tenuous at best. Teddy Roosevelt, while on a Mississippi Delta hunting trip, refused to shoot a black bear whose status was not exactly in accordance with the ethics of "fair chase." The media of the day reported on the incident and a capitalistic toy maker capitalized on the story and marketed a small stuffed bear doll--calling it "Teddy's Bear."

This Ole Miss grad bemoans the idiotic headlong rush that the University of Mississippi has taken--straight into the arms of the liberal elitists whose tyrannical bent is to force all to conform to their opinion of what is proper, correct, and inoffensive. The Colonel has said it before, but it bears (pun intended) repeating: The line beyond which something is considered politically incorrect or offensive incessantly encroaches on tradition and common sense. The line never remains static. There will never be an armistice of accommodation agreed to by the elitist minority who believe themselves socially superior to the majority.

The sad thing is, the University of Mississippi's administration has taken its "politically correct" steps of sidelining Ole Miss traditions to ingratiate themselves with liberal elitists who will, in fact, never be satisfied until every vestige of the unique traditions of Ole Miss are taken down. The nicknames Ole Miss and Rebels are odious to them. They will not rest until those are gone, as well.

"Reconstruction" officially ended a century and a half ago. The liberal elitists who denounce hate with every other breath are so consumed by their hatred of every American tradition that they, if allowed, will eventually reconstruct America to the point of self-destruction.

It's enough to drive this unreconstructed Rebel to drastic measures--the Colonel is going to put his Ole Miss Alum ball cap on his head and go drive his tractor.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Wrinkles in the Gray Matter

For the first three plus decades of his adult (the word is used loosely) life, the Colonel's accumulation of wrinkles in his gray matter centered on the art and science of leading men in that manliest of dance forms--the battlefield ballet. Upon his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Colonel attempted to retrain as a businessman.

Business was good, but the Colonel wasn't good at it.

In truth, learning to be a good capitalist wasn't all that hard. Having to deal with undisciplined civilians was the Colonel's undoing, however. After playing for years on a BCS team, it was more than difficult for the Colonel to subject himself to playing on the sandlot.

So, the Colonel tucked his two masters degrees into his Marine Officers Qualification Record, placed them out of sight in the bottom desk drawer, bought some acreage and a tractor, and became a farmer.

A bib-overall clad, ball cap-wearin', grass stem-chewin', kudzu-hatin' farmer. Really. How hard could being a farmer be? Looked like the perfect occupation for this Type A looking for a Type B lifestyle.

Turns out the Colonel had a whole new education ahead of him. Here's just a representative sampling of the things the Colonel didn't know four years ago:

A sawmill produces more sawdust than lumber.

Sawdust is inedible, and difficult to breathe.

Tractors and ditches don't mix.

Rolling over is not a trick one should teach his tractor.

Tractors don't swim.

A chainsaw doesn't discriminate.

Extension ladders don't have seatbelts.

A gravel drive will drive one crazy.

Tractor implements are not designed for high speed turns.

A post hole-digger quickly become odious in one's sight.

Chickens don't give live birth.

Roosters don't lay eggs.

Rain is not guaranteed.

The term "Ready-mix" on a bag of concrete is not synonymous with easy-mix.

High-water marks should not be ignored.

Stumps and bush-hogs don't mix.

The intensity and half-life of skunk-spray is directly proportional to the proximity of the spraying skunk to one's front porch.

Nothing is more valuable than a neighbor with a bigger tractor.

Nothing holds more promise than a freshly plowed field.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Jump and Dive Qualified Tools

On February 7, 2008--a scant ten months after the Colonel and his lady (the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda) planted their flag on the last place they will ever live in this world--a tornado tore through the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere. It destroyed homes, rearranged the landscape, and scattered neighbors belongings along the two mile stretch of country road at the end of which the Colonel's vast holdings sit. While the Colonel's home was spared all but relatively superficial damage, many of his tools and belongings that had been strategically placed in the last place he used them turned up missing.

Over the next weeks and months, the Colonel patrolled the grounds of his vast holdings picking up litter and finding many items tossed hither and yon by the twister. The Colonel found the wheel to his wheelbarrow down near Lake Brenda. But, alas, no barrow.

The Colonel plotted the supposed trajectory of the airborne wheelbarrow from its last known resting place adjacent to the last place it was used, drawing a line connecting the last known resting place adjacent to the last place it was used and the position of the found wheel. Allowing for wind shift and the Coriolis effect, the Colonel then plotted a cone of probability under which the wheelessbarrow would have precipitated from the twister's winds. The placid surface area of Lake Brenda occupies the vast majority of the area under the cone of wheelessbarrow precipitation probability. The ever-widening area within the cone of wheelessbarrow precipitation probability down range of the far side of Lake Brenda was grid-searched without result--excepting multiple scratches incurred during a thorough investigation of a large and labyrinthine briar patch.

The Colonel, summoning synaptic connections not used since the first year of the Reagan Administration, therefore deduced, after lengthy calculations rivalling that used to plot Apollo 13's free return lunar orbital burn, that the wheelessbarrow precipitated into the deeper, out-of-sight reaches of Lake Brenda. The Colonel considered putting out to sea in his boat and dragging the lake for the errant wheelessbarrow. Then, the Colonel remembered that this is Mississippi. Seeing someone dragging bodies of water around here makes the sheet and pillow case crowd a tad edgy.

So, the Colonel gave up on ever recovering the barrow and reuniting it with its wheel.

Last July, as the daily high temps soared well north of the century mark on Herr Fahrenheit's scale, it ceased raining here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere. For the past three months it has been drier than a forgotten pot roast. Daily, the surface level of Lake Brenda dropped visibly, exposing greater and greater swaths of shoreline and making the sheet and pillow case crowd hereabouts increasingly edgy.

And then this week there was, poking above the surface of Lake Brenda like the nub of the Lady of the Lake's Excalibur-sliced arm, a form that looked for all the world like the handle of a wheelbarrow. The Colonel donned his chest waders and waded out to investigate. It wasn't the Lady of the Lake's Excaliburless arm.

Unfortunately, the ravages of tornadic precipitation and multi-year immersion left the wheelessbarrow irreparable. It will, sadly for it, given the horrible experiences it endured, live out the rest of its life as either a rustic planter or a fish shelter.

Some things that tornado did will never be undone.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Colonel and Mr. C

Five years ago today, the Colonel's second favorite person in the whole wide world (the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's position atop the leader board is unassailable) began his air-breathing ride 'round ole Sol. Caleb Thomas Gregory, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization-Dash One (H21CC-1), and his little brother (H21CC-2), have enriched the Colonel's life in ways that, prior to their assault and seizure of the high ground of his heart, were unimaginable to the man curmudgeoned before his time.

Grandsons give one a reason to get up earlier than normal. It takes a little extra time each morning to down the four mugs of caffeine delivery brew required to boost the Colonel's heart rate to the elevated levels that will provide sufficient oxygen to the internal systems vital for maintaining a prolonged chase. Raising grandsons is not a sprint--it is a marathon. A very fast-paced marathon.

Grandsons keep one's powers of persuasion fine tuned. A three-year-old boy is a single-minded creature, whose death-grip grasp of a particular want (e.g., candy, toy, fishing trip, puppy) will test the will of even the most iron-spined grandparent. Particular wants, upon which a three-year-old's attention has been focused, require the most imaginative distractions to break the laser lock. Also, particular want distractions, like camouflage, must be continuous to be effective. Any break in grandparental concentration will, almost certainly, result in reacquisition of the grandson particular want target upon which said grandson was previously fixated. Even in a target-rich environment.

Grandsons are especially good for one's self-esteem. Everything the Colonel does is MAGIC to a pre-schooler. The most simple sleight of hand can be multiplied to a plethora of slightly different permutations and so maintain the illusion of master magician in the mind of both fool and fooled.

Grandsons help one to overcome fears which, once banished in one's youth, have reappeared in old-age to prevent osteoporosis-exacerbated injury. For example, there was not a tree in the land that could not be fearlessly ascended in the Colonel's youth. A few years back, the Colonel noticed that his tree-climbing fervor had been replaced by a ground-loving fever each time he climbed into a lofty tree-stand for the purposes of apex predation/selective cull of the local deer herd. H21CC-1 is a veritable tree-climbing monkey who cannot understand why the Colonel prefers to remain earth-side. H21CC-1 is a veritable tree-climbing monkey who is too quickly mastering the art of challenging the manhood of others with taunts--while perched precariously several scores of feet in the fragile uppermost branches of one of the Colonel's taller leaf bearers. The Colonel still hasn't learned to ignore manhood challenging taunts. Maybe that skill will come when the Colonel turns 60. Until then, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda will have to keep the medicine cabinet well-stocked.

Ten years from today the Colonel will celebrate, with great regret, H21CC-1's fifteenth birthday. On that date, as happens with all human males, H21Cc-1 will lose his mind. Some time toward the end of the following ten-year span, H21CC-1 will reacquire his sanity. The Colonel may not be there to welcome him back. So, the Colonel has ten years from this point to plant seeds that will withstand that 15 to 25-year-old drought and vigorously germinate with the return of the rains of reason.

The Colonel loves a mission.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Rebel ROTC Reunion, 2010

For the past ten years, the Colonel has had the great pleasure of reconnecting with old (the word is achieving greater accuracy lately) college chums at an annual reunion of a very select group of Americans.

Thirty-six years ago this fall, the Colonel (then a brash, clueless, eighteen-year-old) began his matriculation at Ole Miss. The Colonel's father told him that he could go to school anywhere he wanted, but that if the Colonel went to Mississippi State, the Colonel's father would pay his way. There were a couple of factors that weighed in favor of that course of action:

1) Mississippi State was just down the road from home. (This was also a factor weighing against the MSU COA.)

2) The Colonel wouldn't have to change mascot allegiance if he went to State--his high school, Balboa High in the Panama Canal Zone, had a bulldog for a mascot.

But, there were several factors weighing heavily on the side of the Colonel's matriculation at Ole Miss.

1) Ole Miss was two hours away from home--close, but not too close.

2) Ole Miss was only an hour away from Memphis, where the Colonel's high school sweetheart, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, was going to go to school.

3) While the Colonel had been offered a full ride ROTC scholarship from the Army that would have allowed him to go to school just about anywhere he could get accepted, the Colonel's nascent manhood had been seriously challenged by a shrewd Marine and the Colonel had accepted the Marine Corps' offer of a full ride scholarship (see reference to brashness and cluelessness in the second paragraph above). The only school with Naval ROTC (the Colonel's scholarship was officially a Naval ROTC Scholarship--Marine Option) in relatively close proximity to both the Colonel's parental home base and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's college coordinates was... (insert opening bars of "Dixie" here) Ole Miss.

So, the Colonel became a Rebel.

Well, officially, that is. Big "R" Rebel, now. As his parents will loudly attest without the slightest prompting, the Colonel was a little "r" rebel from birth.

As early as he can remember back into his formative years, the Colonel knew that he would return the favor of citizenship in this great nation with the honor of military service. The Colonel had his heart set for many years on attending the Air Force Academy. The Air Force Academy, unfortunately for them, did not share the Colonel's desire for his association with them. Fine by the Colonel!

At Ole Miss, the Colonel joined one of the biggest and most exclusive fraternities on campus. The members of this fraternity shared, with an almost alarming consonance, the Colonel's passionate patriotism and sense of obligation to nation, and the Navy and Marine officers and enlisted men, for whom the leadership and professional development of that fraternity was their duty, instilled an amazingly ambitious and further unifying set of values, and inspired an ever-tightening bond of brotherhood between and amongst the Colonel's peers.

In that already potent fermentation, yet another leaven was present. In those years the Navy and Marine Corps sent highly qualified enlisted men to colleges, at which an NROTC unit existed, on a set of programs known as the Navy Enlisted Scientific Education Program (NESEP) and the Marine Enlisted College Education Program (MECEP). These NESEPs and MECEPs were, in the appropriately descriptive naval terminology, "old salts." It's safe to say that the Colonel and his NROTC cohorts learned nearly as much about leadership and the naval profession of arms from this group of old salts as was learned from the official instructor staff -- often not exactly according to the official NROTC syllabus. And, in most cases, far from what could have easily been their temptation, the NESEP/MECEP old salts kept their disdain for the college boy ROTC midshipmen to themselves.

The final, sweetening, ingredient to this pot, was a small group of young ladies who served as "little sisters" to our fraternity. In the ROTC fraternity they were called sponsors. This was in the mid-seventies -- blessedly before the emasculation of society by the intolerant idiocy of political correctness.

This past weekend, a representative sampling of this amalgam of all that was right about America (in juxtaposition to the wrong-headedness that spilled from the toxic brew of the sixties and seventies and poisoned society with its post-Vietnam, boomer-logic, horse's back-sided-ness), assembled, on the occasion of an Ole Miss Rebel football game, to recreate, reminisce, and remember.

The stories have grown only slightly more outlandish than the nearly four-decade-old events about which they are told, and the descriptions and dialog are now recreated in euphemistic language appropriate for the wives, children, and grandchildren in attendance. But, oh, what a rollicking ride down memory lane. The Colonel went to bed that night and dreamt he was nineteen again.

He awoke relieved that it was only a dream.

The Colonel looks forward to seeing you great Americans next year!