The Origin of “Pops”
I had only been at Syracuse University a few weeks into my freshman year, so some friends and I were looking for something to do. I was in touch with a friend of mine from camp because he lived in Syracuse. He told me that he worked at the New York State Fair that was held in Syracuse every year. He said that if I wanted, me and some friends could come down to the fair and he would sneak us free beers and food because he worked at one of the concession stands.
Well, this sounded like a good idea to me and my fellow broke college compadres. So I threw out the idea and gathered a crew together. It consisted of me, my roommate and a few other friends form the floor. So on one of the nights of the Fair (it’s a week and a half long event), we caught a cab and headed off. Now I only knew the name of the place where my camp friend worked (it was Gianelli’s), but I had no idea where it was at the fair. When we got there, we realized that the NYS Fair was just about the biggest event of the year for New York State (especially upstate), so the shear size of the grounds was overwhelming.
Needless to say, none of us had any idea where we were walking to, but we got a good dose of pure upstate NY culture just by watching some of the people the frequented this fair – most of whom were drinking those long yard glass of beer. I was determined to get everyone to the free food and beer, so I took control and began leading everyone around. On our quest to find Gianelli’s, we ended up seeing a weak carnival freakshow and a spectacular display of sculptures made out of butter. At some point, everyone was kinda pissy about finding this place, so they started asking me, “Where to next, Dad? Where we going now, Pops?” At the time I didn’t think anything of it. But the longer I took to find my friend, the more my other friends kept calling me “Pops”.
Eventually we came upon the great site that is Gianelli’s, and my camp friend delivered on his promise to give us free food and beer. Overall, it was an interesting night, not the best we had that year, or even that semester. But when I got back to school, and we told people of the story, the name “Pops” kept ringing over and over. Eventually, everyone on the trip called me Pops, which meant that everyone on the floor (Flint 2A) kept calling me that. At some point soon after that, I remember walking on the quad and having someone who I’ve never met yell across, “Hey Pops!” I guess that’s when I knew that “Pops” wasn’t some flash-in-the-pan nickname, but it was here to stay. I guess it was the timing that made it stick – the fact that it was early freshman year, and everyone was overly-friendly and trying to remember everyone’s name. I guess it was just easier for everyone to remember “Pops.”
Over the years, I’ve been asked to recount this story so many times that it doesn’t seem like it happened so many years ago. So now that this lackluster tale is in print for all to see, you can all stop f@!&ing asking me how I got the name Pops.