Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Perfect Memory Kingman Style

August 26, 2014
   Last weekend I read Chuck Klosterman's "I Wear The Black Hat" about villains and who is really "evil." Chuck makes a case for tying a woman to the railroad tracks as being bonafied evil and sites the cartoon character Snidely Whiplash (from "Rocky and Bullwinkle") as a comedic example and then goes into the historical record, with this: "In 2008, this actually happened in Thailand—a 27-year-old woman named Niparat Tawonporn was tied to a railway path about five hundred miles south of Bangkok and cut in half by the oncoming locomotive."

   Last week when I was signing "The 66 Kid" at the Kingman Powerhouse, several old timers came by and regaled me with stories from a half century ago. Probably the most amazing, in terms of memory ability, came from this guy:

Coach Cunningham

   We got to talking about his very first varsity team, in 1961, that went all the way to state and lost to Casa Grande in the last minutes when Chicken fouled out. I was in eighth grade and listened to the game on the radio. I asked him about what happened and in the course of talking about it, Coach Cunningham proceeds to name his ten players and how tall they were: "Eric Bond, 6'0"; Chicken Esquibel, 5' 10"; Sonny Medina, 5' 11"; Carlos Lucero, 5' 4"; Dave Thode, 5' 4"; Bobbie Hendrix, 5' 6"; Dickie Grounds, 5' 6"; Billy Brakeman, 5' 11" and Dale Standerfer, 6' 0"." He went on to list the height of the Casa Grande players at 6' 3", 6' 6", etc. and his recall was uncanny. He coached for 20-some years and I wondered if he could do that with all his teams, or was it this first one indelible season etched in his memory?

   Here are the boys he's talking about (that's Cunningham in back):
That Championship Season for Kingman, 1961-62

   Now this is 52 years ago and he ran off the names and height as if it was yesterday. Amazing. This guy also had some memories down pat:

My eighth grade coach Les Byrum

   Les also had a dozen stories, most of them about me and my shenanigans. He'd say things like, "Boze drove Baca crazy, gave him no relief. . ." which was interesting since I had never heard the coach's side of things, only the grief Coach Baca gave me (for no reason! Ha!).

   Then there was this guy:

Gas station pioneer and longtime Kingman native Elmer Graves

   Elmer took a look at a photo of my dad's Flying A, leans down (it was at the bottom of my pop up banner), pointed at the Flying A sign and said:

The Flying A on Hilltop

   "I was sitting on the ledge of the sign replacing light bulbs in 1953 [three years before my father ran it] and I looked up to see a Studebaker go by and I thought to myself, 'That looks like my car.' Then I read the license plate [he sited the number, T-536, I believe] and realized it was my car. My wife had left the keys in the car and two kids stole it. They were finally apprehended at Peach Springs and I got my car back."

   One last story: I was giving my talk at the Mohave Museum and I mentioned a Billy Logas story and asked rhetorically, if anyone had ever heard about Billy driving a car off a cliff to see what it would feel like? A guy in the back, Tom Bowling, raises his hand and says, "I was in the car. Billy had a Scout and my girlfriend was in the back and I saw he was edging towards the edge of a cliff [this is the bluff east of the old Holiday Inn, now Ramada] and I jumped out, and Billy says, 'Oh, come on, Tom. Do you think I'm so crazy I'd drive off a cliff? Get in.' So I got in and he proceeded to drive off the ledge. . ."

   There's more to the story, but the point is, EVERYBODY in Kingman has a Billy Logas story.

"It's all storytelling."
—Deena C. Bortscheller, talking about sales in general