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Write Again … We went “bowling”

Memory journeys through parts of one’s days of youth stoke the embers that never seem to burn out.

Fortunate are we — blessed — who retain good memories, whose early years here on the planet were kind to us. Fortunate, indeed.

The following is just one such example of good memories.

One of my closest growing up friends was Doug. One of 10 children — that’s right, 10! — Doug was a truly remarkable physical specimen. Big, strong, both quick and fast, he was a football coach’s dream. He really was “agile, mobile …” if not actually “hostile.” In truth, Doug was a gentle kid who could turn on his aggressive side — in a clean and sportsmanlike way — in a practice or game. As a football player he was the “real deal.”

Following our 1954 Pam Pack football season, in which his talents promised really great things in his athletic future, Doug came by the house one day to invite me to join him — and his parents — in a very special and exciting little trip.

Would I like to fly with them, and the pilot, of course, in the family plane to Waycross, Georgia, where there was a family business, then on the next day to Miami? The purpose being to attend the Duke-Nebraska Orange Bowl game. Would I like to? Come on.

I was a true Duke fan, and this was in a time when the Blue Devils were regularly positioned among the nation’s foremost gridiron powers.

What a wonderful time we had over those few days. Watching the Orange Bowl parade from the hotel balcony. A cruise in Biscayne Bay to visit Mr. M.O. Minges, from Greenville, who was at his winter home.

Then the game. Final score, Duke 34-Nebraska 6. Great victory.

Oh. One other “little” thing. Doug and I were made to stop running and passing a football back and forth in a lovely Miami park. Two energetic red-haired lads from “Little” Washington.

Doug and his family moved to Waycross that summer. He played two years for the Waycross High School Bulldogs, one year at a military school in Georgia, then on to Florida State where he excelled as a runner and linebacker.

Doug passed away when he was 59 years old, falling victim to heart disease, which plagued all but one of the five brothers. The youngest, Kenny, was a standout center-linebacker for Duke. He is still living.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

I hope to see you here again next week.