The Washington Times - September 19, 2012, 09:22AM

A meeting between Maryland and West Virginia means one thing above everything else.

A.J. Francis gets to tell Grandpa Shakey (Davis) stories.


A year ago, during one of the interviews that led into this feature, Francis described the antics of his great-grandfather (a West Virginia native). He repeated himself about 10 minutes later, which led to this in the Washington Post.

So much for a Grandpa Shakey segment in a feature that wouldn’t run for another month.

In any case, it seemed worthwhile to broach the subject of Francis’ relative for the ages (and aged) with a trip to Morgantown on tap.

“I think he’s going to be at the game,” Francis said. “We have to work it out because it takes him forever to walk down stairs. Hopefully, he’ll be at the game. He’s a crazy old man, I’ll tell you what. In his house, he has $100,000 probably buried in mattresses and stuff like that. He’s one of those guys who still has the first paycheck he ever got in his life back in 1924. He’s crazy. He’s unbelievable.”

It would be the first time Grandpa Shakey has seen Francis play in person, though he does apparently watch the loquacious lineman’s games on TV all the time

(An aside on the money in his Gary, W. Va., home: Francis observed last year that “Whoever gets his house in the will is going to come up big.” This is why, from time to time, it pays off to hold on selected interviews on a digital recorder).

(OK, another aside. Maybe the best unused story from last year’s avalanche of Grandpa Shakey discussions is this gem on the graduation gift Mike Francis, A.J.’s father, received from his older relative:

“My granddaddy Shakey gave him two dollars for graduating high school,” Francis said. “My dad graduated high school in 1988, so it’s not like he graduated in like the 40s where $2 is like ‘Ah, that’s nice.’ He graduated in 1988 and he gave him $2. I graduated high school and he gave me $20. My dad’s still a little salty about that.”)

Back to the present. Not much, it seems, has changed regarding Grandpa Shakey over the last year, though Francis did reveal a little bit more back story yesterday.

“We really don’t know how old he is,” Francis said. “He’s supposedly 91, but he doesn’t have a birth certificate. He just never had one. When he was born in Louisiana in 19-whatever, they didn’t have birth certificates because he was born in his house. We say he’s 91. I’d be willing to bet money he’s easily over 100. He’s still rocking the Jheri curl. He’s still keeping it strong, so more power to him.”

In a related note: Maryland beat writers sure are going to miss Francis next year, especially when Maryland meets West Virginia.

—- Patrick Stevens