The college football season has begun.
I've never understood the hyper-intense college-football
fan. Why ruin something that's as much fun as college football with a load of tension that swoops up and down on wings of
19-year-old men? Save the ulcers for gambling pro fans. Sure, there's an emotional attachment to the place you spent your
college years (widely held, possibly mythical, but anecdotally* true truism -- the most insanely devoted college fans are often, if not mostly,
folks who never attended the institutuion), but shouldn't that mean you could just bask in the glow of sentimentality chased
by another pull on the flask? It's always worked for me.
opened with two wins. Hip, hip. My parents went to Mizzou, uncles went to Mizzou (*another uncle, who did not attend, was
the most devoted fan of the football team), sister went to Mizzou. I went to Mizzou. So.
The University of Misssouri is 30 miles south of my father's birthplace. Dad arrived on campus by way
of submarine service in the Pacific and a Nov. 28, 1945, discharge in St. Louis. When he left Moberly for induction, everyone
in town called him Lavern, the middle name his mother saddled him with and called him. He came back a war veteran named Dave,
a shortened version of his given first name.
He pledged a fraternity. Rules, beanies and hazing seem unlikely for a house of veterans.
One of his fraternity brothers was Mort Walker. Though Mr. Walker went on to greater fame with sophisticated jokes about Ms. Buxley, my dad first knew him as editor
of Missouri Showme, Mizzou's contribution to the postwar boom in campus humor mags. The Harvard Lampoon is the best known
of the lot, but after WWII, they were all over the place. The Ohio State Sun-Dial. The California Pelican. KU's Bitter Bird.
Showme is also the tenuous forebear of the maneater, the student newspaper where I worked when I hit campus nearly 40 years later.
For the first year I was
at school, The Shack was open, a place that made appearances in "Beetle Bailey" and served beer to 18-year-olds. My parents
drank there when they weren't at The V Bar in Moberly. My mom began at Mizzou during the war -- as a 20-year-old she got on
a train in Dallas and headed 500 miles away to Columbia, where she had never been before -- and lived in in a dorm that featured in a witty ditty my dad sang to the tune of "Across the Alley From the Alamo." I don't remember all the words, but it started "Across the alley from the Pronto Pup lived Naudane Pearl...". Dad probably offered a bowdlerized version for his children's consumption.
This line of thought prompted me to pull out my father's collection of Showme magazines.
Among the 18 issues I've got is the cover leading off this post, one of the handful that feature covers by Walker. Dave Flemming
shows up in the masthead under the unlikely category of Art Staff.
undertaken a scanning project to get all the covers, back covers (alternating Camel and Chesterfield ads with bold health
claims and the endorsements of Hollywood stars and Stan Musial) and a couple inside pages. Another uncle -- one who has kept
the offbeat middle name his mother gave him as his chosen name throughout life, probably because his first name, my grandfather's,
was no better on the offbeat scale-- has a portrait in one month's issue as the designated BMOC. I'll get these scanned in,
preserved digitally, and then do what I've meant to do for a good long while: Give them away.