Youthful Joy

June 29th, 2012

It’s a rainy fall Saturday afternoon in 1970. I’m 10 years old. My friend Chris and I are at my father’s furniture store in Ft. Worth. Rambunctious fifth graders jumping on sofas and beds. Skipping between dining room tables playing paper football. First one to 100 wins.

In those days, there was only one college football game on TV each week. On the radio is a UT football game. Probably Rice. Maybe Baylor. The Longhorns are defending national champions. Riding a 25-game winning streak that would reach 30 leading up to a New Year’s Day matchup with Notre Dame. Connie Alexander is vividly calling play by play.

The Longhorns coach, Darrell Royal, was renowned for his homespun sense of humor:

“Breaks balance out. The sun don’t shine on the same ol’ dog’s rear end every day.”

“He’s not very fast, but maybe Elizabeth Taylor can’t sing.”

“[TCU is] like a bunch of cockroaches. It’s not what they eat and tote off, it’s what they fall into and mess up that hurts.”

And, his most famous quote: “Dance with the one who brung you.”

It’s the summer of 2012. I’m 52 years old. Earlier this year, DKR’s wife announced the 87-year-old legend suffers from dementia. “Every day since Darrell’s diagnosis,” she said, “I deal with the stress of managing everything without my best friend at my side helping me make decisions.” I met Coach Royal a few times during my television career, and he was as warm and charming as your grandfather. It’s sad to think he doesn’t remember all the great things his teams did that made me into a lifelong fan.

Chris and I went to that ’71 Cotton Bowl together. Sat in the stands… by ourselves. I lost a bet when his dad’s Fighting Irish beat my two older brothers’ Longhorns. I paid him the nickel on the way to the car.

We attended grade school and high school together. Played at least 200 rounds of golf as kids. Shared a dorm room for a year at UT before he transferred to Notre Dame. After college, we rented an apartment for a few years. His younger brother John was the co-founder of our travel company, godfather of our daughter and my most trusted confidant.

I’ve learned a lot from the Anthony brothers over the past four decades. Here’s hoping I never forget all the wonderful memories.

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