Hall of Honor: This time it’s personal—redux
While I was thrilled as my friends and classmates Martin Stroman, Odis Mack and Ray Locklin were rightfully inducted into the Hall of Honor last season, it was equally fulfilling to see this group go in as well Friday night.
Our two classes were almost inseparable. They might as well have called us the Class of 1976-77.
It was an especially emotional evening for coaches Fred Johnson, Lew Simmonds and Dick Wiegand and I never thought I would see the day when these men, who were so hard on us and pushed us to rise to our potential, would be so touched by being honored by this body.
“When I see all these guys, they have grey hair and I know they are 50 years old. But when I look at them, I see the faces of the 17 year olds that I coached,” said Lew Simmonds.
I would also like to report that all three coaches’ hair would not have passed the hair code that they enforced.
At the game, as Coach Simmonds took in Tiger Stadium and all its changes during the game, his eyes suddenly stopped at the press box.
“Whatever happened to Joe Wayne Cleveland?”
I informed him that Joe Wayne was still videoing the football games, this being his 42nd year to do so.
Without hesitation, Simmonds marched off the field, climbed the bleachers and manuevered through the press box to seek out someone he had not seen in 30 years.
Simmonds revealed he used to take advice from Cleveland on play calling during their press box days.
“He hasn’t changed at bit,” Simmonds said after returning to the field.
Hall of Honor inductees who returned for this year’s ceremony included Mack, Vernon Guest, Ernie Wayne Laurence, Liz Galloway-McQuitter, Matthew “Doc” Cook and Bill Cooke.
Of course, Clyde Luetge, Dickie Summers and the family of Weldon Alford were there to see family members enter the Hall.
With Jackie Thompson’s inclusion, he and Summers make up the first brother-inlaws in the Hall.
With Weldon Alford, Randy J. Morgan provides the Hall with its first father-in-law— son-in-law combination.
Randy J. and I of course have been friends since we were 16 years old.
We became friends after I took a swing at him at a junior varsity football game.
I guess he figured if I was crazy enough to take a punch at him, I was indeed nuts, and someone he wanted to get to know better.
We’ve been friends ever since.
Randy J. and I have had many great times together and on a recent trip in our well documented trip to an LSU football game, we had one of those moments of growing up and getting older.
Before we left Baton Rouge, we stopped to eat at Mike Anderson’s restaurant, which is close to Tiger Stadium.
Anderson is a former Tiger player and the food is fantastic (try the cole slaw).
Anderson’s is not well lit and as the waitress brought us our menus, both of us realized that we could neither see nor read the items on the menu.
We both patted ourselves down and realized we did not have our reading glasses with us.
I jumped up, went to the car and retrieved our glasses.
As I handed him his glasses and I adjusted mine on my face, we began to peruse the menu (double order of cole slaw). I could only smile. It felt familiar, it felt comfortable.
I thought of that when Coach Simmonds was speaking Friday night, talking about “seeing the faces of 17-year olds.”
We’re all getting older, but we’re getting older together.