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Richie and Me, Part 11



At the turn of the New Year, our senior year and our last semester in high school, Richie and I decided we needed a senior trip after school.

As opposed to seniors today, the only cruise we were aware of was the Saturday night trip up and down Commerce Street for hours.

We got up a crowd of eight boys and proposed a trip to Panama City, taking dates the first week in June.

I had noticed two identical rental units on a side street a block away from the Sea Horse and thought they would be perfect for boys in one unit and girls in the other unit.

A parking lot lay between them. The others, Richard Horn, Randy Grayson, Eddie Newton, and juniors Stirling Hamilton, Jake Cureton and Hal Singleton, thought it was a great idea.

I did the math and calculated based on the rental rate if each of us put $2 in the pot weekly beginning in January, we would have enough to pay the rent for both units for the week.

Two dollars per week, it was one-third of my salary at George McCrory’s on Saturdays. So, for five months we met under the street light on the corner of College Street and Hamilton Street, Stirling’s yard, and I collected $2 from each of the guys.

Of course, this event required a road trip to Panama City for Richie and me to inspect the property and sign the rental papers.

It was a nice day for two good friends to spend on the road to and from the beach. I would name the pretty and sweet young Greenville ladies who were our dates for the week but given it’s been almost 60 years; I would surely get names wrong.

However, they were most appreciative of a free week at the beach. They were kind enough to fix some meals for us and they also enlisted a few mothers to chaperone us.

It was a great ending to our high school years and beginning of our summer and thoughts of our looming college years.  Our “senior cruise” for $2 per week!

Also, in the early part of 1963, we began to receive letters from fraternities at The University of Alabama.

Of course, Richie knew all about them, probably aided by his sister’s Joy’s earlier college experience.

I was somewhat of a lost dog in high weeds but was quickly indoctrinated by my friend, Richie.

It was obvious early on that he was high up on the Sigma Nu list. I was sort of a tag-along as a friend of Richie’s.

The Sigma Nus were the finest and most fun college boys and they blanketed South Alabama.

There were numerous outings on spring and summer weekends. I seemed to get more letters from Kappa Alpha Order and knew friends Rennie Thompson and Harold Chambliss had been recent KA’s.

Based on Greenville alumni we could not go wrong. Sigma Nu alumni from Greenville included the Pooles, Williamsons, Whetstones, Tillmans, McFerrins (Edward at Samford), Ronnie Stabler, Jack Wells and many others.

KA alumni included the Meadors, Stablers, Foxes, John Sherling, Rennie, Louchee and others.  Richie chose the Sigma Nus and I chose the KAs, whose spiritual founder was Robert E. Lee of ol’ Virginia.

I was enamored with the “Southern Gentleman” approach. It was good we went separate ways because it gave us a different college experience and many friends in each fraternity.

If there had been a “Mr. Congenialty” award in the Sigma Nu house, Richie would have won it.

He was a personal friend of everyone there and was the friendliest Sigma Nu on the campus.

Because of him, I was able to get to know many of the Sigma Nus who I continue to see and know today.

As an aside, Ronnie Owen, who went to summer school rather than go on our “beach cruise” pledged ATO and as a senior was elected president of the ATOs.

As a senior, I was elected Number 1 (president) of KA, so Greenville was well represented on the UA campus in 1966-67 along with our own “Mr. Congeniality”.

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