I was watching the TV sports guy talk about the high school playoffs, which have risen to important news, thanks to the dwindling of local professionals.
What he said, though, struck me funny. “This team,” he said, “are tough and mean and strong.”
He was talking about high school children, for goodness sake. I know some of them get pretty big by the time they get to be seniors. But tough and strong?
I remembered the real “tough and strong” contingent that rolled out on the field one day in New Orleans.
I was lucky enough to get to go with the Texas City High School band to the Super Bowl, where they were going to play at halftime. A real honor.
I was their camera man for the trip.
I stood out on the edge of the field near the benches occupied by the opposing team.
While I was standing there, all of the Jets came running out. I dodged out of the way just in time. They looked like a herd of buffalo. Enormous. Unhuman.
They were the epitome of tough and strong.
I didn’t get a picture of that team. Just the Texas City band. We flew to New Orleans and back, all on the same day.
That was one of many times I stood on the sidelines with a camera and only once was I imperiled. I didn’t get out of the way soon enough and got knocked down, camera and all, by a high school football player. It was in Hitchcock.
I got up and went about my business, unscathed.
I used to visit every Friday with Dr. Bob Sullivan, who was the team doctor and stood with me on the sidelines.
But not all my photographic experiences involved football. Not by a long shot.
It’s hard to remember now because I gave up using a camera for the newspaper long before I gave up writing. Once in a while, I miss it.
Some of the best pictures I took were of celebrities. Others were of catastrophes.
Helen Reddy of “I Am Woman” fame died just recently. I have a picture of her I took in Houston, along with Lorne Greene, Ben Cartwright in “Bonanza.” It was some sort of rally for a famous politician. I don’t remember who.
I went to many fires. The local fire chief, or one of his people, used to call me, even in the middle of the night, to come out for a big fire. But in most of those days and nights, I was only shooting in black and white. If you don’t have color, you don’t get very good fire pictures.
I took zillions of pictures of school children who had won reading awards. I used to line them up in the library, sitting on the floor, sitting in chairs on the floor, sitting in chairs on top of the big table, standing behind the chairs. Rows of smiling children, positioned so every mama could see the face of every child.
I took a picture of foam floating across the canal in the Texas City Port, suppressing gasoline that was leaking out of a barge. That was my most dangerous photo situation.
I liked photographing all those children’s faces much better.