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Not until my first car date years later did I experience anything as thrilling as the Saturday afternoon of Nov. 30, 1935. It was the day TCU and SMU played a football game of such monumental dimensions that my dad took the precaution of bringing along an extra flask of "cough medicine" to the stadium.
Two prizes of unbearable importance were at stake in the game: the national collegiate championship and a bid to the Rose Bowl. Neither prize had ever before been earned by a Texas team. To the fans of the two neighboring cities, Fort Worth and Dallas, the game meant something more: bragging rights for all eternity.
My relatives and everyone else began playing the game weeks ahead of time, for it was evident that TCU and SMU were so talent-laden they were bound to arrive at their colossal meeting with unblemished (10-0) records, which they did.
I was accustomed then to being dragged to TCU workouts, and it was always fun to watch Sam Baugh spit tobacco and lie on the grass when he wasn't knocking somebody down with the football. And it was terrifying at first to hear Dutch Meyer growl.
Dutch was almost a cartoon character of a football coach, a tough little man in a baseball cap with a whistle around his neck. When he spoke the word "football" it sounded like a volcano erupting, and all the words that followed it in a sentence came out like the scratching of cleats on a sheet of rusty tin.
At some point during the week of preparations for that SMU game, Dutch no doubt said:
"FOOTBALL...is a game played by MEN! Not a bunch of damn sissies and city slickers from Dallas!"
There was a moment that week when I went over and stood as close as I could to Sam Baugh and Center Darrell Lester, the All-Americas, and another of my heroes, Jimmy Lawrence, a great all-purpose halfback. They were relaxing on the sideline.
To the group, I inquired, "How do you get to be a TCU water boy?"
I won't swear it was Sam Baugh, but a voice replied: "First, you go over there and ask the trainer if he's got anything to cure lice."