Snow: A little compassion for the coach, please

September 8, 2012 

Ah, yes, football season, in all its color, thrills and violence, tears and cheers, is upon us.

I once raised the question in a column of how a coach’s family fares after the head of the house loses a big game.

Alice McClure of Washington, N.C., daughter of the late coach Frank Howard who put Clemson University on the football map, supplied a poignant answer.

“We suffered more for Dad than for ourselves,” she said.

She remembers when she was 10 leaving Tiger stadium after a loss. Trudging sorrowfully homeward, she came up behind two Clemson fans.

“They were really laying Daddy out,” she recalled. “They talked about what a sorry coach he was and about how he should have done this and that, and concluded by calling Daddy ‘the biggest lying S.O.B. in the whole state of South Carolina.’ ”

“Mama was waiting for me when I got home. The first thing I asked her when I walked in was, ‘Mama, what is a S.O.B.?’ ”

Alice remembers that after another loss, she found Coach Howard really down in the dumps. Trying to cheer him up, she said, “Daddy, it wasn’t your fault. It was pouring down rain ... and there was so much mud everywhere.”

“He looked at me with those deep blue, sad eyes, pulled me close and said, ‘Honey, it was raining on both sides of the field.’ ”

I share this to remind you that the coach out there is not just an unfeeling robot, desperately reaching for a bit of glory and trying to keep his job.

In most cases, somewhere in the stands, there is a family, suffering through every fumble or dropped pass and who, when, the final score is posted, will head happily homeward or go with a hurting heart for the man of the house.

Compassion scarce

On the way home from the beach via Interstate 40 we exited near Warsaw for gas.

At the bottom of the exit ramp, a stoplight caught us. Nearby, a middle-aged man with no legs maneuvered his wheelchair along the line of stopped cars.

The light changed and we moved forward, pausing long enough for my wife to hand the legless man a couple of bills and ask, “How did you lose your legs?”

“Diabetes,” he replied. He could have replied, “in Afghanistan” and perhaps increased his take, which looked to be sparse.

Although our transaction took mere seconds, two drivers behind us angrily pounded their horns.

I interpreted their impatience to mean they didn’t approve of giving alms to the poor, even those without legs.

Love story

Facebook fairy tales do come true, messages Raleigh reader Irving Goldstein. “I too was invited to ‘friend’ my college sweetheart on Facebook. We hadn’t seen each for 70 years, after being separated during World War II,” Irving says.

“After several months of e-mail correspondence bringing us up to date on our past lives up to our present status as widowed great-grandparents, we dared to schedule a meeting. The rapport was instant, as though we had never been separated.”

“Despite the common infirmities of age, a new hip for her, a bypass for me, we are still enjoying our time together, limited though it is by distance, since she lives in the D.C. area. I visit monthly by Amtrak for a week’s stay, and we hang out on Google every day.”

Irving just turned 91; his love is six months younger.

The heart is a lonely hunter, and when it finds a place to rest in peace, I say go for it!

Pun time

The umpire working the Little League game was mean-spirited and did not hold back his venom.

At the end of the game, a parent noticed that he had called one little boy over to him and apparently was trying to get him to sit on his lap. But the lad kept his distance.

“What’s going on there?” one parent asked.

“Oh, that’s the umpire’s son,” another replied.

“Well, why won’t the boy get closer?”

“Oh,” came the answer, “the son never sits on the brutish umpire.”

Snow: 919-836-5636 or

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