Thursday, August 31, 2023

CCHS Football, the Early Years

Superintendent Robert Polston announced in September of 1971 that work was officially underway on a football field at the new Clinton County High School in Albany, Kentucky and that a football coach would be employed in the near future. Although all the nearby counties, except for Adair County, had been playing football for some­ time, CCHS had never had a football program. Developing a football team from scratch would be a slow process and it would take some­ time before the school would be able to play a regular schedule.

Behind the idea of having a football program at Clinton County High School was math and economics teacher Jim Dick, a CCHS alumni. He took the initiative to make it all happen and was the person most responsible for rallying player prospects. Before the announcement was made that a football field was under construction, he had already begun talking about and teachings the rules and basic fundamentals of football to those prospects who were interested. By May of 1972, forty prospects, now known as players, were being taught football by Coach Dick. A large number of those players were eighth and ninth graders. The headline in the Clinton County News said "CCHS Football Team Looks Promising."

I consider Jim Dick to be the father of football at Clinton County and much gratitude and respect is due him for his efforts in getting the program underway. The 1964 CCHS graduate worked the players into shape during the spring of 1972 and by fall scrimmage games and a junior varsity schedule was organized. A new football field was being readied for what was to come. By August, the field was nearing completition. Bleachers and lights were forthcoming.

Most of the equipment Coach Dick used was practice equipment. On March 16, 1972, the board of education began accepting sealed bids for football equipment; fifty helmets with face guards, fifty shoulder pads in different sizes, hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads, fifty practice jerseys and practice pants, shoes, mouth pieces, elbow pads, six footballs, blocking and push-back dummies, goal line flags, a lineman chain, field and yard line markers and accessories, and two blocking sleds.

By late summer, Custer, South Dakota native Tom Gaebler, the first of­ficial head football coach who had been All-State at Bourbon County and All-Conference at Eastern Kentucky University, and Coach Dick began working with the football prospects as the 1972-73 school year was just getting underway. CCHS football's first head coach said his first concern with this team was to get the players in shape before attempting any real practice. Plays and 'run throughs' would come later, he said, after he felt the boys could take it.

1972 was a season of five scrimmage games only, for learning the rules and fundamentals of the game (a junior varsity team also played a few games). We lost the first two scrimmage games, at Metcalfe and Russell counties. The first official home football game played in Albany was on Oct. 17, 1972 against the Adair County Indians. We lost 28-to-24, after having just defeated the Indians 14-to-8 two weeks earlier on Oct. 5th at Columbia in the third scrimmage game of the season. In that game, Adair County scored on their second possession. Just before the first half ended, Clinton County's Kenny Sells' back to back touchdowns and Junior Conner's successful extra points gave the Bulldogs a 14-to-8 lead. Neither team scored after that, although the Bulldogs came close several times. We won the final scrimmage game 14-to-0 at home game against Wayne County on Oct. 25th. It was two touchdowns by Kenny Sells and a very good defense that gave the Bulldogs a rare win over the Cardinals, but a great one for our young program. So, we won two games and lost three that first year of football at CCHS.

Official varsity competition would begin in 1973 and what happened in 1972 was a promising beginning. Here is that team's roster according to the Clinton County News.

Teddy Aaron, Linebacker
Willie Arms, Linebacker
Dale Cole, Running Back
Junior Conner, Running Back
Gary Elmore, Tight End
Kevin Lowborn, Tackle
Mike Massengale, Quarterback
Garland McWhorter, Guard
Junior Melton, Wide Receiver
Bobby Reneau, Tight End
Kenny Sells, Running Back
Earl Stearns, Tight End
Ned Sloan, Tackle

Barry Barnette, Tackle
Ricky Burchett, Guard
Larry Claborn, Tackle
David Cross, Tackle
Leon McClard, Tackle
Lonnie Perdue, Wide Receiver
Rickie Wallace, Tight End
Anthony Wilson, Tackle

Johnny DeRossett, Quarterback
Jeff Fryman, Defensive Back
Larry Perdue, Running Back
Mike Staton, Linebacker
Tom Thrasher, Quarterback
Leon Wilson, Tackle

Junior Couch, Danny McFall

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

From Dixie to Yankee Doodle to Home Sweet Home; Patriotic Songs that Stirred Hearts

It is said that during the Civil War, two large armies were on opposite banks of a river in Virginia. Late one afternoon, just before sunset, the Confederate band played' "Dixie," that favorite song so dear to every Southern heart. At the close loud shouts of exultation went up from thousands of gallant Confederate soldiers. Immediately, the band of the Union Army played "Yankee Doodle," equally a favorite song of the federal soldiers. When it ended, the voice of thousands brave Union soldiers burst forth in applause. In a few moments both bands, simultaneously, struck up "Home, Sweet Home," and when the last sweet strains of music died away, tears were flowing freely from the eyes of thousands of war-worn and battle-scarred veterans of both armies. It appealed to the voice of conscience, and brought to them the remembrance of other and better days.

The song, "Dixie," aka "I Wish I Was in Dixie," was written in 1859. It cemented the word "Dixie" in the American vocabulary as a nickname for the Southern United States. During the Civil War, it was a rallying song of the Confederacy, a national anthem. Abraham Lincoln loved it. It was played at the announcement of General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

In 1906 in Wayne County, Kentucky, a crowd of around 2,500 people were assembled at the fairgrounds to attend the 4th of July Celebration, which was given by the Wayne County Fair Association. Interesting and patriotic orations were delivered in the forenoon by Judge John P. Hobson, a member of the Court of Appeals, and Wayne County Judge Joseph Bertram. The Outlook reported that the music for the occasion was furnished by the Monticello Brass Band. "To say that they did well would be putting it lightly, considering the time that they have practiced, they did ex­ceptionally well. The only fault we find with them is that they don't play "Dixie" enough. They should play it every other time, at least. It was the only tune that received an applause. It stirs the southerners heart as nothing else can."

"I wish I was in Dixie
Hooray, Hooray!
In Dixie land, I'll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!"

"Yankee Doodle" predates the American Revolution, originally sung by British soldiers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial Yankee who, they said, thought that he was stylish if he simply stuck a feather in his cap. It became popular among the Americans as a song of defiance. Verses were added that hailed George Washington as the Commander of the Continental army. By 1781, "Yankee Doodle" turned from being an insult to being a song of national pride. It was played at the British surrender at Saratoga in 1777.

"Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni,
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy."

"Home Sweet Home" was written in 1823. It was a favorite of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. That night in Virginia, in the words of Frank Mixson, a private in the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, "Everyone went crazy during the playing (and singing) of "Home Sweet Home."Both sides began cheering, jumping up and down and throwing their hats into the air. Had there not been a river between them, he said, the two armies would have met face to face, shaken hands, and ended the war on the spot.

"Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There's no place like home.
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!"

In his 1905 essay entitled, "Fourth of July, The Birthday of the United States of America," school teacher Samuel L. Coffey wrote in the Adair County, Kentucky newspaper, "The American flag is the emblem of national unity and strength, a nation whose strength lays in the conscience of its people and whose perpetuity depends on the virtue, the intelligence, and patriotism of its people. Thomas Jefferson said "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." Every true American citizen should be able to say, "Where our flag flies there is my country. It represents every great achievement that has been accomplished in our country's history in an intellectual, moral or material way, from its beginning to the present time. It insures protection abroad and security at home. The citizen seeing it waving over his home feels safe indeed. It makes no difference whether the band plays "Dixie" or "Yankee Doodle." Seeing the emblem of power and free­dom waving in the breeze, one feels at rest and can sing with pride and pleasure, "Home, Sweet Home," whether he or she lives in the North, South, East or West."

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Ben Dyer and the Zip Code

It was sixty years ago this year, in 1963, that the post office began using zip codes. Albany postmaster Ben Dyer announced in June of that year that a new system of improving mail dispatch and delivery would begin on July 1st. The zip code, five digit numerals to be placed on all correspondence, will cut up to 24 hours between the time of the deposits and delivery of mail, he said.

Local post offices that were assigned numbers were Aaron 42601, Albany 42602, Alpha 42603, Highway 42623, Huntersville 42627, Seminary 42644 and Static 38586. Everyone in these communities were asked to use the numbers on all correspondence to not only speed deliveries but to reduce the chance of missent mail.

Dyer also instructed residents on how to include the zip code with the address. "This prefix is to be used on all mailers, whether they are post boxholders, have home boxes or get their mail by general delivery."

For the first time ever, the new zip code plan would permit post office employees to decrease repeat readings of addresses. Previously, the address on mail often had to be read eight or ten times in order to get it to the proper destination. Each handling slowed the process of mail dispatch and added to the opportunity for human error.

The zip code allowed the United States to have 'the most modern system of mail distribution in existence,' Dyer said, and he encouraged everyone to learn their zip codes and use them on return addresses on all correspondence and that in answering mail the zip code taken from incoming mail should be used.

Ben Dyer was appointed postmaster in November of 1959, replacing Odell Cummings, who had been acting postmaster for one year following the retirement of W.H. "Bill" Vitatoe. Ben served as postmaster for 22 years, longer than anyone else who served before him. He retired in January of 1981.

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...