Is ‘Four For Texas’ an omen or coincidence?
By Lowell McGill
I had my annual thyroid checkup with Dr. Mike Davis in Mobile recently. He and his brother, Dr. Tim Davis, are in partnership in this particular field of medicine.
As always, Dr. Mike always shares with me his football playing days under Paul Bryant at the University of Alabama. You see, he, his brother and his dad, Pig Davis, were household names at the capstone. The three of them were outstanding field goal kickers for the Tide over a period of several years.
Dr. Mike was willing to share a minute of his busy time with me as we talked about one particular Bowl game. That was the Sugar Bowl, played in old Tulane stadium on Jan. 1, 1964. To help you remember this Bowl, that was the year it snowed like crazy. In fact, Dr. Harold Wilson and I were on our way to the game when we ran into the snow storm somewhere near the Mississippi state line.
We had no idea it would be played following a record Louisiana snowstorm. Finally arriving in New Orleans we stayed overnight with some of his friends. I think I saw more vehicles in the ditch and vehicles leaning on power poles that I can ever remember. The trip into the Crescent City was like traveling the route of the Iditarod dog races in the frozen far north. In spite of all the adversity of the drive, the snow created beautiful scenes found only on Christmas cards. Mother nature had created snow scenery, the likes I had never seen before.
Alabama, who was a giant underdog to Ole Miss, was further disadvantaged when Bryant benched quarterback Joe Namath and replaced him with Steve Sloan. But the game turned into a defensive battle as Tim Davis booted four field goals to propel the Tide to a 12-7 upset win over the Rebels. He was also named MVP of the game.
The game provided thrills and excitement as melting snow trickled down from high a top the open stadium. The melting snow was dripping right on top of our heads. After the game Dr. Wilson decided he would stay over in New Orleans and contacted his family to drive down and join him. He wanted me to stay, but my work prevented my staying and I had to get back home.
He drove me to the L&N train station because I knew a train would leave New Orleans about 5. p.m.. This same train normally arrived in Atmore at 10:30 p.m. I got to the station on time, but the train did not leave on time. It, actually, pulled out of New Orleans about 8 p.m. The reason was due to so many passengers had left their vehicles in Mississippi and had to ride the train to get back to their vehicles. We were told that six extra coaches were used to accommodate all the many passengers. It was so crowded that I had to stand up until many of the passengers got off in Biloxi.
The trip into Atmore was enhanced by the full moon shining on the beautiful piles of snow along the railroad tracks. I got home about 2 a.m., tired and weary and I vowed I would never attend another football Bowl again. And, to this day, I have lived up to that vow.
One other football story. This one occurred on January 1, 1965.
Carlton and Audrey Martin had invited a few of us to their home to watch the Orange Bowl. Alabama and Texas were paired against each other in this game. Now Audrey, the excellent cook that she was, had prepared a big pot of black-eyed peas, great slices of thick onions, pork chops and hefty loafs of cornbread. In other words, she prepared the ideal News Years meal.
The game was filled with excitement from the kickoff until the very last play. The more excitement the game generated, the more of the fine supper we ate.
About midway of the final quarter, my wife called me and told me to run down to the picture show and pick up Debbie, Lockwood, my wife’s niece. It appeared she needed a way home and I was the logical source to go downtown and give her a ride home. Well, I took off as fast as I could because I wanted to get back and see the final plays of the ball game. As I waited for Debbie to come to the car, I noticed the marquee at the theatre. You see, playing at the movies that night was Frank Sinatra in “Four For Texas.” I didn’t think much about this movie title until I got back to Carlton’s home. Just as I was walking in the door, Joe Namath was making a lounge into the end zone to put the Tide ahead with one minute to go in the game. But out of the clear blue sky came Tommy Nobis, the great Longhorn linebacker, who blocked out Namath’s attempt to cross the goal line. Well, Texas ran out the clock and held on to the 21-17 win. Did I say 21-17? Indeed I did. Now I really didn’t have to come back to see the conclusion. You see, I had already seen the score. It was on the big marquee at the theatre. That’s right it was “Four For Texas.” I told Carlton and all those in our party about what I had seen. Someone there suggested I send the story to Ripleys Believe It Or Not. Maybe I should have. But in any event this really happened. An omen…who knows?
Do you remember those faithful community correspondents? Those were the ladies who wrote weekly columns about who was visiting who, those in the hospital, who had the preacher for lunch and many more interesting tidbits. You read their columns each week in the Advance and other surrounding community weekly papers. I am preparing a column on these correspondents which I know you will enjoy re-discovering them again. It’ll be coming soon.
In closing, I would like to remind you again of the upcoming ECHS class reunion. This event will cater to classes of 1952, 1953 and 1954. The big event will be held Saturday, Sept. 6 at David’s Catfish House in Atmore. Those who are spearheading the event include James and Nan Rea Norris (251-368-4878), Molly and Edgar Norris (251-368-5435), Annie Sue Keller Newman (850-476-3209), Nell Tenant Thomas (251-368-1424) and Ted French (251-961-3509). Those who plan to attend are urged to contact any of these chair people as they need to know how many to prepare for. As the event gets closer the Advance will be carrying additional stories and reminders.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org