The Little Orphan Granny, at the beginning the third quarter of his junior year in the summer of 1956, was coerced by his roommate and one of his best friends, Righteous Ray – also seeking a Bachelor of Science in
Mechanical Engineering and also a Co-operative Engineering Student assigned to work at Pidgeon-Thomas -- into “pledging” to a college fraternity named Pi Kappa Alpha – which was affectionately named The Pikes. Righteous Ray had been a brother in The Pikes since early in his UT experience.
Righteous Ray had already insisted on proper sleep, exercise, and food for The Orphan. Now Righteous Ray had decided that The Orphan had not seen any sign of a part of UT that was a social life and that The Orphan’s education would be incomplete with the present plan. Righteous Ray said to
The Orphan in his quiet, pedantic way,
“…Granny, if you are to succeed as well as you wish, you must have manners and social skills as well as your people skills and engineering skills and you must know more than just work and equations. You just follow your mentor Old Wallace Ray
Weathersby to his fraternity, and after serving an apprenticeship called “pledging” and after being “initiated” (a very misnamed thing), you will be a member for life -- and the fraternity needs your high grade-point average to bolster the image of the fraternity to The UT President…”
The Orphan followed Righteous Ray to The Pi Kappa Alpha Zeta Chapter Party house – “…The PKA House…” – and “…pledged…” where only a few of the brothers could afford to room. The Orphan was a very old pledge at 21 since most of the other pledges were 18 to 19. He was initiated into the fraternity at the end of the pledging
The initiation was fairly tame – especially as the streams of warm fluids on their naked bodies was warm water from water pistols and not warm pee as the pledges were led to believe.
But pledging was a different story. The Orphan will not chronicle all of the evil acts by “the brothers” during pledging.
The Orphan will only say that he was thankful (the ONLY time in his life) for the toughening of his butt by the “whuppin’s” of The Forbidding Giant. During the probationary time while a new brother was only a pledge, it was considered a right of a “…brother…” to
find an imagined fault and then to make the pledge bend over and grab his knees so he could be hit him on the butt with the three-foot-long paddle that the pledge was required to have with him at all times when in the fraternity house.
Suffice it to say that some people in this world are mean, cruel, sadistic and miserable sons-of-bitches.
However, it was also a custom in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity to permit a pledge to challenge an overeager “brother” to “…trade licks…” For this reason, The Orphan’s butt did not suffer too much. Besides, The Orphan’s butt had been trained and prepared by the ministrations of The Forbidding Giant.
Also The Orphan’s arms were strong from adagio (throwing 80-pound Peggy Holden in the air with one arm), “throwing” newspapers, military calisthenics, pulling an 80-pound yew longbow, lifting cartons in Williams Weona
Grocery and lifting hay bales.
So, when a brother exercised an arbitrary right to use the paddle on The Orphan to bolster his pitiful ego and show himself to be one of the mean, cruel, sadistic and miserable son-of-bitches of the world, The Orphan would exercise his right to the challenge to trade licks, and when the work-hardened mighty muscles of The
Orphan wielded the paddle on the butt of a brother, it was usually a measure that prevented any licks from ever again being administered by a brother.
In one case, one of the brothers apparently did not see the desired humility and butt-kissing in The Orphan that he thought appropriate so he used the paddle once too often. The Orphan challenged. The brother’s paddle bounced off the hard butt of The Orphan. The brother bravely pretended that The Orphan’s hit was that of a
baby but The Orphan could see smoke rising from the brother’s butt.
The Orphan challenged again. The paddle bounced off The Orphan’s butt. When The Orphan swung through the target while putting his whole body into the swing the brother let out a bit of a yelp and there was more smoke. The Orphan challenged again. The bounce off The Orphan’s butt wasn’t even noticed. After The Orphan
repeated his perfect swing again, the brother danced around with his pelvis pushed forward and suggested enough was enough. One could almost see flames licking out of the seat of this asshole’s pants. The Orphan challenged again. This time there were tears in the brother’s eyes and his licks to The Orphan had no steam. After several more challenges, one of the brothers asked
The Orphan as a favor to cease before some permanent damage occurred.
The Orphan honored the request and, after thanking the asshole brother for the lesson and workout, told the brother that on the morrow The Orphan would be ready to continue. The brother was not seen for several days and then if he saw The Orphan he would run and hide. Always remember
The Bully Rule!
When the Orphan was initiated, a brother named Wonderful Wade, who was President of Pi Kappa Alpha, lent The Orphan the initiation fee to join and did not require the loan to be repaid. The Orphan had scrimped and saved extra to fund the last four straight quarters of school and was able to repay the loan before
graduating. Wonderful Wade was startled and said he did not expect repayment. The Orphan told Wonderful Wade that all debts must always be paid -- and Wonderful Wade and The Orphan remain friends today.
Wonderful Wade lived in The Frat house. The Orphan still “lived” in Tough Thomas’s basement with Righteous Ray – and was still painting the house.
One of the social skills The Orphan learned during his time as a Pike was the use of an anesthetic called ethanol. The only experience that The Orphan had had was with a diluted form called a beer – which The Orphan could never finish since it tasted to The Orphan as he imagined that soured pig pee would taste.
While in New Orleans, The Orphan had drunk a concoction called a “Hurricane”
at Pat O’Brien’s in the French quarter – but only one (being short of funds is not always evil) and was on a full stomach from Antoine’s Restaurant (a major reason for being short of funds!). At that time The Orphan was not fully aware
of the cause of The Gail’s projectile puking but was to learn.
The Orphan’s real anesthetic initiation occurred during a class quarter in his junior year at UT in Knoxville. The Orphan had attained the legal age of 21. The tribe of people who were now named “Fraternity Brothers” served 7-Up that tasted funny (tasted funny, “gee whiz” -- not tasted funny, “ha-ha”) to The innocent
This initiation quickly resulted in The Orphan (The Real Granville was already someplace in cyberspace – although cyberspace was not yet known by humans) becoming so semi-comatose that the evil fraternity brothers had to drive him home and help him to bed – but not before The Orphan had filled the gutters on Cumberland
Avenue across and down the hill from Ayres Hall of The University of Tennessee and in front of the home of the Assistant Dean of Engineering, Tough Thomas, with used funny-tasting 7-Up and other things.
Later The Orphan learned that the flavor of ethanol used to give the 7-Up the funny taste was named vodka and it was the copious quantities of vodka-flavored ethanol in the 7-Up that caused The Team’s semi-comatose situation and the body’s copious rejection of the massive doses of this anesthetic. (It was years before The
Orphan really regained a taste for 7-Up – funny-tasting or not.)
The day following the real anesthetic initiation (fortunately a Sunday -- no classes) was a day of dry-mouth, dry-heaving, head-hammering, hell-on-earth misery. The misery was exacerbated by a pitiful whiny-voiced continuous berating, ranging in tone from rage to sorrow, from The Real Granville,
“…Orphan, see why you are an orphan. Do you see what happens when you lose me? What did you do – the data is hazy? Why do I feel like shit? Oh Orphan, who may become an orphan permanently if this is an example of a college education, maybe we ought to
go home to Muddy and only cut lawns and throw newspapers and I see you thinking this anesthetic is a way of quieting me but you will be so sorry…”
The Orphan did not need this berating from The Real Granville as The Orphan also felt like shit. The Real Granville was also wrong. The Orphan was nowhere near ready to even consider the possibility of a temporary exorcism of The Real Granville by the use of the anesthetic.
At that moment in time The Orphan had firmly decided to never use the anesthetic again – not ever!
But this decision did not last. Some time after his anesthetic initiation, The Orphan started a painful trial and error learning process to determine the appropriate amounts of the anesthetic that would cause euphoria and not illness. So The Orphan (with The Real Granville scowling with folded arms) did continue the use
of the anesthetic because The Orphan knew that all things must be mastered and that the only way to grasp a nettle was firmly.
The Orphan now had a way to be alone and be an independent individual, even if for only a short time, by the wary use of some flavor of the anesthetic called ethanol. The Real Granville, though, was sometimes sneaky and had his own tricks, defenses and controls – which were not always immediately shared with The Orphan.
This ethanol skill was to be of great use to The Orphan during his 40-year bondage to The Mighty Boeing.
There are almost no other stories of adventures at UT since Righteous Ray mostly managed the junior year. The Orphan frequently ate at the Frat house but could never spare the time from studies to party.
Co-op work was finished and The Orphan became a senior in the fall of 1956. Now the professors were interested in “finishing” (in the good way) the Orphan’s education.
As will be seen in Chapter 20, the final chapter of The Early Adventures, the life of The Orphan was to go through more wrenching changes that were built upon his twelve quarters of school at UT Knoxville from 1952 to 1957 -- five years of hell-on-earth classes and studies and work. These changes would again
refocus his whole life.