Wednesday, February 28, 2024

My Father's Journal: "T N T"

T N T

By Ken Muir

 

[John's Note: My dad, Ken,  a sophomore when this early December, 1963, championship game was played. The participants wore no protective equipment.]


TNT was the name of the social club (fraternity) that I pledged and belonged to during my two years at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas. (’62-64)

 

A “small club,” we had only twenty-five members. After the rigors of pledge week and initiation we came together primarily for team sports events (flag football, basketball, softball, and track) and for social events, dinners, and outings, which were scripted once or twice in each semester.  We had a club queen and a sorority (Zeta Rho) with whom we were officially linked. We were not pressured to date Zeta Rho girls but there was a friendship bridge there.

 

Being a TNT member was the first time in my life that I had been truly part of something other than my family. And with the later exception of marriage, it would be the only time. It came to be the most meaningful development in my life during those two years other than my close friendship with my roommate, Delmer, for three semesters. And the intensity of that relationship was heightened significantly during my sophomore year when, because of my steadfast commitment to becoming a skilled “rag-tag” (flag football) player, I found myself sometimes included in the inner circle of club leadership….with the president, Eddy, his roommate Dave, and their suite-mate Gary. These three comprised the dynamic heart of the rag-tag squad and I felt privileged to be among them.

 

Our outings and initiation events in the “wilds of Arkansas” (farmlands, woods, etc.) are a story unto themselves, and I will not bore the reader with them here. But the sporting competitions were in a separate world of importance, and I will detail one of them.

 

While I played rag-tag, baseball, and volleyball during the intramural season and ran a leg of the 880-yard relay for TNT during the club season, it was flag football that was my -- and the club’s -- passion. I was a starter at defensive end in our four-man line and, on occasion if someone was injured, I played offensive end as well. Eight young men were on the field for each team.

 

TNT played so well, so dominantly, that it was determined that we couldn’t compete in the small club tournament. We were forced to compete for the school championship in the Big Club league (big clubs had forty or more members) throughout the season. Our opponent in this final game was Mohican, a storied group of guys who included in their rag-tag squad a large handful of varsity athletes who were “out of season,” that is, they were not varsity football players but rather varsity baseball, track, or basketball athletes. They were formidable opponents.

 

We were so sky high before the game that we could barely eat, flooded with adrenalin and noisy team spirit.

 

In a blood-soaked match that put four guys in the hospital, including our quarterback Gary, we prevailed over Mohican by a single touchdown. I defended my patch of corner ground as if my life depended on it, and several times as a play ended I lay on my back looking up at the night sky and the flood lights —having been steamrolled by a pair of Mohican blockers.

 

When Gary was pulled out late in the game to be taken to the hospital —bleeding heavily from the mouth because of a 90% severed tongue— I was called in to take over the offensive end spot. The regular end had moved to quarterback. Lining up opposite me was Larry, a mean and rangy junior who had delivered the chin-slug that put Gary in the hospital. 


On the first play from scrimmage Larry slammed me in the nose with the base of his hand…..all I could feel after that was blood draining across my lips and chin. I spent the remaining offensive plays of the game —fortunately they were few— diving across the line as the ball was snapped, doing my best to tangle him up, slow him down, and keep him out of our backfield.

 

Reading about the game days later (I still have the clipping in my ’64 yearbook) was one of the most exquisite moments of joy I had ever experienced until that time in my life. 

 

Looking back in subsequent years I came to understand full well why the armed forces want young men in the 18-22 years age bracket. 


We would have died for each other that night.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for these personal stories, John. In a way, they're rather instructive. I'm looking forward to reading more pages from your dad's journal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:53 AM

      Thank you, Simon! Your words mean a lot to me. I am glad you are part of the journey!

      Delete

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