Sunday, July 8, 2012

Of Bears and Beaus

Bear for bunches of decades: We wrote in this space recently that Don Taylor was ailing. Seems that Don (Mr. Taylor still to many of his former students) had suffered a stroke and was as laid up as an egg from an upside down chicken. I posted the dilemma of Professor Don and was deluged with requests to send best wishes his way. Although I felt like a voyeur peeping at some of the messages that were being forwarded to our "Teacher of the Half-Century" (my designation) I was overwhelmed at the love, good wishes, caring and impact this slight man had on so many of his students. They spoke to him with a reverence usually reserved for those who have taught us, shaped us, and encouraged us like no other.

Don wrote back that he is now out of jail (hospital). Being the humble man he has always been he deflects the praise and thanks ME and feared efforts on his behalf might actually have been a burden! Well, it was a pleasure and I would like to.... well, let me pass on his own words:

"Dear Andy,
I am overwhelmed by the emails I have received [over 50 and still coming plus hordes of get well cards].  This response is largely due to your blog and for that I am VERY grateful!!  I hope forwarding those well wishes has not been a burden to  you.  I truth, I have been permitted to "smell the roses."  Bob White was even prepared to fly to see me on the day I was discharged from the hospital.  What friends I have!  I hope I am deserving of such affection!

Over the years I have taken pride in my correspondence -- quick replies, etc.  The last letter was always from myself.  Now, I cannot keep up and so I have another favor to ask of you.  Can you put my general reply to these friends on your blog?   That would entail and cover a good many of my dear friends!

Dear Friends,
I want to thank all of you for your support and prayers -- they are sustaining me!  I am truly blessed to have so many devoted friends for so many years.  Your affection brings me to tears.

I hope I am worthy of such devotion and loyalty!  The feeling is mutual believe me!

Fondly, Don Taylor"

What a guy!

Younger Bears again making a splash: Remember that school that CHS spawned 50 or so years ago? The new school on Old Clairton Road? CHS was bursting at the seams so a passel of students was sent up the river -er, road, to the spanking then-new school named Thomas Jefferson. Many who left for the new school were from bigger homes and had bigger incomes than their cousins in the City of Prayer, and the new school immediately began to thrive academically and athletically. Some looked down their noses at their background and for many years would not schedule their progeny in any sport. But over the past few years the worm has begun to turn.

Last year CHS lost to then defeated TJ in the local 7 on 7 and were therefore invited to participate in the prestigious Red Bull Classic 7 on 7 in Dallas. Our rag-tag kids might have been snickered at at the tourney. Here they were, a single A school competing against  5, 6, and 7 A-level schools from football powerhouses of Louisiana, Texas, and Florida among others. Every player on the plane that carried CHS team members to Dallas experienced their first ever plane ride. What could this bunch of rubes do against powerhouse schools with enrollment staffs, athletic staffs and budgets up to 10 times the size of CHS? Well, in a word, they could win. And win they did. Again and again and again, serving as giant slayers until the finals when a powerful Texas school finally tripped up our guys, who came home with their heads held high after taking the silver against such odds.

Well, they're at it again. On the strength of their performance last year.... oh yes, and trouncing TJ again this year - twice, they were once again invited to competition in Texas. Once again CHS alum Bill Bennett of Phoenix, AZ, has undertaken the Herculean task of putting together travel arrangements for the team. Last year the mission was underwritten by generous donations to the Clairton Athletic Club as well as by several angels including Geno Tolari, Robert White, and Jim Siefert who donated funds for the cause. Bill and Dallas resident CHS alum Bob Yaksick assisted the coaches to see that once the Bears arrived they were fed, housed, and otherwise looked after. 

Of course there is no way of telling how the Bears will do against this year's competition. Will our little school that graduated 50 students be able to once again compete against schools who graduate over 1,000 students per year? Stay tuned. We will bring the results on our next blog.

A little blogging music Maestro: “When the Saints go Marching In” by Benny Benack.

Dr. Forgot

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