The Bear an outstanding legend

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Unplanned, sort of happenstance get-togethers, we have found, oftentimes are the goodest kind of happenings that befall mankind.

A case in point can be made with authority if you'll read on and learn of what occurred during a free-form vacation engaged in by self and wife Nina.

During that two-week sojourn through Texas, to Mile-High Denver and back through the Heartland of

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America, we discovered a real Mecca, an oasis sort of, where we spent the most pleasant three hours of our journey.

That time was spent at the small town of Fordyce, Arkansas, county seat of Dallas County, Ark. Fordyce is within hailing distance of Moro Bottom, birthplace of the renowned Paul "Bear" Bryant and also the home of the famed Redbug football team where he strutted his stuff in high school.

We mention the above in preface to the tale at hand, which includes the Bear's high school quarterback, Clark "Click" Jordan, the lone survivor of that team.

It was through the offices of the Fordyce Chamber of

Commerce (always thought chambers served a good purpose) that we met and supped with "Click" and his wife Alice.

We contacted the Clicker by phone and were urged to visit him at his h o m e because, as he said, "I love to

talk." We did so, and he was standing in the yard awaiting our arrival.

Nothing would do but to have us in his home, to sit and

chat at length, about things past, things present and the outlook for the future. It was nearing the noon hour when Click told his wife to set the table "because we've got company for lunch."

The fare consisted of cornbread and a slew of fresh vegetables from the home garden, with iced tea; all this topped off with oven-hot buttered pound cake. U-m-m-m good.

During our conversation we found that Click and the Bear,along with several others of the Fordyce Redbugs, had been offered football scholarships to the University of Arkansas.

They all indicated they'd accept, said Click, but when the time arrived to head for Fayetteville, the Bear was nowhere to be found.

"But we found out where he was a couple of days later when Bear phoned us from Tuscaloosa saying he had decided to stay in Alabama.

They tried to dissuade him, said Click, "but he had been kidnapped by that onehanded Hank Crisp andthat's where he stayed."

He reminisced at length about the days of wine and roses, the tough days of the Depression, but always came back to the subject of the Bear, the man he loved dearly, almost to the point of reverence.

"A great man, a great philosopher, and a great psychologist," the Click noted, "perhaps the most outstanding individual I've ever known."

He told of his visits with Bear at Tuscaloosa and how they'd go quail hunting together at Jimmy Hinton's Sedgefields Plantation near Safford, Ala.

The Clicker regaled us at length about those sorts of things, but he is perhaps as proud of his uninterrupted church attendance (51 years without missing one Sunday) as he is of any accomplishment during his lengthy career.

He noted that brief stints in the hospital (two Sundays during the 51 year span) kept him in his hospital bed, but his fellow church members kept the string of attendance unbroken by traveling and holding services in his room.

After we finished our meal, Click and Alice conducted us on a brief tour to the Moro Bottom scene to show us the site where the Bear originted, a scant three or four miles out of Fordyce.

We snapped off a few rounds of pictures there with various members of our party posing beneath the sign proclaiming Bear's birthplace.

Volumes could be written about that brief stop along the way, how Click foretold the imminent debacle of Coach Jack Crowe at Arkansas U. and the improbability of an extended tenure of Ray Perkins at Arkansas State.

But time and space preclude an in-depth discourse on those matters at this writing. It leaves us fodder for future deliberations on those subjects.

Suffice it to say at this time that we eagerly look forward to future unplanned free-form get-togethers that will impress as favorably as does the above-described series of events.

(The above is a rerun of a column printed here on Sept. 10, 1992. It is particularly apropos at the height of the football season, and descriptive of the game's greatest college coach ever to ply his trade

the late Paul "Bear" Bryant.)