“Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”

As is the Southern tradition, Ansel Head’s religious education started early. He faintly remembers attending the Mountain Brook Methodist Church in the heart of Crestline Village in the center of the Tiny Kingdom. That building, now sporting a reddish-purple paint, is used for more secular purposes. In order to better symbolize their high station, its members moved the Church early on to a grander structure with a lofty steeple rising ever upwards to the heavens.  

Head remembers nothing of his lessons at the Methodist Sunday school; but he has never forgotten having to abandon his holster filled with silver bullets and two six-shooters and being forced into a collarless tweed jacket, ruffled shirt, hideous short pants, knee socks, and highly polished Buster Brown tie-ups. Continue reading

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Costume Courses

Halloween is for kids unless adults prohibit their joining in on the fall ritual for religious or nutritional purposes. It’s not just the candy, even though that is a great treat for those who participate. It’s the fun of dressing up in costumes and running around with friends. Adults too like costumes and Halloween revelry, especially when alcohol is involved.

As a youngster, Ansel Head was no different. Every year he dressed and mined for sweets. His grandparent’s house, which was just up the street, was always home to the mother load. His grandfather owned grocery stores where vast treasures were stored in unlimited abundance; and his grandmother, who was not one of those hung up on the dietary dangers of Halloween candy, held the keys. No apples, oranges, or raisons were taking up room in her treat bags; she instinctively knew young ghouls and goblins would thrive best on chocolate and hard candy. Continue reading

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Up On The Roof

Ansel Head had been on many roofs when he was running his grandfather’s real estate company in Birmingham. They were flat ones, built up over the wooden decking with coal tar felt, hot pitch, and gravel. Climbing the ladders to the low buildings had been no real challenge to the former Navy fighter pilot. As for the guys actually doing the work, they were more concerned with heat than height.  When it came to spreading hot tar from boiling kettles in the August sun, junior executive Head omitted that course from his quest for an education.  

It takes a special breed to be a roofer, to do this grueling, backbreaking job high above the ground. But without these fearless craftsmen, tent makers and miners would be the only ones providing shelter for the masses. Continue reading

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The Restless Wind

In his ninth or tenth year, Ansel Head wasn’t sent back to the mountains of North Carolina for a third summer at Camp Mondamin. Instead his family toured the West for three weeks in a Mercury station wagon. Trunks covered the left and middle back seat, which had been folded down flat, and the empty compartment in the far back; that’s where Head and his sister resided. Their older brother sat in the remaining, upright rear seat;  by then, the prewar boy was a cadet at McCallie and considered too old to comingle with his siblings in their travelling play pen. Their mother and father rode in the front seat with a newly installed air conditioner under the dashboard between them. Hanging from the hood ornament was a canvas water bag for refilling the radiator when the hot weather, high altitude, and the extra burden from the A/C overheated the engine. Continue reading

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Ansel Larry Is Dead

Watching his friend Ansel Larry die was a hard lesson. But even for the uninterested Head, an education in death was a required course for his education. In a short span, he had been forced to study at close hand his brother’s death, his mother’s deteriorating health, his own knee replacement, and then his friend’s departure. Things were getting too near to Head for him to disregard the subject any longer.

It had taken over a month after Larry’s death Continue reading

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Fly Navy

W&L for all of its tradition and revelry offered no practical education. Professors had taught only theory and mostly uninteresting theory at that. With Vietnam awaiting anyone who quit the dull game, frat boy Ansel Head had focused on perfecting his social graces and maintaining his draft deferment with gentlemen’s C’s. He knew so little, he thought that work important. Despite the fact that in four days any boy could have learned everything practical being offered during the four years, graduation had been unclear for the three Natural Bridge renters until the final grade from the last exam. Two of the three made it. Head was one of them.

Fly Navy

No young man who had wasted four years on a four day course could resist the recruiting poster showing a Navy F-4 Phantom jet armed to the teeth, poised on the catapult, engines at full throttle, steam escaping from behind the shuttle, the catapult officer on one knee, arm extended, pointing straight down the deck. To be a Navy fighter pilot, now there was a practical education. Continue reading

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Ansel Larry’s Whims

An Ansel Larry Original

Ansel Larry makes and collects things. Casa de Ville at Loon’s Lake has been transformed into a studio for pursuing his eccentric whims. And Larry’s whims have given Ansel Head objects to photograph. It’s a win-win for the Ansel boys. 

Head published a collection of his photos, appropriately named “Ansel Larry’s Things“. What could folk guru Pete Seeger, who provides the audio, and Ansel Larry have in common? Both believe Nixon has to go. Poor Tricky has been dead for almost 20 years; but seminal figures are defining figures and provide surety to one’s place in society. 

Flaunting solidarity, Ansel Larry is now sporting a pony tail. Do not fret, though, for in the jungle, the quiet jungle next to his house, the lion sleeps tonight.

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The Young Photographer

Ansel Head has always liked pictures. Appreciating them required little intellect or psychic energy which befits his non-superior traits. Perhaps his interest came from having seen early on what have become iconic images: The sailor kissing a nurse in Time Square on V-J day, the Black accordion player with tears in his eyes as FDR’s body was passing, humbled Japanese officials lined up in front of MacArthur on the USS Missouri, or the blank stare of the wife of an Alabama sharecropper in front of her wooden shanty. Continue reading

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Aunt Charlotte

Ansel Head thought he might have to give a eulogy at the passing of his favorite Aunt. He composed one knowing his mother would also be present. Fortunately for those attending the service in Lake Forest, IL, they were not forced to suffer through it. But since these two ladies were an integral part of Head’s education and what he retained from it, the reader will now be offered the opportunity to review it. In Ansel Head’s own words:

 “The younger sister of my father and the mother of my best friend has died and we are saddened by it. Continue reading

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Smiling

Ansel Head’s father always smiled and spoke to people, even strangers. He used to tell his non-superior son that being cordial was a great joy in life because people always smile back and make the day brighter. It was an easy task to perform when growing up in the South; everybody acknowledged each other with a nod and smile. To fail to do so would raise antennas and create suspicion.

At Washington & Lee, gentlemen were required to speak to each other as they passed; Continue reading

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