Wednesday’s beans ’n greens ’n other things:
ONE OF my table partners at the recent 90th birthday party in Bessemer for former sports writing pal Bill Lumpkin was Terry Henley.
If you came along in sports about the time I did (1958-77) here at The Star, that’s a familiar name. I don’t know the years, but Henley was an All-County running back at Oxford and then at Auburn, where he became known as “Hee-Haw.”
Henley’s country twang, a lot like mine, got him that moniker.
And sitting with Terry brought back a memory of the first time I met “the kid.”
I am sitting at my desk at The Star (old building on West 10th) when I hear this twangy:
“I wanta see Mr. Smith, please.”
I held up my hand and Henley, a sixth-grader at the time, marched to my desk and without any fanfare let me have:
“Mr. Smith, my name is Terry Henley and I just wanted to tell you I’m going to be the best football player you’ve ever seen.”
The next time I ran into Henley, I was covering a track meet at Saks when a small rock hit me in the back. It was Henley:
“Just wanted to let you know I’m here, Mr. Smith ... and don’t forget what I told you.”
I didn’t, and while Terry may not have been the best I ever saw, he was something special. I don’t think I’ve ever known any athlete who got more out of his ability than did Terry.
He was first-team All-SEC in 1972, is in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Calhoun County Hall of Fame, and a member of Auburn’s Decade of the ’70s Team.
And after all these years, he is still Terry “Hee-Haw” Henley.
Thanks for one more “Mr. Smith,” ... “Mr. Henley.”
BIRTHDAYS: June 13 — John Austin; June 14 — Drew Rhodes.
A SPECIAL Happy Birthday to Ellison Kate Smith, who turned 4 on Tuesday.
She’s my great-granddaughter and the one who recently told me:
“Poppa you’re so old.”
Ellie, I hope to get old enough to see you breaking hearts and your daddy going nuts “vetting” all the boys who will be showing up at your front door.
A truth is “my” Ellie is a heartbreaker and already knows the only three things she needs in this life ... how to flirt, how to say “no,” and how to pout.
Poppa loves you ...
THE DEATH of C. M. Newton a week or so back brought back some memories of the years he was head basketball coach Alabama and I was a sports writer.
One memory is a week or so after he was hired a few of us were sitting in Coach Bryant’s office with one question: What and who is a C. M. Newton?
“Fellas, he was the only basketball coach I could find that wasn’t crazy as hell.”
Hired away from tiny Transylvania in Kentucky, Newton became the Tide’s best basketball coach ever.
In his years at Alabama, he ran up a 211-113 record and Alabama became the only school other than Kentucky to win three consecutive SEC championships.
He was a person of quiet class and a pleasure to just be around.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org