The True Tale of Mickey The Hippy
My Interesting Intro, but First
I wonder many times why I write certain things. Some of my rather out-of-candor comments can easily be attributed to boredom. Sometimes I will read a certain story from years past and then it‘s like a kick in the behind by an angry lumberjack wearing Texas Steer work-boots and then I start whatever piece is on my mind.
My hub has its roots back to a simple life, a controlled amount of happiness, and we, the juniors in Hamilton High School were embracing next year, our senior year, and graduation only nine months ago. Sort of like when a wife is pregnant. That was the easiest way for us hicks in northwest Alabama, (Marion Co., to be exact), to keep up with the real time.
In the years of 1971 through 1972, we all stood in front of this huge storefront glass and all of us sighed in awe as it began to crack from some source of pressure and before we could get away for safety, it was over. I was going to test your ability on how to correctly use metaphors, but I am going to explain them right here. The huge storefront glass was our lives ready for the living. Except with a few cracks, most of us in the Class of 1972, graduated in May of 1972.
Metaphors and The Hippy Culture
had yet to make it to rural Hamilton, Ala., and this mindset was mixed with good and bad results. What few folks actually knew what a hippy was, what he wore and what he looked like met with those rural folks who loved to talk about “living in the sticks,“ a mild adjective that would have made Tennessee Williams jealous.
Hamilton did have a few TVs in certain homes, but we only received 3 stations: WBRC, Ch. 6, Birmingham; WCBI, Ch. 4, Columbus, Miss.; and WTWV, Tupelo, Miss. Ch. 9. That was it. And we had one radio station: WERH, with 5,000 watts and business (for them) was booming. And even now, I have yet to get to the hippy culture and an out-of-towner and new student for Hamilton High School, Mickey Mills. No joke. We were shocked when he floated into the classrooms because for us, it was a new thing for life. Our real hippy! Almost like owning your own Silver Back Gorilla.
Prior to Mills, Hamilton and its culture—hairstyles, wardrobe, and the like, was pretty solid, conservative to be exact. But Mills, I have to give him credit, did NOT instigate any trouble with anyone. He was mostly quiet and smiled a lot. So you couldn‘t discredit him for that. After three weeks or so, we had settled in to try and make friends with this new guy who did not tell anyone where he came from, not even the teachers. Mills played ,“Shut Mouth“ with an expert attitude.
An interesting side-note that speaks to the hairstyles for the men in Hamilton is that not any of the men would dare wear their hair long. It was just something the men couldn‘t be made to do. And there was no real reason why the short hair except some of the guys who owned TVs would watch the Evening News with Walter Cronkite and he would show news stories about things that were happening in New York and other big cities.
And most of the men in the mid-20‘s wore their hair over the ear, but not long enough to be called Hippies. To the men in Hamilton, there was no disclaimer—if their hair was “looking a little shaggy“ they might as well be Hippies. The men in Hamilton were the hard-liners of the Conservative Belief which meant no flashy clothing, soft voices, hard manual work and short hair. Hamilton was built on the foundation of these things, but mostly short hair and to the school teachers, School Board, Police, Mayor, and parents who had teens, they meant short hair with no exceptions. NOTE: we did know that on the third day of school, Mickey had to visit the principal, Joe L. Sargent, and when Mickey refused to get a haircut, Sargent called Mills‘ parents and his mom, I was told, came to take him home—but in a day or so, he returned with the same long and curly hair, but this time, he gave Sargent a note from his parents which said (in a sharp tone) “Our son, Mickey, is NOT to be sent home or to any barber shop to have his hair cut. The long hair was his own choice and we, his mom and dad, respect him.“
It Was About This Time
when the atmosphere quickly became too quiet. Even us “Children From the Sticks“ could sense that there was definitely something in the air. Something horrific and our atmosphere could be compared to the moments when an artillery shell is in the air then explodes. That‘s about all that could be made from the sudden change in the way our teachers looked at us, but the person who was being affected by Micky Mills showed his dislike the most. It was written all over his face—the head football coach, L.C. Fowler.
Fowler stood a statuesque 6 foot, 4 inches tall and at a distance, he resembled a gorilla going after its prey. He spoke very little, but the words that he said, were serious and we had to obey those words or let him visit, ‘‘Ol‘ Satan‘‘ which was a one inch thick piece of lumber that he had painted in red and white and if the boys got to be unruly, ‘‘Ol‘Satan‘‘ would be applied to the boy‘s butt and asked if he, the boy wanted more—hits from the paddle and the boys were quick to answer, yes, sir. If they answered yes, or yeah, they got more paddling.
It was about this time when the State of Alabama had passed a law that forbad then-Governor George Wallace from running for a second term, but those who knew Wallace, knew that he was the wisest fox around, so he ran his wife, Lurleen, on the ballot and she won the Governor‘s Race in a landslide—sending Albert Brewer and other men in her dust. The state even had an iron plaque on the wall of our new gymnasium and we were so proud of it.
But no one was the prouder than Coach L.C. Fowler since his boy‘s dressing room was on one side of the gym and the girl‘s volleyball coach and her girls was on the other side of the gym. But they and us students knew what all about the unspoken rule: No one, boys or girls, even teachers and coaches, are allowed on the gym floor due to the expense of the beautiful hardwood floor. And to enforce this rule, L.C. was somehow on guard at each hour of the school day. We all wondered what he did to do teaching while at school—because at Hamilton High, all of the coaches had to teach a subject, but L.C., he taught P.E. I know that this sounds ridiculous, but it is true.
Then The Day of The Show-Down
was upon us. Very simply put, somehow we all knew that L.C. Fowler and Mickey Mills, (the sole hippy) were both heading in a head-on collision and the crash would not be ending well. That was, friends, was putting it mildly.
Even the students and teachers sensed that trouble was afoot. But the teachers (and students who disliked violence) carried on with their work as if the day was fruitful, peaceful, and happy. Maybe for some, but overall, the student body knew, and so did the teachers, that Mickey Mills, who was somewhat laid-back and didn‘t like to stay with the teacher that happened to be trying to teach him—so he walked the halls looking for a good hiding place and killing time long enough so he would be near an exit so he could head for home.
I will never forget the afternoon when Mills and Fowler met in the new gym and what came in that meeting will live forever in the annals of Hamilton High School.
I was sitting in Study Hall, and I shouldn‘t have to explain this term—it was just a huge cafeteria-like area (without the food and elderly with moustaches) where students could study for tests, do homework or just read. I took this Study Hall in my schedule and did it on purpose. No one should crowd their minds with all of that history, biology and math. It gets old quick.
I knew, like the students in Study Hall, and our teacher, Mrs. Howell, a woman who should have retired and took her pension, but she hung on. Why? I have no idea. But I did hear the “Clip, clop“ of Mickey‘s shoes. No, he was not wearing horseshoes, but he wore shoes with wooden heels and that was what we heard as he lumbered his way down the hall that led to the new gym.
The rest of our story was relayed to me from my good friend, DJ David Jackson, from a little town, Guin, Ala., who witnessed the entire train-wreck between Mickey Mills and head coach, L.C. Fowler—and part of me was glad that I didn‘t see what happened while the other part of me feels so empty at missing such a physical and emotional event. If you think the scripted TV wrestling looks so dangerous, this meeting between Mickey Mills, the Lone Hippy and L.C. Fowler.
Jackson told me that when Mickey began walking on the gym floor, Coach Fowler was not anywhere in sight. I guess this can explain Mills‘ foolish decision as to walk on Fowler‘s new hardwood floor. I never thought that Mills was a Creature of Stupidity, but maybe he was just trying to become a man although it meant being blessed (and cursed) out. I knew that one time, Mills laughed in the hall about being chased (on purpose) by the cops, but was never caught. That character flaw might have caused him to do the most-stupid of acts in walking on the gym floor. To Coach Fowler, it was like the gym was a god of sorts. Maybe his personal idol without the incense being burned.
“Hey! . . .hey, you there!“ Fowler was said to yell at Mills. Jackson told me that Mills, when Fowler yelled at him, he froze in an instant like the rain falling off of a tin roof in the south.
“Uhhhh . . .yeah, man . . .uhh,“ Mills stuttered knowing that no matter what he said that he was getting deeper in trouble.
“Yeah, man?! Is that what you said, punk?,“ Fowler said still not going any further onto the new
gym. Fowler was standing in the area outside of the gym‘s basketball stripes, but his voice carried like he was using a bullhorn.
“Uhhh, yeah, I did, errr,“ Mills said with his nerves showing in his voice and Fowler‘s face had turned a tomato red and it appeared that fire was sizzling in his eyes.
“First of all, you DON‘T use yeah, with me. I am the head football coach and I want you to tell me what you are doing on my new gym?“ Fowler yelled while wielding “Ol Satan“ his lumber used for paddling unruly boy‘s butts.
“Uhhhh . . .I‘m sorry and I was just, errr (gulp) using a short-cut, so you can stop with the hassling me,“ Mills said and the story was told for some reason as to why he acted so stupid on purpose.
The next two and a half minutes are what DJ David Jackson told me . . .in a quick, Judo-like move, Fowler reached down and took Mills by the ankles and with one fluid move . . .sent Mills flying like an old WWI Spad with one engine and landing against the cement wall outside of the gym floor. Mills lay very still. But Fowler did not try to talk to him due to Fowler‘s temper. That, I can believe.
Mills did stand up but not before he started cursing Fowler and said that his parents would see Fowler in court for this infraction. And ran out of the gym and Fowler just stormed back into his office behind the gymnasium and nothing else was ever said.
So much for our Lone Hippy, Mickey.
January 20, 2019____________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery