Off the Top of my Head
Mumblings from LocSec Larry Liles
Hello my smart friends,
I had to look at my calendar to figure out what has happened since I last caught up with you. This has been a month of whirlwind activity. The evening after my last missive, I attended the Osirus Ball with my daughter. I had bought two ten-person tables (from 260 total tables) with a couple women in tuxedos I had met there in 2020. We were located next to the backstage curtain where the king and queen and the ensuing tableaux were staged before circling the Convention Center. It was perfect for up-close viewing all the groups as they set up. And large video monitors from the ceiling allowed us to watch the performance of the tableau. The finale was a giant balloon drop followed by loud techno music and dancing. This year there was plenty of food for the guests.
I was not dancing wild but was getting a nice push off slide out of my patent leathers which was fun, until I woke up the next morning with a strained hip flexor that felt like my left leg had become detached. This resulted in a lower back strain experienced in the next three balls (Polka Dots, Juno and LaShes – it’s tough getting old), a private review of the Conde Cavalier parade at the Mardi Gras Museum, and three float shed review parties, (LaShes, Mystics of Time and Comic Cowboys), the latter which I crashed, as the LaShes nearby was a puddle event in the weekend rain.
Finally, I was feeling good again for the MOT Ball and had a great time. I believe it was the largest gathering I attended. The masked men poured out onto the floor with their ladies in a continuous flow, lacking the skits and formality I had seen at the women’s’ groups balls. I was told they had 490 members on their floats, so at least a thousand people paraded onto the floor. Then Father Time escorted the young Queen around the floor, shared a dance, invited members to dance and the party was on. The main Civic Center floor was packed for a rock band, and the two side halls by the main entrance were open and packed for two country groups. There was plenty of food and bars were bountiful and busy. At the MOT float review I learned that after a float broke down last year, they had rebuilt six undercarriages and revamped all the floats with new LED rope lighting and a great theme of “A Monster in Time.”
A bowling team member asked me to accompany her to the Polka Dots of which she and her sister are second generation members. This was her first return to Mardi Gras since Covid. Her insights really enriched my understanding of what was happening with back stories of changes over the years. I purchased MOT tickets from her nephew only to find that my daughter decided to stay in Orlando after a business conference to attend a Metal concert, so my teammate was my guest to the MOT events, where she also had insights on as her second husband was a member. Additionally, as a life-long Mobilian, three months younger than me, she was greeted with acquaintances everywhere we went. I would just step aside. My life has been so nomadic that I do not know how to relate to friends from kindergarten, middle or high school, or gained from a career in one location. I consider it an act of freedom to go to a new place and begin anew while dropping bad karma that may have accumulated. I asked if it was a burden to carry a long life of history in a single place, which she found to be odd to consider. She is rich with friends, both good and bad, and all who have changed over time.
So, this was a most curious Mardi Gras for me. I love it all. Mobile is a special place because of Mardi Gras and community involvement. I did learn that it is expensive to be a society Queen, running from $25k to $60k, (those fancy trains they wear are expensive) which sort of blocks out many younger women from the position. And members spend thousands of dollars on throws into the crowd. I will probably stay a curious bystander.
Meanwhile, I was still running the State SAR Eagle Scholarship contest and packaging applications for judging and doing all the communications and paperwork for our state convention this coming weekend in Birmingham. My local winner came in a strong second. She is only 15, and I wrote a special email to encourage her to keep up what she is doing. Our state winner is 18 and started taking college credits in his Junior year of high school, while earning all 138 merit badges available, plus a special one offered only one year. So, 139 merit badges and several high adventure experiences. He is equally well rounded in all the other areas we measure and wrote a fine essay on spies in our Revolutionary War. I have very high expectations that he will do well at the national level, announced next July. The winner there earns $10k. I will be at our youth award luncheon to introduce him and meet his parents and little sister who will be our guests, while he receives a nice Eagle sculpture trophy and a check for $750. Checks will also be mailed to our 2nd and 3rd place applicants.
Hello. Surprise. I also pulled the front passenger handle completely out of the door of my Escalade and was fortunate to get a quick repair. The handles are chrome film-covered plastic which failed, and the screws pulled plugs out of the handle’s body. I just roll with the punches.
Grandson Tristan completed his Tenderfoot Rank and should be ready the first week of March for the Second-Class Board of Review. This coming weekend he has a one-night National Jamboree shakedown campout where tent buddies and leadership positions will be decided. Schools are closed this week, but he is putting in six-hour days Monday and Tuesday at Flight Works Alabama at Brookley to earn the Electricity and Electronic merit badges.
Flight Works is a STEM educational organization that appears to prepare individuals to go to work at Airbus. He also has a joint Mobile/Baldwin Camporee in two weeks and a Merit Badge Day at USA coming up.
Bowling took a two-week hiatus due to my back. I am good to go this week. Getting a crown installed, other doctor appointments, daily school pickup of Tristan at Barton, running my daughter to and from the Pensacola airport, our meetings, and a Herb Society social at 7 Spices Restaurant all seem to run together with ordinary daily activities. I actually skipped my monthly SAR meeting to attend a ball. Our Chapter President says nothing like that goes on in Bay Minette where he lives.
And finally, I am still looking for a few more men to fill out our second CultureQuest team. I have made phone calls and written emails and have some success. So, if any of you fellows have a knack for social trivia, please give us a call. We can hook up via Zoom if needed. Dr. & Mayor Howard Rubenstein has found room for both teams in Saraland, where we can have a pizza party afterwards, as we load up our answers on Survey Monkey. April 30th , about 2:30 to 5PM. The contest is 90 minutes.
We return to Daylight Saving on Sunday, March 12th. Hurray.
Wishing you all the very best.
Larry. Your LocSec (i.e., Local Secretary)