Archive for high school/college

I Was a Good Sport About Missing Band

What sports did you play in high school?

 

We lived in Aldine my freshman year. It was all ‘out in the country’ and was really a rural school back then. Up until that year, my school Extra-curricular activities had been:

1. Band
2. Choir
3. Basketball

At Aldine, I began playing football, was on the golf team, and continued playing basketball.

We moved to Haynesville, La. between my freshman and sophomore year. I wanted to continue playing football, but they wouldn’t allow you to play in the band and play football, so I had to make a choice, and I chose football.   So, in answer to your question….10th, 11th, 12th grades:

All as a varsity athlete….
1. Football (all-district senior year)
2. Basketball 
3. Golf (state finalist jr. and sr. year)
4. Track (discus and shot put)

My best distance in discus was the Claiborne Parish record for over 25 years.  It was 189 feet,if memory serves me correctly.

In my senior year, after football season was over, the band director asked me to join up with the band again. I did….and in the annual spring band concert, I was the trombone soloist, which was quite an honor, and something that’s been very special to me–especially since I’d not been able to take band for 2 ½ years.

Balancing Boogers

What was your favorite subject in school and why?

 
I think I would have to say math & geometry.

My Daddy loved math and could add up columns of numbers ‘in his head’ without even using a pencil. He would challenge me to try to do the same. When I got to algebra, he and I would study my lessons together, because he hadn’t studied algebra before, but he was already a master at the logic of numbers!

I loved Algebra 1, but hated Algebra 2 because it was harder. But my teacher was anything but boring. She was a little lady named Ms. Beville, and she made Algebra & Geometry literally ‘come to life’! Maybe I can briefly explain how she did it. She used humor, which was really appealing to a 10th grader much more interested in football and golf than academics! She used to tells us her nickname was ‘Booger Beville’ and that Algebra was nothing more than taking these little ‘boogers’ on one side of an equation and making them equal with the ‘boogers’ on the other side. SHE GOT MY ATTENTION! Then when we got to geometry, she literally laid the groundwork for my love of building and carpentry…angles, squares, circles..the whole bit!

If you only knew how many nights I would work til 10 or 11 o’clock building our house 36 years ago. If you pay close attention to the panels in our den, you might hear, “Now, you wanna be sure and get all these little boogers to line up and be balanced or equal.” You might even check out the wooden venthood in your own kitchen! :-)). Wes’ daddy and I wrestled with that way up in the night! Look at it and say, “Thank you, Ms. Beville!”

I had a Fiat over this Italian Girl…

What is the first family vacation you remember?

 

All the ‘vacations’ we went on with mom and dad were generally in connection with gospel meetings or singing schools. One such trip was to Poughkeepsie, New York for a singing school and gospel meeting at the church where Brother ‘Shack’ Hartsell’s daughter lived. They lived out in the country on a polled Hereford ranch called “Clove Creek Farm”. The family stayed in town, but I got a job working out on the ranch which was owned by Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., son of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt the president who preceded Truman.

Roosevelt was the U.S. representative for the Italian Fiat Motor Company. There were 2 other college students there, also.The other boys were Ivy League–one attended Cornell University, and the other went to Princeton. One highlight I remember from that vacation was when we helped Mr. Roosevelt plan a picnic for some guests he was entertaining from Italy. The man was a ‘bigwig’ owner of the Fiat company coming to visit, and he wanted to see ‘Clove Creek’. His name was Gerabaldi…a famous Italian! The reason he wanted us to help him with the picnic was that Mister Gerabaldi was bringing his 16 year-old daughter with him, and Mr. ‘R’ thought we could help entertain her! This was the summer before my senior year in high school, and it is so hard to describe the anticipation we three boys had all that week. Wow! An Italian girl! We could just see a Gina Lollibrigida (Jimmy Durante used to call her Gina Lolibrigidigger) or a Sophia Loren! Both girls were Italian actresses (and luscious pin- up girls)! Remember, we were 17 and 18 year-old boys….anyway, after a week of anticipation, the day came, and their beautiful, long, luxurious limousine came rolling up to the farmhouse, and out stepped Mr Gerabaldi and our dream girl! She was a little, short, fat, Italian….the farthest from what we’d been expecting! I can’t tell you how fast those boys retreated and let me be the host for Miss Gerabaldi! We rode horses through the pasture, all the way up to the highest spot on Clove Creek, which was a beautiful view of the whole place. We (us boys) had gone up there earlier in the week and mowed out a spot for us to spread this very romantic picnic lunch! And here I am, with this little fat Italian girl whose feet don’t reach the stirrups, who’d never ridden a horse before. Can you imagine what I’m feeling? Disappointment is an understatement!

I’ve never been the greatest horseman myself, but that was a ride I’ll never forget. Mr Roosevelt was a giant man (about 6’7″ tall), and when he and Mr Gerabaldi came driving up to the picnic spot in his pickup, he had changed clothes and had on khaki pants and shirt. When he squatted down to where we had the checkered tablecloth spread for the beautiful picnic, his pants split, and one long, bony knee protruded, and the whole crowd was petrified…except Lanier…I fell out laughing! And guess what? Mr. Roosevelt did, too. He and I just ‘connected.’ I had no idea, really, what an important man he was, even though he was the son of a president, an international businessman, an influential politician in his own right…and me, a little nobody from Louisiana, sitting there laughing together about his split britches! He talked with me about my future, dad’s singing schools, and even had me sing some Southern Gospel music for him. The Italians and the other boys all were the audience for these two ‘new friends’! I suppose that’s why this vacation is one of my most memorable early vacations. Clove Creek was built by some movie actress from the early 1930s, and our ‘barn’ was originally a movie theatre with little twinkling lights in the oval ceiling (which also was painted to look like a night sky). Mr. R. told me that the actress who lived there hosted her Hollywood buddies there back in the ’30s. I checked the Internet, and Clove Creek still exists. I’m gonna have to do a little more research.

Anyway, also a part of that trip was a visit to Hyde Park (FDR’s residence), and I even got to see West Point. More importantly, our trip took us back through Kentucky and my mother’s birthplace…even the old single-walled house where MaMaw was born, up in the mountains near Nicholasville, Kentucky. We also visited the cemetery where both her parents (my maternal grandparents) are buried. We even got to visit with her Aunt Susan, who lived on a tobacco farm near the banks of the Kentucky River in one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. Aunt Susan lived down in the river bottom, and mother’s family lived way up the mountain. I Also got to meet MaMaw’s double first cousin (brothers married sisters–a typical hillbilly practice). His name was Homer Benton. I had never been inside a tobacco barn until that day at Aunt Susan’s. I had seen pictures of them, but it’s a totally different experience to see how it’s cured and the smell…I’ll never forget! Even tried chewing tobacco after that trip!

I Gave My First Car the Blues

What was your first car, and was it new or used?

 

My first car that was my very own was a 1950 model 2 door Ford coupe that my dad bought for me when I went off to college at Nacogdoches. Up until then, I could always use the old ’52 dodge for dating, etc. while I was in high school.

Dad, as always, played a little surprise trick on me for me to get the Ford. As we were driving from Louisiana to SFA, Dad said, “I need to drive on down to Houston and see Bubba about some business.”    He left me there in Nacogdoches at Shaw’s Dry Good’s Store, where I was to work. He told me he’d be back after lunch, and we’d unpack my clothes, and I’d meet my landlord.  My understanding was that I would walk to work until I could afford to buy myself some type of ride.   To my surprise, that evening your Uncle Bubba came driving up in that little Ford.   Dad had bought it for $150 and was giving it to me for a graduation gift.  Wow!   It was totally unexpected….and the only stipulation was that I had to drive uncle Bubba back to Houston.  

Regular gasoline only cost about 10-12 cents per gallon….very little expense for me to have that fine little automobile.  I wanted to change the color from black to metallic blue, so–genius that I was–I sandpapered the black finish. Then I painted the whole car with aluminum paint, sanded that, and then ‘wiped on’ a light blue automobile paint.   It was definitely different (not exactly as I’d planned, but I was still mighty proud of, it because ‘I had done it all’).

Dad loved the way it drove, stick shift and all, but he never was wild about my ‘paint job’. About a year later, he gave me a 1951 Cadillac he and mom had purchased from Mr. JD Harkrider there in Nacogdoches. Brother Harkrider was an elder in the church there where I was leading singing. I was still driving that Cadillac when your mom and I got married in 1962. We had our first date in that car August 20, 1961….interestingly at a little drive-in on the property that your brother Jon just recently purchased.

After we married and moved to Quitman in 1962, we bought our first car together, a brand new 1961 Volkswagen.  We bought it from Brother Harkrider in Nacogdoches, and it cost us about $1900.   That was the car we had when you were born, and you had your first ride in it coming home from the hospital.   Wish I still had that car!  :-))

I Brought Home Bacon from the Piggly Wiggly

What was your very first job?

 

Dad had an interesting and very Biblical concept with regard to jobs! “As long as you’re putting your feet under my table, you have a job–because,if any won’t work, neither shall he eat!” There was  a certain amount of job security in that….cows to be fed and milked, chickens to be fed, eggs gathered, and the yard mowed.

When I first talked dad into letting me work away from home, it was a stocking job at a Perry’s Five & Dime store in Orange, Texas.  I wàs in the sixth grade I think…

#2  Gas station attendant
In high school, I worked for Brother Kendrick, one of the elders in Haynesville, La., pumping gas at his Esso gas station.  I remember gasoline cost 10 to 17 cents a gallon back then (1956).

#3  Dry goods stocker & Clerk
Next job was working for Mr. Nobel Shaw in Nacogdoches the summer of 1959 as a freshman in college. Got my first car that year also, a 1950 model flat head 8 cylinder engine.  All that freshman year, I had a job leading singing at the Mound & Starr Church of Christ.  They paid me! 🙂

#4  Grocery clerk
In 1960, my brother Eldred prevailed upon me to move to Fort Worth, live with them, attend TCU in the fall, and lead singing at the Southside Church. To help make ends meet, Eldred got me a job working for a friend of his, Jack Moulton, who was the manager of one of the Buddies Supermarkets, a grocery chain in Fort Worth.

#5  Piggly Wiggly assistant manager
In the Fall of 1960, after the Fort Worth plans didn’t work out, I found myself moving home to Dad’s in San Antonio to attend San Antonio Jr. College.   He told me that, no matter what, my bedroom was always mine; but after age 18, living at home I had to pay a boarding fee (help with the groceries I consumed). I went to the Piggly Wiggly store down the street from the folks lived and applied for a job. My experience with Buddies payed off. Before long, I’m the assistant manager in that store…which payed off for me the next year, when I moved to Madisonville in 1961 and got my job with Mr. John Dean Carter.

(A LITTLE SIDE NOTE)
Just up the street from the PW Store in San Antonio was the Jefferson Church of Christ where Uncle Paul, Aunt Eunice, and my cousin Mike attended church. Their preacher (who I met frequently in the store) was named Frank Dunn, who often had his cute little teenage daughter shopping with him.  Mike worked with me and introduced me several times.   I encountered the name Frank Dunn again in 1967, when Clyde Thompson (EX 83) told me the story of his life.  When Clyde was in prison, he was baptized by Frank Dunn, who was the preacher for the Huntsville Church of Christ.   He also married Clyde and Julia,and–to top it all off–that little girl following him in the grocery store was named Holly…the same girl who wrote ‘Daddy’s Hands’ while she was a student at ACU. Pretty cool…don’t you think?

My Sunday Drives Aren’t in the Fairway

How did you decide to preach?

 

From my junior high years all the way through my sophomore year in college, all I had ever dreamed of doing was to be a professional golfer. Growing up as the ‘baby brother’ with three older brothers–and being very competitive by my nature already–my most exciting times emotionally were those times (starting at age 14) when I would beat, out-putt, and out-drive my three brothers and my Daddy. Thus, I felt sure I could make it as professional golfer.   When I was a senior in high school, I was offered an apprenticeship by the Spalding sporting goods company, which was quite an honor.  That was back in 1958, when many athletes the company thought might be successful were lured into such programs in order to “have the right to their autographs and endorsements” when they did succeed.  It was a pretty heady experience for a very competitive 17 year-old kid. When my dad was taking me to college at SFA in Nacogdoches in 1959 (I’d been offered a book & tuition scholarship there to pursue my 2nd passion which was football, another story by itself), we were talking about my golf plans, and Daddy teared up. When I pressed him about why he was crying, he said, “Son, golf pros make their living on events which culminate on Sunday afternoons, and I can’t imagine one of my sons doing that instead of being in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s day.”

That was probably one strong contributing factor (along with several others) in my decision to give my life to preaching….I’d never seen my dad cry before. Without going into all the details of the next two years, we come to 1961. My brother, RJ, who preached in Madisonville, came to visit Mom and Dad in August of that year.   I don’t know if my folks were in on it or not, but after a great visit (including some golf), RJ said, “Nier, why don’t you come to Madisonville and live with us, go to college at Sam Houston in Huntsville, and maybe you could help me preach at a little church called Mt. Tabor north of town….and…..he threw in the real bait, “There’s a couple of real precious girls I’d like for you to meet–one’s a blonde, and the other a brunette”. That pretty much ‘sealed the deal’.

I came to Madisonville on Aug. 20, 1961, preached my first sermon that morning at Mt. Tabor, then back to North Madison where I met a beautiful young lady in a red dress with beautiful long black hair. I made it my mission to get her to marry me…..and…..I’ve been preaching ever since!  :)).  

I believe God was in it all the way! One precious daughter, three precious sons, and twelve glorious grandchildren are all proof that God called me to Madisonville.

 

Football Teed Me Off!

When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 

6_fbgolfballAs a little boy, my dream was fueled by the golf matches at Thanksgiving between my Dad and my older brothers.   I first just dreamed of being able to  compete with them…then at about the age of fourteen, that dream came true…and I beat my dad and all three brothers in their annual “Thanksgiving Tournament!”

I went on to play golf as a freshman at Aldine Junior High School, and then when we moved to Haynesville, Louisiana, I played three years as member of the Haynesville Golden Tornadoes…lettering in both golf and football.

Being so very competitive, I thought that I wanted to go to college on a football scholarship, and that’s how I wound up at Stephen F. Austin at Nacogdoches, Texas in 1959.   About four games into the season, I realized that I was not going to go anywhere in football.   That’s when I turned back to my first love–GOLF!

In 1960, Dad and Mom moved to San Antonio, and I moved home to be with them with the dream of playing golf for SAJC. (San Antonio Junior College).  I not only made the team, but our team won the Texas Junior College Championship with me as the team captain, convincing me that my future was in golf.

The next step for me was to find a four year college where I could pursue my dreams in golf. In 1961, my brother RJ was preaching in Madisonville, and he invited me to come live with him and his family and enroll in Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.  I came to live with RJ on August 20, 1961, and on that day my life and my dreams were forevermore changed!   I met a young lady named Betty Jo Farris…and the rest is history.

Note:  I found it interesting that yesterday (February 13,  2014), I received an invitation from Kenny Bounds wanting me to play in the 2nd annual Madisonville High School Invitational Tournament at Raven’s Nest Golf Course in Huntsville.  It’s been 5 years since I’ve even played golf…The Legacy Lives On!!