Thursday, August 27, 2015

#TBT: The Asheboro Flash

Today will begin and end with prayers for a friend that I love very much and who need God's healing touch. Please join me in praying Big Honkin' Prayers for miracles in her life. In the meantime, we enter my 7th year of blogging by "flashing" back to one of my all-time favorite people and a guy I don't get to see much anymore. Enjoy this Throwback Thursday.

That's Alan front and center, flanked by the Semmler brothers in
front of  Danny Hines at one of our classic 80s parties.
There is absolutely no question about the identity of the number one character I ever met at Quaker Lake Camp. It has to be Alan Brown. I met Alan at a winter camp sometime in the mid 1970's. I didn't really hang out with him in those days, but I knew I liked him. Some of my earliest memories of Alan are of him playing guitar and singing Mr. Bojangles with the late Jeff Morgan. I also remember him performing I'm Easy in the Fireplace Room at the lodge (and being overly impressed because I thought he wrote it!). It really wasn't until the summer of 1976 when he was on the QLC staff and I volunteered most of the summer that we became close. My life, and Quaker Lake, would never be the same.

Alan was known in those days as Flash, shortened from The Asheboro Flash. Wallace Sills had given him the name after catching Alan kissing two girls in one night less that an hour apart, and it stuck. There was a whole generation of campers who didn't even know his name was Alan- he was, simply, Flash! But to me, he was my partner in crime. Alan taught me early on in my days at camp that dead time for campers usually led to trouble, and we saw it as our job to entertain, even if only for a five minute lull in the action. We created Opera Day (everything you wanted to say had to be sung) and Chant Day (everything had to be chanted like you some sort of monk) just to pass time. We would sing silly songs and create disturbances to get the kids attention and pull them together. I vividly remember Alan entertaining the troops with a camper named Eric Hunsucker, who could belch on cue. Alan would sing "bright eyes don't cry.." and Eric would let loose with huge "BUUURRRRPPPP!!!" And the other campers would love it.

Alan's influence in my life extended far outside the boundaries of camp. We were at Guilford College together. We were roommates in two different apartments (Hidden Lakes and Chateau at Random Woods) and together with Carl Semmler we spent a month in 1979 travelling across the country. Spending a month together in a Honda Civic will seriously bond people together. We shared so many classic moments together. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Alan comes to my house early one morning and says on his way into class from his home in Asheboro he has had an idea for a song. Actually, he had almost a whole song, and within the hour Blue Pick-Up Truck was finished.
2) The night before a winter camp was to start we were at my parent's house, where we stayed up all night writing Roll Over Lucy. Unfortunately, when we got up the next morning we could no longer remember the tune! To this day I am still not sure if the way we sang it was the tune we intended...
3) We, along with our friends Mark Hyde and Bill Terrell, loved to play hearts and spades- in fact, I think we could have received advanced degrees in both! There were a few times when we convinced unsuspecting newcomers that we had never played, and allowed them to teach us the games...too much fun!

4) Producing the infamous Four Songs...Two Fools cassette tape for our friend Brent Bill and his son Ben, who was our biggest (read as ONLY) fan. The Animal SongBlue Pick-Up TruckRoll Over Lucy and the rarely heard classic We've Got Gas were the songs. No question as to who the fools were...   Another time we came up with this card game called Triple Jim Bob, which had no rules except that you had to make up the rules as you went along. Alan and I would baffle people with ridiculous rules and names for the different situations in the game. It was great seeing how long it would take people to catch on that we were making it up as we went! Both Triple Jim Bob and a character very much based on Alan make appearances in the novel I finished earlier this year.

I guess you get the idea...we were dangerous together. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss him. There have been others in my life with whom I could get wild and creative (Jerry Hanbery comes to mind) but no one else quite like Alan. I will never forget walking from the lodge to the boy's cabins, late at night,and stopping to salute the flag post (actually a light pole!) and singing the Quaker Lake Alma Mater:

In the city of Climax, past the Climax Mall, there's a place where campers visit and never return at all. Quaker Lake is quite a place to spend a week or two, but never press your luck with others or they might do unto you...

Through the tough times, the great times, the silly times and our Sunday afternoon conversations about the campers we were about to spend a week with, Alan was always there. I just hope someday we get to do a farewell concert featuring We've Got Gas and The Parakeet Song...

Because of Jesus,

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