Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
I wanted to show you this photo, even though it’s a bit blurry,
of my friend F.M. Moore, Jr. -- it was taken last Sunday evening when about 20 of us gathered at a restaurant to celebrate his 80th birthday. The restaurant was a very good Italian one. I find it quite amusing, however, that the birthday celebration of a man who for many years directed large church choirs was held in a place named Altobeli’s.
You probably noticed that my friend is not wearing what the well-dressed Atlantan usually wears -- a straw hat, faded denim overalls, no shirt, bare feet, and some hay between the teeth -- but is decked out instead in full Scottish regalia. The outfit is authentic. F.M. told us that he had wanted it from the minute he saw it in a store in Edinburgh, Scotland, several years ago. His daughter purchased it as a surprise for him, but he never wore it until last Sunday.
F.M. has been called only that -- F.M. -- his entire life. No one, not even his daughters, seemed to know his full name, and he never divulged it. Maybe no one ever asked. It is not unusual in the American South for a man to go by his initials only. I went to school with a D.K. and a J.W. and an L.W., and my daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s second husband was called H.O., just like the tracks in model railroading. But I digress. F.M. is one of the world’s great story tellers, and one day not too long ago when he was telling a story that involved his parents, he happened to mention that their names were Leona and Frank. Something clicked in my brain.
“F.M.,” I said, “is your name Francis Marion?”
He looked quite surprised and said that it was. He asked me how I knew that.
I really don’t know how I knew that, except that Frank is sometimes used as a nickname for Francis, F.M. is a Junior, and the only Francis M. I ever heard of in my entire life is the American Revolutionary War military leader, General Francis Marion of South Carolina, who practically invented guerilla warfare and is known as the Swamp Fox.
At the end of his birthday evening, F.M. divulged his name to the guests. So far, though, no one has dared called him the Swamp Fox.
So now I know two Francis Marions. One of them is crafty and one of them -- I refer you to the photograph -- is drafty.