Thursday, March 03, 2011

Number, Please

I’m a word butcher, not a number cruncher, so I had to think a bit about a recent e-mail from fraternity brother Jeff Weir.

Weir is a successful attorney and real estate investor in northern Wisconsin. He also has authored a well-written novel. When I knew him years ago, he was struggling a little. It’s great to learn how he has progressed since then.

Weir said he was rummaging through a drawer and discovered his old Sigma Nu Fraternity membership card. He wondered how many of the brethren would remember their initiation numbers and the Greek letters designating the chapter.

I still can recite the Greek alphabet (I’m good at that kind of stuff), so the chapter designation came to mind easily—Gamma Lambda. However, I’ve spent more than two years trying to engrave my latest phone number in my memory. The initiation digits could have been trouble. They weren’t though. My initiation number is unforgettable. It is 714.

Anyone who recalls the long-running television show “Dragnet” would know that Sergeant Joe Friday carried Badge 714. What are commonly called fraternity pins more formally are known as badges. Thus, I have always had only to think of the indomitable cop Friday to remember my badge also is 714.

Number recollection must vary considerably among individuals, and perhaps the numbers themselves. I easily bring my social security number to mind. BW (beautiful wife) Sandy cannot remember hers no matter how hard she tries, although she easily recalls many more other numbers than I do.

The only other number of any importance I can readily recall is my military serial number. I was forced to memorize it 53 years ago. Why it still often leaps to mind completely escapes me. Perhaps I dream of being captured by some horrible enemy and remember my training company sergeant yelling: “Don’t tell 'em a damn thing but name, rank, and serial number,” and I want to be ready to do just that.

What strange numbers come to your mind?


Arlene said...

The number I remember is 4 digits of a phone number I had for a few years in the '80's. I remember looking at it when I first got the phone and thinking that it would be easy to remember--I don't know why. Those 4 digits had no particular connection to anything at the time.

But, now they serve as my computer password and as the basis for a whole lot more passwords. (I have to write the latter down because I'm darned if I can remember the variations.)

joared said...

I recall the several different house numbers where I lived when young and my Aunt's P. O. Box number which I encountered only a week or so for 2 or 3 summers. Perhaps the house numbers stem from being admonished to know where I lived in case of emergency. I was fascinated that someone went to the post office to claim their mail and had a secret code (combination I never knew) to open the lock.

JHawk23 said...

I too find that I still remember my army serial number (and in those days of course, it was different from the SSN); I can also recall my parents' telephone number with its non-numerical prefix "VIking" although the last time I used it had to have been 25 years ago; as well as a phone number from a house I lived in thirty years ago, though it is an absolutely unmemorable collection of random digits. said...

i play Suduko, so lots of numbers come to mind, especially 1-9. BTW, did you know each Greek letter has a mathematical value? So you do know a lot of numbers. Betcha could turn 714 into Greek letters too.

Sightings said...

I'm afraid we're at the age when we remember numbers from when we were kids ... but not from our current lives.

It used to be you memorized your phone number and the numbers of your friends. But now you don't need a number. You just select a name from the contact list on your cellphone.

The hard part is remembering all those damn usernames and passwords!

Dick Klade said...

Sigma Nu Lowell Laitsch said via e-mail:

Hey Dick. I was #724. See if Dave Moody can match that. He was my scum brother (fellow initiate--ed.)along with one Dick Wegner.

(Brother Laitsch served 21 years in the U.S. Navy. He is now an attorney in the Washington, DC area.)