Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dub Graves 1928 - 2012

Coach Graves left us last night
R.I.P. Dub

Was there ever anyone as cool as Dub Graves? With a build sporting a six-pack before some of us knew what to call it, Coach Graves was a tanned, muscular Adonis who moved about our hallways with us. Always in good humor, his attitude seemed to radiate the fact that he loved his job and his life.

And why not? Dub Graves turned 34 during our senior year and was still single, although he never seemed to lack for female company. Could anyone ever forget that fine ’56 or ’57 turquoise T-Bird convertible, often with a hot blonde seat cover? I have no idea where he lived, but I think it was on the West Side. During the summer he could sometimes be seen out on Eagle Mountain Lake working on both his wooden Chris-Craft, and on his tan. Those who saw him at our 20th reunion saw a white haired version of an older Adonis, still full of it.

As a coach, he was far and away the best athlete on the coaching staff. As a teacher of American History, I would have to venture a guess . . . not as good as Mr. Sills. Dub was also one of the P.E. teachers and if I were to venture another guess . . . he didn’t like that too much. I think he much preferred to coach the school’s athletic teams. To amuse himself during our senior year, he instituted the “Tough Tail” contest in his P.E. classes. This contest established an award of sorts, for the guy that took the most licks during a semester. I don’t know how long that went on, but was always surprised that it drew some active “competition” for the trophy.

Never did know what his "W" name was...Walter, maybe.  But his middle "A" name (Anath) was always visible.  However, I recall his stern warning that he would not tolerate any mispronunciation of that name.  You had to think a little about that one, but soon enough you realized that he most likely had some problems along the line with others mangling it into anus...wow, Walter Anus...no wonder he stepped around that one.

He taught me an effective way to block down field by launching myself into a safety's chest.  Coach Graves made it look easy, but for me it was a little more difficult...I didn't have the coiled springs in my legs he still had at age 33.  He did leave me with one of his little poems, one that I remember to this day.  I can't remember the cardinal dates in my family life, but I can remember that little ditty, word for word.  He made one up for each guy on that '62 Highlander team and read them at the season's end banquet.  How I would love to have the words to all or some of those little poems.  They were styled in the same manner as Cassius Clay, then the boxing champion, was using to promote his early career.  Clay later became Mohammad Ali, of course. 

During the 1950’s, Dub had flirted with a professional baseball career, and had been a varsity back with the University of Tulsa football team. He was a favorite of Principal Roy Johnson from some previous school district assignment they both held, I don’t know what jobs Dub held after we left, but by the time we held our 20th reunion in 1983, he was in public relations for the teacher’s credit union.  He was quite a character...an unforgettable one.

This is the turquoise color T-Bird I recall Coach Graves driving around EHHS.  My clearest memory is of him with a blonde alongside, pulled into the small low area between the shop doors and the tennis courts above.  Football players exited the locker room from a door in that same area and frequently saw Dub sitting there in his beautiful T-Bird, a great looking blonde by his side.  I think he married this girl sometime after we left EH…and another one bit the dust!  His obit mentions that he had been married 47-years.

I left EH an 18-year old with a broken heart—my first love, a flop.  Fortunately, 18-year old broken hearts are resilient and after reaching into whatever character reserve I then possessed, managed to recover. 

There’s really no way to credit anything or anyone specifically for whatever reserve one draws on to repair and adjust to ongoing life, but could there be any real question that Coach Graves had planted a vision in me and contributed something of himself to my recovery?  A couple of years after leaving EH with that broken heart, I had rounded up my own convertible and a blonde seat cover.

Thanks for the insight, Coach Graves…..and Thank you God!    


Dennis Pence said...

Quite a group of guys. I moved to EHHS in my sophomore year and although not much in the way of athletis (5'3" and 118 lbs) I really enjoyed the way Coach Grave "scurinized" people. He was always more aware of what you were doing than you thought. Still remember the time in intramural basketball that we were missing Phil Hoskins and Jimmy Bilderback (gone to Texas for a college look) and we had to play a team that had Phil Whittington and a couple of other good players - Coach told me to give it my best shot - os on the first play, I crossed center court and launched the ball - dead in the basket from mid-court (no 3 point play then) - I turned to look at him and he was laughing his ass off. We still lost the game.

Gus said...

Dennis, I don't recall meeting anyone who didn't like the Coach. He could be tough on someone he didn't like. I recall one kid playing on the football team he fervently believed should not have been there. To keep the kid out of his hair, he just told him to run laps around the baseball diamonds until he was told to stop. Kid would take off and Graves would turn to us and resume his coaching. The kid just stayed out there until practice was over and everyone went in.

RL said...

So, Gus did you marry that blond seat cover?

Gus said...

Goodness gracious, no. If I recall correctly, that little girl flew off to see the world with Delta. However, as Coach Graves had also illustrated…there were more girls, and he was right. Besides, I still had to finish school and go protect the nation—‘bout 8000-miles West!

DM said...

I remember we were playing some team in the playoffs who had a really good running back and Coach Graves suited up and played him for scrimmage practice against their offense. He was the real deal as an athlete.

Anonymous said...

Dub volenteered to the Golden Gloves Boxing Club Coach. We worked out on the stage of teh auditorium. He was a good coach.