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Class Notes/Britt Leach

I was sitting in front of my apartment building eating a tangerine, and it occurred to me that I was useless. A pretty young woman walked by at a brisk pace listening to her iPod and walking her dog. She was so pretty that I didn't want to look at her. So I just ate my tangerine, looking down as she walked by.

The postman came and brought me news from the last college I attended, Birmingham-Southern in Birmingham, Alabama. Their slick alumni publication, 'Southern. It was full of success stories. Lawyers, astronauts, bishops— the smiling wealthy. Nothing about an old man sitting on a wall eating a tangerine feeling useless, class of '65.

But that class designation is misleading; I never graduated. I was at Birmingham-Southern College from 1958 through 1965 and never graduated. And, yes, I was in the army for part of that time, three years, but still—four years in college, never graduated.

Howell Raines was there while I was there. A success story, once editor of The New York Times. When the boys from Birmingham-Southern burned down those black churches in north Alabama I sent Howell an email, suggesting that he write a book about it. I suppose that I could have written about it myself. But my book would have been very short, two words: "Useless twits." The End. Howell said he might write the book, but I haven't heard. Any book Howell would write would probably be longer.

I had been in the theater department of 'Southern and so had the boys who burned the churches. But while there I never burned a church.

I can't remember much about my being there. Either time. The first time I was there I was single; the second time, after my time in the army, I had a wife and two children. During that second time I decided that I would go to Hollywood and become an actor because I wasn't doing any good at 'Southern. And so I did. But while an actor and while I was in some big films and did a lot of television I was never included in the Birmingham-Southern Alumni news—never saw any information about me in Class Notes. Nothing.



Britt Leach '65, has been seen on TV and in movies, "Baby Boom," "Great Outdoors," "Weird Science" and others, member AMPAS but never graduated from Birmingham-Southern and is not a Christian. Was not known to have burned any black churches while attending 'Southern but did once hump a girl in the woods behind the girls' dorm until something crawled up his pants' leg causing a premature exclamation. No honors. No clubs. Was once seen carrying a black umbrella and was invited to come by the SAE fraternity house out of an interest in his style, but was not asked to pledge. Lost umbrella soon thereafter. Useless.



I loathe self-pity; something must be done about my attitude. I want to be included in the slick alumni mag. I want to be a success even though it's late in life. So I've been thinking about some projects, other than writing, other than my web page.

That recent news story about hybrid vehicles being a hazard to blind people gave me an idea. It's said that blind people can't hear the hybrid's electric motor when they are trying to cross the street. My wife worries about things like that and we talked about what we should do when we are driving down the street in our Toyota Prius hybrid and the gasoline engine cuts and we are running on electric, silently running on electric.

I suggested that I get out and run in front of the car and shout "Danger, danger! Toyota Prius coming! Running silent. Danger!" And then I'd scream," Aheeeeeyoo. Aheeeeyoo."

But she said that was damned silly and besides I'm too old and might give myself a heart attack.

And then I thought about something more practical to solve the problem of dangerous hybrids killing blind people. And this idea of mine has the potential for becoming a national movement, utilizing other old people; and it just might work to get me included in the 'Southern Alumni mag. Why? Because I could make lots of money out of franchising the idea. I would then be included as one of the smiling wealthy, class of '65.

Here it is: Stand on a street corner with binoculars and be on the lookout for a convergence of silent hybrid vehicles and blind people. Simple as that.

First it's done on a volunteer basis until it catches on. Gather a group of old people. Provide them with a little step ladder, the kind with that support that comes up that you can grab. Paint the step ladder red. Set it up on a street corner and climb up one or two steps—not too high because the volunteers are all old.

And here are the details: The old people on their ladders would use their binoculars and be on the lookout for blind people and for hybrids running silently on electric. Maybe carry a megaphone. A blind person is spotted; a hybrid is spotted, going slowly. Silent, dangerous. A convergence is anticipated. "Aheeeyoo. Aheeeyoo! Hey! Blind person," the old volunteer shouts. "Hybrid to your left. Running silent. Steady, steady. Good for you. Clear."

I would call my organization, The Watchbirds—Protecting the Unsighted from Hybrids. Wear little military-like uniforms. And after we establish our presence and save a few hundred lives—lives otherwise snuffed out by deadly hybrids—we would get the cities to kick in, get the hybrid manufacturers to kick in, and start paying salaries. Those hybrid manufacturers want to avoid lawsuits and my Watchbirds can help.

I see it going national. The labor pool is bountiful. There are so many old people out there without jobs, who want to work, and most of the school crossing guard posts are taken.

So many blind people; so many hybrid vehicles. Yes, and so much danger. Old Watchbirds can help.


Britt Leach '65. Attended Birmingham-Southern between 1958 and 1965 when not serving his country. Recently awarded honorary doctorate from 'Southern for his humanitarian work and for being wealthy. Founder of The Watchbirds: Protecting the Unsighted from Hybrids. Featured in People and interviewed on Today. Recently solvent after years of low income during which time he was not featured in this alumni journal to our great shame. His recent wealth a result of The Watchbird franchise operation. Recently bought apartment building where he once lived as tenant. Built benches in front of apartment building with decorative urns for the storage of tangerines. Britt tells us that he sometimes visits his property and talks with young women who walk by and stop to chat, having recognized him from People and Today show. "Aren't you that Watchbird guy? I thought so. Saw you on TV. MInd if I sit down? Can I have a tangerine?"


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