"How does it feel to be back home again, Tonto?" a man asked.
"Why," said Tonto, "it feels just like that—home. Some of our happiest years were spent right on this campus. Of course, I grew up in Roscoe. My daddy moved us from Alabama when I was about 10. I was born in the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama. It was named for a railroad man, I believe, for no other reason than that he had the first house there. There were only about 300 people in Phil Campbell when we lived there. Now I expect there must be double that.
"Phil Campbell seemed like a big town when we got to Texas. My daddy got a farm at Wastella. That town consisted of a store and a two-teacher school. We had to scratch for a living. Our nearest neighbor was three miles away. Occasionally we'd have visitors, but not often. I can remember my mother waking me some mornings and saying, "Arthur, get up and go look under the house for a hen's nest. We've got company for breakfast." In that part of Texas, visitors showed up unannounced. I've told the story about how first thing I'd do ordinarily in the morning would be to go out on the road and see if anything had been run over during the night that would put some meat on the table."
"Tonto," a woman said, "now that you're back in Alabama, how are you going to like having a lady governor?"
"Why," said Tonto, "you mean Lurleen? Well, now, a lady governor won't be any novelty to me. You're too young, ma'am, to remember Ma Ferguson right here in Texas. Oh, those were days. Governor Jim Ferguson, he was impeached by the lower house of the legislature and was due to be tried by the Senate. But he resigned and decided to run Ma in his place. I can remember him campaigning through this part of Texas. He'd drive up to the edge of a town in his big automobile and his city clothes and stop outside the town limits. There'd be a farm wagon waiting with a few bales of hay in it and ol' Jim would change to a pair of well-worn overalls, put on an old straw hat and stick a piece of hay between his teeth and drive the mules on down Main Street, calling out, "Howdy! How y'all? Ma and me would sure appreciate your help in this election that will vindicate the Ferguson name!'
"Well, Ma was elected, and then the action started. Ol' Jim was a lawyer, and so he developed a specialty of getting people out of prison. In those days all the governor had to do was sign a pardon and the prisoner went free. The procedure was that if your daddy, say, was serving a term, you'd just retain Jim at as big a fee as you could get up. If you were short on cash, Ol' Jim would take prime farmland instead. Once he had accepted the case, Jim would present the facts to Ma and she invariably saw things his way. Well, the upshot was that pretty soon more people were coming out of the prisons than were going in."
"Remember when you were head coach here," one of the old grads said, "you came out in the 5-4-2 defense? That's where it originated, wasn't it, Tonto, right here with you? And then Bud Wilkinson took it up at Oklahoma and it spread all over."
"Well," said Tonto, "I think we were the first to use the 5-4, but I wouldn't say we invented it. There's very few absolutely new things in football. But, speaking of defense, it puts me in mind of the time I was playing at Roscoe and we had a game with Snyder. They stopped us cold on every play. No matter what we tried, those Snyder boys seemed to know just where the play was heading. We took a bad beating and after the game I asked one of the Snyder players how they did it. This boy said, "Oh, we just happened to notice that whoever came out of the huddle wearing the helmet usually carried the ball." "
"You got off to a very good start when you were named head coach here at Abilene, Tonto."
"Yes," said Tonto, "we had a fine year at the beginning. In fact, the alumni were so enthusiastic about the team and my coaching that they started agitation to get me a lifetime contract."