By Erika Webb
Who in their right mind laughs and has fun on Monday morning?
The DeLeon Springs Community Association Monday Men must know something the rest of us don't. They don't mind sharing. In fact, they do a lot of that, but you'll want to join them for coffee to learn what makes them so cheerful.
Hint: They are all about service.
On a recent chilly Monday, convivial, bantering men crowded into the back room of the Porter House in DeLeon Springs to conduct a little business before heading up the street for coffee and bagels in the new European café at Karlings Inn.
They were still celebrating their third-place win for the Spanish Galleon they built and entered into the "decorated auto" category in the DeLand Jaycees 65th Annual Christmas Parade Dec. 7. They handed over their cash to "money man" Bob Acor so they can save up do it again next year. The entry fee is $500 and Mr. Acor -- ledger in hand -- has a reputation for strong-arm tactics when it comes to fundraising.
"He has ties to the mafia," joked William Witt, as Mr. Acor approached the building.
On this particular morning, the men also were donating money to help make Christmas a little brighter for two young boys whose mother was hospitalized, struggling to recover after being hit by a car on U.S. 17 in front of the Spring Waters Inn recently.
Mr. Acor rewarded his fellow Monday Men for their contributions with a "clean" joke involving a farmer, a mule and a nagging wife.
Long-short, the farmer and the mule lived.
Association President Don Malmborg never fails to accomplish what he sets out to -- never.
Before there was an association, Mr. Malmborg envisioned the sleepy little community coming alive, being brought back from the brink of eternal apathy by caring business and community members. He made phone calls, contributed money for advertising and beseeched residents and merchants to visualize what he saw for the failing-to-thrive hamlet he's called home for decades.
Now that he's amassed a gung-ho group of individuals who have established two annual art festivals, gotten the attention of the Volusia County Council and the state for a much needed district overlay, rezoning and oil plume cleanup, Mr. Malmborg decided to address group demographics.
He and fellow DSCA founding member Bob Ford had a talk.
"Bob and I were thinking there weren't too many men in the association," Mr. Malmborg explained. "We needed men to help with certain things."
The Monday Men began working and meeting last spring. They helped clear the Porter House property, built a back porch onto the association meeting house and created "mischief and mayhem," according to member Jack Nunn.
He said they do whatever is needed.
"Whatever projects come up, and there's always something. I'm thinking of staying home till Christmas," Mr. Nunn joked.
The fact he made the statement a week and a half before the big day, that his eyes always twinkle, he has a ready laugh, jolly demeanor and a full beard would indicate he really might have other obligations this time of year.
When Mr. Ford unveiled the cartoon painting his wife Sandra created in acrylic of the men working on the float, they spent a several minutes quietly (for them) taking it all in.
The rare reverent moment was short-lived.
"So many gray heads," Tom Maier said. "Notice she used up all the gray paint?"
They discussed where in the Porter House the painting should be displayed.
That sparked conversation about the two weeks they spent building their parade entry.
"They even gave Noah longer than that to build a boat," Mr. Nunn said, laughing.
They all agreed it was a fun project.
"You can see how much camaraderie they've (developed) building this boat," Mr. Malmborg said. "It gave them the chance to get together and know each other."
Jim Jones, a dry-witted individual, who appears to be a wheels-always-turning kind of guy, was dubbed "head boat builder" by Mr. Nunn.
The others agreed.
"He's the head of our yacht building division," the equally quick-witted -- and aptly named -- Mr. Witt said.
Rudy Rode, the ship's painter, also garnered high praise from the group.
The men concurred there were never "too many cooks in the kitchen." Some gave directions. Others followed them. A good time was had by all.
"We don't get mad. We get even here," Mr. Jones joked.
They do stay away from the subjects of politics and religion, understanding their bubble-bursting potential.
Inspired by the Ponce de Leon look-alike contest -- the main feature at the Autumn in the Oaks Festival Oct. 26 -- several Monday Men members, in Spanish conquistador garb, really wowed the parade crowd.
They were a huge hit with children.
"The little kids really liked it," Mr. Maier said, laughing. "They kept calling us pilgrims and pirates."
Parade recollections spawned another fundraising conversation.
A suggestion was made: a Monday Men calendar.
"I'll give you two weeks to get in shape," Mr. Acor said.
"Are you implying we're not?" Mr. Witt responded with mock incredulity.
As an "honorary member" of the "yacht building division" Mrs. Ford must have been impressed by the group's flourishing fellowship.
She's thought up a great counterpart: Wednesday Women.
Either she's joking or very savvy and figures the women's group could conjure project ideas for the men. Creativity seems to be her strong suit.
Has the group considered a parade in DeLeon Springs?
"The Wednesday wives could do that," Mr. Rode suggested.
"No, because it would involve us," Bill Jett joked.
"I gotta go out and get a job pretty soon because I figured out that's the only way you get a vacation," Mr. Acor said.
Mr. Malmborg sat quietly observing the 11 men and chuckling at their jocularity.
"Everybody's having fun," he said.
"What we'd like to get across is that we're a group of guys who get together on a Monday morning and our focus is doing things in the community and for the community," Mr. Ford said in a phone interview after the meeting.
In addition to everything else, Monday Men members have met with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office to take suggestions as to how they can help VCSO in its effort to reduce crime, Mr. Ford said.
"In some small way we can make DeLeon Springs a better place for everybody," he added.