As a Harvester basketball player in 1954, there was a lot of traveling just to play a district game
Since there were not many large towns in the panhandle, you had to travel as much as 200 + miles to play a district game. There had to be 1,000 students enrolled in each town, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and Borger. Pampa only had 937, but since we could compete with the “big boys” and they needed the eighth team, we were it.
We traveled by caravan in three autos; Coach McNeely in his 1954 Pontiac 4dr Hard Top Chieftain. He carried the starting five. Assistant Coach Terry Culley drove a 1954 Oldsmobile convertible with five subs. KPDN radio 1240 on your dial was Warren Hasse, the voice of the Hustling Harvesters, and he carried two sophomores, two trainers, and all the equipment, such as balls, a first aid kit, towels, etc.
One time we left Pampa on our way to Odessa (315 miles) for a game the following night. It was 25 degrees, and light snow that began during the night and had already deposited a foot of snow on the ground. By the time we arrived in Amarillo, the sun was out, and the snow was melting fast, with the temperature at 37 degrees. As we headed south toward Lubbock, we got into a doggone sandstorm, and we were driving at 25 miles an hour. You could see maybe 30 feet beyond the hood of the cars. As we made our way past Lubbock, it began to rain…a genuine gulley washer, with us going 25 miles an hour because you could hardly see past the hood!
Wellsir, the rain did wash all the sand off the cars, and when we pulled into Odessa, we watched a beautiful sunset! The next day as we sat down to eat our pregame meal of oatmeal, toast, and orange juice, Coach Mac remarked, “Do you realize yesterday you witnessed all the different kinds of Texas weather…all in one day!”
We had checked into a hotel and began our rest period until game time when we got dressed in our uniforms to go to the gym. The game was an easy one, beating Odessa 49 o 32.
After the game, we had reservations at a restaurant with a great chicken fried steak and then off to bed...well, sort of! You see, we had invented this game. First, you remove all the breakable furniture in the room. Then, you take the hand towels and soak them real good, tie each one in one or two knots. Everyone has on his ‘jamma bottoms with no tops (he is about to get very wet). Now you turn on the ceiling fan as high as it will go. Everyone is scattered around the room and standing at attention (now, I do not recommend this for any high school athlete traveling to a game). He is not allowed to move except to throw a towel into the blades of the fan. If you get hit, it counts as a point. The one with the fewest points is declared a winner and a sophomore had to give the winner his desert at our next meal.
We were having fun when Jimmy Bond threw a freshly wet towel into the fan, and “whoa,” here comes the dripping towel with the fan blade attached to it! Yep, it had broken off and was sailing across the room. Everyone was ducking to not get the knot!
Well, that stopped the game as our fan was now flopping around like a wounded duck! “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. We’ve done it now!”
We finally decided to put the fan blade under the bed, and maybe no one would notice it, especially if they didn’t bother to turn the fan on.
A week went by, and the fan was never mentioned. Then, finally, the word was out that our sportscaster, Hasse, told someone that Coach Mac had received a bill for $150.00 for a broken fan...We all told each other to get ready to run the stairs and followed up with running what we called the figure eight or the Death Run! That never happened. Hasse told us later that Coach used his equipment fund to pay the bill, and the night of the Fan Game was never mentioned ...but we never played with any fans after that either!
Looking back on that incident, I think it taught me that you are responsible for your actions and you need to own up to them with an apology and offer to make it right.
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