Categorized | Opinion

Whatever It Takes To Play

By Otis Griffith

Attending Rosemark grammar school many moons ago when we passed to the fifth grade we were allowed to play organized down to earth sanctioned football.  What this meant was, we dressed as best we could in oversized so called uniforms and the big, older mean players used us for battering rams.  Three times the uniform swallowed Emerson and Mr. Henry had to use a lantern to locate him hidden under a warped thigh pad.

Mr. Billy Simpson, our coach, had borrowed some hand me down paraphernalia from        the military stationed in Guam I guess.  Needless to say the so called uniforms did not fit the young players, but that is all we had.  (Same ole story, no money then as it is now.)

Don Pate reminded me the helmets were made of hard scruffy leather with no face mask as we know today or chinstrap. Old ball players might relate, but sponge was extinct so we wadded up some worn out dish rags and stuffed a handful in the stinking top.  The holes for ears were carved out and you could have chunked a corn eating rat in both sides and never touched the edges.

We stuck rags in the ear slots to protect our hearing.  If you got lucky and tried to tackle Ed Haley, now that was an experience, and hit him with top of your head blunt on, your knob would ring like you had been hammered with a greasy number ten ball peen.

The new boys in the fifth grade had to ’fend for themselves.  So we banded together and tried to assist dressing one ’nuther.  Phil would back off and gurgle, “How do I look?  Arvis would remark, “well turn yo’ helmet around so I can see yo’ eyes.”  “You running north but the scraggly helmet is peering South.”  No one helped us rookies.  George Robert and Bub Bomar were having a field day readying up for some good fresh meat.

Wayne and Lynn went back in time to relay the britches drug the top of our so called football shoes.  We cinched our waist, draw belt up as tight as we could but there was so much belt left dangling and flapping we ‘pert nigh’ tripped over it.   Remembering we didn’t have jerseys to pull over our shoulder pads.  So a good redneck southerner makes do with what he’s got handy. Momma dug around in the dresser drawers and got one of Daddy’s worn out, see through t-shirts.  I’m set.  Almost.

In some cases Don and Tommy tied the oversized, flopping shoulder pads together with knotted up shoe strings collected from the shed after pilfering through some discarded brogans.  The straps for the shoulder pads that was supposed to fit under the armpits to secure the big pads disintegrated.  Thurman Tim was a farming genius so he came to the rescue.

He studied on it and one day told us to bring some of our Momma’s elastic she used for dresses and britches.  Thurman brought his back porch ice pick and punched some holes through the pads and ran the elastic under the arms and measured each boy.  Then he took his case pig sticker and cut off the right length and tied the ends in a solid knot.  This cured the shoulder pad problem but that elastic sho’ did rub my armpits raw as ground up hot souse.  But I’m suited out; just so I can get busted up.  This goes to prove that a country redneck and his memories will survive…Glory!


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March 2013
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