Saturday, March 04, 2006

Watkins Field - A Different View

A very good friend of mine who I worked with for years at BellSouth/EDS played football in Shelby County and he played once at Dora in the 60's. When he read my note about Watkins Field, he offered a different perspective of Watkins Field. His comment follows. It is a facinating story.
To paraphrase part of your blog, Rick, I too "remember the first time I went to a football game at Watkins Field at Dora High School." I wasn't in the fourth grade, though. I was a junior at Thompson High School in Siluria(Alabaster, Alabama).
My memories weren't as fond as yours, but they were unforgetable just the same. I was a starting lineman/linebacker for the Thompson Warriors, with hopes of college scholarships and football fame. We knew Dora was an exceptional team, with many super athletes in that fall of 1963. We proved to be no match for the Bulldogs that night, having been manhandled by halftime. This, by the way, was when I left the game. On the last play of the first half my dreams of sports ended and my path through life changed, with the crunching and tearing of a left knee which would never be the same. Even though that night at Watkins Field I didn't know the severity of the injury, eventual surgery and rehab couldn't restore it to good use.
All of that night was not about pain. That is not what this comment is about.
I remember a pretty good half of football I had, against a very tough team.
I remember two young Dora cheerleaders who came to check on me as I watched the second half from Dora's side of the field.
Three years later, in the Fall of 1966, I was drafted into the Army for the buildup in Viet Nam. The knee again failed me and after only two months the Army discharged me. I was injured, hospitalized, discharged, and returned home.
I mention this because, if I have the story right, Dora High School lost a favorite son in Viet Nam, possibly a player on the field that night in 1963.
I've often wondered if he could have been the one who set my life to tumbling, changing my life that night. I wonder if by chance he took my place. Could a chance meeting of the two of us, have directed our fate?
I remember it Rick, but I've yet to decide if, after over 42 years, Watkins Field cursed me or blessed me.
Ken Owens

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