Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Games the Babcock Neighborhood Kids Played

Reading what John and Craig said they did kind of jogged my memory a bit. We, and I am going to name names in our “play group”, had some great times when we were kids. Hope you’re ready for this!

There was really a wad of us that used to get together: Stanley Prock, Jim Monk, Sylvia Ledbetter, Hal Dowden, John Tatum, Bud Cooper, Noonie Cooper, Tommy Apple, Bud Thompson, we four Babcock boys, Sonny Roberts, Gene and Annis Baucom, Lou Tatum, Reeder Jr. Thornton, and sometimes Betty Jo.(she wasn’t too much of a tomboy like the other girls were), Roger Webb, Teddy Ray and Nancy Livesay, Kay McCoy, Pat, Mary Lou and Bobbie Jo Westmoreland, Bill Hinds, Bob McCaslin. Now, this was not all of them, just the ones that come to this ol’ feeble mind at the present.

Now for what we did. We played real exciting games like “Pig in My Pen”, “Anty-over-pigtail”, and “kick the can”. This was probably one of the most favorite.

Some evenings we would get a fishing pole, tie a handkerchief to the end of it, get out by the streetlight, whip it around, and knock down “bats”. Sometimes we would toss small rocks up in the air. The bats would think it was a bug, chase it to the ground, and we would swat it with a tennis racquet.

Another favorite pastime (in season) was to sharpen a stick about 16 inches long, stick plums or persimmons on it, and sling them at each other. We also had a pretty good corral full of stick horses and we would ride until they were too tired to travel any further. Then we’d go and trade them for a fresh one.

In winter time, when it snowed, we would find anything that would carry us down the hills west of the house and “away we’d go”. We used a sled if we had one, but generally we used an old car hood or piece of sheet iron. It’s a wonder we didn’t get our heads cut off.

We strung string between two paper cups (no styro-foam back in those days) and made us a telephone, where we really, I’m sure, had some in depth conversations. The voices would carry over 100 feet, as long as nothing touched the string!

Inside games ??? I don’t ever remember any. Inside was for punishment, except for my brother Bob. He would sit inside and READ. How boring! He’d watch us out the window.

All this went on in the younger years. We ventured out of the neighborhood in later years and had an entirely new group. But I would NEVER tell what the “new group” did or got into. Those stories are for another place and another time.

Maybe someday YOU could get one of the above named playmates to explain some of the games we played in detail. At our class of ‘56 50th reunion, we had so many of the group present that Stanley Prock came to me and asked “Where is the can? We have most of the old gang together, so lets get a game started.”

Oh, but for those memories.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

The games we played

Craig had a question one day last week – his topic of the day – and it involved “what did you do for fun as a kid?”

Well, since we didn’t have a lot of money as kids, we improvised. A group of guys, or kids, I ran around with quite a bit: Jim Patterson, Ed Stinson, Jerry Jack Stewart, among others, played a little baseball game every so often. Every day during the summer, practically.

We all gathered at Jim Patterson’s house, probably much to Jim’s mother chagrin. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, because she always knew where her sons were. There were very few times when she failed to bake cookies or had something as treats for a hungry gang of boys.

Yep, we all had fun at Jim’s house. One might think we gained weight with all the cookies, but as kids we burned off all the excess calories. We listened to records, ate snacks and played our games, by golly.

Jim had a little home-made plywood game board, maybe 2 feet by 3 1/2 feet, and we played our version of baseball.

It had a small nail in a “bat,” which would revolve. One guy would roll a marble and the other guy would twirl the bat. The board had nails at strategic places and holes for the marble to go in.

Sort of a poor man’s version of pin ball, if you will. Each hole was “designated” as a hit -- single, double, triple or home run -- or an out.

I was always the Yankees, naturally. Jim was the Giants, Ed the Orioles, etc.

Whomever was on offense kept the scorebook. That way, we could keep up with each player’s averages. We knew the lineups of our favorite team.

I always had Mantle and Maris, etc. Jim always had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, etc. We had enough guys to represent each team in the American and National Leagues.

We even posted the individual stats, to keep up with leaders.

Of course, we kept up with the win-loss records, and eventually had a World Series between the winners of each league.

Joe Babcock made a board for me. He could build almost anything in his dad’s Hobby Shop.

It was a good-sized board, so it was known as Yankee Stadium. It had a small piece of tin around it for a fence. Really, it was so large, I kept it in my bedroom and usually had only one guy over to play. There was hardly room for the other guys, and my mother worked, so she wasn’t around to have cookies and goodies for my friends.

We also had an electric football league. We had enough guys for each team in the Big 8, and we usually played at Jon Hall’s house. Jon was always Oklahoma, I was the Missouri Tigers. John Marvin Wright was Kansas. Don’t exactly remember who Jim was.

We painted the little football men, complete with school colors and numbers on each player. Again, we kept stats, win-loss records, etc.

Probably, keeping stats so much as youngsters, had something to do with Jim and I going into sports writing as careers. Who knows?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hartshorne 1958

It is said that confession is good for the soul. Well, if that is true my soul is going to get a little improvement here. Jim Davis—this is what really happened in the Hartshorne game our senior year.

Although we went on to win that game 52-2 there was a point in the game when we were backed up against our own goal line. I’m not sure how we got there. Maybe it was because of penalties (Remember the Spiro game where Twid got three consecutive 15 yarders for unsportsmanlike behavior? And how we had to finally physically carry him off the field?) or perhaps someone had fumbled. Any way we were backed up. The first play was pretty standard—a quickie to gain a little room to operate. After that play Jim came back to the huddle and complained that the line wasn’t blocking for him. As we went back to the line of scrimmage, Don Huie nudged me and said, “Let’s show him what not blocking really is like.” The play that had been called was a sweep with Jim carrying the ball. By the way, that shows the confidence we had in that we dared to call a wide play out of our own end zone. I seem to recall Don telling the opposing linebacker, “All right. He’s yours this time.”

The play called for Don and me to pull and lead the blocking around the end. Well, we pulled all right, but when we turned the corner around the end we both passed up perfect blocking opportunities and let our men go by us. Naturally, they smashed Jim in the end zone for a safety.

Coach Twidwell immediately yanked Don and me out of the game. I’m sure he meant to chew us out royally. However, as we approached him he saw the big grins on our faces and realized what we had done. All he asked was. “What’s the matter? Are you getting tired?” And then he turned away so we wouldn’t see the big grin on his face. And that’s how a Hartshorne team that was getting tromped, was able to score a safety.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day at the diamond(s)

My Saturday was spent at the diamond. Or at the (little league) ball park(s) in Malokoff, TX.

It was fun watching my grandsons play ball – Brandon on one field and Garrett on another. We strategically placed our chairs where we could see both games.

It was the best of worlds to me, not only to see them both playing, but Brandon stationed at third base (my position when I played) for the Marlins and Garrett playing right field for the Yankees (or Yankers, as Garrett suggested when they were picking a name for the team!).

Well, Garrett was in right field, not exactly playing. Garrett is only four and a half years old. That seems awfully young to me, but he at least knows enough to run when he hits the ball off the tee.

I know I didn’t start that young. Maybe in the yard next to the house, but not on a team as such.

Garrett is the youngest and the smallest boy on the team but he managed two hits and scored once. It seemed to take those little guys running as hard as they could to get to first base.

Oh, one little guy was running as hard as his little legs would go toward home with the coach yelling, "Come back, come back, you forgot to touch third base!"

The little ones seem to run at will and don’t want to stop.

Garrett ran hard, even beating out the pitcher who was running to first to beat him out.

Fielding the ball, well, that was another matter for Garrett. The only time the ball came to outfield, he just stood there and watched the ball. But, he looked good watching it. He explained to his mom and Cynthia after the game the he had to stand there. He couldn’t leave his position! If it had been hit straight to him he would have picked it up and thrown it to the pitcher.

Brandon (almost nine years old) is already experienced. You know, a veteran, of sorts.

He plays third base, because he’s one of the few that can field a grounder and throw it to first cleanly – so the first baseman can catch it. Brandon’s team, the Marlins, are undefeated.

Brandon also bats cleanup, which means he can actually hit the ball, and with some power, too. Friday night, when Cynthia and I arrived, it was just in time to see Brandon scoring.

I don’t know if he hit a home run, or if the ball just got by everyone, but he was coming in to score, nonetheless. Hey, it still counts as a home run, if the ball isn’t caught by anyone, doesn’t it?

He moved over to second base later in the game and my daughter, Karen, said it all depends on who is pitching. Maybe it depends on who can field the ball the best. Anyway, he fields the ball better than the others.

At third, he can catch it if anyone is stealing. And that happens a lot, at their age.

So, Brandon can field and hit, and Garrett can hit. They both can run. And they both enjoy the game. What else can a grandpa ask?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Memories of "How It Was"

Heavener was my sole home for the first eighteen years of my life. After being graduated from HHS in 1959 it remained my home but it was never my sole home again. However, Heavener did cast its spell on me n those eighteen years and it always beckoned to me as “home” even while I attended college and then moved to various places around this country. Since 1959 I have lived in Wilburton, Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Roseville (Michigan), and Hillsboro (Tennessee). All three children Jessie and I have were born and raised in Tennessee so I suppose that Hillsboro may always have the pull for them that Heavener has always had for me.

It has been most interesting to read Bill Babcock’s stories of late, just like it was to read John’s (Inman), Chuck’s (Hudlow), and all the other bloggers on HOL. Bill is right about the fact that most people never knew that the old HHS had a basement for the boiler. I certainly did not.

Previous blogs have noted that Heavener has changed. It really has. I remember things like the weekly drawings held down town for various prizes. My maternal grandfather (Frank Bissell) attended all those and, I think, won something on more than one occasion. The depot that Chuck mentioned earlier is forever locked in my memory as a mysterious place with the passenger waiting room on one end and the dispatcher’s office on the other (upstairs). The quiet “panting” (brake system) of the 0-4-0 switch engine sitting in front of the depot waiting for a train to come in is a sound I can still conjure up if I try really hard. The advent of diesels in the late forties and early fifties took away the mournful sound of the steam engines as they whistled for the crossings. The air horns on the diesels simply do not have the class steam whistles do. All these things are gone now and exist only in the minds of those of us who were lucky enough to live in Heavener back then.

I walked to school from the time I started first grade in the old West Side school until I got a car when I was in the seventh grade. Yep, that’s right. I got a car (a 1936 Chevrolet sedan) and started driving when I was only twelve. And the police didn’t care a bit. Try that one now. If it occurred here in Tennessee the parents would be hailed into court on a charge like “endangering a minor and everyone else on the road.” I paid $25 for the car and sold in at a penny per pound when I was in the tenth grade. I “made” $6.50 on the deal because the car weighed 3,150 pounds per the junk dealer’s scales.

Football was THE sport and we started playing in the sixth grade. We practiced on the east side of the West Side Grade School in a space about 30 feet wide and 100 feet long. We pretty much stayed intact as a team through Junior High School and on into High School. By our senior year we were pretty good and went to the quarterfinals. Maybe the fact that we began practice earlier than other teams at “football camp” had something to do with that. During the first part of each season we were weeks ahead of our opponents because of those camps. We didn’t use full pads (that would have been really illegal) but we sure did wear helmets and shoulder pads. Those early practices involved some pretty hard hitting as well as being three-a-day sessions.

When I get back to Heavener (more and more rarely now that both Jessie’s and my parents are dead) I can see palpable differences. Not only are the downtown buildings more dilapidated, the whole west side of town where I grew up has a different mien about it. My old home place is gone, the victim of a fire. The little stores that (at different times) were on either side of the house (first Clyde and Pearl Whisenant’s and then Owen and Debrorah Davis’) are long gone. Now I suppose that essentially all the small mom-and-pop stores that were scattered around town are all gone too. The old artesian well (between Avenues H and G off fourth street west) is covered over by houses. It was around that well that Heavener had its start back at the turn of the century (from the eighteen hundreds to the nineteen hundreds). The Presbyterian Church that I attended is no longer affiliated with the Presbyterian denomination but is now devoted to the Hispanic community. Two banks have become one (and that one owned by outsiders) and Dowdens Funeral Home is part of a larger corporation. No one knows what I mean when I talk about fixing flats at Rockman’s station using hot patches for the inner tubes.

It’s all different now. But, maybe for those living there now, these will be the good-old-days that they talk about fifty or sixty years hence. For their sake, I hope so.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beer In the Basement - by Babcock

Not very many people ever knew that the OLD Heavener High School building had a basement. It was where the boiler was located that generated the heated water for the old steam radiators used to heat the building back then.

When I was a senior, I was kinda the chief photographer, and had set up a darkroom in the basement. ( see photo) The only door was in the hall just a little north of the door into the principal’s office. Mr. Monroe Henson was the principal at the time, and Senator Clem Hamilton was the Superintendent.

Now these two guys were as tough as they could get in order to straighten out the somewhat “out of control” discipline that WASN’T in the school. It was quite a shocker for those of us who were seniors, as we had enjoyed having everything go our way pretty well up until THEN.

There was a milk program going on during this time. We would pay something like 6 cents for one of those half pint cartons of white (plain) milk. Some one came up with the idea of washing the cartons out and filling them with beer.

We stowed our “milk” cartons down in one corner of the darkroom to keep them cool. Then when we had the opportunity to “go develop pictures”, we would have a cool, refreshing drink. Either someone ratted on us, OR, a teacher smelled beer on our breath. Or perhaps, we were drunk enough for it to be evident that we were drinking something we shouldn’t have been.

Now, there were only TWO keys to the padlock on the door of the “darkroom”. I had one, and there was one hanging in Mr. Henson’s office. The best I can figure, THIS is what happened.

Mr. Hamilton used the key to let Mr. Henson into the basement darkroom, then relocked the door. We, and I won’t call names, got down there in the “darkroom” and started sipping on our “milk” cartons. When we had gotten started real good, MR HENSON stepped out from behind the boiler. The ---- hit the fan!!!

He went up, opened the door so Mr. Hamilton could come down with us, and THEN, it really hit the fan. Now, you’ve got to understand, these guys’ job was to clean up the mess that was going on in the school, and the LAST thing they needed to get out was “BEER DRINKING IN THE SCHOOL”.

So, we were threatened with our lives if we EVER breathed a word of this to anyone. They locked the door to the basement and we NEVER were allowed to enter it again, EVER.

TODAY, I am breaking the silence. I would NOT under any circumstance be doing it if either one of these guys were alive. I’m sure they would put a contract out on me.

This is just another chapter in our lives that was never discussed until now. I’m sure this is pretty dull compared to what goes on in school today, but in that day, it was BAD.

Ya know, I didn’t like the taste of beer THEN, nor do I TODAY. Guess you could say that incident “left a bad taste in my mouth.”


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heavener, my Heavener

Over this past weekend I visited my home town again. It had been several months since I was last there.

Before I say too much about the visit, however, I feel that I should apologize to those of you that still live there. My negative comments aren't meant to be ugly, but I will be sharing some observations that could be perceived that way.

Since my Dad moved to Poteau, in order to be closer to my sisters who live there, I don't visit Heavener as much as I once did. On this trip, I had gone over to visit my Mom's gravesite, which I hadn't seen since her burial earlier this year.

Upon leaving the cemetery, I decided to drive around town and revisit some of the areas I once knew so well.

I noted that there are several businesses on the highway that weren 't there 5 years ago. That was encouraging, I thought. The Dollar Store (or was it the Dollar General) appeared to be pretty busy. There were several cars there.
The Sonic was as colorful as any I've seen in Texas. That railroad car restaurant is still in business, that's encouraging. The nursing home on the highway showed signs of renovation since I last noticed it.

The train station was still there, of course...and what would Heavener be if it weren't! I never pass the depot without remembering when the deer pen occupied the corner at the stop light...where it should be today, I might add.

As I left the highway and started toward the high school, I started noticing things that haven't changed that much. Especially when I crossed over the oil branch. It looked the same. I was surprised at how many houses that were occupied 50 years ago are still standing today. Some of them look as if they haven't been painted during that time. Also, I wondered if some of them had sound roofs. It appeared that people were living in least, in some of their rooms.

After reading Bill's description of the butchering of his steer, I noted that the FFA building is one of the few 'old' buildings still standing on the school property. The shop building is still there, as is the old gym building, but I noticed that the buses are now open to the weather in the lot across from the shop building, instead of being housed in the old bus barns. I didn't notice, but maybe the bus barns are no longer there.

As I drove down Avenue B, my old stomping ground, and passed the house that we had lived in all my life there, I couldn't believe how small it looked...and crowded. The trees and some of the shrubs that were there when I was a kid, now occupy so much more real estate. The owners today have less than half the yard I once had to mow.

Continuing down Avenue B, toward the Methodist Church, I wondered if the City has ever done any maintenance of the sidewalks since they were originally constructed. It didn't appear that they have. I can remember roller skating down the sidewalk (where there were sidewalks on that street), but if one were do try that today, he or she would likely break a leg.

Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive description of town. I just made these observations during the short route I took that day. I'm sure there are still very nice areas SOMEWHERE in town. But it didn't appear that many people on the streets I was driving spend much time trying to keep their places looking nice. Some did, don't get me wrong, but more didn't. Maybe I just picked a bad day to visit.

I did make an observation as I left town to return to Poteau. As I drove out of town, I looked toward the West and noticed a hill that appeared to be covered with nice homes. Maybe that's where a lot of Heavenerites live these days. I think my old friend, Johnny Newcomer lives over there, as does my former neighbor, Patsy (Linville) Burroughs. I should drive around in that area on my next visit.

I envy Craig, Patsy, Fred, Sue, John, Lana, Bill, Sadie, Joe, and so many others that I grew up with and around, who still call Heavener home. Having been there all these years, they've all adapted to the changes and think nothing of them, probably. It's when you've been living away for so many years that it seems so least to me.

Heavener will always be my home town. I almost look forward to trying to explain where it is when people ask me "where are you from". "Heavener's a small town in Eastern Oklahoma, just inside the state line, not too far from Fort Smith, Arkansas" "That's Heaven, with an 'er' on the end of it". Heavener, my Heavener.

The blogging business

One thing about this blog business, it can be done at any time. You can do it full-time, part-time, or any other kind of time.

On the Heavener blog site, it’s only part-time, like do-it-when-you-think-of- something-to-write. But to some, it can be a full-time business. Like if you work for a large metropolitan newspaper, or even a smaller newspaper, for that matter.

The Longview-News-Journal, the newspaper for which I used to work, is a small paper, but it has bloggers, as such. Such as The Four Horsemen, four LeTourneau University (for which I also used to work) students, who are doing a good thing for the Susan Komen Foundation.

They are making a 5000-mile trek to major league stadiums, and raising funds for the Komen cause, which is to raise money for fighting breast cancer. They are writing a blog about each stop they make.

They made their way to Yankee Stadium the other day and I read about it on the News-Journal website. Naturally, I had to make a comment, since they were in Yankee Stadium. Just think, if I were still at LeTourneau as SID, wouldn’t they need someone to go along and write stories about their trip?

Anyway, I wrote a comment on their blog, congratulating them for making the trip for a good cause. I said they were to be commended. When all the time, I was thinking how I could be going and taking pictures, doing stories for them.

Like, why didn’t I think of that?

I guess there is something to being at the right place, at the right time, huh?

Then as I was watching First Take on ESPN this morning, a guy from the Los Angeles Times was on it, explaining about his USC blog on the website. I thought, “This guy gets major air time for writing a blog on Southern Cal?”

I can just see ESPN talking to me about writing a blog about Heavener football, or something.

Then, these other folks write blogs about their retirement. Like The Travelling Pensioners. Did you realize there our 535 bloggers in Tyler, Texas alone, and I know two of them. In Texas, there are 21,000 and in the United States 2,730,000.

There are only a handful on the Heavener blog: Chuck, Bill, Glen, Craig and a few others.

There’s even a Maureen, Chuck. Not your wife, but she probably could be. Bill Babcock has a blog on with blogs on Babcock’s Store, etc., and his wife Joan has one devoted to her mom on They both have pictures. They’re both very interesting.

On the old HOL (Heavener on line) site, there were several blogs. Chuck’s was What’s Up Chuck, a humorous name, I thought. Gracie Coggins Kidwell hasn’t logged on yet, I guess. Neither has Pat Burroughs.

We’re waiting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stormy Memories - Bill Babcock 5-12-08

When I was a sophomore at Heavener HS, I joined the FFA. It was tough being a “city boy” with all those guys from the rural area, but I survived. We each had to have a “project”, and I decided to purchase a yearling steer calf and raise it up. Named the little guy STORMY.

We became the best of pals. I kept him over at Reeder Thorton’s barn across the track (where the old oil branch ran). I fed him a mix of grain that would really put the pounds on him. I bought Stormy from Mrs. Magbee, who lived next door to my grandparents on the highway. So she advised me on the how to-s and the where for-s.

Ol’ Stormy did well and at show time in the spring, we sold our “projects” to the highest bidder. Ray Hall at the State National Bank was the highest bidder on Stormy and he gave him back to the FFA for our Father and sons and Mother and sons annual Banquet. Stormy was to be made into BBQ.

I continued to feed him until the day he was to be butchered. Mr. Thornton told me to take the day off. I knew what THEY were going to do. Now, being the strong of heart and macho guy that I am, I was NOT going to miss it. I would show those “country” boys just how tough I was.

Mr. Thornton got the 22 out of his truck (wonder what they would do today if a teacher carried a 22 rifle in his truck). Anyway, I took it, went over and shot ol’ Stormy. Then took the knife and cut his throat to bleed, while one of the guys was pulling him up with a block and tackle. As soon as he had bled out, I started skinning.

Then I gave the knife to one of the other guys and let the rest of the guys get in on the action. I just stood back and watched.. I really showed those guys what I was made of.

But, then, Mr. Thornton asked me to give a speech at the banquet about the raising of my calf – all the how to’s and where for’s. I gave a really nice speech, of which I was very proud, and ended the speech with “and this is him you are eating now! Then I broke down and cried like a little baby. I found out I was not nearly as tough as I thought I was.

The “tough guy”,


I Love the World!

Hello, Heavener Friends!

I am back - and I've missed you all. I'm still in Oklahoma City, still traveling too much, and getting older by the day. I have been some fun places since we last 'chatted' and I'll share some stories as time permits.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to getting reacquainted, and hope everyone is doing well.

Check out the 1 minute video below - it is a great way to start the week - courtesy of the Discovery Channel.

Cheers, Cindy

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chattin' with 'Pop'

So I found myself watching another NBA playoff game the other night. Cynthia was practicing handbells and I was just sitting there watching TV.

Lo and behold, another NBA playoff game was on. The NBA advertises 40 games in 40 nights on TNT. So I wasn’t real surprised.

The San Antonio Spurs were playing the New Orleans Hornets (at least, I think that’s their mascot). I thought, why not? Turned out to be a very entertaining game. I stuck with it to the end, even after Cynthia got home from practicing.

Spurs are the defending NBA champions, and they were down 2-0 in the series with the New Orleans.

I remembered the time Greg Popovich, the Spurs coach, came to Kilgore College for a basketball camp. Larry Brown, then the Spurs coach – Popovich was his assistant – so I thought I would go over for a little interview time.

Turns out, Larry Brown wasn’t into talking a whole lot, so I spent some time with ‘Pop.’ He was interesting to talk to, had a lot to say and I got some pictures, too. Pop became the head coach of the Spurs the very next season, so I’ve been a little intrigued ever since.

Brown is a nomad of sorts around basketball always on the move. In fact, he just was named the head coach of, well … I don’t know exactly where, since I don’t keep up the NBA.

I did hear the announcers say Pop has won four tittles in the last nine seasons, something of a mini-dynasty, it seems.

I told Cynthia I was interested because I had once talked to Pop, though I don’t even remember when it was. If I was real interested, I would research a little and find out when he took the helm, then I would no how long ago I interviewed him. If I was truly interested, that is.

But I’m not.

The Spurs won, BTW, something like 103-92. That’s just a guess.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Introducing Me - W.B. "Bill" Babcock

In looking at what the other guys have put up on the blog, I thought I’d better tell the ones who don’t know me a bit of my story and past.

I graduated HHS in 1956 along with a very intelligent group of students. Probably the MOST intelligent to ever graduate HHS. Only problem, I was not one of them. I think the only reason I graduated was the faculty DID NOT want to put up with me another year.

The night we graduated, Mike Sullivan, Kenneth Bishop, Leon Fortner and I “cut out” for California in an old ‘49 model Oldsmobile we’d purchased from Coach Carl Twidwell. That’s another story.

We arrived in California to make our fortune at the American Crystal Sugar Company in Oxnard. I stayed for a few months, came back home, and then went to Dallas. I was employed by Wilson Sporting Goods for a couple of years working in the Tennis Department restringing tennis racquets. I also did a lot of engraving on trophies.

Then I moved on to Dodge Inc.Trophies, the world’s largest trophy manufacturer. I started off as an engraver and worked myself up to Vice President in charge of Sales & Marketing. This required a move to Chicago, where I really only gained ONE thing - my wife, Joan.

I knew there HAD to be something good up there, and she was it. One winter is the “windy city” was all I could take. This ol’ southern boy, in his cowboy boots and Stetson hat, nearly froze.

So, Joan and I moved to Miami Fla. I got just as tired of sunshine there as I did of the snow up north. We moved back to Texas and settled in. I was involved with the trophy industry again with a company that manufactured engraving machines. I set up a national sales team to market them and did quite well.

At age 44, I decided I’d had all I could take of the “rat race” so purchased a small farm south of Heavener in the Octavia community. Joan and I built and operated a tourist attraction or “tourist trap”, whatever you want to call it, called Babcock’s Store. We prided ourselves in NOT selling anything a person needed. JUST stuff they wanted.

We operated the store for about 17 years, then closed it and turned the building into our home where we now live. (You’re welcome to stop in to see us)

Check out our website: and you will see how I spend my retirement.


The scribe

Like John Inman, I was once a sports writer. He served the profession for a much longer duty, and no doubt, did a much better job.

I never planned on working at a newspaper while growing up. I always liked to read and some said I had a creative mind. Let's pass on what others had to say about my thinking.

It was a career that happened almost by accident. After high school, I attended Carl Albert Junior College for two years and somehow received an associate’s degree for my troubles and tuition.

After that, I transferred to Oklahoma State University since that was where most of my friends were going. You typically don’t find that response among serious students. “Why did you go to OSU?” a person might ask. “Cause my buds are going there…” That was my thinking. Flawed? Yes.

I also enjoyed the night life at OSU. For a person fresh out of Heavener, it was almost mind blowing. In fact…never mind.

Looking back I probably should have gone to one of the smaller schools like Northeastern or Southeastern. My future plans were to coach and teach.

After arriving at OSU, I soon found out that was not one of the more respected majors. In my first semester, one of my classes was Coaching Volleyball and Soccer and no, I am not making this up. We were taught the rules of soccer and how to return a ball in volleyball.

I must say, at no time did I burn the midnight oil that semester studying for a rigorous test in that class. However, my major required me to take and pass a class called physiology.

Aside from college algebra, I have never had a class kick my tail so bad. If it was a boxing match, I would have been knocked out in the first round. The class was held early in the morning, there were 300-plus students in the class and I quickly realized that the teacher did not take roll. Did I mention it was early in the morning? Plus, they talked about stuff that sailed way over my head.

After realizing I would have to borrow somebody’s brain to pass the class and that coaching maybe wasn’t my best career choice, I decided to give journalism a try.

Everybody talked about how you couldn’t make any money as a newspaper writer. I thought they were kidding. They weren’t.

So I embarked on a newspaper career. I got to cover OSU athletics and interview Jimmy Johnson, Pat Jones, Thurman Thomas, Gary Ward and many others. I quickly realized that hey, I could get paid to go to sporting events!

Now is that a great country, or what? I would go to games for free! I was the sport’s editor for the school newspaper for two semesters and was then offered a job at a newspaper in northern Texas.

I still got paid to go to games! Not much, but some. I did that for four years, going all over northern Texas and southern Oklahoma to cover athletic contests for schools most people have never heard of.

I met some good coaches, and some who should have done something else with their lives. Like writing for a newspaper. It didn’t take long for me to sour on a few parts of my career. Some coaches were great, others lied only when their mouths were open. Then there were the coaches who were always quick to call in when their team won, but were MIA if their team got whipped.

Plus, we always got the complaints about not covering little Johnny’s t-ball game or not putting something in the paper like horse-racing results. Want to hack some people off? Don’t publish Oaklawn results, by gosh.

I could almost always count on a complaint (or two), from parents after I did cover a game. “You never mentioned my son Billy’s name in your story!” the parent would say. I would research the matter, making sure young Billy did not do something important, like score a game-winning touchdown, and usually found out the young lad was a reserve lineman who played two downs.

But again, I enjoyed covering the games. I loved the Friday night football games. Think football is important around here? Multiply that by about 50 times and you might get close.

I also enjoyed going to the basketball games and especially the baseball season. I got to kick back, relax, take a few pictures and keep score. Although, I did have my first experience with fire ants at the baseball field in Allen, Texas.

But things soured during my fourth year. Our newspaper was sold and the new owners came in, cut staff, overtime, travel and whatever else they could think of.

I realized this wasn’t going to work. I had turned down jobs at newspapers in Marshall, Texas and Rogers, Ark., when I didn’t need another job. But when I needed one, nothing was open.

A friend asked me to help out at the Boy’s Club and I did that for a year, before returning home to Heavener. The rest is history. Or is it...?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Balloons at the Cotton Gin

This is a story I probably SHOULDN’T tell, but I live very dangerously, and something or someone will finish me off anyway someday. So here it is.

Where the Heavener Nursing Home, the Flower Shop, and the Tote-A-Poke are today used to be an old cotton gin. It was only in use for a few years in my lifetime, then was closed down and boarded up. But, not so good that we kids couldn’t get into it and play.

It was a nesting place for pigeons and we just loved climbing up and robbing the nest. They always said that a pigeon laid two eggs, and, when they hatched, one was a male and one a female, and they mated for life. We used to swap the eggs, or put three eggs in a nest. You can guess what the results were.

BUT, one day, when we were playing up there, the “we” being me and Lou Tatum. Most of you know her as Peggy Gartner of Poteau. (Sorry Lou, just had to tell the story).

ANYWAY, we found a package of two balloons. When we blew them up, they were about four feet long and about a foot in diameter. They were kind of clear in color and had a mouth about an inch and a half in diameter. We tied a string on them and were flying them behind us as we went home.

Then our Mothers saw what we had.

Now, we thought they were pretty neat. NOT THEM! Lou’s mother got out the Listerine and made us wash our mouths out with it, drink it; they scrubbed our tongues with it, washed our faces with bleach, and threatened us with our lives if we EVER went back up there. They never gave us a chance to explain they were NEW not USED. I’m sure that would have made a difference.

All in a day at play in good ole Heavener.

Later, Bill

Tech support

Yesterday, I woke (like I typically do) and after taking care of the necessary first thing bidness, fired up the old laptop.

I do this to make sure the world is still turning, along with checking out my fantasy baseball team, emails and maybe write a blog if my brain is working.

Holy Internet Explorer! What in the name of Bill Gates is going on, I wondered. No internet! That ain’t right! I do the typical unplug, restart drill some 10 times, but I have no internet.

At first I thought the internet was getting revenge for my lame Waiting on the Cable Guy lyrics from the previous day’s blog.

But wait, that can’t be right. Pardon me while I point out that, yes, I have an “ain’t right” and a “can’t be right” in the last three paragraphs. Anyway, the internet probably thought that was a waste of resources and it might be right, but if it can host a Lifetime web site, I’m not at the bottom of the barrel. Yes, I did look the site up so I could link to it, but didn't spend enough time there to get sick.

Then, I figured it out. Stupid Craig! Bad Craig! Okay, I have internet through my local phone provider, which is Windstream (which used to be Alltel, but now Alltel is strictly for cell service. If you figure this out, please tell somebody else). The previous day, I called my friendly Windstream call center (and actually talked to what sounded like an American who spoke English) and told the rep to get rid of the bundle service and my Dish.

On the bundle, I had long-distance calling, call waiting, call forwarding (like I ever did that), back scratching, caller ID, something called call block which never seemed to work since I always got calls that I didn’t want, along with several other features I can’t describe or remember.

Earlier, I called Dish to cancel, but with the problems I have had with my bill, decided to double team that baby.

Notice, in my conversation I never mentioned TURNING OFF MY INTERNET! Did I? Nope.

So, naturally, no internet yesterday morning. I call the broadband support and try to understand a rep who can speak English about as well as my two-year old niece. All I could make out from him was call billing. Sorry, billing won’t be available until 8 a.m, he added after repeating himself several times.

Drats. I wait and call billing at just after 8. I actually speak to an American, who says there isn’t a problem with my bill. She puts me on hold and apparently has outpatient surgery in the meantime.

I wait approximately 20 minutes before hanging up. I can just see her and a few choice coworkers sitting around the cubicle betting on how long I will stay on hold. Maybe, they even had a pool going on! "I say he waits thirteen minutes!" says one.

Sadly, I hang up. Still no internet and the issue HAS NOT BEEN RESOLVED! AAARGH.

I do a few things and call back later. The person in billing says my internet has not been cancelled and I should have service. Huh? She transfers me to the help desk. Another English-speaking challenged rep answers.

Please allow me to take a break and ask why we can’t get English-speaking people in the support area if it involves computers? It would greatly reduce the time I spend on the phone saying "huh?", "what?" and "can you repeat that in English?"

Okay, back to the blog. He says there is a problem with my bill and attempts to transfer me back. Hold on, I say, I am looking at my bill and it isn’t due until May 13.

But I am transferred back to billing, which is where I started this phone call and learned there WAS NOT a problem.

The person is helpful and says, no, there isn’t a problem with your service and…(that is a pause BTW). I knew then, there was a problem. He asks to research the problem, which means he just discovered somebody on his end probably screwed up.

I wait a few minutes, and then some more! Finally, he is back. No, there isn’t a problem with my bill. They made a mistake. No ----, Sherlock, I want to say but since I don’t curse, I let it slide.

Finally, I am promised my internet service will be started again. I am expecting like a free upgrade to Super High Speed DSL, movie tickets or a pack of double-ply toilet paper for my troubles, but soon find out I am out of luck. Maybe I should have asked! But I didn’t. I just (pardon me while I mist up here) wanted my internet to work.

I give it some time, like 2 minutes and 43 seconds, before I check to see if the internet works. It doesn’t. More like two hours and some change, but the magic Yahoo home page bursts bright and clear back on my computer.

Internet is back. Aside from wasting time that will never be recovered, life is good once again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Bill Babcock’s first blog on the Heavener group was very interesting. I like memories about Heavener’s past. And he is much older than I, so he probably has more to remember.

I had a comment on his first one, but I’m sad to say I didn’t check my sources and I told him “maybe he was thinking of Gordon Patterson, rather than Ralph, in reference to the Methodist minister.

After I went to bed last night, I started thinking about some of his “memories,” and one thing that crossed my mind is that if he played in the oil branch as a kid, just possibly Ralph was, in fact, the minister. The only one I remember is Gordon, Jim’s dad. That was in the mid ‘60s.

So, when I got up early this morning, the first thing I did was email Jim, to ask him if Ralph had been the minister at the Methodist, and if that’s how Ralph met his current wife, Rena.

Yes and yes.

Jim said, “My uncle Ralph was indeed Methodist minister at Heavener several years before we were there. And, yes, that would have been where he met Rena. After both their spouses passed away I guess they just decided to get married.” Once I checked my sources, and realized it had been I that made a mistake … I honestly apologize for thinking Bill may not have had his facts straight.

There, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong about something.

I honestly enjoyed Bill’s memories.

I didn’t realize the oil branch began at the round house. Now, that I think about it, it certainly makes sense and, thus, the name oil branch. Cynthia didn’t realize it, either, and her dad was a long-time railroader.

Yes, I recall the old Liberty Theater, but the cost of 10 cents to get in to the movie stunned me. Why, by the 1960s, it cost us probably as much as 25 cents! Popcorn and a coke probably that much, too.

Whew, the inflation rate sure hit fast didn’t it? And now, well, going to a movie is out of sight. Cynthia and I are movie-goers, but we have a membership to Blockbuster as well.

Fact of the matter is, we plan to watch a blockbuster movie tonight … after the Yankees game, which, BTW, is televised.

No, I don’t remember the old horse-drawn wagons. That’s a little before my time, Bill. I do remember the Ledbetter’s house, though.

I remember growing up just a few houses from the Babcock’s, and Bob getting out in the yard practicing his centers back to Joe. Jim, I remember him as well. Those were the good ole’ days.

And your store down at Octavia, and what you’ve turned in into now.

Anyway, keep the memories coming.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Few Memories by Bill

Heavener. What a bunch of memories I have of where I was born and grew up. Living by the railroad tracks and being part of a railroad family gave me lots to remember.

For example: the hobos, tramps, and bums. Today we would call them homeless people, or misplaced individuals, but to my Grandmother, they were “hungry guys”. When I’d go down the alley to her house, it was not a surprise to see a couple of “them” sitting by the back door scarfing up what ever she was feeding them. I never did hear of them doing her any harm. They were just thankful for the meal she gave them and passed the word on to others as they traveled the rails.

I’ve often wondered HOW people get run over by a train. One of the first things my Daddy taught me was, IF there is a pair of rails, there IS probably a train coming. And, he also explained that they couldn’t stop very fast with such a heavy load behind them. So, “Look BEFORE you get out on the tracks, not AFTER you are already on them”.

It's kind of like learning about matches when you are young. They burn. And, don’t put your finger in a mouse trap, it hurts! Nowadays, parents try to keep all the things that can hurt you away from their kids, and they grow up a bunch of dummies. Well, no common horse sense anyway. I’m drifting away from my memories, so let me refocus.

When I was young, and that was a long time ago, I remember Saturdays when the farm folks would come to town riding in their horse-drawn wagons and other horse-drawn vehicles. We boys would sit out on the lawn swing with Granddaddy by the graveled highway. By the way, he lived where the drive-in now is,beside the auto parts store. We would watch up north on the highway and, when we saw a horse-drawn wagon coming, we would run beside his house to the alley, cut over to the corner by Ledbetter’s house (where the Burger Joint used to be), and jump on the back of the wagon. We’d ride ‘til Granddaddy saw us and made us get off. He thought he was keeping an eye on us, but we would do it time and time again ‘til finally he made us go home .

We would go to town on Saturday with a quarter. It cost ten cents to get into the theater, a nickel for popcorn, and a nickel for a coke. Then we would stop by the drugstore for a nickel ice cream cone after we got out of the show.

Another thing I remember growing up is the way we used to go over to the Methodist church and play in the old oil branch after a good rain. It was called the oil branch because it started up at the old round house where they worked on the steam engines.

Water would carry the oil slick down by the church, the library, behind the old Long Bell Lumber Yard, and then on down past the jail. It was really slick and oily, and made a real wonderful water slide. It went under the streets on the way thru town and was a great place to play after a good rain. That was ‘TIL the Rev. Ralph Patterson called my Mother and told her what we were doing. Then the fun was over, but it was a good time ‘til he ratted on us.

It was fun. We never intended to drown or get stuck under the streets like Mother explained that we could. Today kids have to PAY to ride a water slide, and they aren’t nearly as long or as slick as “the old oil branch”. She even explained to us that it came right through Reeder Thornton’s barn lot and picked up some of that “stuff”. I guess today the EPA would call it e-coli or some funny name like that.

Guess that’s enough for today. If you like these kind of “memory” stories, let me know. I’ve got LOTS of ‘em. Check out for some stories about the old Babcock’s Store as well as some current adventures of this Old Codger.

Bill Babcock

Waiting on the cable guy...

For those of you who have not been longtime readers of my blog, you probably aren’t aware that I am an aspiring writer of songs.

Notice, I didn’t say writer of good songs. Sometimes, I like to take the words from a particular song and change them around a little bit to suit my feelings.

Yesterday, the cable guy was going to come out, sometime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The following were my thoughts, sung to the tune of "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay".

Sorry, Otis. It’s a little ditty I like to call…

"Waiting On The Cable Guy"

Waiting without the TV on
I'll be really hacked when the evening comes
Staring at the blank screen
And I yell at it again

Waiting on the cable guy
Watching the hours roll away
I'm just waiting on the cable guy
Wasting time

Got an upset tummy midday
Good thing I had some air spray
Pulled weeds in the flower bed
Got sunburned on my bald head

So I'm just...
Waiting on the cable guy
Wondering what’s on my favorite channel
I'm just waiting on the cable guy
Wasting time

By gosh, something’s gotta change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what Dish people tell me to do
But I sure won’t remain the same

Sittin here missing my HD
And this sadness won't leave me alone
It's been seven hours I waited
Sure hope to see the evening news
Now, I'm just...

Waiting on the cable guy
Watching the hours roll away
I'm just waiting on the cable guy
Wasting time

Thank you, thank you!

I know, that was a special moment the first time you read something so moving, isn’t it?

The cable guy arrived 3ish, so it wasn’t too bad. Surprise! As Gomer used to say, I actually knew him. He got us hooked up in no time, so now in addition to knowing him, I consider him a friend. A good friend.

After being without television for a week, life is good.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Keeper of the e-mails

Cynthia, I’m happy to say, has dubbed me “keeper of e-mails.”

She is much too busy with her job, two hand bell choirs, and all the things she does around here, so I am proud to do my part and help her out by keeping up with all the e-mails. That way I can tell her when she gets one that needs to be answered right away and can keep up with all I need to answer immediately, or otherwise. Sorta, you know, like, being a personal secretary.

In one of Bill Babcock’s first blogs on his ‘other’ blog site, he mentioned his wife Joan was the computer literate one in his family. Cynthia is also in this family. She can do pretty much anything on a computer that I want or need done, including layout and photos, such as the booklet I (correction: we) did for our HHS Reunion some four years ago.

Bill, BTW (an email shortcut I have learned), will be joining our blog site, soon, according to an email he sent me this morning. You, too, will find Bill’s blogs interesting.

Anyway, I read Craig’s blog this morning that he received an e-mail from South Africa, wanting to make him a very wealthy man. I, too, have received those same type of e-mails. Pretty much like Craig, I choose to ignore them.

Mainly, because Cynthia has told me I should.

Being the “keeper” of the e-mails, though, allows me receive all of the ones with jokes and/or photos. If there are any too crude for Cynthia to read, or view, I can delete them. And if any of these are forwarded you now know who sent them!

She receives plenty from her fellow hand bell members and some from her hand bell ringers at the church. I make darn sure she is aware of them

More important than that, I alert her immediately if she gets one from her daughter or her niece Melissa that contain pictures of her granddaughters or her great-nephews.

I get plenty of funny jokes from Bill (Babcock), Wayne Driver, another former Heavenerite who is a truck driver and now lives near Joplin, Missouri, and Doug Thompson, Cynthia’s former boss, who lives in Longview. I get ones from Laura Roszak, Cynthia’s cousin, and my friend Jim Patterson, who keeps me informed of things in Heavener (that he has heard), on the web about Heavener and just things in general.

Another thing I try to do is keep everybody informed about funerals. So, when I receive a death notice (like from the Ft, Smith newspaper), I have a list of Heavener contacts I send them to.

Also, I get ones from MLB and I register every time, so I’m eligible in case I win a trip to the all-star game in Yankee Stadium.

I get ones from travel places, (you know, destinations) and some leaning toward RVing. Cynthia and I plan when she retires a year or so from now, to take a trip to California in our RV. See we belong to this place called 1000 trails, and we can stay there free.

There are 1000 Trails parks all along the California coast , and up the west coast, so that’s something we are looking forward to with great anticipation, that is, if the gasoline doesn’t get so expensive we can’t go on such a trip. She wants to make a similar trip up the eastern seaboard, too.

Until then I’ll keep doing my part to help and that includes being “keeper of the e-mails”.

My lucky day!


I would have to say this is one lucky day for the Craigman, wouldn’t you?

This morning, I received the following email after receiving a fairly similar one on Saturday. It’s good to know people in foreign lands are trying to help out my financial situation, isn’t it. My answer to them are at the end of each email.

Let’s take a gander, shall we?



Dear Friend,I know that this mail will come to you as a surprise. I am the director in charge of auditing and accounting section of Bank Of Africa Ouagadougou Burkina Faso in West Africa .

I Hoped that you will not expose or betray this trust and confident that i am about to expose on you for the mutual benefit of our both families.We need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of $10.5 million united states dollars immediately to your account.

The money has been dormant for years in our Bank here without any body coming for it. We want to release the money to you as the nearest person to our deceased customer(the owner of the account)who died along with his supposed next of kin in an air crash since July 2000.We don't want the money to go into our Bank treasury as an abandoned fund.

So this is the reason why i contacted you,so that we can release the money to you as the nearest person to the deceased customer. Please we would like you to keep this proposal as a top secret and delete if you are not interested.

Upon receipt of your reply,i will send you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will have 35% of the above mentioned sum if you agree to transact the business with us.In acceptance the following information stated below are required:1)Your age2)Your full name and address.3)Your marital status4)Your occupation/Profession5)Your direct telephone/Fax numbers6)Your passport details for legal operations.

Yours, Sincerely
Dr. Musa Ibrahim.




How’re they hanging, dude?

Man, I feel so lucky to receive this email and sorry to hear about your customer who died in the plane crash. Seems like that happens to a lot of bank customers in West Africa, huh? Pilots must suck down there, eh?

Hey, do you know any terrorists? Sorry Musaman, I can’t agree to transact business with you at 35 percent. I would need at least 50 percent.

Here is some of the stuff you requested. The other information will be sent after I forward the information to the FBI to find out the accuracy of this offer.

NAME: Barrack Obama
OCCUPATION: Future president of the United States
ADDRESS: Kissmybootie, Illinois




I am the manager of bill and exchange at the foreign remittance department BANK OF AFrica (B.O.A) here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of US$10.5m (TEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSANDS US DOLLAR) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer (MR. ANDREAS SCHRANNER from Munich, Germany) who died along with his entire family on Monday,31 July, 2000. in a plane crash .

Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless.some body applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidlings and laws but unfortunately we learn that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving nobody behind for the claim

It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to make this business proposal to you and releasethe money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and we don't want this money to go into the bank treasury as unclaimed bill.

The banking law and guidline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after eight years,the money will be transfered into the bank treasury as unclaimed fund The request of foreigner as , next of kin in this business is occassioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner,and a Burkinabe,cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner

I agree that 40% of this money will be for you as a respect to the provisionof a foriegn account , 10% will be set aside for expenses incurred during.the business and 50% would be for me

Thereafter, I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentage indicated Therefore, to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you arranged,you must apply first to the bank as relation or next of kin of the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number, your private telephone and fax number for easy and effective communication and location where the money will be remmitted.

Upon receipt of your reply, I shall send to you a specimen of application which you will forward to the paying bank introducing yourself and at the same time instructing bank to effect the release of the fund into your account, I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch-free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer

You should contact me immidiately as soon as you receive this message for more information Thanks for your co-operation.

Your sincerely



Thanks for your interesting offer. Have you ever heard of spell check? Or grammar? Perhaps a person of your stature could ask somebody to review your correspondence before sending out emails.

Gosh, you mean another customer died in a plane crash and left a huge sum of money? Must be contagious, huh?

I am a little worried about your offer. I did a search of MR. ANDREAS SCHRANNER and it appears this has been used in various Nigerian scam offers. Danjuma, I’m just glad this came from you and not somebody I can’t trust.

Dan, what exactly is an atom of fear. Excuse my ignorance, but that phrase is not one I have heard before.

Just go ahead and send me a cashier’s check to my address. After the check clears and I wait two months to make sure everything is okay, you can get your information, cool?

Your buddy,


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Their Biggest Fan

Yankee Stadium will be the site of this year’s Major League All-Star game, and I want to go.

It be my first and last chance to visit Yankee Stadium, since the Yankees will open new Yankee Stadium next season, and I deserve to go because I’m such a Yankees fan. Really, I’m not just saying that. Ask Cynthia.

Ask anyone that knows me. Even in my high school yearbooks, my classmates signed them with “Good luck with your Yankees” or something in reference to the Yankees.

Last season I did not miss a Yankees game after the all-star break, thanks to MLB.TV on my computer. I haven’t watched them so much this year, due to our new 50-inch TV, and also because I’m not real happy about the treatment Joe Torre was given by the Yankees brass, namely the Steinbrenners – George, Hank and Hal.

Torre has moved on and has the Dodgers doing quite well, at last glance, thank you.

But I was a Joe Torre fan and the Steinbrenners should have realized that. I mean I wrote an open letter to Brian Cashman, the GM, on HOL (the old Heavener On Line), telling him what he needed to do with the Yankees fate, and that included not getting rid of Joe Torre. I’m sure he saw it.

Still, I haven’t missed a televised game, whether it’s been on ESPN, WGN or Fox. And when they play the Rangers later this summer, it’ll be televised. I’ll get to see one game in Arlington, because Jim Patterson already has tickets for it.

And I have so much Yankees memorabilia, it’s not even funny. I have a Yankees wall right here in the office, with pictures of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Yankee banners, and a Yankee Stadium picture frame (with a photo of a future major leaguer, my grandson Brandon). And in the bedroom, I have a Yankees valet box.

Did I mention the pictures of Mantle are autographed. He even has his arm around me in one. We were very close.

The antenna ball on my truck is, what else, a Yankee ball player. And on the right side of the tailgate is a classy silver Yankee logo. OU is on the left! Cynthia wanted to get me Yankee floor mats but the madness has to stop somewhere!

I always make at least one Yankees game every time they come to Arlington to play the Rangers. I won a lottery for the opportunity to buy tickets to the Yankees game in Houston. The Astros surely chose my name because I’m such a fan. And yes, I did exercise my option! We'll be there in June.

I’ve voted for the all-star game on MLB and at every position on the American League team. I voted for a Yankee – Jason Giambi at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Derek “The Captian” Jeter at short, Alex Rodriguez at third, Jorge Posoda at catcher, and in the outfield Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera and Bobby Abreu. Even Hedeki Matsui at designated hitter. The National League all-stars? Well, whoever makes it is fine with me. And I’ve voted more than once.

MLB says I can vote up to 25 times. You can help me by logging on to and voting for them, too!

I mean, what else can I do to prove I’m a true Yankees fan?

After my baseball-playing days were over, and I turned to softball, I always wore a Yankees batting helmet. And every time I go to the doctor’s office, I wear a Yankees jersey. In fact the nurses hardly recognize me without my Yankees jersey.

I get comments about my Yankees jersey. One woman at the doctor's office finally got brave enough to ask if I had several of these shirts or did I just wear the same one every day.

Come on, people, I’m a Yankees fan-atic, through and through.

Like I said, I deserve a chance to go to Yankee Stadium. If anyone does, it’s me.

Best sport memory, Part 2

As promised in yesterday’s short and needs to be improved blog, today I shall share another of my favorite sporting memories.

Two days ago, I recalled our thrilling win over Vian in football, the last regular-season loss the Wolverines suffered for some three years.

That happened during my junior year. This memory involved my senior year, one I cherish even more than the win over Vian.

But first, I must admit the honorable Heavener High School Class of 1981 was not the greatest athletic class to ever pass through our school system. No, don’t argue! I was there, I know. We did not do that well in football, played about .500 in basketball (although we did open the new gym that year, okay with a loss) but it was in baseball where we made our mark.

We had several seniors who had started two or three years. The whole team was back from the 1980 squad, aside from future doc and weightlifting addict Lance Hamilton (who now sports a dome with less hair than I do!), so we expected to be pretty decent.

But there was one thing that always bothered me going into that season. I had never been on a team that beat Poteau. Not football, basketball, baseball, backgammon or running track against chicks.

There was a good rivalry between the two schools. We still played each other in football and had faced off since we were little squirts.

Our junior year, we came close to winning the district tournament in baseball, but thanks to getting er, ripped up and spit out by the umpiring in a game held at Carl Albert (then junior college, now state college), we came up short.

We had the better team that year. Aside from the rather one-sided umpiring, so bad that even Coach Edwards got upset, I remember future Doc Lance hit a ball that one-hopped the center-field fence. Yep, he was getting all strong and stuff. Now if he could have just thrown a ball from third to first without it one hopping and, just kidding.

So we had to wait almost another year for what we hoped would be revenge. Already that school year, we lost to Poteau in football and got creamed every time we played the Pirates in basketball.

Our first game against the Pirates that spring was part of a doubleheader in Heavener. It wasn’t close. The Wolfies unleashed a fair amount of pent-up frustration and swept Poteau in a doubleheader.

It wasn’t some dramatic win, but no victory ever felt sweeter. A week or so later, we lost the first game of a doubleheader at Poteau, but kicked rear in the second game.

This set up a district tournament rematch. Back then, if a team lost one game in a district tournament, their season was over.

We got to host Poteau and this time, it was a tight, back and forth game. Finally, late in the game, we broke through and built a lead. When we got the last out, the thought that we were moving on to the regional tournament was there, but we were more excited to win the district by beating Poteau.

It didn’t remove all the prior disappointments, but winning the last game against Poteau sure felt good.

It was the first time in my high-school days we advanced to the following round. The regional tournament was held in Heavener the following week, a story that will be shared on another day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Now hear this...!

For those of you expecting Greatest Sport Memories, Part 2, please wait until tomorrow. Yes, it is Saturday, but I have to work and won’t have time to write the future best-selling blog until tomorrow.

Why am I writing a condensed blog then? It is to thank all of you who have gotten involved with Heavener Blogs. We now have five writers, at least one more on the way (thank you, John), and invitations are out to several more.

Please help spread the word. If you know of somebody who might want to get involved, please tell them about the site and send me their email address so I can send them an invitation.

Again, thanks to all of you for your contributions. We can have up to 100 writers involved in this blog. One day, I hope we have that many and start a second group.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wait, I did sing, too

Oh, wait. Hold the phone. I did have a singing career, not just close, as I said in my last blog.

Cynthia reminded me after we went to bed. Yep, I did. Just ask George, Paul or … maybe that other guy. Sound familiar now, that group? John, George, Paul and Ringjo?

No, it wasn’t the Beatles. It was the “Sifters!” Ever heard of them?

We actually taped a song together, in a recording booth, no less. Yep, must have been in the late 1980s.

Myself, George (Whitley), Paul (Welitzkin) and Joe (Or Ringjo, Hale). I made that one up, just to throw you off. Ha.

The four of us, a.k.a., the staff of my sports writers from the Longview News-Journal made a day of it in Dallas and Six Flags. We all went together (back when we actually enjoyed being together) to Dallas one time.

We went the by the West End, and thought it would be neat to record a song together, on our way over to Six Flags (the one in Arlington). So, we did. We recorded the one, you know. It starts out like “Oh, the sun beats down …”

Right, that one. “Under the Boardwalk.” You’ve probably heard it before.

Just not by the above mentioned guys. It was the Drifters. We were just pretending. Really, we were. The name “Drifters” probably has some patent, or trademark, on it, so we didn’t want to steal it, for goodness sakes.

Cynthia and I get together occasionally with George and his wife and we still laugh about that day in Dallas.

We (George and I) actually heard the tape by the Sifters, and Cynthia still wonders where it is. I really don’t know, but wherever it is, you can be sure it never made it into circulation.

Best sport memory, part one

In yesterday’s exciting blog, I wrote about one of my worst sporting memories.

Today, I would like to share with you one of my more memorable memories from my competing days, with another in the next couple of days.

The first one came as a junior at good old Heavener High School. For those of you who do not remember, I was a quarterback. A slightly slow and chubby quarterback. But not bald back then, a full head of flowing blonde hair, by gosh!

I would like to point out that I believe the old Craigman holds at least two school records! The first is for interceptions in a game. Five, count em, five! You have to work awfully hard to throw that many interceptions in a game, you know.

The second is interceptions in a season. No, you don’t want to know. But enough about me and my records.

We had a very good offense that year, although the defense had some holes Roseanne Barr could run through. We had good running backs, and line and I could throw a decent pass. We also had some receivers with good hands and the ability to somehow run down some of my quackers.

The game was at home against Vian. We were 2-2 or something like that, Vian was about the same. The Wolverines always had talent back then, but we had beaten them for several years because we were tougher and better coached.

Vian had a good running back named Bobby Wright, who would later set a state record for touchdowns. He was just coming into his own, not that we were all that worried. Every other time we played him, he would get sent to the sidelines several times a game from hits, some hard, others not so hard.

The Wolverines had a new coach that year in Rick Jones, who would become one of the better coaches in this part of the state.

Bobby Wright and his brother Scotty, a freshman fullback, started off hot. Bobby was a stud, around 5-10 or so and weighing around 190. He was strong, fast and hard to tackle, which we found out quickly.

Early in the game, somebody had him tied up. I came up from my safety spot intent on laying a pounding on Bobby that would make him see stars for the rest of the night. I don’t know if I have hit somebody so hard, but all it did was knock him free and about six seconds later, he was in the end zone.

We realized this was not the typical Vian team. Soon, we trailed 20-6, and things did not look good for the Wolves.

But while Vian’s defense grew stout later in the year, we were able to move the ball on the ground and through the air. My buddy Scott Hairrell caught two touchdowns that night and the second moved us within a touchdown.

Late in the game, Vian was pinned back in its own territory. Bobby got the ball on a pitch and somehow we corralled him in the end zone for a safety. We got the ball back and moved down the field, eventually scoring a touchdown to take the lead.

When Vian got the ball back, instead of playing the usual offense, the Wolverines went into some spread formation, which was a big relief to us. We stopped them one last time and won the game, 22-20.

At the time, it didn’t seem so memorable. But that was the last regular-season game Vian lost for the next three years. The Wolverines won their district and went deep into the playoffs that year and made the state finals the next season.

They also got more than a little revenge a year later, beating us 56-16.