Friday, November 28, 2008

Memories

It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote a story for the Heavener Ledger as a tribute for my good friend Mike Mattison, who was ill and later passed away. I received as many requests for a copy of that story as any I ever have written. Gayle Wilson ( Butler ) asked me about it. Clyde Raines, Dennis West, Steve Mattison and others wanted a copy of it. I also later put it on the old Heavener On Line.

Here is the printed story, in its entirety:
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Memories of ‘The Second Street Gang’
By John Inman

Visiting with a long-time, close friend, Mike Mattison, recently brought back many, many memories. He and I have been friends for over 45 years, so there plenty of experiences on which to reflect back.

I remember the time Mike’s uncle Don probably saved my life after I had somehow fallen into the basement of the First Baptist Church . Mike hollered and Don came running from across the street at Mrs. Mattison’s old house. Don’t ask how I fell in.

I remember the time – times, that is – Mike and I would always plot to “hurt” his younger brother, Steve, so he couldn’t follow us around.

I’m also sure practically every part of Heavener had its little “gangs.”

We were no different. The “ 2nd Street Gang” was some 27 or so strong, however, I probably can’t even remember everyone. From Tim Livesay at the top of street to Ray Gaskin at the bottom, there were a group of guys and a couple of girls in a four-block area. And the street was ours, baby.

Many a baseball and football game was played on that street. Many people knew better than to drive in that four-block span on a bright, sunny afternoon or Saturday during the summer, because there was always some of the “gang” playing our versions of the World Series or NFL championship.

There was no Super Bowl, yet.

Ever heard of three-step? It’s a football game any number can play. One member of one team throws or punts the ball to the other. If the ball is caught, it meant getting to take three running steps, then either throwing or punting the ball back. When the ball finally got past a certain point, somewhere down the block, a winner was declared.

Maybe the best punter was Mike Mattison. One of the best passers was Jerry Jack Stewart, who didn’t live on 2nd Street , but lived the next street over and was a provisional member. One of the best young players, as much as I hate to admit it, was Steve Mattison .

The game was played into the night sometime, as long as we could see the ball by the light of the corner streetlight.

Oh, we played hours upon hours of baseball in the middle of the street, usually in front of Russell Walker ’s house. John Harvey Edmunds would stand and watch us as he ate a pastry.

If we weren’t in the street, there was a good chance we were behind the old Phillips’ 66 station or hiding in old man Gear’s barn.

Bob Mobley and Bill Pearson were always good to help us build something with wood. They could usually build anything with wood. So could Joe Babcock in his family’s Hobby Shop. Even a boat!
We all hoped for just a few minutes of Gayle Wilson’s time. She lived across the street from me, so I had lots of visitors. We sat and dreamed of when Gayle might run from the back of her house where she was sunbathing to see who might be honking a horn as they drove by.

Jan Jackson, who lived two blocks up the street, had her share of visitors, too.
There were a zillion nights we spent sleeping on my front porch, too. Or, in the back yard and roaming the neighborhood after hours.

The list of stories is endless.

Here’s an attempt to name the “ 2nd Street Gang.” If I’ve forgotten any, please accept an apology. After all we’re talking the early 1960s.
Tim Livesay, John Locke, James Locke, Don Ryburn, Jan Jackson, Dennis West , Jerry West , Irb Wakefield, the Raines brothers, Clarence, Claude and Clyde, Len Menefee (Mattisons’ cousin who visited every summer from Houston), Russell Walker , John Harvey Edmunds, Bill Pitchford, Ray Gaskin , Gayle Wilson, David Grubbs, Jerry Jack Stewart and Butch Inman (no relation).
(John Inman is Sports Information Director for LeTourneau University and a free-lance sportswriter in Longview , TX )
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3 Comments:

At November 28, 2008 at 8:44 AM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Touching story, John. I suppose our memories are somewhat biased by our age, but it sure does seem like those times were a lot simpler and safer than now. We used to play three-step on the Independence Road (now Avenue I--such a mundane name!!!). It was not paved in those days and no one traveled it at more than 30 or 35 mph. Now it is paved and has very fast traffic (too fast for safety) on it so a kid would be risking his life to play in it.

 
At November 28, 2008 at 9:22 AM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Thanks John, Memories can be fun and at the same time somewhat sombering.
Like Glen said I am sure they are biased by our age. Like someone has said in past blogs, we never locked a door, and car keys were routinely left in cars.
I recognize so many of the names you listed. We lived over in what was called the "Cox Addition". I don't know what it is called now. The names I remember in our gang were: Burce Smith, David King, Homer Club, Jerry Hern and there was Donald Kline (I think that was his name - he went by a nick name)he was older than us and had a learning disability. The school would just pass kids like him along with whatever class he seemed to gravitate to.

 
At December 6, 2008 at 10:01 PM , Blogger Pat Burroughs said...

Oh, so you were baptized in the basement of the First Baptist Church. Does that count? (:>))
Do you remember if it was your gang who would make a tennis "net" out of bicycles across the street so you could play tennis there? I remember driving up that street one time and a bunch of boys running to move their bikes so I could pass. Must have been a great place to live in your youth, and great memories for you.

 

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