Merry Christmas, 1998
To celebrate Christmas, I am sharing my Christmas Day columns, a tradition that started in 1996. Here is the 1998 version:
A Christmas story: December 1962. The University of Buffalo football coach traveled often, so his wife went home to southern Oklahoma to have her babies.
The twins arrived five weeks early, and their dad, stuck in a Detroit snowstorm, didn’t even know it for three days. He finally got the news and hit the road for Ardmore.
Those were the days before microwaves and disposable diapers. Lots of straining bottles, lots of washing the nine dozen diapers shared by the boys.
Christmas Day was a madhouse, with the whole family celebrating the twins. “Everybody trying to take care of everything,” said the coach. “But it was exciting to have two good-lookin’ guys.”
There was no time for Christmas presents. “We weren’t buying toys,” he said. “We were buying diapers. But I might have thrown ‘em a ball,” cracked Buddy Ryan.
A Christmas story: December 1946. The 10-year-old was a budding Rockefeller. He scoured his basement for discarded treasures to sell at a Philadelphia junkyard.
He once got $2 for a box of rags, only to discover in the spring he had sold his family’s stash of spring and summer clothes.
Undeterred, the next year he found old rugs in the basement and got a whopping 75 cents for them.
One of the carpets was his mother’s special Christmas rug.
But she forgave him, and he went on to great adventures in business, selling watermelons out of a wagon, painting houses, working small construction and finally basketball, which paid much more than 75 cents to Wilt Chamberlain.
A Christmas story: December 1930s. His mother was a saint, he never doubted. She just wasn’t much of a mother.
She joined the Salvation Army in 1904 and remained an active member until she died in 1961. Always across the border in Tijuana, ministering in jails and red-light districts. Even played the cornet.
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