At the urging of some friends, have been asked to post this humorous story.
One of the reasons why I moved up here, is that with several universities and colleges, the State Museum, Library, and Archives, and the Archaeology Lab, are the most interesting people. This place is overloaded with smart people, particularly historians and anthropologists/archaeologists. Also many foreign students. And all these people have children of similar persuasions. They are also very environmentally conscience, but that is another story.
If you know about Florida anthropology, you know about Louis Capron, Ripley Bullen, John Goggin, besides Swanton and Sturtevant. Louis Capron was the first, I believe, who mentioned to the anthropology world about the Seminole medicine bundles, and published in 1953. Before then, were unknown even to other Florida anthropologists. Louis Capron had a close relative (son, grandson, or nephew) who worked as a postmaster on the west side of town and recently retired, and can verify this story, as well as several others who were present.
Capron’s postmaster relative knows a man we shall call Nicholas, or Nick. Nick wants to remain anonymous and enjoy retirement in obscurity. Nicholas is a retired professor who is a linguist and anthropologist, and personally knew John Swanton, as was told to me by Dr. Julian Granberry.
Nick has grown a long white beard and put on some weight. (I hope he isn't offended, but he has since thinned up>) One year, two or three days before Christmas, when the post office becomes the hub of all commerce, we had one of those warm Florida Christmas winters. So, Nick was coming out of this post office with a bundle of packages, wearing red shorts, a red flannel plaid shirt, red socks and white tennis shoes, and a red Santa hat.
A Czechoslovakian couple recently moved to town, and their five year old son, were going the other way when their son runs over to Nick, wraps around his legs and hugs him, and says in Czech, “Oh, grandfather! You’re here!” Nick responds back in pretty good Czech (he didn’t need to get too wordy with a five year old), “It’s great to see you! Have you been good? Do you like your new house?” The parent’s eyes were wide as saucers, because they didn’t know Nick was somewhat fluent in Czech, since most Americans are not.
Then a Norwegian couple comes up, with a girl about the same age, who also responds the same. (I recently saw Nick converse in Norwegian with a doctoral student.) Nick responds back in the same way, in Norwegian. It didn’t end there.
Next, a family from Mexico, exiting the Big Lots store next to the post office, with a shopping cart full of gifts, has a son who also comes up to greet Santa with the other children. No problem, because most people in Florida know a little Spanish, as does Nick.
Next a German couple with children arrives. No problem, since German is not hard either.
But wait, there is more! A Chinese couple approaches, who are here at the university studying something extremely scientific, with child in tow, who runs up to Santa; I mean Nick. No problem, since Nick is also conversant in a little bit of Mandarin Chinese. All the pedestrians not familiar with Nick are now flabbergast. Mr. Capron was not surprised; enjoying the show.
So that was Czech, Norwegian, Spanish, German, and Chinese.
Then there was the coup de grace. What totally blew everyone away. Because Nick also speaks Muskogee language, and was known to the Oklahoma Seminoles who were at that time, working at Brighton Reservation, the Raro family. And to keep the language alive, they have had their children to speak only Muskogee at home. So this family from Brighton is stepping out of their car, wearing the traditional Seminole patchwork clothing and skirts, which we all know. Their child walks up and greets Nick in Muskogee. And Nick greets them back! If the pavement wasn’t reinforced, it would have been cracked from all the jaws that dropped down to the ground.
Nick, not wanting to try and top that, apologizes to the crowd, and says, “Sorry, but I must now go. I have to feed my animals.” True, because he does have a lot of critters on the farm. As he leaves, he heard someone exclaim, “He is real!”
I have also seen Nick talk to people in Hungarian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, and Navajo/Dine’. I don’t know how fluent he is in those languages, but he knows enough for greetings.
Once Nick mentioned how he was visiting friends to celebrate Hanukkah with them. Someone asked him why? He isn’t Jewish? Nick replied, that he will celebrate all religious holidays that encourage peace and goodwill, bring the family together, but most importantly, have lots of good food!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!