on my way to norman today to begin the august routine. with high school and college teams hitting the practice field this month, i've had a moment of remember when (do-doot-do-do) of those dogs days of augusts more than 45 years ago.
how did we survive?
our high school football practice field back in east texas was situated in a hollow, surrounded by pine and other native trees. picturesque, but stifling. in case you've never been there this time of year, it's humid. really humid. and unless a norther was blowing in--and that didn't come until much later in the season--let's just say we didnt get much of a breeze.
of course we started our practice regimine in those days with a couple of salt tablets dished out at the equipment cage by one of the assistant managers. he also gave us a couple after practice. that foolish philosphy--which in essence sucked all the moisture to the stomach to deal with all the salt floating around rather than replace lost minerals (see gatoraide)--was amazingly not discontinued until the '90s. that also was back in the day when only sissies drank water. my savior was a close friendship with a guy who later became head manager who had acess to the only ice-water bucket on the field. kenny would frequently carry around a soaked white towel he used to swathe off someone whose face approached the shade of the predominant school color--red. but a few priviledged pals frequently could sneak behind kenny (fortunately he was a former offensive lineman) and grab a quick & refreshing, moisture-sucking bite of a 'clean spot' on the dripping towel--thus gaining a small amount of ground against the cottonmouth and no-telling what kind of germs, none of which killed us, either.
doctors & trainers today marvel at that line of thinking and it's still a wonder that no one really ever suffered flat-out, fall-down, pass-out heat exhaustion that i recall. ive heard the explanation that acclimation to the heat was a factor. we didnt live in artificially-controlled atmosphere from birth. i was 14 before i lived in a house with real air conditioning, a junior in high school before we had a car with ac. i can still remember the thrill of a florida -new orleans vacation in late july as kids, tooling along in the back of a '57 chevy station wagon--dazed in a heat-induced stupor reminiscent of those early, mid-50s afternoon naps under a furnace of a breeze sucked in by the attic fan through a south window. sooner or later, you and the sheets got so wet from your sweat that the body's natural cooling system kicked in--as long as you did not die before that happened and absolutely did not change position from flat on your back.
so hey all you young warriors. enjoy practice. drink plenty of gatoraide. pour plenty of cool water over your heads during your frequent breaks in the shade.