Friday, January 23, 2015

Flashback Friday: The Other Carl

Welcome to another Flashback Friday. The group of people in this picture have been on my mind a lot lately, so this is a very natural flashback. It's good to have you along for the ride...

Those of you who are familiar with this blog will be aware of the name Carl Semmler (at right with a bunch of other famous people- he's the groom!). Carl and I grew up going to school together and he worked as a lifeguard at Quaker Lake Camp for several summers when I was also on staff. But most importantly he, Alan Brown and I took a month long cross country trip in May of 1979. He has been featured in several stories here previously, including his work on the infamous Project Myrtle and the legend of the Ash Tray Kid. Today I want to remember a few more.

When we were in high school our New Garden Friends youth group attended a gathering of local Quaker youth groups called a Quarterly Meeting. We knew almost no one else there, and realized quickly that some of the other groups were a good bit more "religious" than we were. After some gathering time, we were seated in a circle, with the groups sitting together. The leader said we were going to go around the circle and introduce ourselves, and from where they started there were maybe 7 or 8 youth who would go before our first representative, Carl. The first person began by telling their name, church and the exact day and time they had been "saved." This was not a word we had in our spiritual vocabulary. We talked about "walking in the Light" and being on a "spiritual journey," not about THE day we met Jesus. As each person followed the same pattern, we grew more uncomfortable and wondered what Carl would say. When his turn arrived, he kept it simple: "I'm Carl Semmler from New Garden, and I play basketball." The pressure was immediately off the rest of us, and we were very grateful to Carl for his courage to say only what he knew to be true at the time.

Carl was a master prank player at QLC (although he and Mark Farlow were the recipients of maybe the greatest prank ever, when the Dentiste twins and Emily Ballus went in their room in the lodge and stringed it, making it look like one of those laser systems thieves have to avoid in the movies. They then put molasses on the string and hung extremely stinky lake weed all over the room. It was a classic!). One summer Carl had decided to try a nasty and daring prank on one of the female staff members who used a shampoo that was dark and gooey- much like pancake syrup! He thought he would replace her shampoo with syrup and see what would happen. Unfortunately for Carl, this was the summer the "no wasteful pranks" rules went into effect, so he could not use syrup. He spent all summer trying to make his own, boiling down tree bark to get sap and hoping for a miracle. He did not get one, but he did manage to ruin a perfectly good pot from the kitchen in the process. Ah, what might have been...

Carl, Alan and I began our trip out west by leaving Greensboro for Chattanooga and Carl's Uncle Ronnie's house. We left in my Dad's Honda Civic wagon that we called Clyde, and we were loaded down with camping gear, luggage and a tin of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies given to us by Martha Ratledge. For reasons I no longer remember, we went from NC to TN by way of Atlanta. We hit Atlanta around afternoon rush hour, and Alan was driving while Carl was asleep in the back seat. He awoke to find us in the middle of a traffic jam, and greeted us with the following words: "No rush guys, but I need to find a bathroom." Less than a minute later he was throwing up all over the back seat. Desperate for damage control, I dumped some (but not all) Martha's cookies on the floor and handed him the tin to barf in- but it was no use. We finally worked our way off of the interstate and to a gas station, where we cleaned up the car- but the smell was unbearable. The first day of a month long trip and Carl had totaled the interior of Clyde. Lacking anything else (and apparently common sense as well) we used my Gillette Foamy Lemon-Lime shaving creme on the vinyl seats to try and mask the smell. The result was a smell never before or since found in this world or any other. We made it to Chattanooga and begged Uncle Ronnie to keep Carl, but he refused, and so we carried on without further incident. In fairness to Carl (and Alan) it should be pointed out that there was also a time on that trip when they saved my life. I was trapped in Clyde by a demonic windshield wiper as the car burned and we teetered on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Or at least that's their story...

My life- and therefore this blog- has been filled with extraordinary people. Carl Semmler is one of those them...even if he did make us waste some perfectly good cookies! Thanks for the memories, Carl!

Because of Jesus,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!