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The Idle American
"A Scarf for the Ages..."
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 • Posted December 14, 2011

No one ever asked the little old man about his scruffy scarf. Oh, it was noticed, usually by uppity passers-by. They’d giggle about its unquestioned homemade construction, guessing it may have been plucked by someone with limited vision from the 25-cent barrel at the thrift store.Why, one could reasonably wonder, would anyone wear a frayed green and gold scarf, accented by dozens of worm appliques?That’s what the 95-year-old Baylor grad wore to the stadium on December 2—the day Christmas came early for the Bears. Baylor’s 48-24 trouncing of the University of Texas this year was more than a miracle—it was a mauling….*****He would have happily explained the scarf’s significance to anyone hustling from the stadium, but no one cared. More than 46,000 hurried to their cars—calling, texting, tweeting, etc., but not him. His mind was transfixed on the stadium scenes in1974 and 1978. In the former, the Bears overcame a 24-7 halftime score to overtake the Longhorns, 34-24.It rained during that game, too, but fans didn’t notice. Dozens camped out at the field overnight, and scoreboard lights stayed on. By comparison to the “miracle of ’74,” the 2011 game was a country licking, he thought.He smiled at the recollection of miracle-working Coach Grant Teaff’s 1978 pre-game talk about the importance of preparation. Teaff spoke about successful fishermen using warm bait. That’s when he popped a fishing worm into his mouth to “keep it warm.” The sky-high players raced from the locker room, ready to take on Goliaths. Though their record was 2-8 at the time, they beat the Longhorns by 38-14. The “worm story” made the national press. It also impressed a woman to knit a “worm scarf” for her hubby….*****The gentle rain continued, albeit unnoticed by the old guy. How he wished that his bride of 55 years could have shared the moment. She’s been gone a decade now and is keenly missed. A drill sergeant by necessity, she administered his diets and medications, something he never got the hang of. A couple of years after her death, the care center took up where she left off.“Maybe Heaven has a glass bottom,” he mumbled.Hang the rain, he thought. To him, it was a balmy 72 degrees, with palm trees swaying under a cloudless Hawaiian sky, ukuleles strumming, and sparkling blue waves bringing kisses to a pristine beach….*****“I’ve rooted for the Bears through thin and thin,” he thought, aware that “thick” seasons have been rare. Still, he was tickled that he’d been tucking away cash from his pension checks to buy the game ticket. It occurred to him that in the early years, tickets cost what sodas cost today.Way back then, he accompanied area church youth who were university end zone guests. Sometimes, they even got free hot dogs and sodas. “Baylor was eager to prop up attendance any way possible,” he remembered, glancing toward the south end zone.A tarp remained in place, covering concrete stands where another 5,000 or so could have crowded in….*****The old-timer remained in “what if” mode. Would end zone seating have meant a record crowd? Could seating there have been sold? Could they have invited youth or military groups?He wondered if there were fears that the Texas Longhorn Network might set up shop, panning the end zone repeatedly if seats remained. An even wilder thought was what kind of stash the Baptists might be hiding under the tarp.The old guy remembered the lean years, when TV cameras too often showed vacant stands. He claimed that at another old Southwest Conference school known for sparse crowds, they sold seats in alternating rows, creating “spreading room only.”…*****He toyed with the idea of contacting Kenneth Starr, pointing to the Baylor president’s “crackerjack status” on matters of investigation. Maybe the former special prosecutor could shed light on the end zone cover-up, thought he.The world tuned out, the little old man didn’t hear the van honks. But, he felt the driver’s hand on his shoulder, and he climbed aboard. When he got back to his room, he crossed “decisive win over Texas” from his bucket list. Maybe he’d buy another bucket, he thought, not for kicking, but for making a new list….

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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