For the Wildcat alumni recognition before the first home football game, I was in about as good a company as you can get. There were a pitiful number of 11 who showed up for the event and scores who missed a real good outing.
It's a good bet most of the packed spectators thought it was unusual that three players from the 1946 team, graduates of 1947, wore that number on their jerseys presented to each of the alums by Cassville R-4. The reason was that others in the group had their playing numbers on their black and gold, but 67 years ago, when football returned to Cassville after World War II, there were no numbers on jerseys.
Times were tough then, and the team played in white practice tops, took them home Thursday after practice and washed them, then played in them Friday night. The opposition always wore a dark jersey either at home or away.
Coming from the farthest distance was Donald Ames, from the class of 1952, of Tulsa, Okla., who was a running back and wore number 32. Others were: Jim Bower, 1956, back and linebacker, 35; Larry Brock, quarterback-running back, 43, from 1960 as was R.G. Edmondson, Cassville line, 28; three from the 1946 squad, Calvin Holman, Cassville, line; Hank Mathis, Butterfield line; and Bob Mitchell, Cassville, back-end. These three are the only living members of the starting 11 of that squad of 67 years ago. Don Meyers, line, 50, 1952, rounded out those introduced.
Missing were Bill Kidwell, fullback, 19, 1960, and Doyle Nickle, halfback, 7, 1940.
Introduced from midfield, the experience was somewhat different from the field used during our era. Early practices found some time spent removing rocks, some that were number three throwing size and cow piles from the field because the field had been used for about everything for the community, including a rodeo arena prior to resumption of football.
For one thing, the postholes for the rodeo fence had to be filled before any serious injury occurred. Also, lights had to be refocused and some relocated, but were still nothing like the illumination that exists for today's players.
It was nothing like the plush grass on today's stadium field, just one of the indications of how far the game of football has come over the years.
If there was a disappointing factor in the program, it had to be the turnout for all the preparations made by R-4. Many of us had looked forward to seeing some of the players that made the teams of the late coach Dean George. They were the team that won everything in the Tri-County League, decisively enough that the Wildcats were asked to leave the conference the following year or the league would dissolve.
It would have been good to see some of the Wildcat alumni just under the 1959 and before level that was sponsored this year. Those were the years when victories were scarce, but the team went on the field every Friday night of the season and did their best.
As a note, today's field is the third for the Wildcats since the 'stadium', no bleachers, but parking room for cars and standing room for spectators, were at the field that ran adjacent to the old high school building.
For the information of others on up the ladder, it's the idea of R-4 to pick up a 10-year stretch before the opening home game each year in the future and make equal recognition for those past players.
For the initial event of this type, the proceedings were well planned and executed by Superintendent Richard Asbell, Assistant Superintendent Jill LeCompte and Coach Lance Parnell. The alums were well fed in a spread provided by John and Janet Sullivan.
It will be interesting to be around, if that might be possible, when the teams that took back-to-back state championships to Cassville are recognized. That should be some real bash.
In case you hadn't noticed, the calendar tells us that next Sunday is the first day of autumn, which might be the best possible time of the year in this part of the country. Signs of the fall arrival are all around us; colors changing and leaves falling from the first species of trees to lose their canopy this time of the year.
This arrival means there will be programs and events throughout our communities that are worthy of local support. My best suggestion is to pay attention to the Cassville Democrat's weekly column of coming events, and don't miss those that interest you most.
I can tell you from experience, the people that provide this entertainment make more of an effort than you might realize in planning and producing these events. They are both for their own enjoyment, to put their communities in the spotlight and bring people into the Barry County Ozarks to show this is actually God's Country.