Last week my wife's cousin, Bobo Herring, from Traphill up in Wilkes County, visited the University of North Carolina with his eldest son. Willy Bob has been offered a Morehead Scholarship and Bobo wanted to see "what Willy Bob would be gettin' into." This is Bobo’s report.
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Right off I got to thinkin', we have made some kinda mistake a-comin' down c'here on a Saturd'y. There's such a passel a-people, and so many dang cars, all a-goin' somewhere. These young'uns in bright orange was a-tellin ever'body where they oughta go. So we did.
We drove right into this building the like of which I ain't never see'd. They's a-givin' us this little slip a-paper, what for I do not know. We drove on in and drove around, and around, and around, and around, 'til we ended up right smack on top of that building. When we stopped, I jump'd right outta that car, and hurried, 'long with ever'body else, 'fore that buildin' commenced to fallin' and kill't us all.
A-where we was a-goin', it did not seem to matter as that there crowd was a-carryin' us like sticks on swollen crick. Next thing you know we was at some sorta great big gates like what let you into Heaven, where this man in a pretty blue vestment was sayin', "Tickets."
I had that little slip a-paper, so I handed it to him.
He said, "This isn't a ticket, sir."
I said, "Then I ain't got no ticket. And I don't know why I should."
Just then I hear’d a voice, sayin', "Bobo, that you?" It was my Uncle Leonard.
After tellin' him of my perdicament, he said, "I got tickets. You and Willy Bob come on with me to the Pope's Box."
So we get in one them elevators like they got over at Wilkes General, and when them doors open you ain't never seen the like of it. Ever'thin' was all a-painted blue like a robin's egg. It was right pretty, if'n you like that sorta thing.
It musta been some sort of potluck, 'cause they was food ever'where. Willie Bob and I got heapin' plates full and went and sit down. I look up and they's fans and heaters and shades and picture tubes ever'where. I look down and they's thousands and thousands of people all a-lookin' at a pretty piece a-pasture with lines drawed all over it. What the for, I do not know.
Ever'body was just a-lookin', so we was a-lookin' too. Then I saw they was a-lookin' at a tunnel at the end of that pasture and it was a-fire, with smoke just a-pourin' out. I was a-thinkin' somebody oughta douse that fire, when a whole bunch of great big young'uns come a-runnin' outta that tunnel like they was a-fire too.
That crowd they roar'd and whoop'd and hollar'd like nothin' nobody ever heard 'cause they was so glad those boys wearin’ baby blue weren't charr'd. And you could tell by how fast they ran and how high they jump'd, them boys weren't hurt one bit.
Then somebody was a-settin' off firecrackers and that chased another big batch of giant young'uns all dress'd orange like punkins out the other end of that pasture. But the crowd, they weren't happy to see them atall, commencin’ to a-booin' like they was the Devil hisself.
Next two klatches of them boys, one in blue, ‘nothern in orange, came out to the middle of the pasture and a prisoner what musta escaped from jail went there with'em. After they all shook hands real nice, they musta prayed with that convict, 'cause when he raised his hand, they all looked up to heaven, then they bowed their heads.
That prayer must not a-been very fervent, 'cause the next thing them boys was lined up ag'in each other just a whompin' and stompin' and kickin' each other and throwin' each other on the ground.
What got it all started -- best I could figger -- was that punkin them boys in orange had brought with'em. Them other boys, they wanted it too.
It was an awful funny punkin. They haul'd and dropp'd, throw’d it and kick'd it -- and never did bust it. This one boy in blue, they kept sayin', "Brandin" wherever he had that punkin, he ran all over that field with them other boys a-chasing’em, and right when you thought they might catch'em, he'd get to the end of the field and throw the punkin down like he didn't never want that thing to begin with.
I told Willy Bob if this was what college was all about it didn't seem much worth the travel. Willy Bob, who now says I oughta call him William, was too busy watchin' them lanky girls jigglin' 'round down at the end of pasture to even notice -- but he says he's a-takin' that Morehead.
And, you know what, I never did see that Pope.
Gary D. Gaddy hears that fellow UNC alum Andy Griffith may have pre-plagiarized this idea from him.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday September 25, 2008.Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy