Outside the classroom experiences, no on-site experiences had more profound and formative effect upon my Cisco school days than those I received as a football trainer/manager for the Cisco Loboes during the four football seasons 1960-1963. These were the four seasons of the 1964 graduating class, and I was fortunate to be the only one of my class to serve the team as a trainer/manager all four of them. These four seasons are the reasons I am today an avid football fan, a season-ticket holder to Texas A&M football home games, a general college football fan, a Cisco Lobo fan who one night in December 2013 had a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes when the Loboes finally won State, and a NFL fan who loves to watch any pairing of the 32 on TV line up and hit each other — all without ever having been a player. Yet, these four seasons are also the reasons why I’m glad I never played football, why I would never be the coach of a sports team, much less of a football team, why I’m glad my sons never played football, why I couldn’t care less about the so-called pageantry of college and pro football, and why I can claim, like a player, I never saw a half time show performed by my peers while in high school. These four seasons are the reasons I cannot be considered a typical football fan. Being a trainer/manager will do things like that to you.
And it is not difficult to see why. Being trainer/manager is a unique perspective on a football team — different from that of players, coaches, and fans. It is an “inside” view, yet a somewhat detached one, due to the “invisible” status trainer/managers have as members of the team. Sort-of-like officials in a football game — players, coaches, and fans don’t notice them unless they are needed and/or they screw up.
Consequently, this is not a history of Cisco High School Lobo football; there will be no season won-loss records, individual game scores, or individual/team statistics; Dr. Duane Hale and others have done a good job registering that. It is a slice of four years of high school experiences — events revealing adolescents in athletics, specifically four football seasons. It just happened to be Lobo football; it happened to be, as I’ve said, profound and formative, made possible by, perhaps, an atypical point of view.
Even the beginning of these four seasons was atypical…….
Berry (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) was walking home to Park Dr., west of Front St., from the 3-story high school building located less than a block from my house on the 900 block of W. 6th St. in June, 1960; he had just come from an organizational meeting of the summer’s driver’s education class. I was playing in my front yard, allegedly doing yard work. Berry and I had graduated from Cisco Jr. High, along with the rest of the 1964 graduating class, and all of us were being “pigeon-holed” into all the roles we could take on as we entered high school. Berry, for instance, was going to play football and take Spanish; I was not going to play football (My parents would not allow it.) and take Agriculture, joining the FFA.
There in my front yard, Berry persuaded me to do two things — sign up for driver’s ed, and talk to the driver’s ed teacher, head football coach Jerrell Rice, to see if I could be the incoming freshman “manager” (as trainer/managers were called) for the football team. Coach Rice said “yes” to both requests. These were two decisions with which my parents had no problems, so they had said “yes” also. Driver’s ed that summer turned out to be not-so-stressful because I already knew how to drive, learning how to drive cars, pick-ups, and tractors on our farms and ranches. But the decision to be a football manager was crucial, as it assured me I would not be out-of-touch outside the classroom with my good friends Berry, Adling (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May,2012]), and Clark Odom — all going to play football — so, I would be “in-touch” without having to play football. (The only good friend from whom I would be deviating in an extra-curricular sense was Lee (Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [April, 2012]), who was joining the high school band.) Thanks to Berry, my high school “career” was launched — pocketing a driver’s licence and becoming part of the football team by the time school started. (Who knows what would have happened had I not been in the yard that day Berry walked by!)
Becoming a manager meant that before I entered high school, I took a “manager skills” correspondence course that summer from the Cramer Company. By the time summer football practice began, I knew all kinds of terms and theory, from balm packs to taping ankles, from bandaging to low-tech chiropractic techniques such as “popping” necks and backs. I was ready for the real thing — on-the-job training; practical success and only that would determine if I “made” the team or not.
Becoming an accepted manager by the time school and the football schedule started was like driver’s ed — not so stressful, for basically two reasons: 1) I was not put off by doing menial, dirty jobs (the “rewards” of being a freshman) like un-clogging toilets “jammed by deposits,” thanks to my experiences working and “doctoring” livestock on the farms and ranches, where I had to do some pretty unsavory things. 2) I was mentored and taken “under wing” by Senior manager Larry Johnson, who really taught me by advice and by example how to be a good football manager. It did not “hurt” that he and I “hit it off” right from the start; we had similar senses of humor, similar gifts (like drawing and sketching), and similar student body responsibilities (We were Presidents of our respective classes, also meaning we served on the Student Council together.)
For the 1960 season the managers were a quintet: Larry was the Senior (and head) manager; Jerry Parks and Olin Odom (Clark Odom’s older brother) were Junior managers; Chip White was the Sophomore mananger and I was the Freshman one. Stars of the team were Lynn Hagan, Darrell Holt, Hershell Barnes, Jackie Hammer, Kenneth Kenney, Rex Miller, Bruce Speegle, Jim Coats, Billy Duff Hale, Bill Midkiff, Jim Sitton, Don McCrary, Donnie Wallace, David Wende, Don Gosnell, David Callarman, and Gary Nettik. Head Coach Rice had as assistants Coaches Joe Turner, Ernie Davis, and Gene Hargrove. Varsity managers were Larry and the two Juniors; “B” Team managers were Chip and I.
What stuck in my memory in this first season as manager were the times we managers were “doing our thing” in the field house by ourselves, as when we were washing and cleaning up on Saturday mornings after a home or away game the Friday night before. Olin and Jerry seemed to get away from the job early, giving time to Larry, Chip, and I to have some “much deserved” playtime. The three of us took turns throwing each other in the wheeled laundry cart, and covering the one thrown in with freshly dried washing (towels, T-shirts, socks and jock straps) and/or inflated blocking and tackling dummies (canvas-sheathed tire inner tubes, not big-headed players). The three of us also, when all alone in the field house, would play “knights of old,” each of us donning a football helmet and grabbing a tackling dummy as a shield and a broom as a “lance or sword.” Two would gang up on one, or it was “every man for himself,” as we would “battle it out” all over the field house, giving each other scrapes and bruises — especially on our hands and fingers. Chip would keep us “in stitches” by “throwing a tantrum” by slinging in all directions as fast as he possibly could washed items and inflated dummies which had accumulated in the laundry cart.
Chesley Field, Cisco’s home field just outside the field house to the east (actually NE) did not drain well when a deluge came this season, resulting in the SW corner (actually S) end zone standing in water. It was the task of the managers to drain that water; digging a ditch, the proper solution, seemed impossible to do before a game was to be played as the weekend approached — too little time. We finally resorted to dipping up the water and pouring it over the chain-link perimeter fence of the field with empty athletic tape cans, each of which held eight or so rolls of the white tape with which we taped the players’ ankles for both practices and games; if you could not rip strips of this tape off the rolls with your fingers instead of using the time-consuming surgical scissors, you were not considered to be a very proficient manager. Olin’s reluctance to “get his feet wet” and his hands dirty in the standing water did not sit well with any of his manager colleagues, and this only added to Olin’s reputation of being a lazy manager, maintaining an attitude of entitlement because he was an upperclassman. It was a reputation never to improve, in my opinion, though my estimation of him did improve in areas outside the football team, as the reader will eventually see. In my world of Lobo football managing, he was to me the poorest example.
Part of our job as managers was to mark off the sidelines, end zones, and yard lines every five yards with a “wide-swath” trimming machine. This had to be done, of course, before the start of the season. I remember our messing up one time, not keeping in line with the marking pipes driven to ground level marking the corners of the end zones. Was I ever glad I was a “bottom-level” responsibility freshman! Just before one JV game on a Thursday night, I remember it raining so hard, they started the game with the field still draining to each sideline down the yard lines we had “trimmed.” The ball was spotted on one play right on a yard line divisible by 5, and when the official sat the ball down, it floated down the yard line toward the sideline! He had to retrieve the ball and re-set it.
When high school started for the graduating class of 1964, I immediately experienced an advantage I had being the only freshman football manager: being such, I could avoid being hazed by the Seniors 1961, for the most part. Summer two-a-day practices at the practice field and the field house had essentially ingratiated me with the Senior football players, like Lynn Hagan, Darrell Holt, and Kenneth Kenney (It did not hurt that I had become good friends with the first two at the church we three attended.) doing “normal” managerial things for them that all the managers did for the players: hand them towels when they came out of the showers, bandaging their cuts and scrapes, apply balm packs for bruised muscles, tape ankles before practices and games, massage backs and limbs in need of relaxing, especially calf muscles seized by “charley horses,” and personally procuring aspirin and/or salt tablets for them on demand.
Consequently, in the halls of 3-storied Cisco High School, when Seniors ’61 like Craig Meglasson, Robert Shirley, James Tabor, James Stanley Webb, or Charles Yardley (all non-football players) would try to haze me like they were hazing freshmen Adling, Berry, Clark Odom, or Lee, I would put myself in close proximity of a Senior football player like Lynn, Darrell, or Kenneth, who did not take kindly to their classmates “abusing” someone who “took care” of them at the field house. For me, it was a “good deal.” And, if I needed it, Larry was always there for me to advise me on “how to handle” these particular hazers.
When players had to run their “windsprints,” Chip White and I would find ourselves with no duties until they finished. We would go to the middle of Chesley Field and play “wrestle-tackle” between two of the yard lines we had helped carve into the grass. We would line up in a 3-point stance like a lineman across from each other and crash into each other, trying to push each other across the yard line behind each of us. Wearing no helmets, we avoided concussions.
Concussions were something many players could not avoid. Here in the 21st century, it is ironic and interesting how the issue of player concussions has come to dominate all levels of football, from pee-wee or Pop Warner leagues, through Jr. High and High School football, college ball, and the NFL. From the beginning, concussions from my perspective as a manager mitigated and moderated who played football and when.
Donnie Wallace was a Junior star on the team the 1960 season until he got “his bell rung” in a game in Ranger (helmet came off), and we applied “Am-caps” (little glass vials of pink-colored ammonia wrapped in a small nylon or cotton mesh, which could be crushed between the fingers and fanned under the noses of players who seemed “out of it”) to bring him around after he was helped off the field. We knew something was serious with Donnie’s injury, despite the fact we were laughing when he asked over and over who won the game, even as we were getting on the bus for the trip west back to Cisco, and we always answered that indeed we had won. “That’s good! That’s good!” was about all Donnie could reply. When we told him he was going to be all right, he said, “That’s good!” When we helped him into the showers, he said, “That’s good!” The last word we heard as he was taken to the doctor after he got dressed was “That’s good! That’s good!” Donnie’s football career was over; he did not play football his Senior year. That was NOT good.
Berry’s football career was cut short similarly our freshman year. More than once, I had to “bring him around” during a JV game (“B” team game) by waving an Am-cap under his nose. The last time was so bad, I had the Am-cap stuffed up into his nostril, and he still was not responding. It was scary! When we finally got him to “come around,” that time, Berry stopped playing thereafter. When the second season of 1961 came around, in order for Berry to be able to be “with his buddies” on the football team outside class, he became a manager, along with Olin and me; that season, Larry had graduated and Olin was the head manager, as Jerry, for reasons I never clearly knew, dropped out of managing, Chip dropped out also, but to play football rather than manage, despite all the concussions he had witnessed and tended. That left only me, so I was “second in seniority” as a manager when I was a sophomore. That meant, in turn, that Olin and I were the varsity managers and Berry was the JV manager.
[Berry’s having to quit playing football at least brought him the freedom from the “Nitrotan compresses” I applied to his football cuts and scrapes. The most infamous one was a cut between his fingers that the compress turned a dirty brownish-green. His mother thought I had ruined his hand, I’m sure, but it did heal up with no infection. (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012])]
Standard helmets only contained a sling of cotton straps to protect the head, and as more cases similar to Donnie and Berry came along, some players wore the “latest” in headgear, a helmet lined with foam padding. Now, in retrospect, such should have been “standard” a long time before it was. Compared to what players today wear for protection, what they wore in high school football in the early 1960’s seems pretty primitive.
Jumping to the last and in ways most memorable concussion briefly, our Senior year in 1963 Adling, playing the “monster,” strong-side outside linebacker, got run over by a “student body” sweep to his side during a home game one Friday night. He had to be helped off, but seemed to be all right after the game. He said he was going over to Bobby Smith’s house after the game, but he never made the cross-town trek. He simply had disappeared! Soon, in the late Friday evening hours and the early Saturday morning hours several parties were looking for Adling. In my party we heard that his mother had received a call (remember, no cell phones)from Baird from Adling, who had “awakened” to the reality he was on I-20 driving west almost to Abilene; he had lost his memory from the play in the game to that phone call! Several of us, including his dad, met him on the Interstate between Cisco and Putnam near the county line; he seemed none the worse for wear, and medical check-ups afterwards confirmed that impression. (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012])
[In the summer of 2007, Adling also lost his memory in Las Vegas, where he and his wife Pamela met Sylvia and I for a few wild days. He seemed incapable of refusing all the free white Russian drinks the cocktail waitresses were bringing to him at his seat at the slot machines. He “blacked out” for several hours, again acting as if he was just “sloshed.” His loss of memory made him uneasy, as he claimed the next morning this was the first time he had “blacked out.” I forgot to remind him about the night of his “weird drive” to Baird, or should I say, to “Bobby’s house.”]
Clark Odom’s football career was short-lived also, but not due to concussions. He found he should think about following in Berry’s and his brother Olin’s footsteps and become a manager also. But, unlike Berry, that transition never worked out for him in the long run. In the case of Berry, the irony was he wound up doing for three years what he had talked me into doing for four! He also wound up having migrane headaches for the rest of his life, a condition I want to think was brought on by his concussions and not the rock I hit his forehead with in the eighth grade! (See Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) These headaches could also help explain a lot of the academic struggles he had for years in college (which he overcame).
With Olin and I as managers of the varsity and Berry as manager of the JV, the 1961 football season saw stars Jim Sitton, Bill Midkiff, Jim Coats, Mike Cooper, Billy Duff Hale, Don McCrary, Vernon Phipps, David Wende, David Callarman, Robert Mitchell, Carson Snow, Buddy Surles, George Mitcham, Gene Darr, Jimmy Brown, Nicky Lopez, Jackie Williams, Bobby Maynard, and Danny Phipps. Coach Gerald Rice’s staff consisted of Coaches Joe Turner, Ernie Davis, and Gene Hargrove, the exact same staff as the previous year.
Now that they were “big bad Seniors,” Jim Sitton (who went on to a college football career at SMU) and Bill Midkiff figuratively “threw their weight around” by literally throwing Sophomore managers Berry and me around the field house. Fortunately for our health, they usually threw us into the laundry cart (see above), which often contained something soft to land upon. The thing we hated was their “bearding” us — one holding one of us down and the other scraping some exposed part of our anatomy (nothing gross; it was usually like an arm, leg, or back) with their “5-o’clock shadow;” Bill’s beard was especially bad, really long by the end of school, despite the fact he shaved every morning.
This was the season (1961) that defined the job of trainer/manager for both Berry and me, and Olin Odom (the head manager) was the catalyst. Olin was such a bad example and so lazy (the exact opposite of Larry Johnson the previous season), that we simply behaved counter to his behavior, and the result was that we gradually began to run, as Sophomores, the business of managing the team, not Olin. He was so high-handed, acting as if his position gave him entitlement to boss us around and not do much work, we got to where we would do what he told us to do only to the extent he thought we were listening, and then, in his absence, we would do the job in the manner we saw best. By the time the season was over, we hardly listened to him. Not that what he said was all bad, as he did pass on to us some very good tips. And, I did not completely reject Olin, as I found him a better “mover and shaker” socially in the school student body than he was a football trainer/manager. In the spring of 1962 I choose him (or he volunteered, or both) to be my campaign manager in my run for Student Council Vice-President; we won the election!
Hence, Berry and I emerged as “products in the footsteps” of Larry Johnson, not Olin Odom. Since I had one year of manager seniority on Berry, I, as the second varsity manager, got to make the long, chartered bus ride to Lamesa for a non-district game early in the season. (Lamesa is a town on the “bottom” of the Texas Panhandle near the border with New Mexico.) There was no position, apparently, for Berry on that trip. Also there was no overnight stay, so we rode back to Cisco in the wee hours of the morning, during which trek I had crawled under the bus seats and gone to sleep; after a break at a truck stop, through which I slept, I could not be found, leading to a rude awakening for me by the coaches asking what I was doing sleeping on the bus floor. If Berry was resentful over my seniority, he did not show it. It was my tendency to treat him as an equal (See The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]), and we became more like a team, not a hierarchy, a “well-oiled” machine, a “dynamic duo” of apparent efficiency. This self-definition was growing in importance, as it appeared, given that there were no Junior managers, Berry and I were going to head up the managing for the next two seasons, our Junior and Senior years.
No character on the team was more memorable than Don McCrary, Senior fullback. He was like a barometer measuring how the Loboes were doing at any given moment in the game. Were we ahead, he was a dynamo; were we behind, he was sure to contract an “injury;” as we lost a lead, Olin and I got ready to escort him off the field in a play or two. If we somehow came from behind to regain a lead, we would expect him to suddenly be able to go back in the game.
After being a trainer/manager for two seasons, I knew that I never wanted to be a coach. Not that I had a large sampling of coaches to observe (4 over 2 years), I saw in my sample the “dark side” of the profession, if you please, being privy to hours coaches spent at the field house before and after practice, day-in and day-out. I never saw a coach escape the psychological “trap,” as I saw it, being in such a position of influence and power over young athletes. They all seemed to struggle with the inflation of their own self-esteem; instead of emphasizing the positive influence they could have on players both on and off the field, they found it easier to allow their ego to inflate. They all struggled to find time for their families and to find a way to be a head coach (except Head Coach Rice, of course, who already was a head coach). Coach Ernie Davis was so conceited (perhaps because he was from Stamford, the team that kept the Loboes in the days of Randell Hess, Charles Lipsey, Duane Hale, and Delbert Schaefer from advancing in the State playoffs), he actually thought we managers coveted his position and influence as a coach, and, therefore, we would “naturally” want to be coaches like he. I think the opposite was true, but we dared not let him know that. Like Olin, Coach Ernie Davis (I use his full name not to confuse him with Coach Manning Davis, a very different individual.) was not all bad. Outside the field house, in the school building, I found him very understanding and congenial — one time fooling my classmates by pretending to give me licks with his paddle out in the hall for disturbing his general business class; he slapped his leg with the paddle, and I groaned out appropriately. His approach to his profession just “rubbed me the wrong way.”
The 1962 season, the first of Berry’s and my “tenure,” had as varsity stars David Callarman, Bobby Maynard, George Mitcham, Buddy Surles (What Did I Say or Write? WTF?!! (For Adults Only) [Jan, 2013]), Chip White, Adling, Earl Carson, Gene Darr, Ralph Lanham, Robert Mitchell, Danny Phipps, J. V. Plumlee, Leon Bint, Jimmy Brown, Danny Clack, Richard Coats, Nicky Lopez, Coy Miller, Bobby Rains, C. B. Rust, Bobby Smith (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), Johnny Tennyson, and David Waters (Play Rehearsal Night, With a Side of Greased Flagpole [May, 2013]). Lots of changes in the names of the players, for sure, but the greatest line-up change was that of the coaches, percentage-wise. Coach Rice was still the Head Coach, Coach Turner was still the Line Coach, but coaches Davis and Hargrove were gone, to be replaced by only one, Coach Jack Cromartie (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 8 (Admission, “Punishment,” and Immediate Aftermath [Oct, 2013] & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 9 (Continued Aftermath and The Birth of a Legacy [Oct, 2013]). Joining Berry and me as managers were Eddy Blailock and my cousin, Dwayne Scarlett, both receiving my support when they wanted to join, but Eddy not turning out to be what the team needed (So much for my endorsements!). He was too frail of health to physically “always be there” — a quality absolutely necessary to be a trainer/manager. Dwayne was a successful manager for a full school year, going on to manage basketball, but the demands caused by his living miles out-of-town with my grandparents made it impractical for him to continue after one school year.
Some managerial memories of Berry’s and my “managerial management team” were:
Berry was delegated to the “field” manager, along with Dwayne and Eddy, and I was the lone “in-house” manager who stayed in the field house cleaning and “tidying up,” washing the daily laundry with the field house’s industrial-grade washer and dryer, and tending to wounds and other injuries emerging during practice that could not be handled on site by Berry & staff on the field. I deliberately chose to be the “in-house” manager, so that when everyone was out on the field for the practice except me, and I had finished cleaning and straightening up the field house and had started the day’s laundry, I could get a head start on the night’s homework that would be finished after practice during the traditional study session over at my house (The 1963 Cisco High School King Lobo Coronation [March, 2014], & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]) (assuming I did not have a “patient” or “patients” in the field house to attend).
Another “division of labor” occurred concerning game days, both home and away. Berry and I were responsible for packing the managerial medical kit and other side-line supplies, and we usually had those things ready to go at the end of Thursday night practice — well before the actual game the following Friday night. Whether home or away, we were also responsible for setting up the stadium headphones for the coaches well before the crowd filled the stands. While Dwayne and Eddy attended to the team, we would switch out going to the top of the appropriate sideline stands and staying down on the field at our team bench site, stringing a wire between us connecting an ancient Army-surplus set of field phone receivers — in this way coaches up high and coaches on the field could communicate during the game. Of course, it was also our responsibility to “strike” this field communication system after each game. Before we finished our two-year tenure, we could assemble or disassemble the phones in a matter of minutes, returning to taping ankles or removing ankle tape “before most knew we had been gone.”
With Dwayne and Eddy being absent a lot, we also “took over” retrieving the tackling dummies (the inflatable tire tubes, not the players!) after practices in record time, using the “athletic department” car used often by Coach Rice. We good-naturedly “tormented” Mr. Mitchell, the head custodian of the athletic facilities and the high school and Robert Mitchell’s (see above) dad. One day when a player during practice ran into and broke a water line to the practice field, terminating practice for the day and causing Mr. Mitchell “fits” trying to find the cut-off valve, I thought he was going to “bean” us right there with his tools when Berry and I, returning to the field house with tackling dummies, pointed to the high “fountain” of water flooding the practice field and said to him, “Uh..Mr. Mitchell….I think there’s a leak down on the field…..” We also were not comforting to him when he had to repair frozen water pipes that had burst in the field house walls during very cold weather.
I was also the occasional designated whirlpool “administrator,” or, as it is known among teams, “cooker of players.” These were the days before cold or ice water treatment, and the whirlpool was located in the far corner of the community gym, the corner closest to the bonfire site (The 1963 Cisco High School Homecoming Bonfire — No Sleep and Almost Torched Into Martyrdom [Aug, 2013]). I “boiled” many (That was the one instruction I got from the coaches — “Keep ‘em in the hottest water they can stand for as long as they can stand it!”.), but two examples always come to my memory: Darrell Holt the first season and Earl Carson the third and fourth. I don’t remember Darrell’s “cooked” body part, but I remember his being so weakened from the hot water I had to drag him out of the stainless steel tub almost on my own. I also don’t remember whether it was left or right, but Earl’s “part” was his entire elbow; given his complexion, his arm looked like a lobster after each treatment! He spent many school days in an arm sling.
This was the season Coach Gene Hargrove had become part of the staff at Hamilton, and we played Hamilton at their place. Coach Hargrove “had a score to settle” with Cisco, and, judging from his behavior during the game, he had “prepared” his new team on what to expect from all the Cisco players. Adling was one of our running backs; “Get him! He can’t run!” Hargrove would shout; Adling would make three or four yards; “Stop that spook! He ain’t nothing!”; Adling would make six or seven yards and a first down; etc…..etc…. That was also the game where the field was so rain damaged, running back Danny Phipps had to run the ball at least 3 yards into the end zone to get the refs to signal a touchdown (Over the years, the story inflated to 5 yards.). He had told them one or two plays before that he was already in, pointing to the pylons (or spring-mounted flags) at the ends of the goal line.
Berry and I discovered we liked to stay after home or away games into the early morning hours of Saturday doing the washing (everything but the uniforms, which were sent to Cisco Steam Laundry, owned by Mr. O.L. Lee, Bill Lee’s dad — Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [April, 2012]) so we would not have to do laundry for hours on our “precious Saturdays.” We discovered many wonders together doing the laundry in the wee hours — finding out we could lie in the coffin-like chests holding track uniforms (locked) without getting claustrophobic (I got caught doing that one afternoon when practice ended early; Berry had to rescue me from tortures from the team who found out I was “in the box.” (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]))
More than one early Saturday morning, while we were waiting for the next load of clothes to dry in the huge natural gas-powered dryer, we would go out onto the field and climb to the top of one of the light poles (which were blown down — bent over near the ground — by a tornadic wind sometime during our “tenure,” by the way) with a transistor radio. Sitting on the top bars of the pole among the arrays of lights and swaying in any breeze, we would listen to rock-and-roll on station KOMA out of Oklahoma City, stare out over the top of the press box to survey the expanse of Oakwood Cemetery less than a block away, and watch for Texas & Pacific night trains to pass both directions to our right and left on the tracks just beyond the cemetery. And we would talk — talk as only the two of us could when it was just the two of us. Surreal………….surreal………
One day Coach Rice had the team all in one field house room (the one with the washer and the dryer) telling them something important, while the dryer behind him was ablaze with gas jets atop its rotating cylinder, finishing up a load. We had it on high, and, probably because my dusting of the premises left something to be desired, the flames caught dust-laden cobwebs on top of the dryer afire! Dwayne happened to see it first, standing nearest the dryer and Coach Rice.
Coach Rice tried to ignore him, but the manager’s persistence finally interrupted what was being said, angering the speaker.
“…uh, the dryer’s on fire…” Word of and sight of the flame got Berry’s and my attention too, and before we could reach where Dwayne was standing, Coach Rice quoted a “classic:”
“Well, put it out, stupid!”
Only then did Dwayne began moving to assist us. We controlled the blaze, and afterwards had loads of laughs over the experience that it was as if putting it out had not occurred to Dwayne until he was ordered to do so. Our imaginations conjured managers standing in front of the charred remains of the field house saying, “We had no authority to proceed to put it out!”
In Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012] I described the chaos of getting from the 3-story high school building at the end of 5th period to get to the field house during football season. As managers, I don’t know how we avoided having to treat injuries from the mad leaps down the stairwells we and the athletes took to race to the north side (NW) parking lot of the building (800 block of W. 6th St.), pile in some random assortment into an athlete’s car before the driver backed out on the street and “peeled out” in a mad traffic rush to get to the field house. One lost count of how many different cars one “bummed” a ride in during a season, if you did not have a car yourself. No wonder Adling forgot he had his own car at school that first day he came with his own wheels and frantically “bummed” someone else’s car to get to football! I suspect some of the “football” scrapes and bruises we treated on lots of days were sustained before arriving at the field house. Arrival and parking of the cars in the parking area of the field house looked like a “simultaneous pit stop” of all the racers in a NASCAR race. To this day I “feel” for any pedestrians, elderly drivers, stray dogs, and unleashed pets unlucky enough to find themselves on the streets between the high school and the field house those first three seasons I was manager. (For the fourth season, the HS building was condemned, and we went to school across town from the field house.)
The fourth season, 1963, brought one important change — we got a new Head Coach, Coach Billy Bates (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Introduction [Oct, 2013]), but Coaches Turner and Cromartie stayed on. Added were Coaches Manning Davis and James Couch. Coach Bates seemed determined to change the whole football program, moving the field house over to beneath the north (actually NW) bleachers of the community gym, next to where the whirlpool was located. Our old beloved field house of the previous years was to become the visitors’ dressing room. But the washer and dryer were not moved (I remember waiting for a load to dry while reading a paperback copy of William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, when a visiting team arrived for a game or scrimmage; they thought I was a Nazi; I didn’t tell them any different.) So, I had to transport the daily laundry from the gym to the field house, do the washing and the drying, and transport the finished washing back over to the gym, doing the folding at one or both sites. I had help using my own car named “Liberty” (after the western villain Liberty Valance). My laundry chores were therefore made more public, so much so that on one return trip to the gym porch paralleling Avenue L with my laundered load, Coach Couch called me “Cisco’s answer to the washer-woman.”
With the departure of Dwayne and Eddy from the managerial staff, Berry and I needed some help this season, so not only were Sophomore Larry “Stick” Owens and Freshman Sidney Mahaney added, our classmate and fellow study session participant, Clark Odom, Olin’s younger brother, was also made a part of our “staff.” We were back to five managers, just like my first season back in 1960. Berry and I continued to not “pull rank” on the two underclassmen managers, despite the fact we were “big, bad” Seniors; we had to “keep them in line and on task,” for sure, but we never hazed them like we were hazed. (See above) Clark never impressed me as a manager (It was hard to live up to the examples of Larry and Berry.), but he was much better than his brother, and, besides, he would often stay in the new field house with me (after laundry) while Berry, Stick, and Sidney were on the field and we would get a head-start on our homework.
Starring on the 1963 team were “Wild Bill” Adling, Earl Carson, Gene “Dummy” Darr, Ralph Lanham, Robert Mitchell, Danny “Wild Horse” Phipps, J. V. “Jasper” Plumlee, Butch Sparks, Keith Starr, Charles Stephenson, Macon Strother, Ervin Addy, Tim Bennie, Leon Bint, Jimmy Brown, Richard Coats, Danny Clack, Nicky “Joe Don” Lopez, Coy Miller, Gary Phipps, C. B. Rust, Anthony Strother, David Waters, Bobby Rains, Bobby Smith, Jimmy Smith, Roger Fields, Benge Burnam, Charles Court, Glen Ferguson, Greg Graham, Larry Hargrave (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), Ross Honea, Mark Johnson, Robert Pitts, James Queen, Larry Pilgrim, Ronnie Reynolds, and Larry Warren.
Gene Darr, who went on to play at Texas Tech, was the captain of the defense and had to get the defensive signal from the sidelines before each play. Proper playing eyewear always seemed to be a problem for him, and, without it, he had to lean toward our sideline and squint noticably to get the signal. Even then, the signal wasn’t clear always to him, and he had to get Earl Carson to tell him what it was so he could pass it on. It would have been more efficient to have Earl get the signal all the time.
Evidence that I, as a Senior manager, was very different from the likes of Olin Odom when he was a Senior (see above) came in the form of I being “punished” far more than once by being banished to Coach Bates’ “Happy Crew,” the group who had to do extra wind sprints at the end of practice for “offenses” committed against the Bates rules. I would usually disrupt the seriousness mandated on bus trips to games or scrimmages by doing something goofy in the back of the bus to get players laughing; soon finding out where the disruption of seriousness came from, I would hear from the front of the bus, “Happy Crew for you, Hastings!” During the wind sprints I had to do as a result, I would try and evoke laughs by often tripping on my feet and falling flat of my face somewhere in the middle of the sprint, meaning somewhere in the mid-yard lines of Chesley Field.
But the “prize” for conjuring laughs, even in the midst of football, must go to Adling (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012] & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]):
Ironically, the first Adling athletic “funny” occurred in track season when we were still in the old field house at the SW end of Chesley Field: He was always on the verge of quitting, almost weekly declaring he was fed up with his famous “I quit!” This seemed to be declared always after the coaches had left the field house, especially after the exit of track coach Coach Turner. He would with great pomp and circumstance empty the contents of his locker and fling them, notably his track warm-ups, in the floor, followed by a demonstrative exit of the field house himself. He clearly expected me to follow up this demonstration by doing my managerial duty and pick up his “stuff” off the floor and process it accordingly. But, I knew better, and I did nothing with Adling’s stuff before I exited for the day, leaving it scattered where he had left it. The next school day, predictably, Adling would have a change of heart, realizing the trouble he could get in by quitting track — i.e. jeopardizing his status on the football team — and asking me at school if I had picked up his stuff. I, of course, said “No,” and suddenly I would have his “eternal gratitude.” On those days at the field house after which he had “quit,” he would make sure he beat Coach Turner to the field house that afternoon so he could pick up his stuff I had “lazily” left alone and return it all to his locker.
The second “funny” occurred during football: In the 1963 season one afternoon after practice and after Berry and I had gathered in the inflated tackling and blocking dummies (the inflated kind, not….well, you know the joke), Coach Cromartie called me back onto the field to help him drill the backs in catching punts, one of the backs being Adling. I was to hike the ball to him like a long snapper so he could do the punting to the waiting backs at the far end of the practice field. Adling turned out to be the last back left on the field to catch his alloted five punts. For reasons only he knows, Adling, running in his last punt of the day, as Coach Cromartie called out, “Hustle, Adling, hustle!”, did a somersault just before he flipped the ball to me at the end of his run. This did not set well with the coach, and he called Adling back from his attempt to run to the field house with something like, “All right, Adling, if you like to play fancy, just go right back out there and catch five more!” So Adling caught four more “straight,” but on the fifth he ran the ball back alternating touching the ground with his free hand as he switched the ball from arm to arm for the last twenty yards or so, casually flipping the ball to me at the end. “That’ll be five more, Adling!” was the coach’s response. It was ceasing to be funny, as not only was Adling getting “trashed out” fielding and returning many more punts than usual, Coach Cromartie was getting tired doing all that punting, and I was getting “pooped” doing all that long-snapping!
But now, in the growing darkness, it was growing beyond funny; it was becoming ludicrous! Now, despite my fatigue, I was having trouble suppressing my laughing at Adling’s “battle of wit and stamina.” (Coach Cromartie and Adling were always at odds, good-naturedly, in civics class, wherein Adling could not keep from “wiseing-off,” always unsolicited, prompting Cromartie to take 5 points off his grade; nicknames for Jack Cromartie were “Old 5 Points” and “Ratfink.” To be fair, Adling could have his “5 points” erased by writing nursery rhymes hundreds and thousands of times; during that civics class, Adling “killed lots of trees;” one week he “wised off” so much he “shot” his entire week end, having to write “Mary had a little lamb” 5,000 times!) As “Old Wise-off” tortuously ran back out to receive the next fifth ball, Coach Cromartie said to me so that Adling could not hear, “I hope he doesn’t do anything this time; I’m dog tired!”
“Me too, Coach!” I said, as I painfully bent over for the snap.
This last punt was fielded and returned, amazingly, reasonably “normal” by Adling, or, at least, normal-looking in the dusky twilight of the practice field. I think anything he did would have been acceptable, so tired was Coach Cromartie. For me, I’m not sure how many more snaps I could make, darkness or no darkness!
There was and is, of course, much more, but this will give you, hopefully, the ideas and feelings of my “confessions”…..
Because of these four seasons (get it? 4 Seasons….”She-r-r-r-y,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Let’s Hang On To What We Got,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” etc………OK, nevermind………..) I never took PE in high school, but got full credit for it for graduation. Because of these four seasons, I never got to see the Lobo band perform at halftime; nor did I ever see any halftime ceremonies. But because of these four seasons I got free pre-game meals like I was a player, topped off in the first two seasons with a delicious Dr. Pepper (in a paper cup) from the machine at the entrance of the “Cracker Box” “basement” gym beneath the auditorium floor. During the first three seasons I got all the free ice-cold Coke I wanted (after the players had finished) just before we went back on the field before the second half (This was before Gatorade had reached Cisco, and was three seasons instead of four, as I don’t remember Coach Bates approving Cokes at halftime.). Because of these four seasons I got all the salt tablets and dextrose tablets I could swipe — you didn’t have to ingest such to be a manager, but I thought it helped! All in all, with these and all the other “perks” presented above, I thought I was in “tall cotton.” Looking back, I must confess I still think today I was. Those four seasons for me had more “Good” than they had “Bad and Ugly.”
I’ve emerged from these four seasons not only a weird, twisted, and unorthodox football fan, I have life-long phobias of both athlete’s foot and jock itch, based upon all the cases I tended (I did NOT treat the cases of jock itch, I want you to know, only handing the medicine to the “patient” for self-treatment!). Every trip to Cisco I always do a nostalgic drive-by of Chesley Field, the community gym now-turned-football-practice-facility, and the site of the old field house, which looks replaced by a new one. They are only two blocks removed from that front yard in which Berry put me on the path, back in 1960, toward becoming very familiar with industrial laundering of towels, jock straps, and tee-shirts.
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