[Story contributed by Pat Kalmans]
The whole bee thing with Bill started in Nashville on the Vanderbilt campus. Bill had been wanting to raise bees for a while, but didn’t want to necessarily mail order the suckers. One day, literally out of nowhere, but as if a Divine sign, there appeared a swarm of bees right outside that little house that was the office for the Center for Health Services. They had lighted on a tree branch there. Bill called someone he knew at the Ag Extension office to see how he could transport the bees back to East Tennessee. Someone told him that all he had to do was to find a cardboard box and give that branch a hard pop. The bees would fall in the box, and as long as he had the queen bee, they’d stay there.
Like Neil, for some UNKNOWN reason, Bill convinced me to take the box back with me in my car, in the trunk, and to wait for him until he arrived (I don’t remember when, but it wasn’t right away). I guess it was one of the many miracles I experienced with Bill that when we opened the trunk of the car, all those busy bees were there, calm, coating the cardboard box like the honey they eventually made. We gently removed the box from the car, inverted the box, and tapped them into the hive Bill had already purchased. I can only tell you it was a lot easier to transport bees than to steal the honey from them later, another amazing venture that I also got roped into.
As for Jimmy Dean and Granny Loomis, I have to say that, once again, I was at the BEGINNING of that story as well. Bill sent Lark and me to pick them up from someone in Norma (as I remember). Lark claims to have no recollection of this, but we were literally given two “pigs in a poke.” I should say two pokes, and it was then that I learned that a poke was a not very sturdy burlap sack, not so well tied up at the end. Lark graciously volunteered to be drive that day, and put me, who had never touched a pig in her life (and not because I’m Kosher or anything) in charge of watching the pigs to make sure they were okay in the back. Of course, as with any caper Bill set us on, we had no idea what the hell we were doing, and as one of the pigs somehow nuzzled its way out of the sack, Lark sent me to the back to catch the pig. As we all learned later while chasing Jimmy Dean around Lake City, it isn’t easy to catch a pig, not even in the confines of the back of a truck. For one thing, every time you tried to touch them, they’d squeal in a very loud, high pitched tone that would otherwise scare the life out of anyone. It would have helped if Lark had gotten out of the truck to help me, but she was too busy laughing her head off at my incompetence, and yelling: CATCH ‘EM BY HIS HIND LEGS. Honestly, I don’t remember how we caught him and got him back in the poke, but somehow we did and proudly delivered the two pigs to Bill, who had no idea how close we came to permanently maiming them before they ever arrived.
As these stories relate, it was a facet of Bill’s legacy to inspire us to reach beyond our normal limits to accomplish things beyond our imaginations. May his memory be a blessing to us all.