"When the firetruck showed up at John Avery Lomax Jr.'s West University Place home, the flames out back were 30 feet high.
This was in the 1950s. Lomax Jr. had collected discarded Christmas trees from around the neighborhood and fashioned them into a makeshift fort for the neighborhood kids. After a few weeks, the wood dried out. It was time.
"The fire department showed up, hoses in hand," his son, John Lomax III, says. "And straight-faced, he asked them, 'What are you doing here? We're just having a lil' weenie roast.' "
The younger Lomax loves telling stories about his father, a strapping man who retained a childlike spirit.