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The neighborhood role models, remembered

When Mr. Virgil Cochran decided to move to Tenth Street, he never knew that his home would be the hub of all activity in that area.

Mr. Cochran was a butcher at the local A&P grocery store and worked long hours. His children were Mickey, Steve and Sandra Jean, and all three were good athletes in their own rights. Their home was nestled between the Smiths’ on one side and the Gaskins’ on the other side. Their yard in the front was not too big, but their backyard was plenty big and hosted many neighborhood football games, even with sandspurs! I think we, as youngsters, were trying to impress Mickey and Steve, because they were stars that played for the Pam Pack. Mickey was a quarterback, and Steve was a running back, even though they were two years apart.

There were many memories of the Cochran home for me. Their front porch was only big enough for Mr. Cochran and his wife to sit after supper. He had worked all day and enjoyed being with his family and was so proud of his family. If he was not working, I bet he never missed a game his sons played. Mrs. Cochran always wore a white apron because she had cooked all day and prepared dinner for her family like mothers did at that time. Mickey still lives in the home he grew up in and is probably the oldest permanent member of our neighborhood. In the front yard one evening, Mickey taught me to throw a baseball with two fingers, and Steve taught me how to run the bases after I hit the ball. The greatest privilege was to be invited for lunch and to hang around with either Mickey or Steve and their friends, who were also stars. I had heard about these guys on Friday nights attending a game at Kugler Field and always remembered their names: Fritz Tanner, Ward Marslender, Carl Jones, Charlie Deavers, Billy Gilgo and my cousin, Bunk Roberson. Once, I remember seeing Mickey with his navy blue jersey walking from the field after a tough game, and he was all by himself, so I walked up to him and held his hand until we got to the locker room. It was a special moment in a young kid’s life!

Many in our neighborhood have moved away but Mickey has remained, like an anchor trying to hold the neighborhood down. Families with names like Shepherd, Jarvis, Gaskin, Renn, Ayescue, Godley, Walker, Gerard, Harris, Getsinger, Pittman, Roach, Singleton, Alligood and Everett have all moved. My friend, Jennifer Small, tells me that our neighborhood is still solid, and they have children playing like we use to do in open areas. Still, the Cochran family will always be special.

I have seen Sandra (Cochran) Gorham working out, but am ashamed that I have not been by to see Mickey. Steve lives out of town, and I would love to see him. I have heard that he is quite the jokester with his friends in town, like he always was with us youngsters. Mickey, I promise that I will be by to say hello as soon as possible, and you can expect me one day next week. We can share coaching tales since Mickey was a very successful basketball coach out of state. Maybe he can tell me about Steve and some of the stories we shared, and I can add to this column at a later date. Thank you, Mickey and Steve for being positive role models in my life!