Those Were the Days: Reflections, pt. 1


As we live out our lives, those memorable times become etched in our minds, and it’s always enjoyable to reflect on them. This story is about definitely memorable reflections of a different kind ... that got two of my buddies and me in a heap of trouble. So, let the story begin ..

There’ s a lot of travel involved in sports and many nights you have to spend out on the road. This travel was especially true for high school teams in the panhandle of Texas during the ‘50s. In the district Pampa High School was in, this was especially true. When you went to play someone, you had to travel anywhere from a hundred to two hundred miles to play a basketball game.

The best coach I ever had, Clifton McNeely, was Pampa High’s basketball coach. In my senior year (1954-1955), we loaded up for a 150-mile trip to Lubbock, Texas, to play the Westerners. This team was an unbeaten bunch of big, talented guys. Their star was a guy named Wade Wolfe. He stood 6’6” and weighed 230 pounds. Now our Harvesters team was no slouch, as we were sporting a 72-game winning streak and two back-to-back state championships.

So, we arrived in Lubbock, had lunch, and then checked into the Caprock Hotel, a lovely downtown hotel. It was five stories high, and as luck would have it, we stayed on the top floor. Ken Hinkle the “Cat,” E. Jay McIlvain the “Mayor,” and I, “Zeker,” always stayed together when on the road.

The coaches told us to stay off our feet and rest until we ate our pre-game meal. After about three hours of following orders, it was time for some entertainment. Ken broke out the balloons, and after filling them with water, we practiced dropping them out the window on pedestrians walking by. Naturally, that got reported to the front desk, and here comes Coach Mac to our room. We got chewed out, and our balloons were confiscated, naturally.

So after sitting around for about an eternity of 15 minutes, our magnificent creative brains came up with another idea. We took wet towels, tied them into knots, and began flipping them into the ceiling fan. The fan blades would throw the towels with a lot of force, hitting us, lamps, mirrors, or beds. We usually had two to three knotted towels in operation at all times. We discovered that hand towels were best to use as they didn’t weigh as much, and the fan could throw them with more force. It was very entertaining, especially when you took a ‘blap’ upside your head. Actually we used hand towels because the year before in Abilene, Texas. We broke off a couple of fan blades, and Coach Mac got a bill the week after we stayed there for $50.00. Boy, we paid for that one in blood, sweat, and tears.

Come pre-game meal, and we were all pretty loose and a-rearing-to-go. We always ate dry toast, raisins, scrambled eggs and orange juice. The game that evemng was a real squeaker, with Pampa winning it at the buzzer. A ‘road win’ is always good and makes the evening more fun. Game time was 7 p.m., so around 10 p.m., we were eating our favorite meal: chicken fried steak, fries, cream gravy and hot rolls, topping it off with hot apple pie ala mode. Then we had a walk back to the hotel and time for bed ... uh-huh, yeah, right!


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here