Rarely do I continue a column subject longer than one week. But then again, it is very difficult to summarize or condense 35 years of memories into one brief column space.
Staying in one line of business for three and a half decades is a milestone in one's life. The newspaper business has had its ups and downs for me over the years. It has helped put food on the table, help cloth the family, kept a car in the garage and a roof over our heads. The downside has been the long hours, frequently at night and weekends, which takes you all too often frequently away from the family.
For most of my life, sports have been a passion. I wasn't a major participant but I did play Little League baseball, some tennis occasionally and intramural softball and basketball in college. I have always enjoyed watching the three major sports – baseball, football and basketball –particularly professional sports. So, when I got the opportunity to cover my old high school's football and other sporting events, it was like a dream come true for me.
My first road trip, if I recall correctly, was to West Memphis. Richard Milton, my editor, his son, Ricky, the staff photographer and some other family members, climbed into the company van and proceeded about 40 miles south down I-55. For the most part it was a fairly uneventful journey. Richard primarily went along for the ride as I took the notes and Ricky the photos.
On the return trip, Richard attempted to hasten the trip home by traveling around the 80 mph range. I watched in awe as a state police car came barreling down on us and got right on our bumper. He quickly swerved into the outside lane and proceeded down the interstate at break neck speed.
Richard breathed a sigh of relief and said, “I guess it wasn't us he was after.”
My next road adventure would top that. After a couple of games in the comfortable confines of Seminole Stadium, it was time for a 2 plus hour trip to Newport. Thinking we had plenty of time and of course knowing the way, we began the excursion.
Somewhere around Marked Tree, we managed to make a wrong turn, or failed to make a turn and wound up in the tiny community of Birdeye. Now, when I say tiny I mean tiny. I think there were a general store and a post office. This time, Ricky, Chuck, a dear friend of mine from Harding College (now university) and myself were along for the ride.
We had traveled for miles and this was the first sign of civilization. We entered the store, politely bought a chocolate bar and asked, “Oh by the way are we anywhere near Newport?” The man laughed heartily and replied, “Not hardly. You've probably gone about 50 miles or so out of the way.”
Page 2 of 2 - We merrily went on our why humming the theme from The Twilight Zone. How we managed to get to the stadium and into the press box before kickoff I still can't figure out.
The adventure didn't end there. On the way out of town, we managed to make another wrong turn and wound up in Tuckerman. My first thought was Tucker prison and we all nearly panicked.
Since that time, I have brushed up on my Arkansas geography. However, it wasn't until several years later that I learned just how far out of the way we really were. Birdeye is much closer to Wynne than Newport.
That Osceola Seminole football squad had a couple of familiar faces on their roster. Maurice Carthon, who had a solid career with the New York Giants and I believe is still an NFL assistant coach, was the primary running back. County western singer Buddy Jewell was the quarterback.
While the team performed only so-so on the gridiron (6-4), I was impressed with both of those young men. Somehow, I knew they were going to be something special.
I've still barely scratched the surface of a 35-year career. When or if a 40th anniversary rolls around I will share a few more memories. Until then.