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Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Letter jacket evokes

high school memories

PECOS, Jan. 21, 2003 - Smokey the Boss dragged an old letter jacket from his high school days to the office this morning, then had the audacity to put it on to show it still fits. I hate him.

If I still had one of my maroon-and-white letter jackets from Flomot, I probably couldn't even get it on, much less snap or zip it up. I entered the freshman class and the "B" basketball team at a skinny age 12, with black high-top boys tennis shoes Daddy bought at Lacy Dry Goods in Turkey.

Sister, the fashion plate, was too embarrassed to wear the black shoes, but I was glad to get them.

It was that or play barefooted. I didn't even care that my skinny legs looked like stilts sticking out of the maroon satin uniform. I just wanted to play ball.

My first taste of basketball came in 8th grade, when we had a choose-up game one day at noon. I was one of three forwards on the split court we used back in the olden days, and made 8 points, bare feet and all.

That hooked me for life. I still can't walk past a group shooting baskets without grabbing the ball and taking a shot. The ball nearly always falls short of the goal, because I misjudge my waning strength. It doesn't keep me from trying, though.

After Daddy bought us the black shoes, I played in a real game against Turkey, on their court. I was so shy about attempting a goal that I would stand right under it and feed the ball to another forward.

Finally, with much urging, I did try a shot and it fell way short. Anyway, it was fun.

Once I got the bug, nothing could stop me. We had democratic elections to determine team captains, and my freshman year I was captain of the "B" team _ what we would call junior varsity now. We went everywhere the "A" team went, and played against the host school's "B" team. Sister Mary, two years older and a junior, joined me on the court and we mowed down the competition.

The next year, I made the "A" team, and Sister was my substitute. She didn't get to play much, because I was always there and never tired of playing.

I did sit out one game so she could play, but it was pure misery. I think she was actually a better player than I was and should have been a starter all the time.

We played two schools that went all out to win, even if it meant playing rough. Silverton had some rugged guards that gave me a hard time, but it was Matador I hated to face.

They would stop at nothing to win, even to bribing the referee. Those big girls would put a body block on skinny little kids like me and knock us flat, then throw up their hands to show they hadn't touched us.

My senior year, Matador put Frances Traweek on me as guard. She was tall and skinny and stuck to me like glue.

There was no way I could get a shot off over those long arms. And it was hard to outrun her because of her long legs. She could dive like a swan, though, and I enjoyed watching her in the Roaring Springs swimming pool.

Turkey also had some rough guards, and I had one that kept kneeing me in a tournament at Flomot. I got so angry that once when she planted that knee in my stomach I balled up my fist and hit her in the mouth, adding a fiery epithet (cuss word to you). Neither of us drew a foul for that, but we both should have been thrown out of the game.

Basketball is supposed to be a non-contact sport, but it's hard to keep your hands off an opponent when she is getting the best of you.

I played so rough with two of my nephews once that they went in the house and complained to my sister. Well, it was their own fault. If they hadn't been so good, I could have beat them fair and square.

Life is like that. Sometimes we get frustrated when things don't go our way and let our anger overrule our sense of fair play. Solomon says don't do that.

"An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins." Proverbs 29:22, NIV

Our View

Do Hispanics all think alike?

A half-dozen national columnists have shared their thoughts on Hispanic voters recently. Most commented on the damage done to the Republican cause by ex-senate majority leader Trent Lott's comments at a party for retiring Senator Strom Thurman.

Lott had the bad taste to say that Thurman would have been a good president if he had been elected when he ran in 1948. Part of the party's platform back then was support for segregation.

The gist of most of these columns is that Lott's remarks show Hispanic voters that the Republican party is this, or the Republican party is that, etc….

Each column takes a swing at the racism people took from Lott's remarks.

The bothersome thing in each of these columns is not the point each tries to make, but rather the universal willingness to lump all people who speak a version of Spanish into one mindless lump of like-minded people.

If these columns were your only source of information you would be convinced that everyone you can classify by heritage as Hispanic has the exact same set of values, the same goals and the same needs.

You could only assume that there are no conservatives or liberals of Spanish origin, no Libertarians, or Green Party types _ only a tightly knit group of mostly-tan individuals who think alike and vote alike.

There appears to be a universal willingness to classify all people of Spanish origin into one lump. Obviously, all Hispanics are not of the same mind, and probably, like other Americans, where they do think politically alike, it is more because of social and economic forces in their lives, not some shared ethnic or linguistic heritage.

The irony is that each of these columnist commits a form of racism as they discuss the topic of racism and universally criticize Lott for his remarks.

Of course, it is easy to fall into the same trap.

According to most polls, a clear majority of Hispanics vote Democrat, and associate with the ideals of the Democratic Party.

But, it is not their shared places of origin or language or skin color that influences their votes; it is their shared social and economic background.

As more and more Hispanics assimilate into mainstream American culture, more and more will develop political views that differ.

Then columnist may have to start referring to them as Americans, or

democrats, or Republicans.

That would be a nice change.

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