Put Me In, Coach!

What sports did you coach your kids in?

 

You were the first one I coached, and it was in softball. I have a lot of precious memories of those days. I coached each one of the boys in Little Dribblers basketball and also some in little league baseball. They were all good athletes, and it was so much fun watching them compete!

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.

Spring has Sprung

What’s your favorite thing about spring?

 

My favorite thing about spring has certainly changed with the seasons of my own life, but the one constant over the years has been the beauty of seeing everything come back to life!

…the trees, the lawns and pastures, roadside flowers like our Texas bluebonnets and crimson clovers.

I’ve also always loved seeing farmland freshly plowed and planted which generally always takes place in the spring.

I know for a fact I did not appreciate all of the above as much when I was young as I do now!

I LOVE SPRING!

AKA Brother Smitherman

Tell me the story of you and James Otis and Brother Smitherman.

 
This goes waaaaay back!  When I started working for James Otis’ dad back in 1961, Ottie (his nickname) and I were always ‘prankin’ one another.   I won’t go into all the practical jokes that he and I and his brother Billy played over the years. Just suffice it to say there were a bunch of em!

The Smitherman story had its roots in the passion James Otis had seen in me during football season of your brother Ben’s senior year, 1984-85. That group of boys had shown a lot of athletic potential throughout their years in school and had a whole group of dads who were reliving their own childhood dreams through their sons.  Their first football game was against Willis, and the score was tied at the end of the game (something like 7 to 7).   Several of us dads were watching their practice the following Monday afternoon and very frustrated because the boys were just kinda ho-hum about the whole thing…(well at least we didn’t lose)…but all of us dads had been coached by coaches who taught us that a tie ball game was equivalent to ‘kissing your sister’!   There were several of us involved in this discussion, but the three more vocal ones were myself, John Hardy, and Dickie Westmoreland (R.I.P.).  As we talked, we all agreed that Coach Harper and his crew were good  coaches, but just didn’t know our boys like we did…and what it would take to get them fired up and keep them fired up!

I was chosen to be the one to talk to coach Harper and tell him that we weren’t wanting to coach the boys but, “Would there be any way he would let us dads meet with the boys on ‘game day’ to give them our version of a motivational speech?”   With the full assurance that we weren’t wanting to coach (just inspire them), he graciously consented.

On ‘away games’, the team would usually eat at the Corral Cafe before loading up on the team bus and heading out for the game. We were to be allowed about 15 minutes in this ‘dads experiment,’ and the dad chosen to be our first speaker was Jerry Cole.  The choice turned out to be perfect, because Jerry had played college football and pro ball with the Houston Oilers.  His theme was drawn from something one of his coaches had used to motivate him. Here it is: “If you had two equal teams playing tug-a-war…eleven on each team, equal in strength, everything totally equal…BUT…if ONE man lets go of his part if the rope, the other side would win!

That night, we went to play Cleveland. In the last quarter with the score tied, something was born that carried that group of boys all the way to the state championship playoffs. The crowd began to chant with one voice, “Hold that rope! Hold that rope!” Long story short, every man did his part holding that rope, and with just about 14 seconds left on the clock, Asa Bennett kicked a field goal which WON the ball game!  No tie that night!  Our boys not only learned a tremendous life lesson that night, they started one of the neatest journeys on which a group of dads and their sons have ever traveled!!

Every week, I had the responsibility of choosing a different one of the dads to be the ” motivator” for that particular week! All the coaches and even the whole town got ‘pumped’ over what was happening with that football team!

James Otis knew how much fun all of us were having that football season, so he took it upon himself to pull the ULTIMATE practical joke on his old friend, Lanier Stevens! We were in about the second or third round of the playoffs and were scheduled to play one of the Lufkin teams on Friday night. On Tuesday evening, the phone rang at our house, and I answered it. I’ll try to give you my best recollection of that conversation:

“Mr Stevens, I’m calling from Abilene, Texas and our daughters have become great friends out here in  college. Have you heard Karen speak of my daughter? (You hate to say, fella, I don’t have a clue who you’re talking about, because he spoke of their friendship in such glowing terms!) So, I kinda grunted along with uh-huhs and yeahs, waiting to see what this urgent phone call was all about. He continued, “Brother Stevens, we’re in a real bind. You know, my daughter’s getting married Friday night, and the preacher who’s supposed to perform the ceremony is critically ill in the hospital. My daughter thought since she and Karen are such good friends, that you might come and marry her! Cause she doesn’t want just “anybody” to do it.  She wanted it to be someone ‘special’, and since she and Karen are such good friends, she asked me if I would call you!”

My heart goes out to this man! JAMES OTIS HAS ME!

But, wait a minute…I’ve got a playoff game in Lufkin on Friday night!  How do I tell this man (whose daughter is such good friends with MY precious daughter) that I can’t marry his daughter because of a football game!

Then, in one of my typical brilliant moves…knowing that Church of Christ preachers are ‘a dime a dozen’ in Abilene, and that I might help them make a substitution, I said, “What’s the preacher’s name?” To which he quickly replied, “His name is Brother Smitherman. Do you know him?” Call it coincidence or whatever, when PawPaw was preaching in Orange, Texas, there was a preacher at a church in Port Arthur named Brother Smitherman.   So I said, “Well, I have known some Smithermans!” 

Well, James Otis almost lost it when I said that ….and ever since that phone call, my nickname has been, “Brother Smitherman!”   ,,,and that was just the beginning!

It’s 4 in the morning….I’ll finish some of the other chapters at a later date!   :-)).   Pop

April Foolery

What’s your favorite April Fool’s Day memory?
This morning, I received a telephone call from one of my very best friends, Earl Roberts. When I saw the caller ID, I answered with, “April Fool’ just to aggravate him a little.  As he always does, he said, “You ol’ rascal! What are you up to this morning? I had forgotten this was April Fool’s day.” As our conversation continued, Earl immediately changed the subject and said, “Well, I was calling you to give you some good news. Kay and I have been talking, and we’ve decided to move back home to Madisonville.”   

Earl’s encouragement and exhortation was the reason I agreed to consider going back to Midway to preach three years ago. When he and Kay told me shortly thereafter that they had decided to move to Conroe, it broke my heart that they were leaving, because we had made much of our life’s journey together, and I envisioned us together back at Midway.

Well, after we talked a little this morning, he said, “I want to tell you why I called you this morning; Kay and I have decided to move back home, and I was wondering if you could help us find a house there.”

My emotion just welled up inside of me and I said, “Man, you know I’ll help you…when do you plan to pull this off?” to which he responded, “Just as soon as we can!” I was getting all worked up…then all of sudden he said, “APRIL FOOL!”

I told him, “Well, Betty tells me all the time….you just can’t fix stupid….and you just proved how right she is!” He really got me good!  And what’s so sad is that Ben pulled the same trick on me a couple of years ago! “You just can’t fix STUPID!”

Johnny Football – The Prequel

Who was the first professional football player you remember being a fan of?

 

Two players.come to mind right off the bat. Y.A. Tittle was an awesome quarterback and passer, even when he began to show his age and got bald-headed. I hadn’t thought about that in years!

The other one was Paul Hornung, quarterback at Notre Dame, who was awesome in college as well as when he became a professional.   Blonde, long curly hair made him the ‘Johnny Manziel’ of that era.

Getting in the “Zone”

What does your Sunday morning preparing for church schedule look like?

 

Every Saturday evening:
1. I try to summarize, pray, and be as sure as I can that the lesson I’ve been preparing is what the Holy Spirit wants me to teach.
2. I try to finalize my CD and burn it for Sunday morning’s radio program.
3. Try to be in bed between 10:00 and 11:00.

SUNDAY MORNING:
1. Wake up around 5:30 am 
2. Hot bath and shave
3. Take medicine and brush my teeth
4. Check blood sugar and eat a little
5. Get dressed and load up my car (Bible, CD, coffee)
6. Try to get to KMVL Radio by 7:45 and get everything cued up to start “Reaching Out” at 8:30
7. Usually, by 9:05 David Ely calls my cell phone with feedback and encouragement about the program
8. Usually, get to Midway church by 9:30 to fill  the communion cups and bread trays for the Lord’s Supper 
9. Teach my auditorium class at 10:00
10. Morning worship at 11:00

AND that’s my routine ever since my daughter got me in the radio about 25 years ago…oooh…makes me tired!

Halloween Fright Night

One very early, very scary moment I had forgotten about happened on Halloween in 1948. We were living on 4th Street in Freeport, Texas.

My dad certainly was anti-Halloween (as he was so many things), but he would not let us go trick or treating because it was “…too much like begging. If you want candy, then work for the money, so you can buy your candy! I don’t want my kids to beg!”

This particular Halloween he allowed us to dress up and go trick or treating–but the only house we could go to was our own house. We lived next door to the church, and he had mother take us there and use that as the ‘staging area’ for our big experience. We (me [age 7] and Nancy [age 6]) were so excited as we headed next door to trick or treat the parsonage. As we traipsed up the sidewalk to knock on the door, the front porch light was off, which was a little scary, and we were talking about how we were going to scare Daddy.

My costume consisted of a Lone Ranger mask and a holster for my cap gun, so I’d look like ‘the real thing’! We didn’t know our Daddy had gotten a big army blanket that Uncle Bubba brought us when he came home from WWII. He put the blanket over his head and hid behind the shrubs by the front porch. After we knocked on the door and no one answered, we turned around to go back down the walk, and this giant with the blanket over his head stood up and hollered and scared the living daylights out of both of us. I took off running, then heard him laughing–but I think he achieved his purpose.

I never did want to celebrate Halloween again–until I married Betty Jo Farris–and she (as you and your brothers know) celebrated EVERYTHING! :-))

I Came, I Sawed, I Conquered…

What was the first piece of furniture that you built?

 

The first piece of furniture I built all on my own was the colonial study desk that I now have here in my (your) room.  [This will always be “Karen’s room” even though I’ve been in it for quite a while:-)) ] I saw a picture of that desk way back in 1967, and I built it out there in the old double garage at our home in Midway.   I built it for your mama, because in those days she loved  “Early American” furniture.

Going all the way back to my childhood, I remember mowing, then trimming the long grass out of the cyclone fence using just hand scissors just to hear my mother brag on me (no one ever conceived of such a thing as a weed eater back then). So much of what I’ve built has been to show my loved ones how much I love them!

My Fair Share of Scares

What was the scariest moment you recall?

 

Hard question to answer, because a number of things come mind:

#1. When your mom and I watched that medical helicopter take off from the Huntsville airport with our daughter on board–not knowing whether she would live or lose her leg–was probably the most frightening and helpless feeling I’ve ever had.

#2. Very similar was the feeling I had just a few months after your Mom and I had married, and she developed a paralysis on one side of her body that Doctor Heath was afraid might be polio. As I stood there watching that Day Funeral Home ambulance drive off with Betty on board, I had that same scared, helpless feeling I described above.

#3. Ben gave me a couple of those scary times with his car wrecks.

#4.  Once, when flying with your Uncle Eldred in his Piper Tri-Pacer, when we had the Lubbock Airport in sight, all of a sudden the cockpit filled with smoke. The radio caught on fire (electrical fire), and we couldn’t communicate with the airport for landing instructions. Eldred started waggling the wings to let them know something was wrong. They were flashing a red light to say WAIT…we had to circle a while and wait for a green light…talk about scared–horrified was the word!  But that still didn’t came to the same level as if it were your wife…or your kids!