• 72°

That’s Nall, Folks!

Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking what a dull world this word be if the “characters” were all transported far beyond the Norther Sea.

When I was growing up, I was fond of the folks that were referred to as “characters.”

They were the ones that “marched to the beat of a different drummer.” No matter that they were odd or as crazy as a loon, the characters that roamed around my hometown made life more interesting, more fun.

Age has a way of changing things and the characters of my childhood ceased to exist.’

Then, one day, I got an invitation to a birthday party here in Troy for a dog. It was being hosted by an artist, Nall Hollis and all of the invited guests were dogs.

He must be a nut, was my first thought. Or, maybe, he was a character.

I attended the party for the dogs and their “best friends.”

I left the party with a much lighter heart than when I arrived.

Over the years, I have enjoyed knowing Fred “Nall” Hollis. He’s a character.

It would take more ink than is available for me to log all of his antics. One of my favorite memories is when he unleashed a cluster of balloons at Troy University. The balloons immediately hung in the “light wires” and knocked out all the electricity on campus.

Nall was hosting an art show for folk artist, Betty Sue Matthews in Montgomery. When I arrived, Nall met me, “You’ve got to get her out of here!” Betty Sue’s artwork for the show was priced at three figures. But, she set up in a corner and was selling her paintings for $5 and doing good business, much to Nall’s dismay.

My favorite Nall story is about the re-enactment of his wedding which honored his European, African-American and Native American heritages. The wedding was held at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama’s amphitheater. His groomsmen included Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and Ken Hendricks along with maids of honor Kathryn Tucker Windham, Baba Hendricks and Janice Hawkins.

Nall planned the entire wedding and reception from start to finish.

One early morning, I got a telephone frantic call from Shelia Jackson, the City of Troy’s songbird.

“You’ve got to go over there and talk to Nall,” she said in a loud voice.” He’s gone crazy. He wants me and Christine and Kathryn to be canaries in his wedding!  He wants us to wear yellow dresses and sing.”
I thought that was a clever idea and said so.
“But, he wants us to be up in a tree!” She yelled in the phone. “We can’t get up a tree! Go over there and talk some sense in him!

I went over to Nall’s office at the university and casually asked how the plans for the wedding were going.

Nall rattled off his plans. And, Shelia, Kathryn and Christine are going to be canaries!  They are going to wear yellow formal dresses and sing from the tree tops.
Good idea. “But, Nall, those women can’t climb up in a tree.”
No! We’ll put them up in the tree with a cherry picker!’ Nall said with a clap of his hands.

“You’ve lost your senses!”

Common sense must have prevailed.

The three canaries wore their yellow dresses and chirped beautifully, from the ground.

The wedding was one for the ages and it engrained Nall as a character for the ages.