I didn’t know Dennis Franklin in the early ‘70s when he was one of my father’s students at McNeese State University.

However, we had crossed paths many times in Orange for the last 10 years or so.

I never really thought of him as “The Plant Doctor,” the name he signed his horticulture columns with – although many certainly did.

I knew him through mutual friends many years ago, then later edited some of his columns for an Orange County paper that has since closed its doors.

One of those friends was Amelia Feathers, and when Dennis passed away last week I was reminded of meeting with both of them, in 2002, at what was once Cody’s on 16th Street.

We griped about work woes, and whatever was going on in politics at the time.

The television probably had an Astros game on, as it usually did back then, as the sound of clinking dishes and glasses sifted down through the kitchen. Dennis told me my father was one of his favorite teachers.

Then the room went dark, as the power went off all over the neighborhood.

The candles came out and not one customer got up to leave. They couldn’t anyway because the cash register couldn’t operate. “Don’t worry, we’ve called Entergy,” hollered one of the managers.

The work woes and politics continued, the smoke got really smoky and the room turned very hot. Somebody opened up the front door, not much comfort to those of us in the back.

Then after something in a half-hour, the lights flickered a bit and about five minutes later they came back on.

Eerily, I was sitting in the exact same spot about six months later watching news of the Columbia – that good ship – when it left parts over Southeast Texas in a final blue fall to earth.

And until a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have thought about that earlier night, that 2002 Cody’s night, as anything special, or memorable; but when you’re the only one out of three left to remember, the ratings of those so-called ordinary nights do go up a bit.

And I will remember them: the friends, and the smoke, and the darkness, and the always very certain, approaching light.