Plogglies are mythical creatures that steal things. They are the reason that you cannot find that pencil or ballpoint pen that you ‘just knew’ was ‘right there’ the last time you used it. Plogglies has long been one of my favorite terms. I first ran across the term in a General Semantics book (Wendell Johnson’s “People in Quandaries”) a few decades ago.
So, when I needed to come up with a name for a group I was putting together to compete in local Knowledge Bowl competitions, I chose THE PLOGGLIES as the name for the group!
The team was composed of (in alphabetical order): Shane Baird, Hack Long, John Lynch, Vern Lynch, Hal Mansfield, and Jean Walter. Shane and John were ‘winding up’ their high school careers when I first organized the team. Vern and I were professors at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Hack Long owned The Bookcase, a used bookstore in Durango. (Hack paid our entry fees.) Jean Walter worked for the City of Durango at that time. For competition purposes, only four members of each team could participate at a time. We traded off both within and between competitions.
As it turned out, the team was aptly named. We ‘stole’ a bunch of Knowledge Bowl competition championships. Well, . . . earned would be a more honest term. Shane and John had terrific reflexes. This meant that one or the other usually hit the ‘electronic tape’ before any of the competing teams' members. The team that hit the tape first, got to try to answer the question first.
Team members could not talk about the answer amongst themselves at any time before giving a response. The rule was, however, that we could communicate by holding a number of fingers (usually one to five) based on how sure we were of the correct answer. Then, one team member - only - would answer the question.
If the first answer given was incorrect, the second team to hit the tape got a shot at providing the correct answer, and so on. Our team was first in hitting the tape, more often than not, and usually one or the other Ploggly team member had the correct answer.
Often - some from competing teams would say all too often - neither Shane nor John knew what the answer to the question was, for sure, when they hit the tape. They just figured that one of the four members of the team would know the answer. However, it should be pointed out they both had terrific memories and a broad ‘data base.’ Both had competed on award winning Knowledge Bowl teams during their education careers. They also knew a lot more about ‘pop culture’ than the older team members.
Vern Lynch, John's father, was one of the brightest guys I ever knew. Hack Long was and is about as widely read as anyone I know. Jean Walter is sharp beyond words. So, I just sort of sat back and ‘profited’ from all of that combined intellect and knowledge, as sort of the ‘grand old man’ who put the team together.
Eventually, some say because we dominated the local and regional Knowledge Bowl competition scene so thoroughly, interest by other teams lagged. Fewer and fewer teams were willing to come up with the entry fees (up to $150.00, in some cases) since the chance of winning some of the many prizes was small. Finally, there were no more Knowledge Bowl competitions in our area (except for those competitions that were exclusively open to school teams).
In addition, Shane and John left town for a time. Both later returned to Durango but with other agendas. Hack sold The Bookcase and moved to Texas. Vern and Hal retired. Both traveled quite a bit. Recently, Vern died at the early age of 64 years. Jean began working at Fort Lewis College. Hal moved to Green Valley, Arizona.
Thus, the Plogglies came to an end: Not with a bang but with a whimper.
Where is the ballpoint pen that I was going to use to sign this? I'd swear it was right here a few minutes ago. Darned Plogglies!