Up & Down Commerce Street – Oct. 31

Published 1:34 pm Monday, November 1, 2010

Terence Mann said, “The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”

The above quotation, spoken so eloquently by noted actor James Earl Jones in the role of the 60s activist author in Field of Dreams, could have very easily referred to last Friday night in Greenville High School’s cafeteria. Coach Wayne Woodham, who turned the kittens into Tigers, returned for recognition. We were there to bear witness.

From 1980 to 1985, Woodham made Greenville High School football feared and respected throughout the state of Alabama. Former superintendent Shelby Searcy, who hired Woodham, called it “the greatest era” of Tigers football. We can’t argue against that, especially considering how woeful GHS football had been in the decades of the 60s and 70s.

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Woodham recognized the names many times before the faces during his reunion with former players, (age does have its way of changing us). The hugs followed the inevitable recognition. Bonds forged on a football field beneath a well-loved coach last for a lifetime. Every player’s name evoked another memory from Woodham.

One recollection in particular shows the dedication Woodham’s teams had for being the best.

The 1985 Tigers allowed just six points during the regular season, shutting out nine opponents en route to a 13-1 season (GHS fell to Dora 22-20 in the semifinals). Those six points came against Monroe County in the fourth game of the year. Woodham recalled defender Curtis Grey coming to sidelines after Monroe had scored with tears streaming down his face. “Coach, if I could have been one step faster they wouldn’t have scored,” Woodham recalled Grey saying.

The Tigers won 41-6.

Already a member of the Wiregrass Hall of Fame, Woodham was the first name entered into the Greenville High School football Hall of Fame on Friday night.

That, we know, is fitting.

Mrs. Barbara Willis will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Mrs. Willis departed the physical world on Sunday. God must have needed someone to look out for the children, because for over 50 years that’s what Mrs. Willis did. She looked after the children of R.L. Austin Elementary School in Georgiana.

She also looked after some adults as well, and that included this writer. Whenever we visited the school, it was required that we stop by Mrs. Willis’ office first for some conversation. It usually involved when a yet-to-be-purchased ring was going to be placed on a certain first grade teacher’s hand. And we did, thankfully, accomplish that goal before her passing.

We will miss Mrs. Willis. Our community has lost one of its most endearing personalities.

We enjoyed a short visit to Callaway Gardens early last week. It was the first time we’d graced their presence since the springtime of our youth. Did you know you could now LIVE in Callaway Gardens? We did not, however, inquire on the pricing (although we skirted the roads trying to find access to the development – alas, they all required a pass key).

We also took a hop, skip and a jump over to Warm Springs and visited President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Little White House.” If you’re ever over that way, eat at Oscar’s Steak & Seafood. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is built in a cow pasture and its dusty parking lot and exterior resembles the bar in Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse.

It’s good food.

Especially the Angus steak and fried mushrooms.

Tuesday, Nov. 2 will finally bring some much-needed relief from the constant bombardment in television, web, and print of those who would desire our votes.

About the only thing we need to say is get out and do your civic duty. Make the choice you deem best for yourself, the county, and the great state of Alabama. If you do this, then you have done what was required of you.

Then, thank the Heavens, we can finally get some relief.