Norman "the Tank" Thomas, was a great football player and a really good wrestler. His legs were so short I never saw them bend when he ran and I believe he was the strongest kid in school or possibly LA County. He liked to prove this by jerking me over his head, my surprise, holding me up there and twirling me until we were both sea sick. Then came the body slam, often on some kid who couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way. The other kids, except the one or two I clobbered upon landing, loved this and in a short time I developed a real dislike for my teammates. But at the end of season they voted me a special trophy, I think it was for taking the fewest showers, and I liked them again. Yet Norm helped us win a lot of matches when the issue was still in doubt and it came down to him. Oh, I won my share, but we were sometimes weak in the middle weights. Wrestling was cool because even if your team didn't make league champion, you could still become league champion in your weight class and proceed forward into the state run-offs and it was down to the top two and this was treated like an Olympic event. Lights cameras, everything. Our smaller guys though, they were champions. With their help and old Norm at the end, we did take League Championship for San Antonio League in 1971.
We even sent one Freshman to the Mexico Junior Olympics for high school aged-kids. These Junior Olympics happened just before or after the regular Olympics in that host city. Tom was the youngest son of another wrestling champion- who was also a lower school principle- also my old principle and a very nice gentleman. I believe a lot of wrestling went on in that house of theirs. When Tom came back, he finished as the 1st Place Champion in the 98lb class. Funny thing, the trophy was a redwood statue of a wrestler and it was bigger than him. They had to ship it home, but that house was filled with wrestling trophies. The next year, everyone had big dreams for him becoming the youngest state champion in California. Then later, representing the USA in wrestling- hopefully a bit larger by then, maybe 106 lbs. His older brother was big, but it appeared Tom took after their mom. Then, with dreams in the clouds, Tom broke his collarbone during preseason practice and his career ended. He no longer work the holds he needed to use with that wing injured. Even though it healed, any pressure on it was painful and distracted him that second or two his opponent could use to win the match. Pretty rough on the kid, but with family and friend's help, he lived through it.
Norm took league champion at heavyweight, but I do not remember how he placed in State. It is a big thing to place, much less win a championship in California. I believe we had more high schools than any other state. You could go to one of the bigger tournaments and have to wrestle 12 to 16-times to get into the final 4. That's over 2-days. Still, 6-8 matches a day could be rough on a great wrestler. Me, I went out for burgers after the weigh-in to replace my lost protein I had taken two days to sweat out and usually missed the whole thing. Our Captain, he wrestled at 115lbs and he placed in state and earned a full ride scholarship at some well-known college with a long standing wrestling program. He later came back to coach at our high school. I thought that was pretty cool. If I went back down there I might be able to get my old job at McDonalds back, the pay has got to be better than my $1.35 an hour. Oh, I did wrestle the guy who ended up taking 1st in California, but I don't seem to recall much of the match. Must have been over when the ref blew the first whistle. It was my long legs, they were always targets for the take-down artists and the refs disliked it when I tried to poke their eyes out when they tried it. Maybe they should've put wrestling before football, instead of the other way around. You learn a lot of bad habits playing football. But I must admit, what I did learn in both sports has saved my hide numerous times in being attacked by 2-5 intoxicated warriors defending their honors, their girl friend's virtue- the one they had just recently slammed into a bar stool, or their ethnic heritage, who would disown him or them for the way they were now behaving. I often used wrestling holds and even body blocks when I was out numbered, for seldom was it one on one. Several times I have talked solo big guys into cuffs by simply explaining- "Look, we're both big and we're going to get hurt here, but no matter what, you're going to jail and if I have to, I will shoot your kneecap off." That usually worked.
I once had to take a giant down and believe me, I felt much like Jack when I was done, but once he sobered up, he was so gentle and apparently allergic to alcohol. But his buddies thought it would be funny to see what he'd be like drunk. They did. 8 of them destroyed an entire bar and the attached cafe, part of one police car and injured 4 police officers. It was a great fight until the Chief pointed out the giant and ordered me to take him down. Again, I thought about shooting his kneecap off, but that would've just angered him. I used the old back-up. Entertain him, dance around behind him and quickly slip in a choke hold. Wow, I had ridden a Texas bull once outside San Antonio, at some backwoods rodeo to if I could and now I was bull riding again. But in Texas I had a blood alcohol level of 12.4%. I'd been knocked out for 30-minutes and drug out of the bull ring and still felt no pain. This time- no booze and he took like 5 minutes without air to finally drop to his knees and this was after slamming me against the wall a half dozen times to dislodge me. I did notice at one point the chief was observing the event and laughing. I should've released the giant and sent him after my 5'8" rooster of a chief. He liked to call me "Godzukki" like in Son of Godzilla. But what can you say to a man who gave you your first police job.
You encounter a lot of different people while on patrol. In Skagway I liked to walk a foot patrol and chat with the thousand or so tourists who have unloaded from the 3 cruiseships in our very small harbor. I'll meet a celebrity now and then, finding them to be pretty decent people. Others you expect to be ordinary, come with attitudes and become nasty drunks who think they deserve VIP treatment. I've met a lot of foreigners, delighted to see a part of America's history from the 1898 Gold Rush, while others sit on a bench and can't wait for the bus to leave for Canada. It takes all kinds, but I treat them all as Mr and Ms, unless they prove otherwise. I was taught that from my training officer in the Air Force Security Police and I carried it along and taught this to my officers. I worked for a City Manager once, who said to me, "Police officers are like toilets, Bill...we know we need them but we like to hide them away until we do." It was actually the first time I had heard that and I almost spit out a mouthful of coffee. I really liked the man, who promptly had heart problems on the day the Exxon Valdez went upon the rocks to flood the Prince William Sound with black crude, directing him into open heart surgery and leaving me with handling the city's problems as the new Emergency Operations Manager. Oh I was far outside my comfort zone, now.
But now its retirement, a blessed event and I now have more time to admire the mountains, watch the kids, have my talk-sessions with the Lord, for which I do apologize afterward and to write. I am tossing the idea around that after finishing my western, I'll take a try at writing a teenage detective series. This will of course have a Christian message. But some other authors take a turn at the teen crowd between the adult books. The idea I am considering is somewhere between Spin and Marty of Walt Disney fame, Nancy Drew and Dr. Who's younger self. I'm just making notes now, first I have to finish my Western. Now I've read hundreds of western from some really great authors and uncovered western novels written by famous authors I never knew existed and hadn't been in print since the 1950's. But in writing my first one, I have found that they're not as easy a write as I expected. I have to write it in such as way that I'd be interested in pulling it off the store shelf and wanting to pay the cover price to read the story. Book prices keep going higher and for people like me, I still prefer hard copy over kindle-style e-books. However, I will not write an historical romance Christian story. I will always write my adult fiction with a male reader in mind, though I of course do hope hope women will enjoy reading my stories.
I think of my wife when looking at the female reader. She is the strongest, bravest and most intelligent woman I have ever known. She has stood beside me like a she-bear, ready to take on all-comers when people were threatening us and the situation was violent. She's tough, yet she's an amazing mother and grandmother- now a great grandmother, with this softness for children and people in need. She would give all she had for a person who needed all of it. She follows Gods Will in that and followed me around the state from job to job. In 35 years- Anniversary in July 2015, I can count our serious arguments on one hand. We've never gone to sleep without working it out and she's only decked me once. Girl has a serious punch. But this is the kind of woman I write about and how I see my lady readers. Christian women of this day have got to be tough to hold back the tide or even step out to bat down the enemy. I can only imagine was Moses' wife was really like and how strong she had to be. This is how strong our Christian wives and mothers need to be today, and sometime I will write a story of such a woman. Be interesting.
All for now. God Bless to you all, BILL