Friday, March 30, 2018

Phi Gamma Delta Ski Chalet ~ Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore's Ball ~ Lies & Untruths That Started & Perpetuated it All

Beginning in 1968 founding brethren of the Kappa Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Georgia proudly dwelt in an exceptionally regal structure.

Okay, let's not dicker that we had an 1800's chapter slapped down and out because hooligans broke curfew to go to the circus. We know that and have talked about that. We're talking this minute about where Delta Colony guys and their immediate successors dwelt.

This is where early modern era Phi Gams resided. Of course we know that none of those young men were hooligans.

In the early 1970's brothers or others who choose to remain nameless concluded Phi Gams were not suited for such a regal dwelling. Perhaps early brethren were hooligans after all and were evicted. No one is talking.

Somehow Phi Gams acquired a sweet piece of real estate upon which to erect a monumentally ugly structure. No one is talking about how this came about or if there was some structural design competition whereby the designer receiving the fewest votes was awarded the project. This was the result. Quality roofs do not sag like this.

Since no one is talking let's just tell the story the way we want and see who emerges to call us liars. Hooligans were involved. They were to be evicted from their regal dwelling. Perhaps they were to be evicted from the University of Georgia and the state of Georgia. Perhaps they were destined for labor camps in Siberia.

To avoid any of these eventualities the hooligan Phi Gams sponsored a poker night and invited owners of sweet pieces of Athens real estate. Hunch punch flowed freely. The property owner who consumed the most hunch punch lost his sweet piece of real estate. He also lost his girlfriend. She went on to become an early Phi Gam Sweetheart.

With property in hand a structure was needed. A design contest took place at this Bavarian Alpine Inn during Open Mike Yodeling Night.

Hunch punch flowed freely. When hunch punch ran out and no one could yodel any longer Phi Gams decided one building design looked like it might be a happening venue to attract 1970's women. Due to many exotic forces that influenced 1970's women the design in fact went on to function quite well in the women attraction department. In other departments not so much.

With remaining proceeds from the hunch punch poker game Phi Gams built a structure loosely resembling the design selected on the hunch punch yodeling night. Construction details will follow after several digressions. Phi Gams moved into the structure.

This is where conjecture ends and the verifiable legend begins.

In 1976 brothers and occasional women influenced by exotic forces would sunbathe on the flat roof of our glorious house, by then recognized as the “ski lodge”. Whether that was an affectionate term or other was a moment to moment decade to decade thing.

Before long a puddle became apparent near a roof drain.

Gradually the puddle grew. And grew. This in not the actual roof.

The puddle grew impressively. Water mysteriously never drained despite what appeared to be drains. This in not the actual roof either.

This puddle demanded a name. Lake Lanier Orr. Lanier Orr was the Delta Colony brother and Athens area home builder who built the ski chalet. That’s about all we undergrads knew about him in 1976.

Lake Lanier Orr demanded a high brow recreational facility. Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club.

Yes, we have already shown you this facility. It is in no way high brow. But it was the only Yacht Club available to us.

Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club demanded a potentate. The Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore. Who maybe should look something like one of these prosperous and attractive people.

The Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club demanded a regal annual celebration. The Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore's Ball was born.

The late great Steve “Codman” Tmay served as the inaugural Commodore. Yours truly served as 
inaugural boatswain a/k/a bos’n.

The Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore’s Ball followed a theme employed by many, but never before at Kappa Deuteron. Brothers and dates arrived with packed luggage hoping to win a weekend beach vacation awarded as the grand finale of evening festivities.

All this was engaged on short notice. Commodore Tmay expended minimal if any effort seeking appropriate attire, settling contentedly on a blazer and ascot. This is not Codman.

Bos’n Stoddard worked marginally harder attempting to locate at the very least an official whistle essential to welcoming guests aboard.

The Navy School was the obvious and only source to procure a bos’n whistle. The cashier smirked and advised it is called a pipe or more properly a boatswain’s call, never a whistle. The Navy School still did not inventory them due to the dearth of ships in Athens upon which passengers might need to be welcomed aboard.

A sailor cap and referee's whistle would have to suffice for this bos’n.

The First Annual Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore’s Ball was festive even with guests welcomed aboard by an improper pipe / call / whistle. Some kind of grog beverage was concocted by the trash can full. A brother with a blind date won the vacation, most certainly giving rise to an awkward weekend of unguaranteed romance.

In year 2 the first bos’n was promoted to Commodore 2 following the graduation of Commodore 1. Commodore 2 was astonished when girlfriend Julie Sams’ father, a former Navy officer, bequeathed to him his 
Navy blazer and peaked cap. Bequeathed, not loaned. The Commodore asked if the father was certain, as the volatile Stoddard-Sams romance had notoriously unstable sea legs. The father was certain. His son is probably curious about that bequeathal to this day. The blazer looked like any blazer but with several stripes. The cap resembled this but with fewer scrambled eggs. 

Promoted to bos’n 2 was Rusty “Vince” Blair. N
o one can remember year 2 Lake Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore’s Ball except that it was vaguely similar to the year 1 event. At night's end bos'n Vince was promoted to Commodore 3. When year 3 Ball dates approached Commodore 3 Vince confessed to retired Commodore 2 that he lost the Commodore blazer and peaked cap. Vince liked to climb trees and meditate. Perhaps he pondered there the meaning of life and where he last saw the many things he lost. This is not the actual Vince.

Back to the ski chalet.

During the summer quarter of 1978 Bob Cheeley, Tommy “Poonhead” Williams, Mike “Duckie” Hall, Walker “Stalker” Campbell and yours truly resided in the officers' quarters. The condition of those quarters was by then a powerful deterrent to becoming an officer.

One night when all but 2 brothers were lodged elsewhere a monsoon hit Athens. Cheeley and yours truly were awakened by the noise equivalent to Niagara Falls from a distance of 18 inches. Not sure what led us there but we ended up in the kitchen to find roof water flowing down via the 2nd floor and out of fluorescent ceiling light fixtures. Somehow the fluorescent tube lights still shone and no sparks flew, yet water gushed out of the fixtures by the gallons. Kinda like this but with way more water and in a gnarly kitchen far less nice than this office.

We grabbed jimongo trash cans formerly used to concoct and dispense Lanier Orr Yacht Club Commodore’s Ball grog and began collecting water. We collected and dumped water for hours. At the recent Pig Dinner Brother Cheeley advised that Duckie Hall was there to bail too.

This is not the recollection of yours truly, but let’s not split hairs. It would be entirely unlike Hall to stick around during frantic hours of aquatic need, though with a name like Duckie he should have been perfectly suited to our task. In my mind Duckie would have bolted from that scene 
like this. But I digress.

Days later we learned the peculiar occurrence of gallons of water pouring out of functioning light fixtures was the result of an aberrant drain line malfunction deep within the ski lodge bowels.

The rest of the ski lodge bowel failure and repair details are fuzzy because yours truly moved to Rivermill weeks later. There the roof was 67.3% less likely to collapse as one slept. This is what a habitable structure with a proper roof looks like.

Let’s exercise some timeline suspension.

Each and every year ski lodge namesake Lanier Orr loyally attended Pig Dinners absolutely devoid of any apparent shame. He even entered and loitered in the ski chalet, which he had to know better than anyone was primed to implode any second, minute, day, week, year or decade. Take your pick, but Brother Orr showed zero shame or fear. Brothers like me found that astonishing. That link is not our Lanier Orr, not a Brother and not even a man. It's the best Google can find. To the best of our knowledge Brother Orr has never been arrested or worn anything orange. Since we really need an image at this point we chose a handsome guy. Let's say this is Lanier Orr.

For decades yours truly disparaged Brother Orr without mentioning him by name to any member of the general public when discussing our UGA fraternity house, as follows:

“Our fraternity amazingly prospered despite a lodge that looked like an ugly ski chalet shabbily built with no plan whatsoever by a fraternity brother with an otherwise excellent reputation for quality work. The structure violated every architectural standard known to man.”

This is what yours truly wanted people to imagine.

Several months prior to a recent 
Pig Dinner reunion my blood brother Clay informed me of the first fallacy of my decades of contrivance and/or false recollection. An architect did in fact design the place and secure all requisite stamps and building code conformity approvals. Only he designed and got it approved with no basement in the plans. 

The basement idea came late in the game, and Brother Orr was asked if it could be included. An accommodating fellow, he said it could be done and did it. The afterthought basement was largely the cause of inherent structural instability from day one of the building completion. Yet this was not Brother Orr’s fault in any way. Yours truly did not sweat the vague fault or liability details. Yours truly just wanted more details.

Yours truly owed Brother Orr one large yacht load of an apology, as likely did decades of brothers who were armed with misinformation. Much of that misinformation was likely initiated and certainly perpetuated by yours truly.

Clay suggested not to worry. Lanier is probably good with everything. Yours truly was not good with everything.

At this point I will begin to speak in first person instead of yours truly.

Fast forward to a recent afternoon Pig Dinner event in Athens. I pulled Lanier Orr aside and began to blather my poorly rehearsed apology for decades of misguided abuse of his name and reputation. It may have been the first time I ever looked him directly in the eye at close range.

Then came what I call The Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment blew away all other decade long fallacies of contrivance and false recollection. We had virtually zero facts correct. Lanier calmly and with no pretension told the real story.

Lanier did not build the house and was not instrumental in its plan. Another builder got to a point of approximately 90% completion then disappeared. Fortunately he did not depart with any Phi Gam funds for uncompleted work. Lanier was the only go to guy who could come to the rescue given the schedule. He was local and talented. Whether he was available is moot. He made himself available. Lanier did not throw in the word “talented”. I did.

Yes, the basement was an afterthought. No, the columns placed down there to support the rest of the house were never the proper length or properly set. There was more than the only one column I thought I remembered. I remember only one because it obstructed billiards shots on the only sorry pool table we owned during my era.

That table was cheap to begin with and came by virtue of the chapter somehow winning it. It was never properly leveled on the concrete floor that was never properly leveled. It had strange ruts, leans and angles I came to know and occasionally used to my advantage during the only period in my life I was remotely decent at billiards.

Okay, back to the lodge. 

This week I reached out to Brother Lanier Orr for further edification on details. I know of no email address for him. I left him a voice message. Perhaps he prefers to lay low. He is retired and he has earned the right to lay however he wishes.

I go on record here to say Kappa Deuteron owes Brother Orr a debt of gratitude. For a many years he got a bad rep he did not deserve. Perhaps he was unaware of misinformed young twits like me thinking less than ideal things about him. I hope all is well today.

Following that 1978 gully wash I thought it impossible the house would stand another week, much less another decade plus. We even won a few of our 14 Cheney Cups while the place held together.

I last set foot in the old place circa 1983 before moving to Chicago. What it must have looked like and been like to dwell in at the end of its life circa 1990 I can not imagine. 

The Kappa Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Georgia now occupies the regal structure befitting the Finest Fraternity Ever to Grace Planet Earth.

It was not always so.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

EWI ~ VIP Night in Calgary with my Mom's Best Friend ~ Executive Women International

In 1981 I was the 24 year old Convention Manager at Lanier Business Products, the world sales leader in dictation and word processing technology. You may recall Super Bowl commercials where Arnold Palmer drove a golf ball toward the Golden Gate Bridge while conducting mobile business on his Lanier Vest Pocket Secretary voice recorder.

Lanier's Chairman was the dynamic Gene Milner, a natural leader and salesman. Ethel, his equally dynamic executive assistant, was a member of EWI, Executive Women International. It was an important influence in her life, therefore an important influence in Mr. Milner's life. Ethel kept Mr. Milner's train running on time always and kept him out of trouble at minimum 51% of the time.

Lanier hosted a black tie reception at the 1981 EWI annual convention in Calgary. I flew as the only fellow passenger with Mr. Milner on the Lanier corporate jet. A great relief to be invited, as I was otherwise looking at 3 or 4 stops from Atlanta were I to fly commercial.

Mr. Milner had work to do on our flight, as did I. Yet he was one of those leaders who took an interest in everyone, no matter how low on the totem pole. He abruptly stopped what he was doing and asked, "Well Peter, what do you think will be interesting about Calgary?"

A million thoughts and possible answers raced through my head.

1. Will the 2nd of two hotels where our group is lodged be as questionable as my EWI contact said it might be?
2. Will the rental tuxedos I arranged for 30 or so execs flying in from around the US fit?
3. Will the EWI audience like singer Jimmy Damon flying in from Chicago, a budget no name Sinatra sound alike who could belt out a mean tune but was still a no name except in Chicago?
4. Will I have to remember my high school French in Calgary?

OK, #'s 3 & 4 are a joke. #s 1 & 2 were definitely on my mind.

Instead I replied, "Mr. Milner, I do not know what to expect from Calgary, but I look forward to meeting my Mom's best childhood friend Betty, an EWI member attending from Salt Lake City."

Without attempting to further paraphrase dialogue, the conversation continued in a direction I did not expect. Mr. Milner inquired and I answered about my Mom and what little I knew about her friend - primarily that Mom, herself a world class hoot, described Betty as a hoot. That must make the woman one heck of a hoot.

We arrived in Calgary and proceeded to our hotel. Mr. Milner then went to what had to be Lanier's small sales or distributor office. Knowing him they would not know to expect his visit. He liked to operate on the fly, albeit strategically, and surprise folks to see if they were hard at work.

I proceeded to the banquet hall and met with catering staff. I phoned the tux rental place. I strolled to the 2nd hotel, indeed as scary as described. I braced myself for severe scolding by the 50% of executives who were yet to arrive and would lodge there. I no doubt unpacked a few cases of these. I never traveled anywhere without a few cases of these.

Fast forward 36 hours to Reception Day. We shan't get into details about my scolding re the seedy 2nd hotel and tuxedos that fit poorly. Suffice it to say I received and tolerated the mass scolding I expected.

The banquet hall, meals, beverage service, Jimmy Damon, local musicians, and rental sound system were as good as I could have hoped for, far better than I dreaded they might be.

Please understand this is not a knock on 1981 Calgary. This is a knock on ignorant 24 year old me who thought Calgary would and could offer nothing more than a stampede.

The reception hour arrived, and my job was to make the magic begin. Fortunately magic was not my burden for long, as Mr. Milner took the stage, soon followed by executive assistant Ethel. They were both charismatic and dazzled the audience, many members of which had already helped themselves to more than one serving at the open bars.

Mom's friend Betty and I immediately sought each other out. We danced and chatted, only to be interrupted when Mr. Milner sought her out for a dance. I doubt they spoke about me. He likely inquired about what dictation and word processing products her Salt Lake executive staff used and walked away with an order.

When they parted Betty wanted to dance and chat some more. She was indeed a hoot. And attractive. My attractive Mom didn't hang around with no chumps, yet I admired and respected this woman in only a maternal way. Or a maternal friend way. Whatever. Suffice it to say I did not channel Oedipus that night.

The evening wore on to the point I needed to get back to magic making duties, more specifically my duty to bring the magic to an end. Betty confided, "Nonsense. There are people here I need to see, and they can wait. If you get into trouble I'll bail you out with that Gene Milner."

I had the feeling that lady could slay any dragon I may ever report to. I have reported to lizards who thought they were dragons, and I wished Betty was around to slay them. Or just step on them.

Knowing time was indeed short, Betty proceeded to introduce me around to her exec friends like I was some kind of VIP instead of the grunt I was. Her overt attention impressed Ethel to no end, which was almost better than impressing Mr. Milner. If Ethel could keep him out of trouble maybe she could keep me out of trouble with him. She would certainly have her chances in years to follow.

The point of all this, if you still believe there is a point, is the first two EWI members I met 37 years ago were two of the most dynamic and charismatic people I have ever met anywhere. Either could slay a dragon, and I expect each slew many in decades since.

EWI was originally Executive Secretaries, Inc. Not sure if they ever went by ESI. I will not attempt political correctness here, which is a good thing because I am not gifted in that department. Secretary went on to be called Executive Assistant. In truth, many times one should be called Executive Who Keeps Other Executives Out of Severe Trouble.

EWI evolution hardly ends there. In 1977 they formally adopted the name Executive Women International to better reflect their membership.

Today EWI represents just plain Executive Women as well as Executive Assistants. There is little if any distinction between the two.

When I think of Executive Women I know I think of ...

Debbie Storey, AT&T Executive VP & Author.

Bonny Putney, Goddess of All Things Water.

Susan DeWyngaert, Senior Pastor & Head of Staff.

Susan Bravman, Food Network Advertising VP & Sales Legend.

Judy Watson, Freelance Business Writer Extraordinaire.

Betty HudsonNational Geographic Executive VP & Communications Titan.

Leola Lauderbach Stoddard, my grandmother, a school principal & postmaster. Postmistress in those days. Her word, not mine.

Vilate Currie White, my other grandmother, a 1950s TV show host & electric utility honcho.

Mary Louise White Stoddard, my mother, a housewife, Piedmont Hospital pink lady, volunteer honcho at Peachtree Presbyterian Church & Salvation Army bellringer. Pity the fool who calls her anything other than an Executive. She raised my 2 brothers and me. Warren Buffett & Bill Gates pale by comparison.

One can only imagine what more these women might achieve with the benefit of an EWI scholarship.

Ever expanding, EWI seeks to open new chapters in North America.

If there is no chapter near you one need not worry. EWI offers Professional Development Webinars available wherever you are.

Take a closer look at EWI today to join or find a chapter near you.


EWI - Executive Women International
1288 Summit Avenue
Suite 107
PMB 124
Oconomowoc WI 53066

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Homeowner With Health Challenges Sells House Without MLS Listing, Closes in 3 Weeks

This gentleman was an empty nester who had suffered a stroke. Though he quickly regained most of his motor skills, his large home was more than he wanted to deal with. He needed to downsize - fast.

His house was in a desirable subdivision with few homes on the market. That was a significant advantage. The home needed updates and repairs after 20+ years with lots of kids trafficking in and out. That was a slight disadvantage.

The man called Stoddard Realty Network and described his situation. Within 3 days he had an appointment with a top agent experienced in his market and experienced in selling "fixer-uppers".

The agent suggested that the home was very sellable as is. She recommended no repairs. She further expected she could sell the home through her network of builders and investors, perhaps before even listing it in the MLS service.

Within days the seller accepted a cash offer from an investor who wanted to close within 3 weeks. The buyer even offered the seller help in removing possessions accumulated over the decades.

The sale closed on schedule, and the gentleman was on his way to a simpler life in a home far better suited to his needs.

All this resulted from a single phone call to 678-725-5889. Contact Stoddard Realty Network today for an introduction to a leading  agent in your market.

About Stoddard Realty Network:

We are licensed real estate brokers in Georgia and Florida, with 15+ years of experience in the most competitive markets on earth. Yet we no longer represent sellers or buyers. We simply make introductions to our network of 
great agents all over the world.

Our service costs you nothing. You sign nothing with us - ever. You are under no obligation to hire the agent to whom we introduce you. Yet we think you will want to. We will only introduce you to the best.


Peter Stoddard
Stoddard Realty Network

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Stoddard Realty Network Saves Customers Time & Eliminates Guesswork

Would you like free help to find a great real estate agent?

Stoddard Realty Network's mission is to make your next real estate transaction a pleasure. We know top real estate agents around the world - and we will introduce them to you.

You do not want to spend hours to search the internet, sift through hype and interview many agents you may not like or trust. You do not want to hire your next door neighbor's aunt or uncle - unless you know that person to be a superior agent. You certainly do not want to hire any part time agent not current with trends, technology or your area of interest. 

It does not get much more simple. We have a conversation with you about a property you wish to sell or qualities you need in an area where you wish to buy. It can be a house, condo, new construction, commercial property, vacant land - even a business. It can be anywhere in the world.

A real estate transaction is typically the largest investment anyone makes in their life. And you do not get a do-over. You want to do it right the first time, every time. That requires the help of an expert. We do not claim to be an expert in your market. We do not need to be. If we do not know an expert in your market, we will find one for you. 

We are licensed real estate brokers in Georgia and Florida, with 15+ years of experience in the most competitive markets on earth. Yet we no longer represent sellers or buyers. We simply make great introductions.

Our service is not limited to residents of Georgia or Florida - or anyone seeking property in either state. We can assist anyone anywhere in the world.

Our service costs you absolutely nothing. You sign nothing with us - ever. And you are under no obligation to hire the agent to whom we introduce you. Yet we think you will want to. We will only introduce you to the best. 

While the agent we recommend is accountable primarily to you, they answer to us too. If they do not serve you well, they know we will not recommend them to another customer ever again.

You obviously ask, "What is in this for Stoddard Realty Network?" We receive a referral fee only after a transaction is complete. Agents around the world welcome referrals, as customers introduced to them tend to be informed and motivated. It saves time for both the customer and agent.

Are you looking for property in another country? Agents have a saying, "All real estate is local." That is so true. For instance, in certain parts of the world real estate is available only via long term lease, unlike a typical purchase in the US. Still, you will need a local professional to help you navigate and simplify what can otherwise be complicated steps to a transaction. 

The same holds true for every state, city and community in the US. You need a local expert. And we put you in touch with that expert.

Our broker licenses are placed with Park Place Realty Network, headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Park Place was founded by a US Marine who is a trusted innovative pioneer in the real estate profession.

Where we do not know an excellent agent, Park Place does. Neither we nor Park Place merely "draw a name from a hat" of top agents. We first review your needs, then we interview agents who best match those needs. 

So there you have it. We have used far too many words to describe a very simple service. Yet our goal is to save you time and make your real estate transaction a pleasure. We figure providing answers to almost every question you might ask will make your decision easier.

Why not call 678-725-5889 now so we can find the perfect agent for you?

Stoddard Realty Network

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Phil Armistead Celebrates 100 Years in the Home Improvement Business

Not really, but you’d think he has that much experience packed into his robust 60 some odd year old frame.

Phil Armistead was born on April 14. That is the date Abraham Lincoln was shot, and the Titanic started to sink. But don’t hold that against Phil. He swears he was not in the area when either of those tragedies took place. When friends who have their doubts ask him to prove it, Phil quickly changes the subject.

Phil was raised in a paint store. Not just any paint store. Founded in 1969, Armistead Paint and Supply has been a revered Atlanta landmark institution almost since its inception.

Phil grew up in the original Armistead Paints in Sandy Springs. More like Floyd’s Barber Shop than a typical store, Armistead’s was a place where all trades were discussed at length and tall tales told. Some of what was said at Armistead’s stays at Armistead’s, and we say that only in a wholesome, family friendly way.

Scores of prosperous tradespeople patronized and got their start at Armistead’s, few more talented than Phil. But he is too modest to tell you this, so we will.

Phil is full of playful mischief. Perhaps it is a genetic thing. He is descended from legendary Civil War General Lewis Armistead, who attended the United States Military Academy. Grampa Lewis had to resign from the Academy after he broke a plate over the head of future legendary General Jubal Early. But let’s try to stay on track here.

You will find we use the word legendary a lot here. It fits when discussing legendary Phil Armistead, a legend in his own mind. But he is a modest legendary guy.

Phil attended the legendary St. Pius High School and was a standout athlete. He was recruited by legendary UGA Defensive Coordinator Irk Russell to play for the legendary Junkyard Dawgs. But Phil decided he would rather paint. Or something like that.

Along the way Phil reared an incredibly attractive, talented and legendary family.

Suffice it to say Phil does not only paint, though he does that extremely well. He also tiles, frames, details, trims, remodels, plumbs and finishes. If you need a list of every skill Phil has mastered in his 100 years go here:

You might want to eliminate "boilermaker", but most others apply.

Over his 100 years Phil has completed hundreds, no thousands, no millions of legendary home improvement projects from Atlanta to his beloved Northwest Florida Redneck Riviera.

Phil has completed a good deal of Dale Carnegie Training. Yet he could win friends and influence people with no training whatsoever.

Ask legendary yet modest Phil to tell you about and show you pictures of his projects. But don't get him riled. His genetic mischief might kick in, leaving him no choice but to break a plate over your head.

For any home improvement work you ever need done please call legendary Phil Armistead at 678-974-9355.