In Jan. 17 IssueRussell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
My wife scooted next to me on the couch, and said, “You wanna’ know something kinda weird about me?”
I didn’t know how to answer that, exactly.
I mean, yeah, sure, on my never-ending quest to figure her out I wanted to know all I could, but there again, what if she was about to tell me she actually an alien from the second ring of Saturn, or she was born in a cross-fire hurricane, or something?
“Well,” she began, and I shall paraphrase…
Renee’ Stephens was a precocious, young girl who grew up in a loving family, rode four-wheelers, swam in creeks, played in the marching band…and cried at wrestling matches.
One time her grandparents took her to a real, live, wrestling match where she got to see, in person, right before her big green eyes, THE Lanny Kean.
Name doesn’t ring a bell?
How ‘bout “Luscious Lanny?” “Moondog Cujo?” “Bloody Ox Brody?” Maybe “Big Daddy Cyrus,” or…here ya’ go…”COUSIN JUNIOR!”
Oh yeah, now we’re talkin’!
Yes, for those of you who didn’t know (and that’s OK, ‘cos the Lord still loves you), Russell County's own- Lanny Kean, was “Cousin Junior” in what used to be WWF (Now WWE).
Yes, that was him you saw on TV with “Hillbilly Jim,” yes, that was him known around the world for his charismatic, country-themed character, and yes, that was him you would see smiling and waving from the front porch off Boat Dock Road.
He never let his fame go to his head.
Lanny was always approachable and accommodating.
Which leads us back to our story…
Anyway, Renee’ went to the wrestling match, where she waited and waited, sitting through various matches for her hero to hit the ring.
Lanny arrived to great fanfare.
Renee’ cheered, yelled, screamed, jumped, hollered…until.
Yep, the “bad guys,” the “heels” had to ruin it.
They ganged up on Lanny and pummeled him unmercifully.
Renee’ was horrified, mortified, and crushed to see Lanny led away bloodied, bruised and battered.
And continued crying.
All through the night.
And into the next day.
Nothing could console her.
Her desperate family, who knew Lanny for years, notified him of the situation.
Before long, Lanny Kean, the legend, was knocking at the door.
Pictures? Autographs? Kind reassurance for a fretful fan? No problem.
Lanny, as always, delivered.
“I thought that was SO awesome,” Renee’ said. “Now, I bet you’ve got some kind of story that can top that, huh?”
“Well,” I said. “It’s not like I held his hat and overalls in my hands, or anything,”
“YOU DIDN’T!” she screamed-followed by a punch like Elaine Benes used to give Jerry Seinfeld.
And my Lanny story goes like this…
A few years back, I was sitting at my desk at the newspaper office when I was told I had a visitor.
“Lanny Kean’s here to see you.”
“ME?” I said.
“He’s here to see ME?””Uh-huh?”
“Yes, he’s waiting!”
I walked up to strapping hulk of a man and extended my hand.
He grasped it firmly, then, as he pulled his hand away, I checked to see if my fingers were crushed.
“Mr. Daffron,” he said, to which I responded by looking behind me.
“You’re Wade, ain’t ya?” he asked.
“Oh, uh, yeah, I said. “When you said ‘Mr. Daffron’ I thought you were talking to my dad, or something.”
“HA-HA-HA!” he laughed, smacking me on the shoulder.
I thought I would crumble to the floor under his accidental, great strength.
“Hey, there, buddy,” he said (HE CALLED ME BUDDY!), “you mess with that ebay, Internet stuff, don’t ya?”
Long story short-Lanny was thinking about selling his trademark hat-complete with various forms of “flair,” and ring-used overalls on ebay.
“You reckon’ anybody would want this ol’ stuff?” he asked.
“Uh, well, I would!” I chirped.
“HA-HA-HA!” he bellowed, with his heavy hand coming down on my shoulder again.
I stumbled around, then led him to my desk (HE WAS IN MY OFFICE!) where we looked at wrestling memorabilia on ebay.
We decided to take some pictures, and list his items for sale.
I can’t remember how many “hits” were registered, but fans from all over the world sent questions, comments, there was several offers to buy the items outside of the auction, and the excitement over the auction was brewing.
Best I can remember, just before the auction closed, some kind of major event happened-I’m thinking it was a plane crash, some severe weather event, of some kind of disaster that kept people glued to the TV, and away from their computers.
The minimum bid was not reached, and the treasures did not sell.
Lanny came by after the auction, and said he was actually relieved.
“I’m kinda attached to the stuff,” he said.
“Ah,” he said, “Maybe nobody remembers ol’ Lanny, anyways.”
No sir, not true at all.
It’s not that people don’t remember…it’s that people can’t forget.
Lanny Kean, 1960-2009
Winner…and still Champion.