There it was. A slight September breeze with a whiff of freshly-mowed grass. And as so often happens at this age, you are suddenly jerked back decades. This time it was to the fall of 1960 when you were 17 and playing your last football season for the Theodore Bobcats.
God, such a different time and place. The mind is boggled at what has transpired since.
For one thing, our team was all white. Truthfully, I was totally unaware of whatever was black culture back then. Had no idea where black youngsters went to school and what happened when they were there. Had someone mentioned “separate but equal” I would not have known what they were talking about.
Not only were we all white, for the most part we were not very big either. I think our largest starting lineman was perhaps 180 pounds. I played left end and probably weighted 160 pounds. In addition, I was also slow.
Technically I could get it. If i was supposed to try and block a certain man a certain way, I could do it. But the lack of pure athleticism prevented me from doing anything outstanding.
I do know that in some game that season I caught a pass from quarterback Charles Bryant and scored a touchdown. I do not know who we were playing. I do think we won. In fact, we won the majority of our games playing teams like Grand Bay, Alba, Baker, Semmes, Satsuma, McGill, etc.
I also recall getting the kickoff playing McGill at Ladd Stadium and fumbling it. Hardly a highlight. Later in the season Coach C. A. Douglas called for us to run a reverse on a kickoff. Again the kickoff came to me and this time I did my job pitching the ball to Jimmy Darnley going in the opposite direction and him running for a touchdown.
This was before playoff games. And for us, it was before weight training or game films or trying to be a mini-version of some college or pro team. We were just a bunch of kids playing a game. We were there because we wanted to be. Not because we had visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads and thousands of fans cheering for us.
We huddled after each offensive play. And amazingly, the quarterback called the next play, instead of someone on the sideline signaling what we would run. We just had a handful of plays. If the quarterback called “Bill’s play left”. we all knew what to do.
And had you asked any of us what the world would look like in 60 years, no way would we have talked about cell phones, the internet, holding something in our hand that put the world at our fingertips. Heck, we were less than ten years from sending men to the moon and we could not envision that either.
It now seems a far more simple world back then. At least one where we were much more protected from the onslaught on “news” we get today. I’m sure there were plenty of bad things going on around the world, but we didn’t click on a computer and have them fall in our lap.
We tended to believe that Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were honest-to-goodness newsmen. Not the one-sided “spin doctors” of today’s cable news networks who are simply shills for certain politicians they support, be they Republicans or Democrats.
Some of my Theodore team mates from 60 years ago are still around, many of them are not. But I hope that in some way or other, they know that a September breeze brought them back to me.