On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Team Hammock brought home gold from the 12th Annual Nashville Adult Literacy Council Corporate Spelling Bee, which is a fundraiser for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council. Our team was composed of writer Lena Basha, designer Carrie Wakeford and editorial director Bill Hudgins.
The emcee “Bee Master” was author Ann Patchett, whose work includes Bel Canto. She was witty and enthusiastic and made a great emcee.
There were eight teams in the competition, each with its own table. We had only 45 seconds after getting the word, a definition and a sentence to spell it. We were allowed to confer on each word, although only the captain (Lena for us) could actually spell the word. It was not like the televised National Bee where each contestant stands in the glare of the spotlights, thank goodness.
They narrowed the 8 teams down to 4 after about 45 minutes. We were in the remaining four. They tried to make us move up from our table to another one, after the losing teams left the stage, but Lena wisely refused, knowing we had a lucky table. We are taking her to Tunica very soon.
Two more teams went out fairly quickly – before we quite realized it, the event was down to us and a team from a large local law firm. We went back and forth, then Bill forced Lena to misspell stratagem (he thought it was stratEgem).
Under the rules, the other team had to spell that word correctly, then spell a final word to win. For some odd reason, the judge spelled stratagem out loud, so they had to go to the next word, which was the name of a disease you get from bird droppings – psittacosis.
They misspelled it, so suddenly we were back in the game and got it right. The final word was “raconteur,” which we spelled correctly, and the crowd went wild. John Lavey, our managing director and a longtime member of the literacy council board, did some impressive Heisman poses with the trophy for the cameras and said he was going to Disney World, with the trophy. This was the fourth or fifth team fielded by Hammock and the highest placing by far. Our highest previous finish was fourth.
The event raised $13,000 for NALC.