Well, it's that time of year again when you go into a small or mid-sized town and see windows in businesses decorated to support the local High school athletic teams. If you go into Jake and Dorothy's, you'll see their Jacket Pride displayed all year round in the back room as pictures adorn the walls, celebrating Stephenville High School's many State football championships. I'd like to tell you a similar story of school pride shown year round that turned into something special.
Our story begins in late August 2007 in Cisco. I was on my way to visit my grandfather in the nursing home and decided to stop by Allsup's first to get a drink and a snack. Upon leaving the store, I picked up a copy of the Cisco Press and among all the articles and pictures, one that caught my eye was a picture of two Cisco High School cheerleaders and an elderly lady making a hand signal of a wolf head, symbolizing the school's mascot, the Loboes.
Below the picture was an article describing it, the elderly lady was named Orella Callaway and was a die-hard Cisco Lobo football fan from way back. As I read further, I learned she was a resident at the nursing home where my grandfather was and invited anyone to come look at her Lobo memorabilia, proudly displayed on her door year-round.
As I entered the nursing home, I went down the hall towards my grandfather's room and about two doors down, across the hall was an open door covered with black and gold construction paper (Cisco's school colors) and football ribbons with wolf heads on them, I knew whose room this was so I went in and lo and behold, there sat Mrs. Callaway, who saw me and said with a sly grin "I know why you came by", she then got up and walked to the door and began to tell me about her ribbons then pointed to a gold pennant that said "Cisco Loboes" and had a picture of a wolf, which, she said was from the '50s when her sons played, which started her love of CHS football.
On Football Fridays, Mrs. Callaway was ready for the game from the time she got up, she'd sit in her chair, proudly wearing her Cisco Loboes t-shirt and have the radio right by her ear, waiting to turn it on so she could listen to the games now that she was physically unable to attend. On Saturday mornings, I'd walk by Mrs. Callaway's room and say "How 'bout them Loboes?" and if they won, she'd smile and shake that fist in the air but if they lost, she'd playfully frown and say "I don't even want to talk about it."
One moment I'll always remember was on Saturday Dec. 21, 2008, when Cisco was set to play Daingerfield for the State Championship. I was working as a housekeeper at the nursing home and right about game time, it was Mrs. Callaway's turn to have her room cleaned so I went in and she noticed I was wearing a Christmas t-shirt, she looked at me and said "WHERE IS YOUR LOBOES T-SHIRT, DON'T YOU KNOW IT'S GAME DAY?"
I said "Yes, but I didn't bring a shirt" so she went to her closet, got out an extra Loboes T-shirt, handed it to me and said “You put this on right now.”
I did but unfortunately, Cisco lost that day.
Over time, our family struck up a friendship with Mrs. Callaway, she would invite my grandmother in on Sunday mornings to listen in on a Bible study done over the telephone by First Baptist Church for its members who were no longer physically able to attend services. When visiting family members with kids would come, we'd take the kids and let them meet Mrs. Callaway, who always had a piece of candy or a little toy to give them.
Mrs. Callaway passed away in 2009 and I went to the funeral on my family's behalf, as I entered the funeral home, I was greeted by one of her daughters, who said to me "Go up and look at Mama" so I went up to the casket to view the body and there under Mrs. Callaway's right arm was the neatly folded black Cisco Loboes t-shirt she wore every Friday, I couldn't help but smile.
As those who wanted to gathered at the cemetery, some special guests also showed up to play a special song. Those special guests were the Cisco High School Mighty Lobo Band, the special song was the CHS Fight Song, a fitting tribute to one who supported the team right up until the end.
A mere act of curiosity turned into a lifelong friendship and to me, that's more valuable than any State Championship trophy in a school's trophy case and it brings to life Hebrews 13:2, which says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for by doing so, some have entertained angels unaware" and I bet your bottom dollar that on a Friday night, when the Loboes are meeting at either Chesley Field or the field of their opponents, there's one certain angel wearing a black and gold robe, shaking her fist and saying "How 'bout them Loboes?"
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.