For most people, waking up in the morning and getting dressed has become a routine and thoughtless event. However, for Dr. Johnny Wink, picking out a shirt to wear brings back a flood of memories. Any one of his shirts have countless stories associated with them from the meaning, to the people who gave it to him or even the conversations the shirts provided.
It started 25 years ago when a fellow professor and friend, Dr. Tom Auffenberg, would create custom shirts as a Christmas present for Dr. Wink. This tradition continued through the years. Each shirt would have a phrase that was related to an event the previous year.
“It became my favorite gift to open because I never knew what the shirt was going to say,” Dr. Wink said. “It was always a kick to see what was written on it.”
A man who always wore button down shirts before, Dr. Wink slowly started wearing T-shirts to class as his collection grew. He amusingly has dubbed his closet as a “wardrobe sponsored by Tom Auffenberg.”
His students began to ask for the meaning behind his shirts. They caught onto the Christmas tradition.
One shirt reads “Dr. Wink’s Husband.” Dr. Johnny Wink’s wife also has her doctorate degree and taught at Ouachita. Yet, the students called her Mrs. Wink instead of Dr. Wink. She would joke about it occasionally and thought it was slightly unfair. Dr. Auffenberg poked fun at the situation with this shirt for Christmas.
Another shirt has “Ethelwink” written across it. After Dr. Auffenberg had surgery, Dr. Wink stepped in to teach his British History I class until he recovered. He got this shirt the following Christmas. The word ethel means “noble” in Old English. The shirt means “Noble Wink.”
A third shirt has “Beware the Warlock” on it. One day in the summer, while camps were going on at Ouachita, Dr. Wink was walking to the pool while reciting Psalm 23 in Hebrew. He was chanting fast when two boys passed him. One said, “Did you hear that old dude?” The other replied, “Yeah, it sounded like he was saying a spell or something.” Dr. Wink told the story to Tom and this shirt came the following Christmas.
Even after Dr. Auffenberg’s sudden passing, Dr. Wink still receives shirts from his students, adding each year to his unique wardrobe full of memories.
Coming up in April:
An Evening with Johnny Wink: Stories and Poems
When: Saturday, April 1st, 2017 at 4:00 pm.
Where: Darragh Center Auditorium of the Main Library — 100 Rock St. — Little Rock, AR 72201
What: To honor Johnny and Susan Wink, Ouachita alumni and friends will gather to hear Johnny tell stories and recite poems. To raise money for the Johnny and Susan Wink Scholarship, we’ll auction off several of his famous t-shirts, a signed copy of his Seven Ways to Prune a Grapefruit, a “Take the Chinchilla to Lunch” lunch date with him, and a framed copy of his poem “Curvantis Calabros Sinus.”
The Ouachita Voices blog is a place for the people of Ouachita to tell the stories of Ouachita. Lend your voice to the conversation. Submit your ideas to email@example.com.