A. OFF TO COLLEGE (417)

Mom lent me the family Chevrolet to drive my gear to college, a suitcase and a lamp.
I drove to Wilson on Friday, moved in, rode back to Robbins to deliver the car. Then I rode the bus back Sunday night.
Coach McComas roomed me with fellow basketballer, John Eskew, aforementioned very white young man. The new dorm for men was not yet completed yet, and, being recruited late, there were no rooms in the “old” dorm. We moved into the Alpha Sigma Phi house on Friday. About the time I found out John smoked too, I had to leave for Robbins.
Sunday night at 10:00 pm I rolled back into the Wilson bus station. I walked the mile to the college and fraternity house. No Eskew, someone else in our room.
“You now live on Nash St.” our room’s present resident stated: “The other guy took your gear.”
Given the directions to the Nash Street address, I lugged my Samsonite to the street once called “one of the top ten prettiest streets in America” (by National Geographic).
The house was a mansion. I knocked on the door and Eskew descended the anti-bellum stair well. I was told secretly he’d explain in a minute, as I was shuttled upstairs where he and I shared a room.
Once inside he stated “Don’t blame me, they moved us here.” We were housed across from Jack Boyd. (Page 108) There were three bedrooms upstairs. One was empty.
Jack was Yankee to the core, and while Eskew seemed okay, Jack was strange. Jack, I found out later was one helluva player. Smith and Street’s basketball issue had predicted Jack to be the next Dick Groat when he enrolled at Duke University. He’d been offered a signing baseball bonus with the Philadelphia Phillies Base- ballers, and at that point, held the all time scoring record for High School football in Pennsylvania. Quite a resume. He also was my “most unusual character” (of Saturday Evening Post fame).
I never knew why he was kicked out of Duke, but there he was in Wilson, NC with me, Eskew and loud lady, Mattie Dildy.
I met Mattie moments after Jack had come over to our room. She rarely came upstairs, being 70 plus years old, fat and staggeringly drunk a lot of the time.
On this evening Jack succeeded. “Mattie, get the hell up here and I mean now”, Jack shouted. John and I were stunned when she waddled in, disheveled, tight, and ready to party as much as any fraternity man. I had stripped to my shorts, and was lying in my new found bed when Jack said. “Mattie, get in the bed with him!” She laughed and headed my way. Obviously Jack saw how appalled I was, and called her off. “Mattie, he’s got athletes foot, don’t get in there!”
I was eighteen years old, out of rural Robbins, not sure of myself two hours ago, and now this weird scene. And it was continually a scene.
Mattie bought a brand new ’59 Pontiac that year. Lying in my bed, or wan- dering around the house, I heard her hit the brick columns on her house gate 23 times that year.
Later she moved her middle-aged son into the front bedroom. Another mis- placed student just sort of moved in. Her son rarely came out of his room.
She wouldn’t turn the heat on so we’d burn a fire in our bedroom fireplace. There was a back room full of old furniture, much of which went up in flames that year. We found a crow housed in the same room. Also Jack had found a small snake, which fascinated him. Being a Philly resident, snakes were a rarity to him. He’d put the snake in the bathtub and watch him for hours. The highlight of many raucous nights was when Mattie, pissed at us for the late night noise, came upstairs. With some beer thrown in, the scene looked like this:
Jack turned the snake out, we opened the door to the back room, and Jack started undressing Mattie and rolling her in the floor. The other college boy was panic-stricken over the snake, particularly after Eskew turned out the lights in the entire house. The cops had been called by the neighbors and when the lights came back on there we were, Mattie rolling on the floor giggling, the snake, the crow loosed, one kid crying and the son from the back room standing in his door scratching his head with one hand, his testicles with the other.
The cop was Ray Hayes. He wore knee high motorcycle boots to go with his motorcycle. What a strange look on his face. Years later Ray would still corner me trying to figure all that out.
One of Mattie’s neighborhood drinking buddies was Georgia Stark. They’d be in the gin pretty good by the mid afternoon. Georgia’s son, Lucien wrote an inter- esting book about Wilson during this time period entitled “The Noise Upstairs.” Wilsonians are trying to figure who’s who in this 2006 first novel by Lucien. If he wants any verification that that part of Nash Street was strange in 1959 he can call me, Eskew, or Ray Hayes.

A SENSE OF HUMOUR

There were some great games, funny things and tremendous performances. We felt good about 1960-61 but lost our first two games. Our third, at home against Elon was must. From the bench I watched “Jughead” Irwin of Elon flip in a bomb at the buzzer, over Eskew, to beat us 62-61.
Fellow benchwarmer, Terry Harris and I hit for the dressing room. Alone, first in and changing clothes, we watched as our steaming coach cried “son of a bitch” at the same time he kicked his dressing room door. The door had a rubber stopper which trampolined the door flush into the 140 lb. coach. It flattened him. Terry and I peeked sideways from our sitting position, as we turned purple trying not to laugh. McComas said, from an almost blind stagger, “Don’t you bastards laugh at me.” He sat down, thought a minute holding his head, and changed his mind. “No you can laugh quick before the others get here, but you don’t ever tell anybody about this.” Sorry Coach!

B. DEPARTMENT CHAIRPERSON

Once DR. Sanford and I shared a classroom to give different exams. I watched as people cheated on his test unabashedly. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t look at the blatant collaborating.
As I exited I pointed out boldly: “Doc” those four guys at that table are cheat- ing right now, and they’ve been cheating all period.” I walked out indignantly.
Overnight I pondered that I had just showed up my chairman in front of stu- dents. I was certainly concerned about my action.
As I approached “Doc” in the hall the next morning the conversation went like this. (Doc called me “Pie Ram”.)
“Pie Ram. Do you know what the little tree asked the big tree?
“Am I a son-of-a-beech? Or a son-of-a-birch?”
The big tree said, “Oh, I remember your mother, what a lovely piece of Ash.” He then added, “Those boys cheat all the time, don’t worry about it.”

C. FACULTY BRATS

The best excuse I ever got was from a faculty child. Always problems. This
one was about four days from graduation. I taught him every course I was assigned and my angel wings fluttered when grading his papers. I liked his Dad, and yet he’d missed my Monday exam, automatic failure by school policy.
I called him, his Dad, Mom and friends. No answer. I spotted him twice on campus, but seeing me, he fled.
Finally I cornered him. “Horsehead”, where were you?” I’ll never tell you. (Horsehead)
I’ll have to flunk you. (Me)
I understand. (Horsehead)
Come on son, I’m trying to help you here. (Me)
Okay, I’ll tell you, but you must never tell anyone. (Horsehead) Sure. (Me- lying again.)
So out it came. Seems his girlfriend was to go out of town. He was engaged to be married to her in one month.
She changed her mind, and went to Horsehead’s apartment. The door was locked, with another girl inside. The fiancé took action as described by “Horsehead”.
“Coach, she didn’t just knock the door open, she knocked the door off the frame. Have you seen her? (I had, she was “large”.) Once she got untangled she slapped the other girl around pretty good and tossed her out the doorframe. Then she turned to me. Coach she beat the living shit out of me and left. I pondered the fact that shortly I would marry a woman who could kick my ass. I got into my car. It was Sunday night late and I drove in a daze. A long lasting daze. When I sort of “came to my senses”, I was in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. I couldn’t make it back by 10:00 a.m., Monday.”
“Son”, I said, “You wouldn’t make that up. Come by my office at 3:00 p.m. for a “makeup” exam.” (B- , with extra credit for content.)

D. FACULTY CHILDREN (370)

Small college teachers often have colleagues’ children in their classes.  They are often the brightest is the class or’ “the others”.  Love for colleagues, or the realization that one of your own may be one of “the others” breeds special attention to the “not yets”.

Recently I talked to John Sanford, son of legendary “Doc” Sanford, our baseball  coach and my department chairperson.   Doc and I changed schools.  He came from Elon to Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, and later I moved to Elon.  One day at Elon Doc called saying he was bringing 12 year old son,  John,  to visit Elon.  I made preparations.

Doc came to Atlantic Christian because of a bitter turf battle with the  Elon basketball coach, the irascible  Bill Miller.  Vying  over services of Richard Such, future baseball Hall of Famer caused the tift.

Elon’s gym housed a hosting room, the Huey Room, where they displayed Elon’s athletic greats, or Hall of Fame members.   Large pictures of members were  hung on the wall in no order.  Before Doc’s impending tour I crept into the Huey Room and rearranged the pictures, putting Doc right beside Coach Miller.

After greeting Doc and John I escorted them down to the the shrine, all the way extolling the athletic prowess of his father to young John.  As we entered and squared away at the pictures I interrupted my praise.: “Oh my god , Doc!  They’ve got you up there by Miller!”

Doc said: “… yeah- move me down there by” Peahead” Walker!”

I asked John if he remembered that visit some thirty years ago?   “Like it was yesterday”.  he added, “..Coach, thanks for helping all us faculty kids.”

 

 

 

E. HANDWRITING

One cheating case I sat in on involved “Doctor” Kelly. Billy Kelly was not overly intellectual. And he was called “Doctor” for a reason. It was well known that Billy would tell his date anything to make progress. “I love you”, was blurted out within moments. He was a self-proclaimed doctor, movie star, Olympic ath- lete, widow, or whatever he perceived to get the job done.
A handwriting expert had proven Billy and two others had turned in exams, done by the same person.
Billy was the first to be told that fact. I was Billy’s advisor and listened, as the next defendant, unaware of the evidence, threatened vehemently to “sue the school out of existence for this travesty.”
As he drew his first breath, “Doctor Kelly” interjected, “Ah hell, George, I done told ‘em we done it.”
Case closed.

6.HOMER CLOCK

My freshman basketball teams played at a now defunct, E.M.I., or Edwards Military Institute. Pete Maravich had prepped at E.M.I.
The gym was cold and the clock wouldn’t start properly. That was okay because we were way ahead. Then E.M.I. rallied, and the lead dwindled. And the clock wouldn’t run. A twenty-minute half must have turned into forty-five basketball minutes. I went to the scorer’s table repeatedly. They decided to run a hand held clock.
E.M.I. led one time by one point. The moment they scored that goal the hand held horn blared. “You’re shitting me!”
I was livid. I knew enough about sports to know the “Chicago Cubs” dictum: “The situation hopeless but not serious.”
Or, “300 million Chinese don’t give a shit.”
All the sayings coaches try to calm themselves with, “Just another pothole in the road of coaching.” Still I was pissed at this blatant robbery. Reason set in. I’d hide so as to not let my temper overload my ass.
My refuge was a storage room that housed gymnastic equipment. Parallel bars, side horses, mats, etc. There I stewed until I felt I could keep my mouth shut. Next problem:
The door wouldn’t open. I was locked in. I hollered and banged on the door. No one. Minutes passed before I noticed a big piece of ply board nailed on the oposite wall. In anger, again, I went over and banged it as hard as I could.
The plyboard, held only by four ten penny nails, fell backwards where it hit the old lady running the concession stand in the head.
We were both angry now, but I was also embarrassed.