October 12, 1999
Part of my joy at covering Perry high school football in the 1960s came from the association with some of the great minds, athletically speaking, in this community. Hunkering down in the snug little Daniels Field press coop for home games on Friday nights, I shared the limited space available with the late Byard Anderson, who provided a commentary on the public address system, along with Wendell White, who pulled the switches and pressed the buttons on the scoreboard control box. We usually had at least one spotter from the visiting team and one or two others from our local fandom who were looking for a good vantage point from which to watch the game. It was crowded and cozy but the few of us authorized to be there were generally congenial.
I used a standardized football reporting form that followed the game with diagrams representing each and every play. After the game, I used that form to write a story and compile statistics for the Saturday morning edition of this newspaper. First of all came a phone call to the sports department of the Daily Oklahoman. If the game had any district or conference significance, the copy desk usually asked for brief details of the scoring by both teams. The Friday night sports copy desk normally was manned by high school youths who frequently managed to garble some of the information appearing in the Oklahoma City Times, the Saturday afternoon paper which the Oklahoman published.
Writing the post-game story had to be done as soon as possible after the game to meet our Saturday morning publishing deadline. Home games were not too bad, but writing the story after driving back from an out of town game meant a very long evening indeed. The task required a mental playback of what had occurred on the gridiron, with the play-by-play diagrams accessible for reference as needed. It was easy to get wrapped up in thinking about the game. Perry was experiencing a good season at the time and the thrill of victory gets your juices flowing. I spent many sleepless nights after witnessing a particularly exciting game. I considered it lucky if I made it to bed by 2 a.m., but sleep was not guaranteed even then.
The fun part of all this was sharing in the pre-game and post-game conversations with Byard Anderson, Wendell White, banker Kenneth Coldiron and assorted others on Friday nights during football season. Most of them had been coaches or played the game at some level and they knew football. They could tell one anecdote after another about incidents connected with PHS athletes in the past. It was fascinating to hear their tales. They were all good storytellers with refreshing senses of humor. They also provided an intelligent analysis of that night's game and that was helpful to me in writing a story about the contest.
Those were good times and I miss the associations that generated them. The men who helped me by providing inside, accurate information about local sports were appreciated more than they knew. Thanks to all of them.