‘We shoulda been halfway to town drinkin’ a Coca…’

“Will-a—, git yo a— down off that ladder. We shoulda been halfway to town drinking a Coca Cola.”— Squibb Geppert, electrician, circa 1951.
It was the nature and intent of some adults in my growing-up years to embarrass youngsters, particularly younger teen boys.
As a 15-year-old between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I worked for an electrician in Teague by the name of Squibb Geppert.
He was sort of loud and boisterous and kept to the code of the day — embarrassing me.
Squibb wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t liked me, and I knew that.
It didn’t slow down my


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‘Big time’ columnist pulled wool over my young eyes

Most of us are enamored of “celebrity.”
Even those of us in the hardened press corps find big names somewhat intriguing although, after a lengthy servitude, we tend to do so with a great many reservations.
In the early years of my newspapering life, when I began my “orbit” of the Houston metropolitan area as an editor-publisher of small town newspapers near there.
Of course, I managed to read “the metros” regularly, which I found helped me produce stories from big city events that held relevance for “the country papers.”
As I mentioned last week, one of many that I followed


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Stories of Houston’s 3-newspaper era pique memories

Since I spent more than half my 70-plus years in the Texas Gulf Coast area, in or near Houston, I maintain my readership in the Houston Chronicle.
My first two years of college were spent in Huntsville, less than two hours north of the metropolis, then the final two in Houston.
I worked there a couple of years before my rural raising sparked a yen to return to those climes.
Being drawn back to my country raising derailed my goal to be the world’s greatest sportswriter onto the rail line “local” or “doodlebug” trains through small towns and weekly papers.
All aboard for Teague, Rosenberg, Cleveland,


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How competitive are you? I want to trounce Ol’ Sol’!

There’s something about Americans. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re The Best.
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that.
Over the nearly two and a half centuries since we kicked ol’ King George’s tail and turned “the colonies” into the U.S. of A., we’ve developed this winner’s mentality… “We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!” “Knock that chip off my shoulder! I dare you!”
We saw to it that Good triumphed over Evil in WW’s I and II. Never mind Korea (a truce), Viet Nam (a debacle) and lesser aberrations.
Ol’ Abner Doubleday came up with a bat and ball, so baseball has


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Volunteer football officiating challenged my fairness

Once — JUST once — I was “volunteered” to officiate a junior high school football game.
Thank the good Lord I was spared that indignity ever again, but I couldn’t refuse that time.
The head coach of those Teague Junior High Lions was one Jack Meredith, my family’s next-door neighbor and absolutely one of the best guys I’ve ever known.
Jack went to Stanford University where he was a three-year starter at end.
He married a Teague girl (Norita Keils) and wound up coaching there in both the high school and the junior high. There are much


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Are there truly six people with whom you can be in love?

Somewhere I read that there are six people in your lifetime in this world that you can truly be in love with. Can that be true?
I’ve never professed to be an expert on women and I certainly would never begin to make decisions or predictions in their behalf.
And, I won’t make decisions in behalf of the male gender either, but being of the old-hairy-legged legions I make some assumptions and observations about our all too often blindly proud group.
So, “in love” has to, in simple terms, be someone about whom you have romantic notions.
Alright, down boys, I


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Membership in the ‘Old Coots’ is distinct honor for me

There are a number of advantages to growing older.
One, of course, is that you are indeed growing older.
And, as I always say: “Beats the heck out of the alternative.”
Another “advantage” to me is being a proud member of the Old Coots, but as a mere 70ish guy, I’m still a “fresh young whippersnapper” to the more seasoned of that erstwhile group.
One of the privileges, however, is particularly useful to those who pen a column: “That reminds me of the time…”
Not long ago, I was talking to Rebecca Toney Hutchinson about one of the newspapers she edits, The Gulf Coast Tribune in Needville, and that triggered that Old Coot handle in my mind.
Those Needville memories involve my days as a college student at then-Sam Houston State Teachers College in



Football sidelines, press boxes provide ‘adventures’

One of my columns on football press box conversations drew a lot of comments from editor-publishers before it ever hit their papers’ pages.
Community newspapers are often not large enough to have a “sports” editor or a staff photographer, so the job(s) become(s) a one-man-show.
Everyone has a story or two to tell about some adventures or misadventures, as it were.
In hearing some of the tales by my contemporaries, it prompted me to resurrect some past experiences in that vein.
Staffing on small newspapers often precludes having a true “professional” photographer.
Most weekly newspapers don’t have anyone whose job is strictly photography, so whoever is the designated editor-newshound-paparazzi gets to shoot sports, particularly football.
Of course, football is the Holy Grail in Texas small towns.
So, Bub, suck it up, hoist that camera bag over your shoulder, drape the 35-mm’s strap around your neck and hit the field.


Courage in newspapering brings obstacles, challenges

"Crusading" newspapers a la the screaming headline variety of the early 20th Century have fallen by the wayside. To be a crusader in any life facet takes a certain amount of courage and, in most cases, a dash of derring-do.

That most assuredly applies to newspapers that take the plunge into the swirling waters of need, controversy, right and wrong plus the ragged and often hidden shoals of financial interest.

However, most community newspapers today have found ways to negotiatie the often-murky waters


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Recognizing schoolmates after six decades ain’t easy

Spending the better part of six decades editing and publishing country newspapers, as penned here before, includes enough seven-day work weeks that trips to my hometown were quite limited.
Those trips almost never included a Friday night, much less a Teague Lion football game, including the biennial homecoming that is my hometown school’s tradition.
And, frankly, this particular trip was a Friday-Sunday occasion, but we skipped the game to spend some quality time with family.
However, we got a full homecoming dose on Saturday.
First, there was lunch with my three younger brothers and their spouses.
We dined at


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