40. Names From the Past


The boy in the tower, remember? From the last two posts? His name? I’ll take you there by way of a side trip.

In 1965 I was a Fleming Fellow. I can be reasonably sure you’ve never heard of that, but it is a wonderful program. Every year from four to seven juniors from Oklahoma high schools are chosen to spend the summer teamed up with doctors from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, essentially as research interns.

We were housed boarding house style with a local family, where one of my young colleagues promptly found a girlfriend, Dixie Margaret Peacock-Van Tyle. I wouldn’t share her name after all these years, but it’s just too good to resist. She was pretty, vivacious, and a lot more worldly than we nerds were.

One night as we were all sitting around the living room, she brought out a ouija board and we had a seance. All our hands were on the planchette, but Dixie was the one who interpreted the results. The board told us of past lives, and when it came to my past, the board spelled out TIDAC. Tidac, Dixie said, was a fourteenth century prince of Normandy. Then it spelled out JAVERNAN. Javernan was a sixteenth century French sorcerer.

I was a kid from nowhere. At home, I had to keep my opinions ruthlessly suppressed. I worked constantly, on the farm and on science projects. I had no real interests except for getting-the-hell-out, and getting on with my life. I had no girlfriend, not because girls didn’t like me, but because I refused to let any entanglement interfere with my escape.

Considering my real life, being a prince and a sorcerer in previous lives was a big deal. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face that has really never faded.

Thank you, Dixie, wherever you are. You brought some romance and whimsy into my life.

The boy in the tower became Tidac, and when he grew to be a man, the first friend he made was named Javernan.


One thought on “40. Names From the Past

  1. Shari Hawkins

    Dear Syd….I found this blog post while searching for Fleming Scholar alumni. OMRF is celebrating 60 years of the Fleming Program in 2016, and we’ve planned a reunion for July 9th here in OKC. We thought we had lost you, because we had no contact information for you in our records. But when I searched for Dixie Peacock, Google led me to this post! I hope you’ll send us your updated contact info–a mailing address AND email address–so we can send you information about the reunion and stay in touch with you from here forward. Thanks!!



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