Doing the where-you-froms with a stranger, tell him my roots are in a little town called Oberlin. He says “Hoyle Granger! I played against him.”
“How’d that work out for you?”
“Ankles ‘n shoelaces. You didn’t want nothing thigh or above.”
It’s Pronounced “Hall Gron sja”
Specific memory… small town school, 1st – 12th all on the same compound, me and T-Jim are in line at The Canteen, where at recess you could buy a coke and a bag of chips for a dime…when T-Jim elbows me and points.
I look over towards the gym, and there’s a young man getting out of a vehicle. O my goodness! His thighs! Like two buckets connecting knee to hip. I’d never seen anything like it.
“That’s Hoyle Granger,” T-Jim whispered. He didn’t say it, didn’t shout it, he whispered it, like we were in church.
1960’s & 70’s In A Rice ‘n Gravy World
Schools had dumbbells and a weight bench, but farm boys had chores; “working out” was unloading rice ‘n soybean seed sacks and walking rice levees.
Kids were smaller. Little 1A schools, big was 180. You could start, at guard or center at 165. There were a few 200 plus guys, but often they were on the hefty side.
I knew of Elton coaches who got players summer jobs digging graves. Make a little money, work some muscle.
Speaking Of Elton…
Just down Hwy 26 from Oberlin was Elton. They raised rice, cattle, soybeans. Some farmers were raising a crop of Bruchhaus boys.
There’s wondering to be wondered, was it something in the Elton water, or something in those German genes, but Elton put out a string of brothers and cousins that were bigger than most everybody and they had the warrior heart to match.
Don’t know about grandfathers, daddies and uncles, but of the boys, it was one after the other, young bulls ready to bust some fences.
It starts with Kirby, then Donnie, 6’2, 225, and fast, on a team good enough to win the state title. One after the other, graduate one Bruchhaus here comes his little brother or cousin. Donnie, off to LSU, replaced by Bryan, Peter, Philip and “Boo”, all running backs or quarterbacks. Here comes Karl, slim ‘n trim now, but he was 225 as a senior, and played both ways on the line. Behind him was John and then David.
It Was All So Simple Then
Cheerleaders painted “Beat Elton” and “Scalp the Indians” on the windows of main street businesses. On Friday the football players would wear their game jerseys to school. Girlfriends claimed their guy by wearing his letter jacket, or his senior ring, a big pad of tape at the bottom to make it fit, or hang it from a necklace.
School had other sports, but football was the big dog, clearly shown on Friday Pep Rallies. Posters, cheerleaders, twirlers, the band, speeches, gonna get ‘um, gonna do it, gonna win…
…one year, we’re playing Elton, maybe for Homecoming, one player after another, would grab the microphone, and say, “We’re gonna stop Bruchhaus.” You’d have thought Elton only had one player…
Ole School Football
Back then it was four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, those antique formations, the T and the I, some schools still ran the single and double wing. Pass maybe 10 times a game, if that.
But it would hold its own for manliness. Back then, boys were often playing both ways. Some played every down, punts, kickoffs, extra points…
The coaches were often World War II and Korea veterans. Their standards for hardship and testing was a level you won’t see anymore. An Oberlin coach, he’d get the lineman on the 8 man sled, push it till 4 or 5 puked. Someone got bell rung in practice, he’d go, “Blood makes the grass grow.”
It’s Easy To Make The Playoffs…
“…but it’s awful hard to win State.
Oberlin did it once. 1961. Hoyle Granger. Elton did it once. 1970. (Being an Oberlin guy, I feel obliged to mention that the coach for that Elton team was…you guessed it…an Oberlin man named Cleve Beard.)
Fact is, it’s hard for even the best players to make the jump to college. Making it to pro…needle in a haystack…although, there’s this guy from Oberlin, named Hoyle Granger, who played for the old Houston Oilers (later Tennesee Titans). Look up their stats, for who had the most 100 yard rushing games. Big names, Heisman winners, and in the Top 4, Hoyle Granger…
This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, which hopes this stirs up your own fond memories of Friday Night Lights of high school days. Other Bedtime Stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page. Uncle P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.