Somewhere in the sixties, a night ...
It is a time of neighborhood football, a time when beating up on someone you disliked — to put it mildly — was sweeter than wine.
Near the midnight hour on a Friday, I am sitting at my desk in the old Star building on West 10th. I have just finished writing of a major upset out in West Anniston. Wellborn, which had lost to Oxford in a one-sided game earlier in the season, has just decked Oxford “in a one-sided game.”
There is a banging at the side door.
I get up walk down the hall, open the door. Standing outside are Ed Dupree, head football coach at Wellborn; and John Adcock, head basketball and assistant football coach at Wellborn. The two have grins as wide as the Missouri river. John is holding a fifth of Jack Daniel aloft, waving it, with:
“We just thought you’d need something to wash down all that crow you’re having to eat.”
We sat around my desk into the wee hours. We replayed the game, replayed the earlier game, we told stories on each other, we laughed at each other. The crow became more mellow as the night wore on.
One thing I should say here.
It is the only time in all my years at The Star I had a drink in our building. I also know neither Ed nor John were drinkers, period. But it was just one of those times and, well, it was special.
Just as John Adcock was special in my life, almost from the time he married Anniston beauty Sue Hollingsworth and became basket coach at Wellborn. He remained in my life until late Tuesday when the phone rang and I glanced at the caller ID. It was from Wayne Carden.
I knew before I said hello or heard:
“Mr. Smith, we lost him. We lost Coach.”
Just as he had been my friend for 50-plus years, he had been “Coach” to hundreds of Wellborn athletes in his time as a coach. And into all the years since he left coaching, years in which he served Wellborn in any way he was asked or could.
I am going to repeat a bit from Joe Medley’s column on Adcock in Wednesday’s paper. It is a story I told a long time ago in which Sue said:
“John became basketball coach at Wellborn on Monday, married me on Friday. I never knew exactly which was number one.”
What we all know, those of us who were blessed in his walk into our memories, was that he was a “Number One.” It is not only fitting, but deserving that the old gym at Wellborn where John did his coaching is named in his honor.
In the years after I left sports and began to write this column, I didn’t see John as often as before. But he and Sue, the blonde and I, would visit on occasion, grill hamburgers on the patio and live again our years in the toy shop.
But growing families and time lessened even that. We’d see each other on occasion at Jack’s on Quintard where it was always a battle to see who would pay for our grease fix. John just about always won, meeting me as I walked in with:
“I’ve already got it. It’s sitting on the table.”
The best part of that was an hour or so of catching up and “We’ve got to get together sometime. I’ll call you.”
Sadly, no more eggs and bacon and grits and biscuits at Jack’s. Happily, the memories are tucked away to be played and replayed when I sit and remember old friends who have gone away.
A very wise man once said that if you can fill up the fingers on one hand with five friends, really true friends, you are indeed blessed.
John Adcock was a finger on one of my hands, still is, will always be.
Take care, John ...