Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…


Click the play button to listen to Francis Pass tell this story.

Do you remember Look magazine? When I was a kid living in Dongola, Look magazine was always on our coffee table.

There’s one issue of Look magazine that I’ll never forget. Right there on the cover, it told of three names you should never give to your male child.

You wanna know what they were?

Marion, Junior, and Francis.

Yep. I boast not one but TWO of those names.

Francis Pass… Junior. No middle name. No middle initial.

brown bags stacked in a pile

Thanks a lot, Look magazine.

Now, some Francises of the world prefer to go by “Frank.” But not me. No siree. I was named after my father, who I loved very much. I’m proud to be known as Francis. And I would also answer to Junior.

I’ve been known by some other names in my lifetime. Some nicknames are better than others.

Did I ever tell you about the nickname I got in Vietnam?

brown bags stacked in a pile

One of my duties as a radio operator was to help set up the command track. We’d put up a tent and then sandbag it to shield anyone inside from projectiles in the event of a possible attack.

The sandbags were heavy. I mean, heaaaaavy. And boy did we get a lot of rain during monsoon season in Vietnam. That rain made those sandbags feel like you were lifting lead weights.

Anyway, one rainy day, I was sandbagging at back of the tent. And instead of walking down by the side and tossing the sandbags on top of the command track, I decided to stay put and throw the dadgum things.

Now, I was a big fella. I still am. But at that time in my life, I was a strong son-of-a-buck. In fact, Mrs. Pucelli, an Italian woman from Herrin, used to say to me, “You strong like bull!” But that’s a different story for a different day.

I would throw those heavy rain-soaked sandbags all the way up there.

That got some of the guys’ attention. I heard more than one of those fellas say, “If Pass can do that, I can too.”

They tried. Bless their hearts. But not a one of them got anywhere close.

That’s the day I got my nickname.

You’d think my feats of strength would garner a name like “Moose,” “Tank,” or “Hammer.”

Yeah. Francis “The Hammer” Pass. I would’ve liked that.

Nope. Instead, they called me… “Tiny.”

You don’t always get to pick your nickname. But that’s okay. I didn’t mind “Tiny.” I’m kinda proud of it.

I didn’t get to pick “Francis” either. And I’m mighty proud of that.

Y’know, ol’ Dale Carnegie once said, “Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

brown bags stacked in a pile

Francis Pass Junior is pretty sweet.

At least my dad didn’t name me Marion.

Be well. Stay well. Thanks for readin’/listenin’…

Francis Pass

P.S. – I do know of one fella who was named Marion. His full name was Marion Robert Morrison. But you may know him by his Hollywood name: John Wayne. Yep… me and the Duke… we both turned out pretty good. Take that, Look magazine.

child in overalls standing