30 years at ANF Architects, a.k.a. Lee
Askew III Architects, a.k.a. Askew Nixon Ferguson & Wolfe Architects,
a.k.a. Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects
May, 1984. I was 21, in college at Memphis St., and
looking for a job. Theresa saw a posting
at Christian Brothers College for a summer intern position at an architect's
office in Midtown. So I called, made the
appointment, and showed up in my best coat and tie (actually my only coat and tie).
I was asked to wait in the 1503
conference room. Shortly, I heard
someone bounding down the steps as fast as anyone possibly could, and Bill
Nixon introduced himself. Nixon
interviewed me briefly, and I got the job.
Tony, another office intern, and I ran errands, worked on Lee's old Chrysler
car, worked on Tony's VW Beetle, fixed things, painted things, ran bluelines
(learning that too much ammonia is bad), made deliveries, you name it. I think I was paid $4 an hour. My first drafting-related task that summer, I
was handed an electric eraser and told to start erasing. I'd never seen an electric eraser before. OMG, this thing was incredible. Burned a hole right through that vellum. Uh-oh.
later, in August '84, Lee asked if I'd like to go out to Federal Express,
someplace called CAC. We had a team
starting out there lead by Jane Zinkand, so I jumped at the chance. Lee said we’d be out there maybe six
months. Five years later, the contract
ended and I came back to the office.
after we started at CAC, I was hired full time.
The downside to working full time was that I had to switch to night
classes at Memphis St., trying to finish my degree. In December ’90, I finished. Nine years of college - geez, I thought it
would never end.
While at CAC,
later renamed CTC, I perfected many skills, including the art of licking the
dried out plotter pens to get 'em going again, synchronized rustling of
cellophane with Randy Bence, and configuring series 9000 Steelcase systems
could write volumes about those years at FedEx, those were some of the best
years of my life. I worked with some of
the best people too, folks that are still some of the best friends I ever had. Ever had bologna pizza? I have, with David "baloney" Keeton. The Hedge, Wag, Jerry, Lionell, Lula,
Charles Bradley, Tommy, Sandy, Jill, Courtney, Steve, Papatya, The Bence-ster, and
our boss, Jennifer Adair. I was
priviledged to work with you all. If you
haven't seen the Bence Book of Excuses,
Volume I - A through God's Will, just ask Gary Wagoner to show it to you.
I had worked
at ANF for 15 years before my time in the office equaled my time out of the
office. I've been sent to work on
contract for FedEx (twice), HBG, JMGR, Belz, MSCAA. They all tried to hire me, except FedEx. I never really told anyone this, but I was so
disappointed that FedEx only wanted to hire Hedgepeth, and not me too. We
were a team, dammit! Oh well, I think
things turned out ok.
I've sat in
the cockpit of a Flying Tigers 747. I've
walked around the FedEx hub at night. I've watched the Concord land at MEM while
standing on the roof of Module E at CTC. I participated in a halon test at the Module I
generator addition, during which I learned first hand how halon works! And I've witnessed Randy Bence dump thousands
of paper punches onto his head in front of Ophelia Tyson. Oh we had some great times during those years.
Once when I
returned to the office after being sent out on contract, I went to my desk and
someone was sitting there working. I
said, "excuse me, you're in my spot". It was Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Fortunately for me, Thor moved on, but to this
day, he shows up in the weirdest places - on the office calendar, signed up for
art shows, things like that. Weird!
was the time the sandwich shop across the street from the office was robbed one
evening about 5 p.m., and the robber ran out into Union Ave, and gunfire
erupted. I said some expletives, dove
under my desk, and called 911, and shouted, "They're shooting at us!"
memories through the years include the various studio skits we used to do, like
The Wizard of Oz (I was the Scarecrow), Rappin Fish Heads, Charlie's Angels (I
was Bosley). I remember others as well -
The Chain Gang, lead by Sherriff Nixon, The Supremes, New Kids Been Around the
Block One Too Many Times. I remember
singing Blue Christmas at Leslie's
place downtown, singing with "Elvis" at my 20th anniversary party,
Robert Marcy yelling in my ear, "You want some cake?" at my 40th
birthday party. Becky Marshall and I met
Allison Kraus at Jonh & Sandy Williams' wedding in Nashville. True story.
very special at ANF. I love the personal
ornaments we put up each year, they bring back such fond memories of people and
good times. Many years I have been the
last to leave and lockup before Christmas. I turn off all the lights except for the tree and
just stare silently and think about old friends. Such great people who helped me, taught me,
encouraged me, befriended me: Leslie E. Smith, Benny J. Baggett, Jeff
Hedgepeth, Linda Smith, Carol Whitaker, Bill Nixon, Bill Ferguson, Dan
Garrigan, Stephen G. Hill, Emily Tickle Thomas...
projects I've had the privilege to work on: the IRS Service Center, the new
Memphis Animal Services facility, CSI (I wonder if Joe kept those sketches of
Madonna's bra), many a Dobbs project for Dan. On the IRS project, I punchlisted over 5,000
items together with Troy Lee from Mortenson. Poor Rhonda listened to tape after tape,
typing all those items in. I'm sure she
thought it would never end.
friends: Brian D. Eschman, Robert E. Land, Jr., Derrick Choo, John L. Williams,
Paula Jean Myers, Tava Beau Frazier. When
my father passed away in 2005, I got the call here that morning. Linda was first to hug my neck while I cried,
then Carol, Julie, others. Special
I wouldn't be
doing what I'm doing now without those who’ve quit before me: Cindi Wagner,
Curtis Warhurst, Amanda Chrisco. I love
being the I.T. person for ANF. Hardly a
day goes by where I don't learn or read about some new or changing technology.
people have I passed in the ANF hallways in 30 years? I counted about 150, plus everyone working here