America experienced two great tragedies in my lifetime. When I think about the dates, November 22 of ’63 and 9-11 of 2001, I can’t help but get emotional like most people, but I can also tie both of them to football and how I experienced them.
November 22 of ’63 was a Friday and it was the last football game of the year for either the Brownwood Lions or the Vernon Lions because we were playing the District Championship game in Vernon that night. Ken Schulze, the original voice of the Lions, and I had planned on leaving at 1 in the afternoon. About 12:30 we found out that bullets had been fired at the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas and at 1 they announced that President Kennedy had been killed.
We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know whether to leave or not so we called the high school where they were loading the bus. We waited a few minutes and left when they did. Back then we had no such thing as cell phones so the bus stopped in Breckenridge and we called the University Interscholastic League.
“Would the game be played?” They said they didn’t know what they were going to do and we would have to give them more time. We stopped again somewhere down the road and called again. This time, the UIL said they were telling all teams to cancel if they want or play if they want. Coach Wood got on the phone with the officials in Vernon and they said, “We’d like to play.” So we took off for Vernon to play that District Championship game (only one team to the playoffs back then).
We lost by a touchdowns that night but I don’t recall the game as much I do the environment we played in. Very little music from the bands. Very little cheering. It felt like we were doing the game in a church. I mean it was quiet.
The teams shook hands after the game and obviously one of them was happy and one of them was sad but there was no wild celebration. It was just somber.
I remember going back to Brownwood and a big crowd had gone to Vernon and therefore we were behind a huge caravan of cars. It was strange looking that night because it almost looked like an enormous funeral procession. Emotionally, that’s what it felt like.
Some teams played that night, others didn’t. Some college teams played that next day and some didn’t, and I’m pretty sure the NFL cancelled their entire schedule that Sunday. Horrible tragedy for our country and for most people. I know the people who were in Vernon that night in 1963 will never forget it.
9-11 happened on a Tuesday morning in 2001 and I had awakened about 4 a.m. and told my wife we needed to get to the hospital. I was hurting and hurting real bad. We got to the hospital and they immediately gave me some relief from the pain and then the doctor came in and said, “Draw blood.”
They drew blood and about 15 minutes later he came back and said, “He’s septic.” Some of you know what that means, but I can simply tell you that it hurt and I felt terrible. They immediately put me on several antibiotics and I ended up staying about 10 days in the hospital before they finally got the infection under control.
This was Tuesday, and were scheduled to play Odessa Permian at home that Friday. It was a highly anticipated game and I was looking forward to it, but that morning the thought of a ballgame never entered by mind.
When they finally got me into a room someone turned the TV on and I opened my groggy eyes on occasion and I kept seeing these planes flying into these buildings. I thought it was a movie being played over and over. I’d wake up every couple of hours and it was like Groundhog Day. I kept seeing the same thing over and over and over again.
It wasn’t until I got my senses back that evening that I was able to watch long enough to know that it was reality, that those airplanes had hit the buildings and just like the Kennedy death in ’63, some people had to make some tough decisions.
The Permian game in Brownwood was not cancelled and most college games weren’t cancelled either, but make no mistake, there was a strange feeling in the air. Obviously, I didn’t do the ballgame that Friday night but it got on the air.
We didn’t have any live streaming or anything like that at the time so I listened to the radio and to be honest, I don’t even remember who won (I think we did). But, I do remember that hospital stay, and the ballgame that I didn’t get to do.
Until next time, so long everybody.
‘Out of the Box’ with Dallas Huston is published each Monday morning at BrownwoodNews.com. Dallas was the radio voice of the Brownwood Lions and Howard Payne Yellow Jackets for more than 55 years. He currently is Pastor of Center City Baptist Church and hosts a Men’s Bible Study in Brownwood on Monday evenings. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com.