Happy Birthday, Ace….
Posted on: August 06,2013
It was a rainy day 47 years ago. I was just a kid. My dad, Ace, and I were driving around Hattiesburg and I told him I had decided, at 13, I wanted to be a sports writer.
Ace just kept on driving, never changed expression and didn’t say anything. A few minutes later we headed down a ramp to get on the highway. Ace slowed down to a crawl. Off to the side was an old, scraggly fellow trying to thumb a ride. His soaked, soiled clothes were in tatters. He hadn’t shaved in weeks. He probably carried all he owned in a knapsack. He smiled and seemed to be saying something as we drove past. He had no visible teeth.
Ace drove on for a minute and then broke his silence. “You see that guy back there?” he asked.
Ace sort of grunted.
“I know him. He’s a retired sports writer,” Ace said and never changed expression.
My father knew how to get a point across. His point that day was well-made and well-taken: If I chose sports writing, I would not be rich.
I chose it anyway and he helped me any way he could over the next few years, including some of the best writing advice I ever got.
He died 18 years ago. I miss him every day.
He would have been 87 today. Cheers, Pops.
I remember after they built the new stadium in the ’70’s, Ace called me up one day and asked me to bring my Datsun pickup truck over to his office. I couldn’t imagine what he had in mind. When I got there, he loaded some boxes into the back of my truck and we drove up the ramps to the new press box. This was the days before USM had golf carts and utility vehicles all over the place. Ace said he was not about to carry all those boxes up to the press box, and he figured my little pickup could manuever the corners on the ramps. He was right. Happy birthday, Ace.