1928 - Alderson High School - 1968




Alex McLaughlin - December 4, 2012

Every so often I go with Mary Jo to visit he mother and all of her family in Tucson, Arizona.  Since it was my mother in law's 90th birthday around thanksgiving this year we decided to go to Tucson this year to celebrate both events. 


When we got to Arizona my brother in law convinced me and my son in law A. J. to play basketball with him and his teenage grandchildren. West Virginia against Arizona. We played for two hours for two days. It was hot but we were playing half court in a mildly contested half court game.

I had no illusions about even trying to defy gravity. That ability was long gone. I was completely disoriented about where I was on the court and on a couple of occasions I actually tried to make a basket from under the basket, a physical impossibility unless I had been an octopus. At one point the second day I was invigorated and started running around wildly like an old man. But my dreams were for naught as the young whippersnappers ran by me as if I weren’t there.


One of my other brother in laws is a supporter of the University of Arizona football team, known to the Tucson people as U of A. Friday of that week the U of A was playing their bitter rivals Arizona State, known as ASU. He invited us to the game.

Like very other college football game, the stadium was filled with colored shirts of the home team (U of A red) and a smattering of colors of the visiting team (ASU yellow). After years of defying the convention of wearing one color or the other at a game, I broke down and wore red. I did this in part to honor my brother in laws’ loyalty to the University of Arizona. But also there were many more in red and I liked our odds if a fight broke out. 

My brother in law had seats very high up. It was a good view. My other brother, the basketball player, had primo seats. His wife is an x ray technician who sits with the team docs and is on call whenever they need to X-ray an injured player.

 It is hard to follow a game when you don't have a dog in the hunt and all of the teams look very much alike with the spread offense. Arizona surged ahead at the end of the third quarter by two touchdowns. A. J. and I left because we were un enthused and we had to catch a plane out early the next day. State in a sudden bizarre fashion ended up winning the game by one touchdown

I neglected to mention that the University of Arizona head coach is Rich Rodriguez who is from Grant Town in Marion County West Virginia. He played football at WVU, coached at WVU and later coached at Michigan before landing in Arizona. He left the coaching position at WVU under strained circumstances and some of the more insane West Virginia fans have never forgiven him for that. He is generally liked in Tucson.

Mary Jo flew back a couple of day after we did. She wanted to spend time with her mother. On the trip back from Tucson to Atlanta, she sat beside Rich Rod. She was convinced that it was him. She said he didn't say much, was polite and was on his computer most of the time. She is not a big sports fan so she didn't say anything either. When she texted me that she had sat beside him I told her to wash her hands. 


 In my previous visits to Tucson, I had been to Mexico. I wanted something different this year. I wanted to find a true southwest guru. I identified a guru in Chandler a suburb to the east of Phoenix. So I borrowed a car and headed west on US 10 that runs from Tucson to Phoenix.

The trip is through miles of arid flat desert land with an occasional mound sprouting up out of the ground. There was probably more grass or turf on the U of A field than I saw in my entire trip. There were bales and bales of cotton all along the road and the towns at the exits looked like something out of the Coen Brothers movie "No Country for Old Men”. Very appropriate title.

I drove up to the guru’s house and out he came to meet me. It was Barry Worrell, The Aldersonian guru. He looked exactly like I remembered him except he was taller and younger looking than I had imaged him.  Barry says he did not remember me growing up in the 50s but since he was older I remembered him. We had not set eyes on each other in 55 years.

We had a wonderful time talking over shared memories of Alderson for more than 4 hours. Barry's wife, Linda, who was originally from Rupert added to the memories. We did share one common non- Alderson experience. We had both seen a great blue grass group named the Seldom Scene at the Red Fox Inn in Bethesda Maryland. We both also remembered seeing an aspiring female country singer who later made it big. But we couldn't remember her name. I now remember that the one I saw was Emmy Lou Harris.

I actually saw the computer where the Aldersonian is composed and stored. It was a wonderful day and they were wonderful hosts. I learned that gurus are people too.

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