Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hard-Headed Howard ...

Does anyone know the whereabouts of Howard Crockett? I’ve tried and tried to locate him and bombed out every time. I used to refer to Howard as the “concussion kid” because he had a way of having accidents and reaping concussions.

Howard and I played trombones in the South Park High School band in Beaumont. We became good friends. One night during the halftime show at a home football game, I was assigned the embarrassing task of marching straight ahead while the rest of the band turned. The drum major, Patricia Halfin, halted the band and ordered me to get back into formation. Once more we began marching. The band turned and I marched straight ahead. Patricia halted the band, came over to where I was standing and shot me. Well, she was using a “starter’s pistol.” It fired blanks and I was thankful for that.

I think Patricia sort of enjoyed shooting me with that pistol even though it only fired blanks. I had been in love with her since the fifth grade and she was tired of my pining, I suspect. Anyway, she smiled when she pulled the trigger.

When I fell to the ground with my trombone in hand, two medical personnel ran out to me with a stretcher. They checked me over then placed my trombone on their stretcher and ran off the field leaving me for dead. So now the band was short by one trombonist. Mr. Stumpf, our band director, had a substitute on the sidelines. It was Howard Crockett. Howard began running toward the band from the sideline. He had an old beat-up trombone salvaged from the band’s instrument supply room. We had it rigged to fall apart at every joint. Howard ran onto the field, “tripped” and fell, throwing that old trombone high into the air. When it hit the ground it flew into about six or seven pieces. The crowd in the stands loved this grand production.

But what about Howard and his concussions? Well, one day Howard showed up at school with a Triumph motorcycle. It was a beautiful machine and Howard was very proud. As time went along, Howard became more daring with his motorcycle. He learned a trick where he could ride down Highland Ave. and stand up on the rear luggage carrier and hold his hands out to either side like a bird soaring in flight.

But one morning, right in front of the high school building, Howard was cruising down Highland Ave., standing on his luggage carrier. The bike did an unexpected wheelie. Howard ended up hitting his head on Highland Ave. Now, Highland Ave. was a hard paved street. Howard sustained a concussion.

On another occasion, Howard was playing on the slide fire escapes that are attached to the rear of the high school building. He climbed up one of the slides to the third floor then proceeded to slide down while standing upright on a sheet of wax paper. He did a pretty good job of balancing all the way down. But when he got to the bottom, he cart wheeled several times, banging his head on the ground every time he somersaulted. That maneuver earned Howard another concussion.

When I think of Howard, I think about our days in the South Park band and how much fun we had. But I think also of those concussions he suffered as a result of his motorcycle stunts and those fire escape routines. By the way, Howard received Detention Hall for a week as his punishment for playing on the fire escapes. That was a school “no-no.” Anyway, I’ll close as I began:

Does anyone know the whereabouts of Howard Crockett?

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise


Post a Comment

<< Home