Thursday, September 24, 2009
I took a trip back in time Saturday.
Normally late on Friday nights, after I get home from covering one of our Marshall County football teams, I get on the Internet and look for the score of the Hamilton, Ala., Aggies, my alma mater.
I couldn’t find the score this time, so Saturday morning I telephoned one of my all-time best friends, Les Walters, managing editor of The Journal-Record newspaper in Hamilton. Les was the best man in my wedding back in 1989 – 20 years ago come November 25.
Come to find out, bad weather meant the postponement of the Aggies’ game at nearby Winfield. And it was a rather odd postponement. Hamilton enjoyed a 7-0 lead about midway through the first quarter when lightning and heavy rainfall hit. At about 9 p.m., they decided to send the fans home and resume the game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Come on over,” Les said. “It will be like old times.”
I thought about it, and believe it or not, got a little bored Saturday afternoon watching college football, so I put on my water-proof boots and headed to Alabama.
Les helped tremendously with my newspaper training. I worked for him at the now defunct Hamilton Progress while in college and then for two years after graduating from the University of North Alabama.
He put me on the sidelines covering football when I was “green.” I still keep notes on Friday nights the way Les taught me, and of course, he schooled me on how to take photos at the same time.
But I also learned quickly that weekly newspaper work doesn’t encompass just one responsibility. I was selling ads, writing feature stories, covering the crime beat and even running a newspaper delivery route.
I remember the “all-nighters” getting the newspaper to press. I remember that first trek with the sheriff’s department to a marijuana field. And I recall so much more.
I had not been to a Hamilton, Ala., football game in probably 15 years or more. This one was a good one to pick. The Aggies and the Pirates are in the same county and bitter rivals.
Some of my fondest memories from high school are ball games – football, basketball or baseball – versus Winfield. I recall the time we embarrassed them in football 56-8 and then our 20-0 victory my senior year. Estes Hudson Stadium hadn’t changed much over the years and helped rekindle some of those memories.
I saw many familiar faces, talked with some former basketball and baseball teammates (I did not play football) and sat with a couple of long-time friends. I saw others doing a double-take, as if to say, “I think I know that guy.” And I did a few of those myself.
But to be honest, I didn’t recognize a lot of folks, and it made me feel really old.
Hamilton won the game 32-6 and improved to 4-0.
I recognized some of the players’ last names and when I’d ask, I found out I knew some of the dads.
The best part of the trip was the ride to and from the game with Les. We laughed and laughed – talking about experiences while working together in the newspaper business and sharing similar experiences while running our respective newspapers today.
It was well worth the ride.
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