Too many Hornets have gone too soon

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On Dec. 3, Coal Grove lost one of its best Hornets, Pooch Carey.

Far too many former Hornets are passing. It is a reminder to me that I am no longer a young man.

Eighteen months ago I lost another close friend and fellow Hornet, George Patterson. A couple of months before his death, Pooch, Mark Malone, Bill Melvin and I went to visit George.

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When we arrived, it was obvious that George was not feeling good. I thought this would be a very short visit.

After talking about old football stories, George seemed to perk up. Naturally, politics was talked about next then more football, childhood memories, and more football. A terrific shot of adrenaline must have hit George. You could see his spirits perk up as well as his energy level.

He was up and about, even getting soft drinks for us. Three hours later (it seemed like 20 minutes), we finally departed with George still in excellent spirits.

Pooch was not only a good friend to me, but to anyone who ever met him. He was also one of the best athletes to ever play for the Coal Grove Hornets. A four-sport star, Pooch excelled in any sport he competed.

He played defense both as a freshman and sophomore on the football team. He became starting quarterback his junior year. As a senior co-captain, he helped lead the 1959 football team to an 8-2 record in winning the OVC. He made all-conference for the second year n a row.

Pooch played varsity basketball all four years of high school. He averaged 26 points per game his junior year and 22.5 points per game his senior year. He earned all-conference recognition both years. He also received all-state recognition both years.

Coal Grove, known for its football teams, was highly competitive during Pooch’s years on the basketball team. Pooch also excelled in baseball, playing third base as a freshman and sophomore. As an outfielder/pitcher his junior year, he batted .386 and had a won/loss record of 5-2. Pooch played second base and continues to pitch his senior year. His batting average was .516 and won/loss record was 8-1. Pooch competed as a high jumper n the track team. He earned 14 varsity letters during four years of high school.

In between George and Pooch’s passing, Mike Fields, a person I worked with in the Lawrence County Educational Service Center for many years, died unexpectedly. Mike played on football teams at Coal Grove with both George and Pooch. He spent his entire working career in education, helping to shape the lives of our young people.

Other Hornets over the years included Keith Pemberton, Bill Boyd and Frotch Fields. My father was a Sunday school teacher at Coal Grove when I was very small. He took me to his classes. Keith, Bill and Frotch were all four or five years older than me, but I still considered them as boyhood friends and miss each of them.

My father was a brick mason most of his life. Gene Kelly worked with him for many years. During summer vacations from school, I always worked for my father.

During the summers of 1958-60, Gene’s younger brother Jerry also worked for my father. Jerry and I became very close even though he was three years older.

It was actually fun to go to work during that time. Both Gene and Jerry died young. I miss them both.

Brothers Butch (Paul) and Grizzle (Bill) Myers both passed as young men. They were members of the Hornet football team during my high school days. I miss all the Hornets I either played with or watched over my lifetime.

In closing, I restate my opening premise. Far too many former Hornets are passing. Are you ready when your time comes to leave this world?

Mike Nourse is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a Coal Grove resident.