Omega Mu Voices
Jonathan B. Smith,
True story, speaking of 1958...
I actually used to kind of dread seeing my Old Man at the Castle when I was an undergrad. I always got an ear full about the condition of the house or if there were too many "strangers" in the basement, empties in the trash, etc.
David L. Smith, '61
One random Wednesday night in the fall 1987 during an 11 to 2 party who do I see walking down the stairs to the basement but Dave. I remember this night like it was yesterday. The basement was crowded and loud. He was in suit with a very stern expression. I remember thinking, ”Oh shit, we are busted. This can't be good, a random out the blue pop in by Dave." The whole party seemed to stop and look. Quickly, someone who recognized him offered him a beer and things resumed but still he got lots of looks from everyone, especially the guests.
"Who's that?" Then it was like actually watching the telephone game take place before my eyes as one person whispered to another and then another and so on around the whole basement "That's Pilgrim's Dad." In a matter of seconds, I had gone from standing in the back corner of the basement behind the bar drinking a beer in almost total anonymity to having everyone's eyes on me.
He soon found me. Things were pleasant but still a little tense. I offered him a beer and he pointed out he already had one. "A good Zobie beat you to it."
This was not off to a good start but he apologized to dropping in unannounced. He had had a business meeting/dinner with a client in Augusta and thought it was a good idea to swing by Orono when he was finished.
Just in time to show up for an 11 - 2. He made some comment about the size of the crowd in the basement and "Do you know all these people etc?” Then something amazing happened.
1986 - 1987 had three popular movies that featured songs from the late 1950's and early 60's. Dirty Dancing reintroduced “Do You Love Me” by The Contours. The film La Bamba had a great version of the classic Richie Valens tune “La Bamba” by Los Lobos. Ferris Bueller's Day Off included The Beatles classic “Twist and Shout”. All three of those songs were on the playlist at FIJI in the fall of 87. All three were often played in a row and that's what happened. A huge grin came over his face with the intro to Do You Love Me, "You broke my heart cause I couldn't dance..." Everyone began to dance.
He began to laugh really loud. He finished his beer and had another; other guys began to talk with him, seeing that things were not so bleak after all. Jeff Hutchinson came over and talked to him for a bit Dave loved talking to Jeff about the good times he had with his father in the house. He got huge kick out of everyone singing along to Twist and Shout especially the "Ahhhh, ahhhh, AHHHH!" crescendo.
And that was it, three songs and a couple of beers then he left. He didn't stay a half an hour. I walked him to the front door, and we talked about making plans for breakfast, but he told me "Go to school.” He sternly reminded me and everyone else in the foyer: ”Make sure this place gets cleaned up tomorrow, stay out of trouble.” But all of that was through a big Cheshire Cat grin.
As he was walking out the door, he told me he was "glad to hear that the music in this place had not changed that much in 25 years.” He added, "how nothing really changes here." He also said: "Get back down there and find some cute girl to dance with while the music was still good." And, he said quite assertively, "Are you guys smart enough to play Sinatra at the end of the night when you have found that cute girl."
Good advice. It was a whirlwind visit, but I remember it like it happened yesterday.
Years late, I asked him about that visit, about how it was so unexpected, so short, and if he remembered it. He said something to the effect that hearing that music in that place took him back to his days in school. It was 1961 all over again for him, and it was best leave before it changed back to 1980s again.
A true FIJI story.
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us hand in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, ’82