Some History for Sam
Folks, i gotta tell you i had a glorious year back between 1957 and 1958. It was my eighth grade year. Then, things got off track. i had it all planned out, but the plans centered around my making it to 6-2 and topping out at 180. That didn’t happen.
i finally reached 180 but considering that part of the dream was 65 years ago, this is not a good thing. Although all of my friends kept growing, i stopped at 5-7. Good bye, dreams. Things got a bit off track, not bad, just off track.
But certainly those twelve months were as good as it ever got for me. i had played Babe Ruth baseball that summer of ’57 and caught Mike Gannaway, which continued on and off for another five years. He was a phenomenal pitcher, being awarded a baseball scholarship to Georgia Tech. When i wasn’t catching, i played shortstop, third base, and left field. i was a respectable fielder except for high fly balls hit straight at me. i was a banjo hitter but competed with Bobby Lannom for the batting average crown. He won and later went to Tennessee on a baseball scholarship where he captained the Vols.
Then came Lebanon Junior High School. Ahh, the stuff dreams are made of. i was co-captain of the Colts along with Jimmy Gamble, played fullback, and due to a misprint scored my one touchdown via a 447-yard punt return. We lost one game. i cried.
In basketball, i was the co-captain of the Blue Devils (Coach Jimmy Allen had changed the football team name, but Miles McMillan kept the high school moniker) along with Clinton Matthews. i quickly learned who was the star, and at point guard, i consistently fed Clint for those amazing layups. We lost one game. The lost was the final game of the year-ending tournament to a team we had beaten twice in the season.
i had a major role in the eighth grade operetta and the eighth grade play. i was in the glee club. i played piano (my last year of lessons) at a competition at George Peabody College in Nashville. The piece i played was something by Bach that sounded like a bumble bee to me. i didn’t win. Mrs. Gwaltney, one of my favorite people from my past and the piano teacher said most of her students would stop and start again when they made a mistake, but i just kept on playing like nothing had happened. i don’t remember that, but it sounds like a pattern was developing in more than piano.
Oh yeh, believe it or not, i made pretty good grades.
What happened? The football star’s growth was halted by genes. His parents, despite his kicking and screaming, sent him up on the Hill to Castle Heights Military Academy where post-graduates were bigger and faster. That by the way, was the right decision.
i certainly did all right, but that pattern of making mistakes and just keeping on chooglin’ kicked in big time.
Now, looking back, i wouldn’t change a thing. Even the things that didn’t work out kept teaching me about life. i have met some marvelous, marvelous people, and made incredible friends out the gumpstump. They still are my friends. i was married to two wonderful women who couldn’t abide my goofy ways for an extended period of time, but i loved them and still do.
All of this allowed me to go to sea, and eventually meet the most wonderful woman who is almost surely the only woman who could put up with me. i have two wonderful daughters and a great grandson. Approaching 80 (138 days to go to be exact…if i added right, which is a challenge), i have had a grand adventure.
But every once in a while, like when i start and restart organizing all of this stuff, i run across an envelope of photos that brings back yesteryear, like the one i discovered Friday in a shoe box on which i had written “Lebanon Junior High.” Memories explode like bottle rockets with Roman Candles. And i am in my dreams.
i hope you enjoy a snippet of that year:
i hope i haven’t bored you with my trip down memory lane, way down memory lane. All of these people remain dear to me.