Football fever takes up residence in this Central Mississippi town, population 5,000, every fall. Twelve players is about all this team ever has…12 players who win with their hearts…12 players, not always the same, but 12 players from this town who have won more games than any other 12 players in the entire state. The previous Coach had been there for years and now his son was taking over where his father had left off…a son who had only 2 weeks to prepare for the first game of the year…what would play well on this night? Folks with blankets and stadium seats, children laughing, running…off key notes from the new band…cheerleaders jumping about in green and white short skirts…all noises necessary for any worthwhile football stadium…the fans kept coming until the stadium was overflowing. The other team arrives and piles out of bright yellow school buses. Both teams are now on the field waiting…
Eyes search the twilight sky. A stillness falls over the crowd as a tiny dot, the twin-engine plane, appears. The plan circles and a sky diver begins his slow graceful descent…a red plume of smoke leaves a trail. He lands perfectly on the fifty yard line, game ball in hand. We stand for the National Anthem. And then, an extraordinary sound, as if all the people in the stadium had sucked in their breath at the same time as all eyes, once again, look up. A second plane, a second sky diver, with an American flag attached is writing “H. D.” in the sky. As the last note drifts through the dusk, the second diver makes a perfect landing into the now Gillespie-Robertson stadium, renamed this night for their beloved former “Coach”.
My brother, Cotton (H. D.) Robertson, would have had a “hissy-fit” if all this was staged before HIS opening football game. If he couldn’t coach, he would rather be dead. We had buried him on Wednesday, two weeks ago.