Life Lessons & Hail

Posted in Eternal Love | 4 comments

Life Lessons & Hail

There was never a dull moment in our lives while we lived in La Pryor, and we thanked God for that.

Frank loved basketball. I think of all the sports he played that basketball was his favorite.  He had the most beautiful hook shot, and he tried hard to teach me how to do it, but to no avail.  Time would only tell if Scotty would take after Frank or me in shooting the hook shot, but we prayed Scotty had more of Frank’s genes for playing basketball.

Frank was a great coach and respected by his players as a fair coach who would teach them the game but was never afraid to discipline them in a just way.  Of course, not every parent would approve of his discipline, but that did not matter to Frank.  Teaching teamwork was essential to Frank, and he believed that there was no “I” in the word team, only us.  Also, Frank felt that whether you won or lost the game, the real deal was how you played the game.  A Senior who was on Frank’s basketball team decided to challenge Frank on the teamwork, and it did not work out well for that Senior.

This Senior had been offered scholarships in basketball to a few colleges during his Junior year, and his idea was that it was all about him. Also, he did not believe the rules applied to him, and he did not think teamwork should exist because he was the only player who mattered. His main objective was to get the ball, so he could shoot it and score points to up his average for the College Scouts who came to watch him play.

Frank knew that this young man was full of himself, and he was working on trying to make him a team player, but the young man made a big, big mistake. The Senior decided to show up late for practice and was very drunk. Frank took him aside and told him that he would have to stay after practice and run laps on the track. The young man rebelled then told Frank that he did not have to do that and would not do that.

Well, that did not go over well with Frank, but once again Frank tried to give the young man one more chance then told the Senior that he would sit the bench during the next game. The Senior reminded Frank that his Daddy was on the School Board, and he would be playing the next game. Left with no other choice, Frank told the young man that he was off of the team unless he ran the laps or set on the bench for one game.  The Senior angrily let Frank know that his Daddy would fire Frank and then quit the team.

The next practice the Juniors on the team came up to Frank and quit the basketball team too.  Well now, Frank was left with only Sophomores and Freshmen.   They were some very young men but had hearts as big as Texas.  The next game they got lost 100 to 2, but they played hard.  The Senior and his Junior buddies came to the game to laugh and make fun of the team.   Frank ignored them, and you could see that he distracted the team from listening to them too.

At the next practice, Frank told them that they would work on increasing their scores to decrease the gap in the scores between them and the other teams they played.  Frank explained to them that this would be their goal.   All of these young men not only came to regular practice, but they stayed hours later to work on their shooting and plays.  Frank was so proud of them, and he came home late, but I made sure he had a hot supper on the stove waiting for him.  Sometimes Scotty and I went to the gym to take all of them homemade cookies or brownies then we watched them practice.

Each of the next three games the team played the scores narrowed between them, and their opponent and the team celebrated after each game as if they had won the game.   Scotty and I cheered from the stands, and for some reason, the Senior and his buddies quit making fun of the young men on the court playing their hearts out.

On a Monday morning, the Junior boys who had quit the team came to Frank and asked him how they could get back on the team.  Frank told them that they would have to run laps after practice every day for two weeks then work their way off of sitting on the bench.  They all agreed to Frank’s terms and did as he said.  The next game he played them each a few minutes.  The Juniors never actually sat on the bench but stood up yelling and encouraging the Sophomores and Freshmen.  I could tell from Frank’s face that his heart was full of love and pride for these young men who were learning a life lesson.  My heart was full of love and pride for the young men, but also for the young Dimpled-faced Coach who loved those young men enough to teach them it is not just about winning.

The Senior sat in the stands by himself, watching as the team played.  When the team only had three more games to finish the season, one day before practice, the Senior came to the gym and wanted to talk to Frank.  He apologized to Frank then asked if there was any way, he could get back on the team.  Frank told him that he would have to run laps every weekday after practice and on Saturday mornings early,  he would be on the bench and he would not get to play during the games.  The Senior agreed and did everything Frank asked of him.  The next game the Senior stood by Frank the whole game encouraging the other players.  Frank talked to the young man and involved him in setting up plays.

The last game of the season the Senior stood by Frank’s side like an Assistant Coach. The team was ahead in points and three minutes remained in the game when Frank called a timeout then told the Senior to go into the game.  Frank said to him that the play was for everyone to pass the ball to him and for him to shoot making as many points as he could for three minutes. The Senior looked shocked, thanked Frank, then ran on to the basketball floor.

The game began again, and the team kept passing the ball to the Senior, but he would pass the basketball back to them telling them to shoot the ball. I looked at Frank, and he was smiling with tears in his eyes. The Senior hugged Frank tightly after the game and Frank held back tears. I stood there watching them embrace holding Scotty’s hand with tears running down my cheeks, and knowing in my heart that I had been blessed to marry such an amazing man.

Basketball ended but then track season began.  Frank and Tommy were very busy.  Frank was also coaching a young woman in tennis.  Frank had not played tennis in school, but he had always played with his parents and some friends.  Frank could play matches against the Sophomore girl who became a regional champ that year and would win nearly every time.  He just knew how to use that racket to hit that tennis ball.   Frank tried to teach me, but my best shots were home runs over the high fence.

While Frank was coaching tennis and track, I played softball on a women’s team.  I had not played in years, but it was a lot of fun.  I pitched and played First base.  Scotty would trade out being with Frank or me in the afternoons.  When Frank and Tommy had a track meet Scotty, and I would ride with them, and the team to the Track Meets, and we would do the same for tennis tournaments.

With Spring came some exciting weather in La Pryor.  Storms that produced tornadoes and hail were not something Frank had experienced a lot, but I lived in the Panhandle for many years as a child, so I knew tornadoes, sandstorms, and hail.

“Hail”

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, Frank, Scotty, and I were out in our back yard.  Frank and Scotty were playing baseball while I was hanging out our clothes to dry on the clothesline.

When walking back to go into the house, I noticed a strange cloud off to the West in the sky. Immediately, I called back to Frank, asking him to look at the sky. Frank walked over to me, then asked me what I thought was coming. The sky was dark with a brown colored cloud, and from childhood experiences, I knew that what we were looking at off in the distance was a dust cloud. I told Frank that it was a dust storm coming and we needed to go im inside.

Quickly, Frank helped me take the still damp clothes off of the clothesline, then he picked up Scotty, and we all headed into the house.  Since all of the windows were open in the house, Frank and I ran through the rooms closing the windows while Scotty played in his room.  Once all of the windows were down, Frank and I went to the front porch.  Our home faced the West so that we could see from the front porch the coming storm.

Soon the wind picked up, and we could hear the roar of the storm.  Scotty came out onto the porch from our living room, but I took him back inside because I knew that the dirt would soon be flying in the air all around us.  Frank stood there in amazement at what he was seeing, but I convinced him to come inside so we could close the front door.  Frank and I made it inside the house just in time as the winds and dirt blew around the outside of the house, but suddenly we heard a loud pounding on the roof of our home.

Frank opened the front door, and the dust was gone, and hail had taken over its place.  Evidently, the dust cloud we had seen approaching was caused by hail hitting the plowed fields kicking up the dirt to create a large dust cloud.  The dust cloud was like something I had never seen before, but I knew from lessons taught when you see hail there are tornadoes near, but before I could say something to Frank, he decided to go out on to the front porch again, so I followed him.  Frank was in total awe of what he saw then suddenly ran off of the porch into the yard, grabbing handfuls of the big hailstones.  I yelled at him to get back up on the porch, but he was laughing and dodging the hail.

Finally, Frank ran back up on to the porch, and in his hand, he had a hailstone the size of a baseball.  He told me to put it in the freezer so we could save it.  I told Frank that I would only do that if he stayed on the porch. I explained to Frank that the large hailstones could kill him if they hit him in the head.

As I turned to go inside the house, my warnings to Frank had no impact as he ran out into the yard again.  Too scared to leave the porch, I pitched the dang hailstone back into the yard. Suddenly, Frank came running back up on the porch, had even bigger hailstones in his hands, but he was not smiling, and he was pale. He told me that he had just witnessed a large hailstone hit a cow in the field next to our home, and the cow fell to the ground. Frank was sure that the cow was dead. I looked at Frank in horror then I reminded him that was the reason I had asked him not to go out into the yard running around in the “dagnabbit” hail. Of course, he just smiled, kissed my cheek then ran into the house to put the hailstones into the refrigerator freezer.

After the hail stopped, we all went outside to see if the cow was okay, and we were thrilled to see that the cow was up off of the ground and standing.  Since we had onion fields all around us, there was the aroma of onions in the air.  The hailstones had pounded the onion fields, and for weeks, we would live with the smell of rotting onions. Frank, Scotty, and I took a drive into town, and we could see that either a tornado or violent winds had wrapped irrigation pipes around fence posts and telephone poles all around us.  After we returned to our home, Frank took the hailstones out of the freezer and showed them to Scotty.  Frank pointed out the small hailstones inside the hail as he held them to the light for Scotty to see.  Scotty looked at the hailstones then he looked at Frank, and I could tell from Scotty’s eyes that his Dad was his only hero.   That night I thanked God for his blessings on the two dimpled-faced fearless guys in my life and me.  Definitely, God had looked out for us that day.

Of course, these are just a few of the adventures that we had in La Pryor, Texas, but the ones that hold a special place in my memory.

At the end of the school year, Frank decided that he would like to apply to a larger school. He wanted to coach an eleven man football team. Also, Frank had a desire to relocate us to a more middle of the state location, which would put us in between the towns where our parents lived allowing us to make more visits and them too.

Frank, Scotty, and I drove to Hico, Texas, to spend a few weeks with with my Grandmother while Frank applied and interviewed schools around the Waco, Texas, area. Frank applied then interviewed in Hubbard, Texas, with the Head Coach there and the School Board. Hubbard ISD hired Frank to teach History, Health, and to be the Defensive Line Coach. Soon after, Frank, Scotty, and I visited Hubbard, Texas, and found a home to rent. This home was so different from the little white house in La Pryor, but I will never forget the house in La Pryor that we made into our home.

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4 Comments

  1. touching…. I to this day can think of many people who either didn’t or haven’t learned the lessons of teamwork. It is refreshing to read of someone who stuck to his guns and made a difference.

    • Thank you so much Kim. The Senior ended up getting a scholarship from a College whose scout had been to every game and witnessed all that occurred. The Scout told Frank he had taught that that young man a life lesson which would change the young man’s life.
      Thank you for reading and commenting Kim. You and Frank shared so many of the same life experiences.
      God Bless You,
      Nancy

  2. Another great story. It’s funny that you are talking about teamwork, and tonight I started to watch a movie about a football coach who instilled in his high school team that the only way they could win was by working together. It is based on a true story. I think it’s called “When the Team Stands Tall”.

    Did you delete something between the last two paragraphs? You have this line: “Frank, Scotty, and I drove to Hico, Texas, to spend a few weeks with her” but I can’t figure out who “her” is referring to. Did I miss something? 🙂

    • Thank you so much Diane. That her should have been my Grandmother. I guess somewhere it didn’t take. I fixed it. Seems no matter how hard I edit, I miss some things. In Hubbard, Tx another young man will learn a life lesson from Frank then they will meet again years later and the young man will thank Frank.
      Frank was a true teacher of young people and he wanted them all to succeed in life.
      God Bless You,
      Nancy

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