HOME SWEET HOME–

Dr. White was a champion of the “total athletic program.” My first year he asked me if I thought we ought to add women’s soccer. “Tomorrow” was my answer.
I’ll never forget those early women’s soccer teams, remarkably successful, kick- ing though what was always a rain drenched play off win. My favorite was Katie McGrath, who also played basketball and volleyball.
I taught Katie and got to know her. She returned from the holidays one Christmas telling me her father had bought a motel.
“So your family is going into the motel business,” I commented.
Katie, one of their thirteen children, said “Oh, no sir, Coach. Dad bought it for us. I’m in #9.”

NOMENCLATURE (403)

I am collecting more and more Doctors. Hard to keep up with dates, names, drugs,etc. Who can keep up with drug names? Now I just name the by color: yellow-.81 aspirin is ticker. every other day is purple or heartburn. Three whites–big, medium and small are poppa, momma and baby bear.

The names game began in the last town I lived in. Collecting Physicians to go with maladies came out like this:
My dentist named Crouch became “Ouch” Crouch.
Dermatologist named Patterson i.e. “Dr. Splattersome”.
Urologist named Ben or “Dr. Bendover”. Easy one!
Pharmacist named Phil or “Refill”
Dr. Bates was called Master.

17.GET BACK (378)

Having played six man high school football I love watching “you tube” clips of Texas six man.  One of the few places it is still played.  Crowell High School seems to be among the best teams.

I spent twenty-one years at a college that didn’t field football. I was out of the loop when Elon College hired me.  It was 1985 and Elon had won two NAIA football titles in 1980 and 1981.  The then “Fightin’ Christians were ranked #1 the NAIA when I arrived.  As part of my job was administration and football was  very important, I tried to learn all  I could to be helpful.  My main source of information was Clay.   Clay Hassard was a former ALL AMERICAN, and though 6’5” and about 275 lbs, he was kind till uniformed. Clay was on the football staff that included Larry McClain and shared an office with another oversized nice guy.   They indulged my interest and helped in a lot of ways.  Clay had a year ahead of Larry and thus laughed when staff appointments revealed Larry was now the “get back coach”!

The  what I asked?  Clay explained there were some crap jobs all staffs have to cover.  Every team has to have a “get back coach”, because the non playing teammates get excited and edge up too close to the side lines.  While dangerous, which seemed to matter little, your team can be penalized!  Next game watch for this coach, pushing and shoving and yelling “get back! get back! get back!”

(For your information the worst assignment is monitoring the “mess-up” list.  You have to meet the screwups at 5:30 am at the stadium to supervise  early runs.)

Like all athletic departments we had an awards banquet. Every year.  We also had an annual Hall of Fame banquet.  And a couple of others at which outsiders spoke.  We became astute at getting these done in about two hours.  It requires some effort.

Tennis fans watching Wimbledon will soon recognize a guy dressed in black with a black straw hat sitting in the same box seat annually.  That is the players box and 75 year old, David Starling is the “steward” of the box.  Sort of a host/guardian task.

Maybe a steward is a good idea for speaking events.  You have to be discreet, up to a point.  I watched the Gong Show with Chuck Burris back in the day.  Can’t gong ’em.  Maybe you rent David and the black suit.   Out of sight and unobtrusive until “that guy” violates the time limits or decent behavior,  the Get Down coach simply stands.  And we mean it.

We worked hard  to protect our events.  It pays off.  Find yourselves a GET DOWN coach.  Below is a reprint of some guidelines we hammered out that worked:

SPEAKING AT AWARDS BANQUETS (#14)

1. While this is a special time for you, your time is limited.

2. Rehearse your speech and try to finish  under your allotted time.   Brevity is the soul of wit.

3.  Respect your audience.

4.  If you speak for too long, you infringe upon the other speaker’s time, and create the potential for audience discomfort.

5.  Many speakers “get in and can’t get out” — it’s okay to just stop telling a story and move on.   Practice it.

6.  Some speakers are surprised by their emotions.    Talking about parents, family, team mates, coaches and schools can trigger deep and powerful and surprising emotions.

7.  The monitor runs the show.   It’s essential that the moderator make the ground rules for speakers clear in the rehearsal.   If you should exceed your time limit, the monitor  GET DOWN COACH will rise.   This is the signal to wrap it up quickly.

 

 

 

I. NOT YET NORMA ROSE (372)

NOT YET, NORMA ROSE

Our friend, Norma Rose White , is a retired high school teacher. Finding it painful to report negative grades for her students, yet required period comments, Mrs. White chose “not yet” as a grade for “those others”. Our family found this evaluation a reasonable response for many a category, and we often responded, “not yet, Norma Rose!” when expectations weren’t quite met.

September 2018—till September 2019 was quite a year at Emerald isle. One neighbor just finished his house repairs last Tuesday. Hurricane Florence was a killer damage- wise to our community. Then Dorian caused forced evacuation from our newly repaired cites. Margaret and I left Thursday at 8am. At 9:1O not hurricane Dorian, but another assailant, tornado unnamed, roared down that path.

This one was vicious and found its frequent target (s)—back to back recreation vehicle parks.

Years ago when his small grandchildren visited, “Country”Boykin referred to them as “the thundering herd”. Three weeks before this hurricane our herd decsinded en mass on us.   We actually devised a common tact for older grandparents: we rented them a house.

Two nights their air conditioner shut down. So “several” sought relief at Pops. Logistically we had six adults, one semi teenager, and two four year olds. Nine people, two houses. One son of mine is mathematically off the chart but one could figure the variations of people we could combine. Yet, within minutes we all knew that all seven combined could not harness the two fours, when together.   Only the beach itself could tame them together.

Growing up in small North Carolina towns it was obvious that families did the same for their family vacations. “What are you all going to do on vacation?” Going to Myrtle Beach. Whole family, grandma, and dog, Emma.”

Most of the time there were lots of kids. No telling how many four year olds were babysat by the great Atlantic mother.

Grand parents giggle at the tail light joke. Our community elders host a “they are gone” party in the early fall. I missed that three weeks ago exit bliss moment.

Symptoms required a cardiac check, or three.   My history causes a lot of looking over my shoulder. Been lucky for twenty years after being lucky after quintuple bypass.   Need to go in there again, Coach. Odds got me.

God bless modern medicine and Dr. Williams. Ps. My first savior was another, Dr. Williams, my lifelong friend, Dr. Willis Williams.

Only a stint was required. And while it was the major one (right coronary) it feels like I have a new carburetor.

There is a reason or two for writing this. The three weeks back to back left a lot of reasons for concerns. Week one –many know lennox Parham (think thundering herd).   Somehow my hospital stay may have sounded serious to many close friends. Pile on a hurricane following a major hurricane that was reported to be headed right at 202 Blue Crab, only to be upstaged by a bombshell tornado, this too picking one of our nearby neighbors.

The streets are dry, the wind “lay down”as said locally.

Not yet Norma Rose.

 

A.21 MEAN MAN COACHES (360)

Someone once said of pro basketball, “…give them both 100 points and just play two minutes”!  Granted they play a season that is too demanding to play wide open for  90 games.  Many times I hear people say they won’t watch pro basketball. Still, if you haven’t watched the NBA playoffs, you have missed the greatest athletes since Samson.  The Final Four in college basketball is evidence of attrition in intense playoffs.  Duke and Zion and Shoegate caused pre- tournament pause.    Then Auburn and Texas Tech lose their top players.  Then Baylor’s MVP in the women’s final.
All knees,  and  tv showed they weren’t fake injuries.  Ouch!
Rules are changing to protect players.  Should we pay them? Insure them?  Deferred payment?  Lawsuits for head injuries?
In the early 70’s I asked an opposing basketball coach about the kind of kid one of his players was.  His response:  “Wasn’t nothing to him till I whipped him with a jump rope   I kept in my office!”  I was stunned and said “Coach, you didn’t really do that?” Meaning I didn’t think he would do it.  He took it all together differently.   He thought I meant he  wasn’t capable of doing that.  Thus he said  ” I stood in the doorway.  He couldn’t get out.  I did   (another of his star players) the same way!”
Lots of changes since those days when “mean man coaches” were the norm.  Almost had to be one to get a job.
Forty years ago my team won the NAIA men’s tennis title.  One of my players had congenital emphysema, yet won three,  three set matches in one day.  All coaches can remember those instances.  Athletics provides those moments and opportunities.  And we don’t want to lose that.   If there  is middle ground now is the time to find it.  But if players (and parents)  think the goals they dream of come easy,  those goals  will go un-scored.
-Excerpt From: Tom Parham. “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” Apple Books.
Secondly, I see the young coaches work the kids too much. Your players are not employees, or machines, and you can run them in the ground. Perhaps the biggest criticism I heard of my teams was that we didn’t work hard enough. But, at tournament time we were fresh, eager and goal oriented. Very often we waxed the “hard workers” whose coach had worn them beyond caring much.
I never had a team that wasn’t ready to put away the racket for a while at the end of the season. It’s call “periodization.”
P.S.
Old football player–“Our coach is willing to lay down our lives for his school.”

GAS PRICES (224)

TECHNOLOGY HAS ITS UPSIDE (S).   ONE ACCESSIBLE ENTERTAINMENT IS READING SCRIPTS OF MOVIES, THAT ARE AUDIBLY BEYOND OLD FOLKS HEARING.  THE BEST MONEY SPENT LATELY  WAS ON “RABBIT EARS”.  THERE ARE NOW BRITISH PRODUCTS I CAN PARTIALLY  DECIPHER.

ALSO YOU CAN GOOGLE ALL KINDS OF QUOTES.   TWO OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES ARE FROM “JUSTIFIED” ( ELMORE LEONARD’S RAYLAN, BOYD AND ART. )  AND (2) ”  “LONESOME DOVE”.

THE FAMOUS BAR SCENE  FEATURES AN UNRECOGNIZED CAP’T GUS MCRAE COLD-COCKING A SURLY, SLOW BARTENDER WITH HIS SIX-SHOOTER.  BACK “…WHEN PEOPLE AROUND HERE WANTED US TO BE SENATORS, WE DIDN’T TOLERATE DAWDLING SERVICE.   AND WE DON’T NOW!” BOOM GOES THE EMPTY SHOT GLASS.

IN THE NEXT SCENE, ON HORSEBACK AND HAVING EXITED  THE BAR, GUS HUFFS TO WOODROW–“WHEN WEE WILLIE MONTGOMERY WAS AROUND HE DIDN’T TOLERATE ANY DAWDLING BARTENDERS!”   WOODROW RESPONDS:  “YOU WERE JUST MAD BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHO WE ARE.”

I THINK EVERY YOUNG PERSON SHOULD WORK IN A SERVICE JOB, DEALING WITH THE PUBLIC.  EQUALLY, WHEN CUSTOMERS RUDELY ATTACK DEFENSELESS WAITERS AND SUCH, MY TEMPERATURE RISES.

MY MENTOR IN SUCH MATTERS, “COUNTRY” BOYKIN , WAS GIVEN SOME LONG, PJAMA PANTS FOR CHRISTMAS.  FLOWERS AND SUCH.  NOT QUITE HIS STYLE.  WITH RECEIPT IN HAND AND A REFUND REQUESTED,  HE WAS OFFERED HALF OF THE RECEIPTED PURCHASE.  REASON?  “THIS ITEM IS NOW ON SALE FOR THIS NEW PRICE”  HEATED DISCUSSION FOLLOWED, CULMINATING IN THE FOLLOW DIALOG BETWEEN THE SALESPERSON, THE ASSISTANT MANAGER, THE MANAGER AND MY FRIEND.

FRIEND:  DO YOU HAVE A PAIR OF SCISSORS?

MANAGEMENT:  WHAT DO YOU WANT SCISSORS FOR?

FRIEND:  SO I CAN CUT UP THIS CREDIT CARD AND GIVE EACH ONE OF YOU A PIECE TO STICK   — —- —!

RECENTLY ANOTHER EXAMPLE FEATURED “COUNTRY” HAVING LOCKED HIS KEYS IN HIS HIGH LEVEL VEHICLE, THAT CAME  COMPLETE WITH EYE IN THE SKY TECHNOLOGY TO UNLOCK SAID VEHICLE.    ONE PROBLEM.  “WHAT IS YOUR PASSWORD?”

OUT OF TOWN, NOT THE FOGGIEST GUESS AT THE PASSWORD, AND DENIED SEVERAL REQUESTS TO “…JUST UNLOCK THE DOOR!”  USE YOUR OWN BEST LANGUAGE TO FILL IN THE FOLLOWING:

“LOOK, YOU (BLEEP),  I WRITE YOU A (BLEEP) CHECK EVERY (BLEEP) MONTH FOR (BLEEP) DOLLARS.  NOW (BLEEP) YOU FORGET ABOUT SOME (BLEEP) PASSWORD (BLEEP), AND OPEN UP MY (BLEEP) CAR, LIKE YOU (BLEEP) SAID (BLEEP) YOU WOULD, OR  (CONTINUED BLEEPS, THREATS, AND PROMISES)

QUIET.  CLICK.  THANK YOU.

GAS STATIONS NOW HAVE THEIR OWN PUZZLES.  WITH 80 YEARS OLD IN SIGHT I CAN REMEMBER A “GAS WAR” THAT REDUCED A GALLON OF SOUTH CAROLINA GAS TO ELEVEN CENTS.  NOT ONLY THAT AN ATTENDANT WOULD PUMP THE GAS, CLEAN YOU WINDOWS, CHECK THE OIL AND WATER, AND  THANK HIS CUSTOMER.

GAS GOT UP TO FOUR DOLLARS PLUS IN THE SUMMER OF 2008.   PRETTY STEADY TILL JUST RECENTLY, BUT EDGING UP WITH OMINUS PREDICTIONS FOR FUTURE.

NOW EACH STATION HAS ITS OWN MAZE,  REQUIRING READING THE CONSTANTLY CHANGING DIRECTIONS.  FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION  FOR LUDDITE CASH CUSTOMERS IS DO YOU PAY BEFORE OR AFTER PUMPING.  NEIGHBORHOOD CONSIDERATIONS?

LAST WEEK I PULLED INTO A FAMILIAR STATION IN A TOWN I HAD LIVED IN TWENTY YEARS.  NOT ONLY THE FORMER STATION MANAGER WAS FRIENDLY, HE WAS A LONG TIME EMPLOYEE.  NOW THE STATION HAD CHANGED HANDS, MANAGERS AND PUMP DIRECTIONS.   PULLING TO MIDDLE PUMP, AND ABOUT BEGIN I SAW THE SIGN SAYING “DIESEL ONLY”. OKAY,  I PULLED UP TO THE NEXT PUMP WITH THE TYPICAL THREE CHOICES AND PUNCHED IN “PAY INSIDE” AND WAITED.    NO INSTRUCTION FOR A LONG TIME SO I WENT INSIDE AND LEFT 30$.  I LIFTED THE PUMP, PRESSED UNLEADED AND LET FLY.   GOT TO $5.91 WHEN IT STOPPED AND THE DESK JOCKEY COMES RUNNING WITH HALF A DOZEN INSTRUCTIONS, WITH THE DAWDLING BARTENDERS ATTITUDE.

WHILE FINISHING  PUMPING AS DIRECTED I DECIDED TO BE CIVIL.  I WENT INSIDE AND SAID, “SORRY”.  HE GRUNTED AND GAVE ME THE SAME LOOK OF DISDAIN.

THEN IT KICKED IN.  I SAID “…AT LEAST WE WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS THE NEXT TIME.  HE GRUNTED AGAIN AND I ADDED “…BECAUSE THERE NEVER WIIL BE A (BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP) NEXT TIME.”

I’M A QUICK STUDY.  THANKS, COUNTRY.

“HERE’S  TO THE SUNNY SLOPES OF DAYS GONE BY”

 

 

 

 

 

DRIVING PRIVILEGES (191)

February 2017 was the best weather-wise of the ten years worth of “wintering” at the beach.   My wife, Margaret, grew up on Lake Huron.  Loves the water plus realized  “…the kids will come see us at the beach.”  Winters can be quiet.  Our population is ten times larger in the summer.   Then we have a lot of drunks, deer and cops.  We can muster a small traffic problem fourth of July weekend.

The locals (high tiders or “hoi toiders”)  don’t think much of the invader’s driving (“droiving”).   They say “dit-dotters” come, but go back home.  “Dingbatters” stay.  Either way, “…my Lord honey, they must leave their brains on the other soide (side) of the bridge.”

We just ventured a trip to Florida.  Routine drive for Margaret.  I try not to get out of our zip code.  Plus she won’t let me droive (oops).  We stopped in to see The Villages.   Lots of “Seniors”.  One widow confided ” …we are all looking for a rich old geezer, with night driving privileges”.

Anywhere on the other side of Kinston is considered the far west by the “downeasterners”.

In my neighborhood there is only one next door resident who winters here.  Tal.  Tal doesn’t say much.  I watch him a lot.  He spends more time working on one little corner of his lot than Margaret  does all year, yard working, And she is OCD.  Tal’s wife comes out about monthly, so I know she’s not buried below that little plot.

I’ve got his schedule down pat.  Goes to Food Lion twice a week  (his truck is gone).

Margaret has a low threshold of “house containment”.   She gets a “look” you can recognize.  It is a lot like a parent recognizing the look of a child needing a bathroom.  Then it is “roll time”.  Doesn’t matter where, just meet her quota.

In the 70’s Elon College’s mens basketball team strangely won it’s first four games on the road, and  lost the first three home games.   Next home game Head Coach, Bill Miller,  issues assistant Bill  Morningstar some strange orders:  “MAWNINSTAH,   git em all down at the vans at 3pm.  Tell em  to be sure to wear their away suits.”

‘Star:  But Coach Miller, we play at home tonight at 7pm.   Miller:  Ride em around in the county for a couple of hours.  Then tell em to play like they’ve been on a road trip.”

Nearly 77years, I lose my keys a lot.   Actually  I think Margaret hides them.  She’ll take off and go somewhere soon.   I’ll wait till Tal shows up on corner duty, then if I don’t hit a deer, or run off  the bridge, I may try a trip to Swansboro.

THE FAMILY PASS, BUSINESS 101, AND RETIREMENT (134)

I have written a lot about Coach Bill Miller, former basketball coach at Elon University. Even dared to use his language, which was rough. Here goes again: Elon established a FAMILY PASS issued to allow the holder and family members to all home athletic contests. Coach Miller noticed an older man who brought his grandson to a lot of home games. Miller gave him a pass. It wasn’t long before local feedback revealed the new recipient was badmouthing the coach, team, and school. Coach called “GRANDPA JOHN” in for an office visit. Conversation went like this: Miller: “John, you got that pass I gave you?” John: “Right here” and shows him the cardboard slip. Miller tears the pass into small pieces and hands to John. Miller growls: “That ought to be easier to stick up your ass. Now don’t come by my office again, or to one of my games.” A friend and I once visited a mutual friend who had some bad luck. As we left I told the troubled one something like this: “Well let us know if there is anything we can do to help”. Out of earshot, my accompanying friend said, “…if you really want to help someone, don’t do it that way”. Why? “Because, he is embarrassed. He’ll tell you no, no matter what. If you really are sincere take a generous cash gift and hand it to him. No questions, no restrictions. Walk away. You may lose some money, but more probably you will gain a lifetime friend.” He was so right. I wrote a self-published book in 2007. Wasn’t on a bucket list. My list included trying to learn about computers. Wasn’t long before I realized I’d have to type. Which was abandoned in 1955. The typing has been troublesome, but my 3rd and 4th books are done. Getting better each time (typing anyway). And I learned a little about how tough it is in the business world. When I first arrived at Elon I was used to access to the front offices or administration. Now I was quickly advised , “we don’t give our product away”. That was 1985.  Elon’s discount rate is about 11%. This year I watched as a fine area school had to shut the door. Not surprising was learning their discount rate was about 60%. Bad business. Still I give away books with abandon. The first book did teach me a little. I know who the GREENFLIES (baseball term) are. And I can tell quickly who read the book. Writing a book isn’t easy. I imagine writing a “good” book is even harder. I am 75 years old. Hard bark. Criticism is fine. But don’t bs an old guy. If you want to trash a book, or artwork, or musicians, at least pay the freight. Then you have the right. Some aren’t getting the comps they did in 2007. But please be kind to the young ones. 1. NEVER PASS A LEMONADE STAND. 2. EVER BEEN A WAITER? EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE, ONCE IN THEIR LIVES. BEATING UP ON A DEFENSELESS EMPLOYEE? NOT COOL. 3. TIP THE GOOD ONES GENEROUSLY. 4. SUPPORT ART, CREATIVITY, EFFORT. 5. PAY ANY AUTHOR FOR THE BOOK. HE/SHE HAS MUCH MORE IN IT THAN THE PRICE. 6. BE KINDER 7. TIP THE PAPER DELIVERY PERSON. 8. GARBAGE COLLECTOR. BE NICE TO THOSE GUYS. 9. “BUSINESS MEN THEY DRINK MY WINE, PLOW MEN DIG MY EARTH. NO ONE AMONG THEM KNOWS WHAT ANY OF IT IS WORTH”. 10. YOU ARE GOING TO WANT A “FAMILY PASS”.

Danny Morrison and the Carolina Panthers (80)

Danny Morrison,  current president of the Carolina Panthers professional football team, is from Burlington, N.C.   He graduated from Wofford College where he played varsity basketball for the Terriers .   He returned to Burlington’s Williams High School, his alma mata, as a math teacher and coach.   Soon he was recognized and hired by Dr. Alan White and Bill Morningstar of nearby Elon College (now Elon University).   He had three assignments at Elon: 1. Assistant to Athletics Director–Dr. White   2. Assistant Basketball Coach for Coach Morningstar and   3. Men’s Tennis Coach.  The latter position is where I learned to know him well and to join those impressed with him.

Highly successful in all three roles, Coach Morrison was soon offered and accepted the Athletics Director’s position at alma mata Wofford.   Coincidentally I was hired in similar (no basketball) roles at Elon.   Wofford’s program took off under Danny’s leadership. Remember Shawn Graves (who made Sports Illustrated) and Terrier football success?   And soon a marriage made in football heaven joined Danny with Mr. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panther’s and among it’s most notable alumni.   In no small part this union brought the Panther’s training camp to the Wofford campus and formed a strong bond between these two men.

During his tenure at Wofford Danny “moonlighted” his way to a Doctorate degree.   The school promoted him to Business Manager of the school.   About this time there were suggestions he would soon be the next President of Wofford. However, a new opportunity arose and Danny became the Commissioner of the Southern Conference (the SoCon).

Still quite young , his managerial talents created an even better athletics organization in the SoCon and respect for his abilities grew.   Elon was the recipient of his aid as it was accepted for membership under his tenure.   What a boon for Elon, where people will still tell you of their admiration for and gratitude to Danny.   Yet, it wasn’t very long that a new call beckoned: Texas Christian University and their top athletics position.   Danny is quite self-effacing.   He will give credit to others and tell you how lucky he has been.   One might tend to agree when looking back at Danny’s first football game at TCU:   The Horned Frogs vs the Sooners of Oklahoma.   In Norman, no less.   Results: A remarkable win for TCU.   And just a beginning.   Danny and Peggy loved the whole scene and an unusual number of all TCU’s total teams began to blossom at a surprising rate.   Blessed?   Pure luck?   You tell me, but even now another call.   And it was from “home”.

Mr. Richardson needed a new person of trusted and proven ability to serve as President of the Panthers.   Enter one Daniel Morrison.
There was a time early on at Elon I was actually upset about Danny.   I mentioned his attractive looks and natural pleasant demeanor to his Mom.   Anne said “…he doesn’t even know he is good looking”.   One of my duties as an administrator at Elon was business dealings that were mostly with female Elon staff workers.   On my initial trip with Dr. White to meet these women the most frequent response went something like “HE is taking DANNY’S place”?

I once heard a football coach putting down another coach who had been successful at several different high schools:  “He has just been real lucky that in every town he moved to had a great running back there.”   Couldn’t help thinking “…yeah 5 or 6 times LUCKY, as I had watched that coach develop several ordinary kids in to great running backs in any town he moved to.

The Panthers have won 8 in a row.   Lots of different coaches, players, but the owner and many others remember the recent past.   The “luck of Danny Morrison”?   I surely don’t know, but sure is fun to watch.   And, who knows that the great philosopher POGO wasn’t right when he contended “…well, it did happen during my administration”

“Maximum Bob” Owens (70)

Bob Owens was  one of thirteen,  the oldest of seven boys, before there was a girl.   Bob’s dad, Jack, was in the Navy in Hawaii.   A real hard assed war vet.    Bob was 18 years old, an All-American high school quarterback, and due to go to Wake Forest University on a full scholarship.

The night Bob graduated from his high school in Honolulu, Jack told him (1) Here’s $25 and my congratulations and (2) You don’t live here anymore, we need your bed.

Then he asked, “When are you enlisting?” Bob replied, “Dad, I’m going to Wake Forest, I’m deferred.” Jack repeated his question. Bob his answer.

Jack then said, “Bob, your country’s at war.   When are you going in?”

Almost immediately upon his arrival in Vietnam Bob was assigned “the point man” on a reconnaissance mission.    He stepped on a foxhole with a sniper pointing the gun straight up, shooting Bob point blank in the stomach.

After nineteen months in rehab, this fine young man walked out still with part of the bullet in his back.

I’ve never met anybody who was as “pure good” as Bob Owens.   He was to become my assistant coach, a dear friend, and be Wanda’s husband.

Wanda’s 1st husband had been killed in a parachute accident almost the time the twins, Jay and Todd, were born.

Their new father, Bob, brought them, at age 9 ,to our first tennis camp at Elon.

Physically they were identical. Personality wise – opposite.   Jay was mean as a snake, Todd – a pussycat.

They commuted to camp, but Jay learned the dorm “residents” were going to have a “water balloon fight” camp’s middle night – Wednesday.

It was Margaret’s idea, and our only water balloon fight ever.

The blond boys approached me about the event, with different agendas.   The conversation went like this:

Jay: “I heard ya’ll were having a water fight.”
Todd: “Yeah, and a night tournament.”
Coach: That’s right.”
Todd: “Our mom may let us stay Wednesday night.” Jay: “ Can we be in the water fight?

Coach: “Sure”
Todd: Will you let us play in the tournament?”
Coach: “Sure.”
Jay: “How many balloons do you get?”
Todd: “Will you help us keep score in the tennis tournament?”
Coach: “Sure.”
Jay: “Can you hit anybody you want to?”
Todd: “I’m not positive our Mom will let us stay.”
Jay: “We are staying for this.”
The next year Bob volunteered to work in Tennis Camp.   It took half the staff to watch Jay and Todd, so I was delighted.

Bob and Margaret could run the camp.   Throw in Kyle Wills and Eddie Gwaltney and our staff made a little needed money, plus we raised our kids in the camp.   A court, or gym, is not a bad place to rear a child.

Bob was all work, and kindness.   If I picked something up, he took it away from me and did it himself   He couldn’t sleep well because of Vietnam, so he’d put ’em to bed, and wake ‘em up.

The first night after a hard day at camp, I told Bob to leave the trash until morning. “Not so, can’t leave after fishing ‘til the boat is clean.  ” Capt. Jack” taught Bob well.   Oldest of thirteen made managing tennis camp a snap for Bob.

Bob soon became my Assistant Tennis Coach.

Once, after practice, Bob was blowing all the leaves off our 12-court facility.   When he circled by me, standing at the fence watching him, he stopped.

“Coach, what’s wrong?”   He could see the tears in my eyes.   I told him the truth.
“Bob, I just hope there’s not another American young person as good as you, about to be shot.” I was so wrong and am saddened by all the tragedy we are experiencing.