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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


August 6, 1998

Monahan's Well

By Jerry Curry
High school football was fun.

From August through December when I was a tad more than 40
years ago, I worked for a coach named Dangerous Don
Dempsey. Dangerous Don Dempsey was a Little All America and
he had been a Marine in the South Pacific and Korea.
Dangerous Don Dempsey never really recognized any difference
between being a Marine Drill Instructor and a high school
football coach. Both demand perfection in those they teach.
Both are prepared to ensure those they teach have a
positive learning experience. Both expound an eternal truth
- if you finish second, you lost.

Every August over the decades I recall Dangerous Don
Dempsey standing with his assistant drill instructors
(Excuse me, coaches) as they welcomed us to the glories of
high school football. Dangerous Don Dempsey always stressed
academics. Academics, Dangerous Don Dempsey would say, will
be resolved before anything else happens.

In that Pleistocene Age in which I played my high school
football, it was required that a player maintain a "C"
average in all subjects to be able to play on Friday Night.
These averages were totaled from week to week and reports
gleefully given by math and English teachers to Dangerous
Don Dempsey, who took a personal interest in the academic
advancement of his football players.

For those few who had strayed from the academic path,
Dangerous Don Dempsey took immediate action. He would call
the miscreants from the exercise lines at the conclusion of
the day's practice. He would take them with him in full
pads beyond the confines of the school campus over beyond
the baseball field into the brush where remedial
instruction would begin.

Away from the sight but not the hearing of others, Dangerous
Don Dempsey explained the necessity of academics to a
football player. He emphasized studious application to
things academic. He would note academics were as important
as the playbook. He would do this by accentuating the
Theorem of the Lombardian Forearm Flex and The Allegory of
the Head Slap.

Usually a week's tutorial for three or four hours after
practice with Dangerous Don Dempsey was more than
sufficient to restore the intellectual abilities of players
who fell below the "C" average for a week.

In those rare instances in which the remedial instruction
did not take, the players involved simply vanished. We
believed Dangerous Don Dempsey buried them in the woods. It
would be wrong to say we were afraid of Dangerous Don
Dempsey - we were terrified.

Every August, I recall those halcyon days of high school
football, the thrill of the grass drills from end line to
end line and how that was one race in which the backers and
the linemen always beat the backs and wideouts, the pleasure
of two-on-one drills (Dangerous Don Dempsey did not believe
in one-on-one. Two-on-one builds character, he often would
say), the ecstasy of running the stadium seats in stocking
feet, the joy of attacking alone the four-man sled with all
400 pounds of line Coach Ike Sharp riding it and hearing
Coach Ike's gentle lectures on our genetic patterns as we
hit. It's August, time to recall the joy of pain.

God, I miss it so.

It was rain, real rain

Sometime after the evening news on Monday night, Aug. 3,
1998, it began to fall, a slow, light rain out there on the
City of Monahans, Ward County, Texas in the northern
reaches of the Chihuahua Desert. Word passed quickly.
Someone brought a new baby into the street, who at first
whimpered and then smiled as the drops of water fell
lightly on her and her mother.

It was rain, real rain. The smiling infant had never seen
anything like this in her life. It was rain, real rain, not
a lot perhaps, not nearly enough to break the Drought of
'98. That'll take two or three real gully washers. Real
rain has not fallen in Monahans since before last Christmas.
Early Tuesday, Aug. 4, before dawn, that same light, easy
cooling rain still was falling. After a Tuesday afternoon
and evening recess, the soft rain returned about midnight
Wednesday. We are not making this up.

Governor's staff goofed on this

Last week the staff of Gov. George W. Bush came to Monahans
and met with a bunch of angry, generally upset and
definitely frustrated West Texas law enforcement officers,
most of them county sheriffs. The sheriffs and the city
police department command officers were semi-perturbed
about the decision of the Criminal Justice Division of the
Governor's Office to deny federal funds to the Permian
Basin Drug Task Force and kill it. They did this based on
allegations of fiscal misfeasance and malfeasance. They did
this based on an investigation that lasted 18 months, an
investigation whose report to this day has not been
presented to any grand jury, federal or otherwise. They did
this, because someone did not like the commander and deputy
commander of the defunct task force. They did this because
they had the power to do it. And they did this without
telling the board of the old task force what was going on so
the board, which includes Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele,
could do something about the allegations if they had merit,
which they apparently do not if the lack of action on the
investigation report means anything. The sheriffs noted
the need for a regional effort against the illicit narcotics
traffic. Governor's staff members acknowledged, as well
as politicians can, a lack of communication. They said they
want to establish a new West Texas anti-narcotics task force
to be led by the Department of Public Safety. They said
this could begin on Sept. 1 and there would be no cost to
local jurisdictions for nine months.

The governor's staff has made big mistakes, really big
mistakes, in the way this affair was handled. We plead with
the sheriffs and police chiefs, including those who walked
out. Restart a regional anti-dope initiative now with
strong safeguards to ensure another governor's staff
cluster-fandango does not happen.

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.