Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Crazy Girl Scout "Camping" Trip

When one spends nine hours in a car, you have a lot of time to think, contemplate and remember. Driving back from Ocean Isle, North Carolina, as Kathryn and Cole were sleeping I had time to myself, to reflect and remember the many times in the past when I had visited the ocean with family and friends. As I was driving down interstate 40 I couldn’t help but to recall one of my favorite trips. The year I took 16 girl scouts on a “camping” trip to Ocean Isle. We shared a fantastic week at the beach, but I believe most of the fun for me was gearing up and preparing for our beach week.

I still remember the phone call, summer of 1995. My daughter's old Girl Scout leader had retired, they needed someone new to take over the troop. Margaret was convinced I was the perfect candidate, the kids loved me, I had a great imagination and was extremely responsible. I was flattered by her invitation but I reminded her that I don’t camp. Over the years if she had recalled, I had volunteered at bake sales, dances, slumber parties everything but the yearly camping trip. I had done my camping duty when I was younger, now I preferred my accommodations to have running water and electricity. Margaret informed me the yearly camping trip didn’t have to be a “roughing” it through the wilderness trip. As long as the kids and their parents agreed, the Girl Scout Counsel approved the trip, I could take the girls camping anywhere. That was definitely a challenge I could not pass by. I told Margaret I needed to talk it over with my daughter, make sure she was fine with me being the leader of her troop. That evening after dinner I sat Kathryn down and asked her how she felt about me possibly becoming her Girl Scout leader. She was definitely my child, she had no problem with the idea as long as I didn’t embarrass her. Then after a long pause she added, “I guess there will be no camping trip this year?” I assured her there would be some kind of “camping” trip. I was going to work on something special. Something they would always remember.

The next week I went to meet with Margaret to pick up my leader handbook. Learn all the ins and outs, dos and don’ts for a Girl Scout leader. I went home that night and with my highlighter marked all the important regulations that I was going to need to address for the “camping” trip I had in mind. I also went through my daughter’s handbook and marked the badges I wanted to work on during the year. I had three weeks to prepare for our first juniors meeting. I had a plan, I needed to show the parents we were going to address major badges during the year, and as a reward for such great service and hard work at the end of the year we would take a trip they would remember fondly for the rest of their life. Hopefully the girls would chose a one week stay at the beach. I looked through rental books, found two perfect houses, one was ocean front, the other across the street. I came up with a week itinerary complete with jeep tours, day at Myrtle Beach including a lunch at the Hard Rock, water park, “sea shell” hunting and other goodies. I estimated a budget and cost. It was then that I decided I needed the perfect Assistant leader, a person who thought like I did. So I called a good friend of mine Cindy Pulls. I filled her in on my agenda/thoughts and she agreed to help. She like me realized that if we did a good job, this would be a year the kids would never forget. She was also like me, she did not like to "rough it" either.

The day finally arrived for our first troop meeting, the room in the basement of St. Joseph’s Church was filled with excited parents and girls. I outlined our theme for the year, democracy/government and how to become a more responsible citizen/person. I reviewed the badges we would be working on, guest speakers, volunteer work and goals for the year. I was a bit nervous when I approached the last item on my agenda for the meeting, the yearly camping trip. Before I brought up my idea I asked my parents keeping it in the context of a democracy, the kids had two choices for their annual camping trip. I had already agreed with myself that I would honor the kids wishes which ever trip they choose. I asked the parents if they could do the same, they all agreed. I then presented my two “camping” trip ideas. The first, we could go to Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland, we would stay at the youth campgrounds complete with outhouses and group showers. Hopefully the weather would be beautiful, it wouldn’t rain or be too cold. OR we could rent two beach houses down at Ocean Isle, North Carolina. We could enjoy a week of fun, sun and sand. If it rained there was plenty of other options, Hard Rock Café, shopping, movies. I put the two choices up for a vote. Not surprisingly, the vote was unanimous, all the girls wanted to go to the beach. I then handed out my budget, how much it would cost each girl to spend a week at the beach. The parents were surprised to discover the cost for the week was only $231.00 per girl, or $33.00 a day. This did not include any souvenirs the girls might want to purchase. We recommended that each girl have at least seventy five dollars spending money, just in case. I reminded all the parents at that price, it was a bargain vacation!! The one problem I had not counted on, how many parents wanted to volunteer to go on this “camping” trip.

Before I continue with the rest of my beach story, the continued comedy that can only be described as “only Denise” I should point out the other projects, lecturers we hosted during the year. I had a police officer talk to the girls about safety. How to protect themselves. How making smart choices can save your life, safety in numbers, what to do if they saw someone being abducted, what to do if they were abducted. We had a small class on self defense. At Christmas the troop went Christmas Caroling in the senior citizens development. A few girls and I went to a retirement home to visit with cookies and cards.. When the Girl Scouts had a food drive, our troop collected the most donations. In the spring I had a Holocaust survivor speak to the girls. The next several meetings were discussions on how to stand up for what is right, how people out of fear allowed the holocaust to happen. Cindy and I tried to stress the importance of personal responsibility, how it is our duty to not allow anything like that to happen again. A Vietnam veteran came and spoke to the girls about patriotism and the sacrifices the military makes everyday for our freedom. Throughout the year, I tried hard to find a good balance for the girls, a true learning experience in perfect symmetry with fun projects. No one quit so I must have done something correct?

I had eight months to organize our trip to the ocean. I made my way through all the rules and regulations, the forms I needed to complete, to have the trip sanctioned by the Girl Scouts of America. I was very well aware that the troop needed the sanctioning to allow us to hold fundraisers through out the year to cover the cost, more importantly to have their insurance cover our trip. I submitted my proposal, cost and safety plan. Ten days later I received tentative approval, one hurdle down several more to go.

Over the course of the next few months, I can honestly say I don’t think the Girl Scouts of America were quite prepared for me and all my “gray” area exceptions. I knew I had to have everything sanctioned or our trip would not be covered by their insurance or the girls would not enjoy it as much. I started first with their requirement that whenever the troop traveled together on an excursion they must all be wearing the same “identifiable” girl scout t-shirt. When you are at the beach, shopping center, just about anywhere in public, between the ages of 11-13 the last thing you want to be seen in is a girl scout t-shirt. I petitioned the counsel to allow me to have the girls where matching bright color easily identifiable t-shirts. I reasoned, the standard girl scout t-shirts were white and grey, two colors that would easily blend into a crowd. Since we would be traveling in well populated sights I needed something I could find quickly and easily. Bright colors were a much safer option. Three weeks later I received a letter stating that an exception was granted. A personal note was written on the paper by the local administrator, she simply wrote, “That was brilliant. Have fun.” With my exception in hand I went online to Hot Potatoes and purchased fun beach stamps and bright color fabric paint. A week later the girls were told to bring a white t-shirt to the next meeting. The girls had a blast creating their own beach themed t-shirts with stamps. No two shirts looked alike, but when they all had them on, you could tell we were a group! They fit the Girl Scout standard, they were "easily identifiable."

Next up on the exception list, bathing caps. According to girl scout regulations when swimming each girl must wear a color coded bathing cap. The color of the bathing cap would correspond to their swimming ability. In 1996, no one wore bathing caps anymore, especially at the beach! The Girl Scout reasoning for the swim caps, the leaders and chaperones would be able to tell who should be allowed to swim in the deep end and who should only be allowed to swim in the shallow end of the pool. The Girl Scouts mistake, not defining how many levels of swimmers are allowed. Once again I submitted my request for an exception, this time my argument was that we had 4 levels of swimmers in our troop. I searched in vain, but I was only able to locate two different colors of bathing caps. For safety reasons I was not comfortable combining moderate swimmers with novice swimmers. I requested that we be allowed to make brightly colored hair scunchies for the kids to wear when they swam. The colors would allow us to find them easily in the water or on the beach, at the same time the colors would help us keep them in “swimming groups”. I also pointed out at the beach there is not shallow or deep end. No one would be allowed to go in water deeper than their waist. A deep end was defined by the Girl Scouts as five feet and over. Additionally we would be with them at all times. I included a sample scunchie. A little over two weeks later I received permission to use scunchies instead of bathing caps. This time the local administrator wrote on the approval sheet, “You are good, next”. On a side note, all the girls in my troop could swim, very well in fact. Each girl had to do a test to see how long they could tread water. (the average was five minutes twenty seconds) As a group, the bottom girl was within a minute of top girl. Since the girl scouts did not define how to break up the levels of swimming it was up to me.

The last hurdle with the girl scouts was their policy on swimming. Understandable they had a rule that did not allow the girls to swim in any areas where there was not a life guard present. Ocean Isle Beach has no life guards. I had planned a swimming day at North Myrtle Beach, where the city supplied life guards. I understood the rule, but at the same time I wanted the girls to be able to enjoy the beach where we were staying. We had planned another swimming day, a trip to the water park. Keeping in mine that there were no lifeguards in Ocean Isle, I wrote a letter asking the counsel to please define swimming. Would seashell hunting be qualified as swimming or an outdoor activity? I stated that as part of a “learning” experience I had planned an afternoon of seashell hunting where the girls would collect seashells and learn about the ocean. The best area on the island for shell hunting did not have lifeguards available. A few days later I received a letter stating that swimming and sea shell hunting were two different activities. Only if the girls were swimming/diving would there be a requirement for a life guard. I took due note of swimming and diving. The local administrator once again left me a hand written message, this time it read, "Can I go on your trip?"

I need to add, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression. I was not trying to “break” the rules, put the girls in any kind of danger. Every chaperone, including myself could swim and would be willing to die trying to save one of our girls if need be. Their safety was my number one concern. At the same time I did not want any rigid unreasonable rules to stop them from having a fun time or make them embarrassed to be on a girl scout trip. I wanted my girls to have a trip that when they looked back on when they were older, they smiled.

As the trip got closer Cindy and I prepared the rules and regulations for each girl and her parents to sign. My rules of conduct were strict and no exceptions would be made. If a child broke a rule, their parents would be required to meet me at the Virginia/North Carolina border to pick them up. I informed my kids, break my rules and fifteen minutes later you will find yourself in my car heading home, the time of day or night does not matter. I remember as I said this Christina, who was I believe 12 at the time, added, “She means it folks” from the back of the room.

The last problem to overcome was the rental policy in Ocean Isle Beach. Before I placed a deposit on the houses I called the realtor, told her I noticed their no group policy. I asked, since I was coming down with my daughter, a friend of mine and her daughter was it allowed for the girls to bring “friends” with them. Her answer, of course it was, friends are always allowed. I asked her name, wrote it down, said thank you very much and hung up. Yes we were a Girl Scout troop but I was Kathryn’s mother and the girls were all her friends. So technically we were not breaking any rules.

The day finally arrived, all the paperwork, exceptions, everything had been handled in the appropriate manner. We arrived in Ocean Isle a little after 4. I went into the realtor's office to pick up the keys. As I was signing all the paper work, Mindy came running in the door and asked to use the bathroom. Mindy’s parents, as well as herself, were all born in Guam. While she was in the bathroom, the realtor very sweetly said to me, “You are aware that we do not rent to groups” Without hesitation I answered, “ Do you have a problem with my daughter? Do you not believe in inter-racial marriages?” I could tell she was embarrassed, she didn't say another word. I did not lie to her, I never said Mindy was my daughter, I just asked if she had a problem with my daughter. She just assumed by the nature of my questions that Mindy was my child and her father was my husband. You know what they say about assumptions.

We arrived at our houses. We sat the girls down, reminded everyone of the rules. Gave each girl a job to do to get the houses in order. We also went over the schedule for the next day. We were to set everything up (kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) tonight, order pizza , watch a movie, go to bed. Sunday’s alarm would be set for 8:00 a.m., we would all have breakfast then head to the grocery store. At one am that night my house was still wide awake and giggling. I walked across the street to Cindy’s house and discovered the girls in their house were also wide awake. So I made the executive decision, Food Lion was open 24 hours, we would go grocery shopping now. We told everyone to get dressed and we headed out to the grocery store. When we arrived at the store I looked at my watch it was a little after two. We divided the girls into 4 groups, each group was given a grocery list. They were instructed to find the best value. At that time of night, only one door was open at the store, Kim stayed at the front to make sure no one tried to leave. There was one poor cashier working at the time, 16 giggling girls tend to liven a very dead store up very quickly. Instead of reading the signs at the end of the aisles to find out where certain foods were, many of the girls would run up to the cashier and ask her where the items on their list could be found. I think we may have given the cashier a headache. The kids were having fun, she was being paid, so no harm in my book. I was standing in the back of the grocery store next to the bacon/ lunch meat area when this older woman was being escorted by 4 of my girls to me. As they approached I heard them say, "That is Miss Denise, our leader." My first thought was oh no I am going to be driving some kids home tonight. It was just the opposite. The woman thought it was just great I was taking them grocery shopping in the middle of the night. The girls were having a blast and she wanted to shake my hand. I learned a valuable lesson, in the middle of the night, teenage girls can find the best bargains. They actually divided price, weight and numbers to see what item had the best value for the dollar. I had estimated our groceries would total a little over three hundred dollars. With coupons, their best bargain shopping, the total was less than two hundred dollars.

The next afternoon as low tide was coming in, my Uncle Chuck arrived to take the girls sea shell hunting. Uncle Chuck had retired to live on Ocean Isle full time several years prior. He knew all the prime locations to find the most seashells. More importantly Uncle Chuck knew all the sandbars, drop off points, crevices and gullies in the ocean. All the girls were lined up, instructed to not stray away from the group, follow Uncle Chuck’s lead. All the chaperones were evenly spaced between the girls. Since I had been on the island and knew the sandbars as well, I brought up the rear. I reminded everyone we were not swimming, we were sea shell hunting so no diving in the water or chasing waves. As we were wading through thigh high water Natasha asked me, “Miss Denise what is the difference between seashell hunting and swimming. They are both done in the ocean.” I smiled and said, “It’s simple Tasha, as long as you can walk and there is no diving or swimming, then we are seashell hunting. And that my dear we are allowed to do without a lifeguard” She smiled then answered, ”Okay that makes sense.” After several successful hours of seashell hunting, as the tide started to change, everyone headed back to shore with their many treasures in tow. They had bags full of sand dollars, whelk shells, scallops, olives, moon snails, a couple conch shells and Mindy even found a starfish. (after everyone took a look, the starfish was gently put back on the bottom of the ocean.) When we arrived back at the beach in front of our house, all the girls bid Uncle Chuck goodbye. In unison they very loudly said, “Thank you Uncle Chuck”. As he was heading down the beach to his house a woman stopped him and asked, “Are they all really your nieces?” Uncle Chuck replied, “Yes they are! Wait until next week when my nephews arrive!” The wit and humor is definitely a family trait.

The rest of the week was filled with much adventure and fun. The girls toured a haunted grave yard, took an alligator jeep tour, spent the day at a water park, invaded Broadway at the Beach and Hard Rock Café. The kids had a blast swimming in the water at North Myrtle Beach. (They all wore their color coded scunchies.) Took a couple midnight walks on the beach with flashlights. Celebrated mid week with a BBQ. A BBQ which I am proud to say, I did not burn anything or catch anything on fire. (I am not grill savvy) On Friday we even invaded Crackel Barrel with the left over money the girls saved from shopping. The girls bought me a hot fudge sundae and sang Happy Birthday to me. To this day it is still one of my favorite birthday memories. I am happy to say we only had two small "incidents" while at the beach. Molly our fair skin redhead, forgot her sunscreen and did not bother to tell anyone. Within an hour on the first day her skin matched her hair color. Luckily we noticed before she was too burned. Heavy duty sunscreen and a long sleeve t-shirt solved all future problems. Christina our one child with braces had a wire break. That is when I discovered how hard it is to find a working orthodontist in a resort town at night. Through all the side trips, tours and detours we never lost a child. (my biggest fear). Nor did I ever wish to lose one. The girls were complimented on their brightly stamped wild t-shirts and their polite nature. I was extremely proud of them. The main goal was accomplished, everyone had a safe and fun trip.

Saturday morning, as we were packing up the vans to head home, Michelle, Mindy and several of the girls came up to me and said, “Miss Denise we want to let you know, we like your camping trips best. Can we do this again next year?”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Nicknames

The wonderful world of nicknames. When you are born your parents bestow on you a proper/given name, your full name. Most likely the only time our full name is ever used, other than graduation and other formal settings, is in a moment of anger by a parent to a child. When we hear our full name, we know instantly we are in trouble. At one point or another in our lifetime if we are lucky, we will all be given a nickname. The origins of some nicknames are easy to determine, the shortened version of the first name or perhaps a play off the last name. While other nicknames upon first hearing them it is hard to determine their correlation to the person. These nicknames, the ones that leave no clue to their inception, are usually the ones with the best stories behind them. They give you a glimpse into the persons life, their friends and most likely the crazy antics of a person’s youth. Well loved nicknames will accompany us from our youth into our old age. Many people have multiple nicknames, each corresponding to a time or group of persons in their life. I would be one of them.

Nisey Kay
My given name is Denise Kay Robinson. My middle name came from my grandmother, Nana Kay. I feel very honored to be named after such a remarkable woman. When my daughter was born I passed on the honor, I gave her Nana Kay’s proper name, Kathryn. Growing up my parents, cousins, sister and friends called me Denise. My Dad’s sisters, my aunts, called me by another name, Nisey Kay. When I was younger I hoped in time I would out grow Nisey Kay. I believed the name sounded young, immature, a name you would call a baby. I never outgrew the nickname, even at the age of 47, at family gatherings, beach week reunions, my aunts still call me Nisey Kay.I wouldn’t have it any other way. With time I have come to embrace my nickname. With age, came the understanding Nisey Kay was given to me out of love. It is my aunts' term of endearment towards me. My family nickname continues and has been 'passed down'. I look forward to the day when the newest member of our family will lovingly call me Nisey!!

When I was younger, other than Nisey Kay, I was never given any nickname that stuck. In high school, when I lost my voice Alex Militich dubbed me Mr. Ed. He called me that his entire senior year, when he left for college he would address his letters to me Mr. Ed Robinson. Thankfully the name never caught on with our friends. It would be during my college years that three nicknames would be bequeathed upon me. Each has it’s own crazy history. The first nickname was given to me by my gymnastics team, the second by a group of friends I hung out with at Navy Football games, the last was given to me one crazy night while walking through the yard at the Naval Academy. These nicknames have managed to survive the past twenty five plus years.

When I first enrolled at U.M.B.C. I had no idea they had a competitive gymnastics team. Every freshman was required to take a gym class. Wanting at least one class where I could guarantee myself an easy A, I registered for gymnastics. The first day of class, I changed and arrived at the gym early. That would be one of the few times I was ever early for a class. As I entered the gym I noticed the floor mat was set. To me it was inviting me to ‘play’. There was only one other person in the gym, a small blonde woman dressed in warm-ups sitting against the bleachers. She looked very young, I assumed she was another student waiting for class. I stretched for a few minutes, then began to tumble from one corner of the mat to the other. I wanted to unwind, have a little fun before class.

Back in the old days, when a gymnast tumbled we did a three step run with a power hurdle. The run allowed a gymnast to get the most power out of a short run, maximize the length of the mat. A few passes later, when I ended in the corner of the mat closest to the blonde she smiled and asked, “I am just curious why do you turn your feet out before your hurdle?” I told her I never realized I did. She laughed, said I reminded her of a duck running. Then she added I should never change my run, it worked well for me. When the class began a few minutes later, I was shocked when the small blonde stood up, introduced herself as Kathy. She would be our class instructor, she was also the gymnastics coach at the college. After class I was invited to join the gymnastics team, I was informed the next practice was that afternoon at three she hoped I would come.

I was nervous as I walked into my first college practice. The girls had been conditioning together all summer, I was a freshman, a newbie, I was afraid I would not fit in. As the team began to stretch Kathy called me over, I stood next to her as she introduced me to the team, announced she had seen me tumble earlier, they were going to love the height I got on my tumbling passes. After the introduction we were all told to line up in the corner of the mat to start floor drills. Slowly standing tumbling progressed into running tumbling. As I took my turn I could hear a couple of the girls confirm, yes she does turn her feet out. Apparently the coach had already told several of the senior members of the team about my unusual tumbling hurdle. At the end of drills, before the team broke off to practice on individual apparatus, we were allowed to let loose, show off a bit. Each girl after completing their fun pass, would return to line and receive high fives from the rest of the team. As I returned to the line after one of my passes, Teresa a senior on the team, gave me a high five then very loudly congratulated me with, “Way to go Waddles!” From that moment on, at every practice, every meet, every road trip I was no longer Denise, I was Waddles.

Dinker would be the one nickname that has stuck with me through the years. I have come to love the name, Dinker. The name was given to me by a group of friends who I hold dear. They are truly the nicest bunch of people I have ever met and known. For those of you who do not know me personally, I graduated from Arundel Senior High School in 1981. Growing up a good friend of my sister and I was Gary McCarthy. Gary grew up a few streets over from us. After Gary graduated from Arundel he attended the United States Naval Academy. He became a member of the class of 1983, 7th Company. Some of my fondest memories are the tailgaters in the parking lot of St. Paul's church just off of Farrragut Road with the guys from 7th company. I cannot recall the exact date it happened, or the football game when it first occurred. I am positive I recorded the occasion in one of my old diaries but for now all I remember is one afternoon after a football game I was standing in the parking lot enjoying the food and company when several of the guys from the class of 83 instead of saying hi Denise as they walked by, they greeted me with “Hey Dinker”. Every time someone would call me Dinker I was puzzled but I also laughed. I was positive beer had something to do with the guys strange behavior, that or a bet. After my high school friends began to address me as Dinker or Dinker Doodle at the tailgater I confronted the first person who called me Dinker, Jeff Armstrong. Puzzled I asked him why all of a sudden everyone was calling me Dinker? He informed me the guys had determined I had been hanging out with them long enough, I needed a nickname. They voted, it was Dinker.

As time passed more and more people began to call me Dinker. I soon found I was no longer introduced as Denise, only Dinker. The more the name stuck, the more I wondered why that nickname? Many times I would ask the guys how they came up with Dinker? Each time I would be met with smiles and laughter but no one would give me an answer except it fit me perfectly. The beginning of 1983, I convinced Jeff he was not allowed to graduate from the Academy without telling me why Dinker, what did it mean? Finally a few weeks before he graduated, after 2 years of being called Dinker I was told the origins of my nickname. As the story or reasoning behind my nickname was revealed I was not sure if I should be embarrassed or laugh. I determined it was better to laugh. Some women might have been offended by their reasoning, how the guys of 7th company derived Dinker, I was/am actually flattered. Jeff revealed to me the guys admired the fact I was a gymnast, more specifically they loved my gymnast butt. It was, as he described it, perfectly dinky, not too big, not too small. 'It' sat upright, looked great in jeans. Hence the girl with the great dinky butt was dubbed Dinker. I never asked exactly when and where they came up with the name, or how the subject even came up, some things are better left unknown. I enjoyed the compliment from some very dear friends. With age I no longer have the small perfect dinky butt, but the nickname Dinker has stayed with me and I wouldn't have it any other way!!

White Works
For some reason during my college years, I could flip, turn and leap on a 4 inch wide piece of wood, the balance beam, and rarely fall. On that piece of gymnastic apparatus I was graceful. Take me out of the gym, in normal life, I was a klutz. Hand me a drink minus a lid, ask me to walk further than a few feet some how or another I ended wearing it. Either I would spill it on myself or someone would bump into me. I seemed to be a magnet for flying liquids. I won’t complain, my being a klutz led me to meet one of the nicest men, who gave me a crazy nickname and an even funnier story.

Throughout my college years, I spent many weekends with my best friends, Valerie and Mary at the home of Captain and Mrs. Flight. The Flights lived on ‘Captain’s Row” on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy. Weekends at their home consisted of good food, the ‘beverage of your choice’, great conversation, Trivial Pursuit, pool, all kinds of fun and hanging out with friends.

Normally when something was spilled I was able to move, avoid the drink that was heading in my direction. Only a drop or two would end up on my clothing. This particular Friday night in the fall of 1982 I was not so lucky. I was sitting against the wall, between two people when I reached across the table and knocked a glass over. I was unable to move out of the way of the cascading liquid. I was drenched from the waist down. Thankfully the glass was filled with water and not beer. Mrs. Flight offered me her son Fred's white works pants to wear while my skirt was in the dryer. It was going to be a while before the skirt was dry and I would be able to head downtown. To pass time while we waited, for some unknown reason the three of us decided to walk across the Academy to the sailing center to see if the rumors we had heard from other girls were true.

There sits on the deck of the sailing center several pairs of huge binoculars. They were installed so tourists could look at the sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay. The previous summer one of our friends discovered by ‘accident’ the binoculars had another useful purpose and passed the information on. If you turn the binoculars inward, you get a great view of Bancroft Hall. I can't remember whose room we were trying to find, but we were all enjoying the search! I laughed hysterically at the commentary as my friends scanned the rooms of 'Mother B'. After a successful mission, the room located, the message taped to the window read, the three of us headed back across the yard towards the Flight's house.

As we were walking through the yard, next to Bancroft hall, we heard a loud voice with a deep southern accent yell, "Hey White Works!” I froze, I knew the statement was directed at me. We all looked up trying to see who was yelling at me. It was nighttime, the light from his room was behind him, we could not make out who was yelling, or what he looked like. As I stared up at the darkened figure in the window he pleaded, “Hey White Works, talk to me! Tell me your name!” I laughed in embarrassment when he asked me to go out with him. When I didn’t answer, he began to plead his case for a date. He told me numerous times "I was the best looking thing he had ever seen in white works." He asked again what my name was. Not knowing who he was, or what he looked like, I didn't give him my name. I simply told him thank you for the compliment but no thanks. The four of us yelled back and forth for a few minutes as he tried to persuade me and/or my friends to at least give him my name. Give him a chance and some hope to find me again. It was a simple request, he was harmless. That was the least we could do for him. If not he was going to have to go through his life only knowing the woman of his dreams as white works the woman who refused to tell him her name. I still remember the sound of his sexy southern accent call out as we walked away, "White Works come back I just want to know your name!" Later at Fran’s the three of us laughed over drinks at our adventure through the yard, the unknown mid calling me white works. We didn’t know who he was or what he looked like but we all agreed we loved his southern accent.

A week later, Mary, Val and I found ourselves once again hanging out with friends at Fran’s. Along the far wall of Fran’s is a row of tall bar tables. As I made my way through the crowd along the tables, searching for a friend, I noticed a guy was staring at my butt as I walked by. A minute later I heard a very loud southern accent exclaim, "Hey White Works!” Just as I had done the week before, I stopped when I heard him yell. Apparently I do not have a good poker face. I tried to act innocent, like I didn't know what he was talking about. I was unsuccessful, Bo busted me. When I froze, the look on my face, he knew I was the girl he had seen in the yard the week before. He jumped from his bar stool, grabbed my hand and announced I was not leaving this time until I gave him my name. He kept laughing out loud repeating over and over he knew I was white works when I walked by, he recognized my butt. There was no way he could ever forget what my butt looked like in “them white works.”

After I promised I would not walk away if he let go of my hand, he introduced himself as Bo Stephens, 16th company. He added he was the best looking, most charming man I was ever going to meet. Then asked what my name was, I smiled and introduced myself. Even though I had finally told him my name was Denise, he preceded to introduce me to all his friends at Fran's as White Works. With each introduction he would tell his buddies my butt was the best damn thing he had ever seen in “them pants”. As the drinks flowed, the night became later, I was even introduced several times as White Works the future Mrs. Bo Stephens.

I met his brother Billy Bob a few weeks later at UMBC. I learned at the party where Bo got his wild outspoken nature, it seemed to run in the family. Billy Bob was not shy and just as outspoken and forthright as his brother, Bo. I learned in the course of our conversation, somehow I had been the topic of discussion between brothers a few times. When I turned to walk away, go get another drink, Billy Bob said loudly, “Yep Bo is right you do have a great ass!”

I would run into Bo and his friends numerous times before he graduated from the Academy. Each time he would greet me with the familiar call, "Hey White Works!” Bo made me laugh, he made me smile but I would never go out with the handsome man with the sexy accent from Ozark, Alabama. He found a much better match for himself the summer of 1983. Later he would marry his beautiful nurse!!

Fifteen years later at the USNA class of 1984 reunion tailgater I ran into Bo. He was still handsome, still had the same sexy accent. I laughed when he introduced me to his wife as, “This is White Works! The best damn thing I have ever seen in them pants!”