Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Trip Had A Hitch...

During the summer break from college in 1954, I sold Bibles door to door in Dallas. Since I did not have a car, I did a lot of hitchhiking which was considered safe in those days.

Soon the summer passed and it was time to go home. My parents lived on Voth Road (now Concord Road) at Redwood Drive in Beaumont. This was just a few blocks from 11th Street near the Minglewood Addition.

I began hitchhiking home one morning about 10 o’clock. My intentions were to travel south on US 75 to Houston and then head over to Beaumont on US 90. The Interstate highway system did not yet exist. The first car that picked me up went to Ennis. It was there that I decided to take US 287 right into Beaumont thinking it would be quicker.

The next car that picked me up went for about ten miles then let me out as the driver needed to turn onto another road. Then I caught a ride with a car that went all of fifteen miles. Then I got a ride that lasted about 12 miles.

It dawned on me that the people driving on highway 287 were not traveling very far. They were making more local-type runs. It took seventeen separate vehicles to reach Beaumont. Three of those rides are unforgettable.

One of those three was a route delivery man taking bread to area country stores. He said, “I’ll give you a lift but you will have to make my stops with me on my route.” I agreed and climbed aboard his bread van. Soon he turned off of the highway and made his way down a country road to a small grocery store. He carried some bread into the store. Then we drove to another little store and went through the same routine. It became apparent to me that I was not getting anywhere. The next time he got to the highway, I thanked him and told him I thought I’d try to find a ride that was going on through the area.

The next memorable moment happened when an old couple driving a pickup stopped. There were only two seats in the pickup so I had to ride in the back with a bunch of loaded down feed sacks. I leaned up against the sacks as I was fairly close to the open tailgate and did not want to fall out of the truck. Those sacks smelled pretty strong and I recall thinking, “That feed sure must have a lot of chemicals.”

Eventually the couple had to turn off so they stopped to let me out. I told them, “Thanks and by the way, what’s in those feed sacks?” The old rancher replied, “Oh that’s cow manure for our gardens.”

My last ride is memorable as it was the one that brought me into Beaumont. By now it was about 10 ‘clock that night. The man asked me what I had been up to. I told him that I had left home a couple of months ago and had decided to return home. He said with emotion in his voice, “I think that’s wonderful. Your parents will be so glad to see you.”

I realized the man thought I was a runaway teen coming home like the prodigal son. He dropped me off on 11th Street just a few blocks from my house. I never told him any different. I suppose to this day that he remembers the night he helped a penitent teenager to return home.

If ever you hitchhike from Dallas to Beaumont, do not take US 287. In fact these days I say, “Don’t hitchhike at all.”

Winston Hamby

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I Am Bowled Over...Or Rather, Over-Bowled...

Perhaps they should have it but they don’t. I was going to propose it but probably won’t. The interest in such a thing might be great but likely not. Sound like going around in circles? It is because I am fed up and here is why.

Last year about this time I wrote a column about bowl games. The column explained why I was bowled over with these endless competitions. It was centered on bowl games at the college level.

This current column has to do with the professional level of bowl games such as the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. However let’s back up a little bit. There were AFC and NFC championship games to determine which two teams would meet in the Super Bowl. Then the Pro Bowl stayed in the mix for whatever reason. You see, the Pro Bowl was made up of champion-level players who happened not to be on one of the Super Bowl teams. The Super Bowl team players who were named to play in the Pro Bowl did not want to risk injury playing in the Pro Bowl so they just stood on the sidelines and watched the next to the best players vie for the same whatever.

My proposal is that there should be a Pooper Bowl. Why not? With all the other bowl games played each year, surely a Pooper Bowl could find a place.

You may ask, “What is a Pooper Bowl?” A Pooper Bowl would be a football game between the two worst teams in the NFL and here is how it would work.

The AFC would have a loser playoff game between the two worst teams in their division. The loser of that game would advance to the Pooper Bowl. Of course the NFC would do the same thing. This way, you could be sure that the Pooper Bowl was played between the two worst professional football teams in the country. The referees could be chosen from those men who blew the most calls during the regular season.

Think about it. This would be an opportunity for losers to excel in losing. You see, the team that lost the Pooper Bowl actually would get the trophy for their excellence in losing. The winners would go home empty-handed.

And the players would compete for that coveted MUP Award. MUP stands for “Most Unvalued Player.” How would you like to be voted the MUP on the worst team in the NFL?

And the half-time show? That would be a riot. The entertainment would be made up of those who failed their auditions for American Idol. You would not need a sound system and most likely not even a stage. After all, no one is going to pay attention to a bunch of losers.

The cheerleaders would consist of those ladies who were voted out first in The Biggest Loser debacle. I can’t wait to see them in their skimpy outfits. Especially when they do a pyramid.

One of their cheers could be,

“Two, four, six, eight,
Who do we appreciate?
All for the losers
Stand up and bellyache.”

Then everyone could stand up and boo and bellyache to their hearts’ content. The players would love it knowing they had the crowd behind them.

What really irks me about all of this sporting frenzy is that those behind the scenes continually are grabbing for money. That is not all bad. It’s just that they pretend to be interested in sports while actually milking the public of all the dollars they can. Our nation is just freaked out on sports.

So why not have a Pooper Bowl? It might make money. And now you know why I am fed up.

Winston Hamby