It's a dreary Sunday and I'm sitting on my patio listening to Irma Thomas sing "It's Raining". Thoughts of New Orleans drift in and out of my mind. Here's a "Do Over" entry about a few of my old coaches in high school. (Yes ... I'm too lazy to write a new one).
first published 9/5/09
Fortier High School had three coaches that ran the sports program: Mook Clavier (Cluh-veah), Coach Didier (Did-e-yay), and Stanley Richard (Reee-shad). For purposes of this writing, I'll focus on Coach Richard.
Richard was my favorite and one of the most colorful characters I have ever known.
He was shorter than the rest ... about 5'8" and built like Mr. Universe (he was actually Mr. New Orleans one year). He also had a speech impediment that could have been caused by his missing upper dental plate or the apparent head trauma that must have plagued him when he played sports as a youngster.
Every day, before class we would have roll call. Coach Richard couldn't pronounce any names correctly and his ability to retain information was limited .... so he spelled them out. My friend Wayne's last name was Lassen (which he pronounced "Layyy-Thun"), I was "Mum-boig" and two guys who were named Schmidt and Smith were both called "Smitt". When he called out their names it was always: "Smitt"! "S-C-H-M-I-D-T" ... "Smitt"! "S-M-I-T-H".
We had regular workouts which meant running laps ... lots of laps. And like everything else at Fortier, the equipment was first class ... empty wooden soft drink crates that cornered the dirt track. From the coach's office that overlooked the field, Coach Richard would yell into the microphone ... the one probably used today in most Mc Donald's Drive Thrus. We never knew just what he was saying but after months of trying to figure it out, we came up with: "OKAY ... EVERYONE ... TAKE A LAP ... MAKE IT WIDE .... FIVE TIMES AROUND THE COKE CASES" (or , "otayebryuntakalapmayitwhydfitisarounddacokecattheth").
Coach taught the health class too. The most memorable was the movie he showed us about drunk driving. It was one of those sappy dramatizations that was probably shot 20 years earlier and had Eddie Haskell lines like "Gee, Mr. Smith, I don't know what had come over me when I could not retain control of my vehicle."
You know ... stuff all kids say.
Well, in the film, the lead teenager gets killed in a crash while drinking and comes back as a ghost to see what has happened to his family after his death. After about a half hour or so of watching the "ghost", Coach Richard stood up and turned off the projector. He flipped on the lights and said, "I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT THE BOY IS DEAD ... THEY CANNOT SEE HIM."
He turned on the projector, everyone thanked the coach for his insight and we watched the rest of the show.