By Otis Griffin
Mr. Billy Simpson was the first coach that Rosemark University had when I was lapping up my learning. Until he organized the three sports and pitted against other Shelby County schools the contests had resembled coon hunts with the coons firing the guns while the dogs and chasers shimmied up the tree trunks.
Believe it or not, but at one time many blue moons ago small communities were very close knit as individuals pitched in for a common cause and didn’t worry about who got the credit. Not so nowadays. With assistance from many in the community such as Mr. McCallum, Mr. Vaughn, Mr. Henry Williams, our beloved janitor, the Wylie. Smith, Thompson and Moore families along with the Barret and McCalla families plus many more Mr. Simpson trudged around and wrangled up some football equipment.
Friends, we were probably the first community in the world that initiated the terminology of “One size fits all.” At least it appeared that way. Additionally I believe our little school started the present day trend of trying to hold up yo’ britches with one hand as they were so oversized each fell down to our knees. It sho’ was hard to practice with one hand trying to tackle and the other tentacle grasping for yo’ draw’s hopefully before you tripped and got yo’ noggin’ rearranged.
Imagine playing defense, with the uniform nine sizes too huge trying to hang on and here comes George Robert and Herman Ray blocking with Ed Haley toting a former Hampshire sow now made into pigskin called a ball.
Alas he is begging you to get in front of him so he could grind you in the hard clay ground while reminding you with, “if you can’t stand the heat, well get out of the kitchen.” Often I wanted out of the kitchen, out of the house, the yard and the hog lot before I got ground into chit’lin stew.
Emerson said he thought some of this gear had been worn by Red Grange, Jim Thorpe or the famous four horsemen from Notre Dame. Thurman Tim chimed in with, “what about Ole Charlie Conerly as I think I got his shirt on back’ards.” Since Arvis, Tommy and Lynn were so smart they ‘figgered’ this thing out.
Neighbor we got some sea grass string hanging from nails on barn walls saved from hay bales and some leather strips used to restring ball gloves and clod hoppers to wrap around our loose fitting duds. This took up the slack as only perpetuated by a redneck.
Momma tried to down size in her sewing but she could only perform so many miracles. When I yanked the belt through the metal grabbers there was enough belt dangling for a fishing line still flopping. Inside some of the britches were slots for thigh pads or we were told.
Usually one was missing and big Paul had his pads bottom side up’ards as no one really knew how this so called uniform should fit. If you asked one of the older mean boys you would get another smoking knuckle rub on your noggin.
We did the best we could with the old worn out uniforms, but my memories will never wear out. Just like king cotton…Country sowed and Country growed…Glory!