TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There is a amphitheatre in the 1985 ball “Spies Like Us” in which Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, assuming as doctors, access a covering abounding of absolute doctors. They accost one addition by adage “Doctor …” “Doctor …” “Doctor …” “Doctor …” in a round-robin addition that ends up with the appellation actuality acclimated 24 times.
Twenty-four? That’s nothing. Try 100. That’s the cardinal of IDs it would accept taken to accomplish the circuit at an invitation-only barbecue in Tuscaloosa two weekends ago, afore Alabama’s home opener against Arkansas State.
“What’s your name?” “Bryant.” “Well, that’s my average name!” “It’s my daddy’s average name!” “What is?” “Bryant.” ‘Well, that’s my aboriginal name!” “No kidding, it’s my daughter’s aboriginal name, too!” “Really? Because this is my wife and it’s her average name!”
“Bryant …” “Bryant …” “Bryant …” “Bryant …”
Welcome to the 23rd anniversary Paul W. Bryant Namesake Reunion, area the alone claim to appear is that you or a affiliate of your actual ancestors is agreeably and acquiescently — sometimes strategically — alleged for the drillmaster accepted as “Bear.” Anybody able with some adaptation of Coach’s moniker wears a nametag, so as to accumulate them all straight.
“My name is Chase Bryant Duncan,” said a teenager, proudly pointing to his nametag as he stood in the aliment band on the backyard of the Paul W. Bryant Building with his family. “My dad says he alleged me Bryant so that I wouldn’t abound up to be an Auburn fan.”
As Chase Bryant’s ancestor nodded proudly, addition teen, Bryant Wilson, shouted “Same! My dad capital to set me on the appropriate aisle as anon as I was born! And he did! Roll Tide!” Wilson’s ancestor added his own nod of approval, acknowledging loudly, admitting deadened by a chaw of hot dog, “Rollf Tfide!”
Overhearing this barter was yet addition teenager, Bryant Denny Turner, whose parents dared to go alike a footfall added and accord their son the name of the allegorical Alabama football drillmaster and the name of the amphitheatre area the Buck did his homework, Denny Stadium. “If you’re gonna be in, be all-in,” explained James Turner, Bryant Denny Turner’s father. “This is Alabama football. We accord 100 percent about here. Alike with names.”
In the Yellowhammer State, they’ve been giving 100 percent to the Buck Bryant name d for a actual continued time now. Bryant accomplished the Tide for 25 years, from 1958 to 1982. He died on Jan. 26, 1983, alone a few weeks afterwards his final d on the sideline, the ’82 Liberty Bowl. According to Amusing Security records, aback 1959 there accept been 1,403 Bryants built-in in Alabama — so abounding that it affronted the concern of the Bear’s aboriginal namesake, Paul William “Bear” Bryant Jr. Afterwards a lifetime of audition “I was alleged for your daddy,” it was Junior who approached the building that ceremoniousness his ancestor with the abstraction of accumulation a database of those whose names do the same.
“We apprehend about bodies absolutely about alone through chat of mouth,” explained Ken Gaddy, administrator of the Paul W. Bryant Museum, amid in the affection of the University of Alabama’s campus. “But we accept a allotment process. Bodies acquaintance us all the time, and we ask them to ample out a anatomy with their birthdate, a little ancestors history and a specific area to ample out that starts with, ‘This is the adventure of me or my adolescent actuality alleged for Drillmaster Bryant …’ That allows us to do a little ysis and verify it. We can’t aloof accept anybody who is alleged Paul or William or alike Bryant assuming up and aggravating to into the group. It’s absolutely not too austere of a action by any stretch, but we absolutely appetite to apperceive people’s belief and accord them a adventitious to allotment those stories.”
That’s what the anniversary namesake alliance is all about, bringing the active tributes calm to actualize a faculty of crimson-blooded association amid those affiliated by their labels. This year’s alliance was the aboriginal to affection a carnival theme, complete with affection candy, county-fair-style amateur and — delay for it — a teddy-bear-building station.
“My admired allotment is affair all the association and audition all the altered name combinations they appear up with,” explained Curtis Paul Parker of Anniston. He was there with his daughter, Carlin Bryant Parker, who was bedeviled with those carnival games. “Yes, sir, we’ve got Paul and Bryant covered appropriate there in one house.”
The database includes about 700 names, and the building manages to clue best of their abode via both old-school accord and contemporary amusing media. By far the best accepted name (and best versatile, acclimated by men and women) is Bryant. There are additionally a ton of Pauls and Paulas. Any William needs to be able to absolutely accomplish his or her case to be included, but abounding accept auspiciously done so. And yes, there are some Bears, but none fabricated an actualization during the aboriginal brace of hours of this year’s alliance — although at atomic two of the families in appearance said they had a dog alleged Bear.
“We had a dog alleged Buck as a puppy, but again we afflicted it to Bryant,” accepted a ancestors from Huntsville that additionally has two animal Bryants on the roster. So why change the dog’s name? “Because my wife’s admired cine is ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and what’s-his-name [Josh Lucas], his basset dog was alleged Bryant for Drillmaster Bryant and our dog looked aloof like the dog from the movie.”
There were additionally no Sabans at the reunion. Not yet anyway. One grandmother alien her preschool-aged grandson, Hayden Bryant Kennedy, this way: “If I’d had my way, he’d be Nicholas Bryant Kennedy.” Patsy Abbott said it advisedly — like, actually pointing at her grandson as he waited to body a bear. “I said, ‘Why would you name him afterwards the greatest drillmaster of all time aback he could be alleged afterwards the two greatest coaches of all time? But I got outvoted.”
As aerial academy apprentice Cameron Bryant Collier circuitous with admission Alabama apprentice Bryant Edward Rich (as you’ve acceptable ample out, the alliance crowds skew actual young), Leonard Bryant Jackson joked that he was activity to bawl out “Hey, Bryant!” aloof to see how abounding bodies would about-face around. “Then,” he added, “I’ll do the aforementioned with Paul.”
Had he done that, one of those who answered aback would accept been Paul Francis Murray of Mobile. But clashing the others at the namesake reunion, his name wasn’t alone a tribute. It was a hand-me-down.
“Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant was my great-grandfather,” the eighth-grader said with pride as he sat in his great-grandfather’s museum, in a appointment allowance busy with oil paintings, brownish busts and alike a baby of the man abaft his name.
Sitting with Paul Murray was his cousin, Mary Harmon Hilburn, granddaughter of Bear. The antecedent of her name was Mary Harmon Bryant, the wife of Buck and Aboriginal Lady of Alabama Football. Hilburn’s mother was Mae Martin Bryant, and Paul Murray’s mother is Mae Martin Murray, the babe of Paul “Bear” Bryant Jr. and, like Mary Harmon Hilburn, the granddaughter of Paul “Bear” Bryant Sr. and Mary Harmon Bryant. Growing up, anybody alleged Buck Jr. “Papa,” except for Hilburn, who alleged Papa’s amoroso “Papa” while anybody abroad alleged him “Grandpapa.” Next fall, addition great-grandson, Paul William Bryant Tyson, will be on Nick Saban’s agenda as a apprentice quarterback.
Are you accepting all of this?
“Oh, it goes so abundant added than that,” Hilburn said, rolling her eyes and grinning. “I host the ancestors holidays actuality at my abode in Tuscaloosa, and we accept so abounding Pauls and Marys and Mays that I accept to draw up abode cards for anybody and I accept to use a actual adult arrangement of aftermost initials. Otherwise, we’d accept no abstraction what was what and who was where.”
Not clashing the backyard alfresco at the reunion, area the Pauls and Paulas and Bryants ate crimson-colored snow cones and craned their necks to apprehend anniversary other’s nametags.
“It’s absolutely like that,” Hilburn added. “It’s crazy. But that’s how it goes with family, and all those bodies out there today with Papa’s name, that’s what they are: family.”
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