Saturday, December 24, 2016

Peace On Earth...May Christmas Hasten That Day

The first months of World War I had seen an initial German attack through Belgium into France, which had been repulsed outside Paris by French and British troops at the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne Valley and in the subsequent Battle of the Aisne, the Allied forces were unable to push through the German line, and the fighting quickly degenerated into a static stalemate with neither side willing to give ground. To the north, on the right of the German army, there had been no defined front line and both sides quickly began to try to use this gap to outflank one another. In the ensuing "race to the sea", the two sides repeatedly clashed, each trying to push forward and threaten the end of the other's line. By November, there was a continuous front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. The action was swift and both sides were determined.

But, in December something unexpected happened: An unofficial truce involving about 100,000 British and German troops along the length of that front. The reason?  Christmas.  It began on Christmas Eve when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium. The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the 'No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year's Day in others.

Ironically, just days before Christmas a group of 101 British women suffragists wrote a letter to the women of Germany and Austria. Under the heading "On Earth Peace, Goodwill towards Men, the letter said, "The Christmas message sounds like mockery to a world at war. Is it not our mission to preserve life? 

The next Christmas, the two sides again observed an unofficial cease fire at the front but it was not as successful, thanks to strongly-worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting such fraternization.

My prayer is that one day we will have peace on earth...

"May Christmas hasten that day."

The Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-14, KJV)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Season of Legends: Lindle Castle and Sid Scott

The summer before my senior year in high school, I was confronted with a choice: sit on a bleacher beside a legendary broadcster or sit on a bleacher beside a legendary coach. While that might seem like a hard decision to you, radio was in my blood. I had just gotten my Radiotelephone Third Class license with Broadcast Endorsement on August 4, 1976. I knew that my destiny wasn't to play for the Kentucky Wildcats or star in the NBA. It was to be a radio disc jockey. I was, after all, born into it. I explained to the coach that my heart was in radio. 40 years later, it still is.

I was blessed to have grown up in an era that included both Lindle Castle and Sid Scott. Before starring at Morehead State University, Castle had started on a University of Kentucky freshman team that included future NBA hall of famers, Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey, and future NBAer, Lou Tsioropoulos. A few short years later, Scott made a name for himself as one of the all-time great pivot players at Clinton County High School.

When I was born in November of 1959, both were just beginning their careers. Lindle Castle began coaching at Clinton County at the start of the 1957-58 season. Sid Scott began doing play-play-play at the start of the 1958-59 season. This is the environment I grew up around. I would sit on the stage in the old gym and watch the coach, while up in the balcony the broadcaster did the play-by-play.

I was there the night Coach Castle went out on the floor to speak to a refree, who informed coach that he was going to give him a technical foul for every step it took to get back to the bench. I watched as two players picked him up and carried him to the bench.

I was there the night referee Wilson Sears stopped the game and ordered Sid to move up a few bleachers away from court because of something Sid said to him. I was there the night Sid, who was mayor, ordered a city police officer to arrest referee Phil Burkeen if we lost the game. Thankfully, we won.

I was there the night coach accidentally broke Sid's little finger. He had come to our booth to bang his fist on the desk. I saw him coming and leaned back with my clipboard. Sid didn't see him coming. The pencil he was holding disappeared in the air. I was able to turn Sid's microphone down so listeners didn't hear what he said when he screamed.

By the time I had grown into my early teens, both Castle and Scott were starting to achieve their legendary status. Life was great.

And, we know that all good things must come to an end. Things we enjoy, things we find comforting, things we love, things we embrace; even a legendary basketball coach and a legendary radio broadcaster.

"To everything there is a season..."

I spent a good long season enjoying those two. I wanted it to last my entire lifetime, but God had other plans.

Sometimes when one chapter closes, it really closes. Lindle Castle died 50 weeks after Sid Scott died.


Meanwhile, back at CCHS, the first one has his name on the gym and the second one has his name on the floor.


Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...