Young Poe’s rejection by the Detroit Lions

| September 21, 2017 | 15 Comments

Last night watching the Lions play the Giants I remembered an episode from my youth, a minor brush (literally) with fame, involving some of the Lion’s players of the time. It was balmy late summer 1958 in Norman, Oklahoma, and 17 year old Poe was heading into his senior year in a few weeks. I was working late shift on a Friday at the now long defunct M&W ThriftyWise on west Main Street. My supervisor, the store’s assistant manager, was a young man from New Jersey named Bob, who was a living contradiction, a tiny little fellow who possessed the physical strength of a man three times his 130 pound, 5’2” stature. He was truly like a circus freak in the feats of strength he could perform with those scrawny little arms. He could easily beat any of us brawny young high-schoolers working there in arm and leg wrestling and I once saw him pick up a 100 pound sack of potatoes between his teeth and spin it like a dervish. He was a little wavy-haired blonde, and personable, a guy I might have truly befriended had he not been cursed by being a damned Yankee.

So an hour or so before closing time, Bob asked me if I wanted to go have a couple of beers after work and being between girlfriends I jumped on the opportunity to go drinking with an adult. In those days, teens had no problems drinking in Oklahoma; I had my first beer sitting on a bar stool in a dive outside of Chickasha shortly after turning thirteen. However, the nicer places, the night clubs, were more meticulous in checking ID’s, unless you were accompanied by an adult, and Bob’s favorite hangout was a big nice club on the south side of town I’d longed to see.

A half hour after we closed and locked the front doors and cruised by the bank in Bob’s Ford Fairlane, two-door hardtop, to drop off the day’s receipts, Bob and I were comfortably ensconced in a luckily obtained large vinyl booth, sucking on a couple of icy longnecks surveying the numerous OU coeds popping in and out of the many other booths and gyrating on the dance floor. The joint was jumping when suddenly there was a ruckus at the front door and abruptly a half dozen of the biggest men I had ever seen in my life literally pushed their way into the room, forcing all the smaller folks to the side and out of the way. I looked at Bob with raised eyebrows and he said softly, “Lions.” I shook my head and he explained, “Detroit Lions, in town for an exhibition game Sunday.” Then it clicked; I’d heard at the pool hall that the Lions were going to play the Baltimore Colts in the OU stadium on Sunday.

All I knew was that those were some of the biggest humans I’d ever seen and as they stood at the edge of the dance floor surveying the encircling crowded booths, their gazes inevitably fell upon the two of us and our big, damned near empty booth. They elbowed each other and nodded our way causing me to shrink back and mutter, “Uh oh,” to which Bob grinned and replied, “Relax, we’re good.” I was having a hard time accepting that confident assessment as those Lions loomed larger until finally they were grouped in front of our booth literally cutting off light and sound from the rest of the room. One of them gave us a big friendly smile and said, “Hey guys we need your booth,” to which little Bob said with a smile, “Sorry, dude, we’re not done with it.”

The spokesman, who I later learned was Gil Main, a starting defensive end and tackle for Detroit as well as a professional wrestler, smiled around at his guys, admiring the audacity and said, “Yeah you are and we’ll catch your tab, OK?” Bob took a slow pull from his longneck and said in his prissy Yankee fashion, “Tell you what big fellow, I’ll wrestle you for the booth,” which brought hoots of laughter and playful jabs from the other behemoths. Main, with disbelief in his voice said, “Are you kiddin’ me, Buddy?” which brought a determined shake of Bob’s wavy blonde hair and a clear, confident, “Nope!”

And that is how Young Poe came to watch his diminutive boss dump an almost 300 pound Detroit Lion flat on his ass, twice, right there on the dance floor with music stopped and all those coeds watching breathlessly. He did it quite convincingly in an Indian arm wrestling contest that is all about speed and leverage, which Bob had in spades, and has nothing to do with size. Mains mistakenly disbelieved what had just happened to him and thought he’d been tricked, so he said, “There’s no way you can do that again cause I’m ready for you this time, Punk!” Well he wasn’t; Bob again moved faster and took Main’s hand back and down before the big man could react. When he hit the floor the second time he came up snarling and none of Bob’s speed and strength made any difference as the big guy grabbed the back of Bob’s collar and lifted him from the floor. I immediately found myself elevated in a similar manner and carried to the front door just in time to see Bob, held by his collar and belt, launched off the steps and out into the gravel drive. There was no time to admire the grace with which he landed because I was suddenly flying towards him with no grace whatsoever.
When we finally got ourselves up and brushed off, Bob was grinning from ear to ear, while I picked gravel from my face, and he said, “Well that was a kick in the ass wasn’t it? Wanna go back in?”

I never went drinking with Bob again.

Category: Politics

Comments (15)

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  1. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Bob sounds a lot like my younger brother….with the exception that my younger brother was a shotputter who just liked to fight…especially after having a few beers…and he didn’t mind fighting every day of the week.

    Some of the shit we see when we’re young sticks long and hard in our brains for the lessons we learned, or didn’t learn at the time.

    Folks often ask about regrets, I tell them all of those experiences made me who I am so I don’t that I’d want to do them differently I’d just like to learn the lessons from those experiences far earlier.

  2. Claw says:

    Gilbert L. “Wild Hoss” Mains, Sr.

    1929 – 2009

    SGT US Army

    Korea

  3. USAFRetired says:

    After reading the story, I think you spelled it wrong. It should have read young Poe’s ejection by the Detroit Lions.

    Is it coincidence that the last time the Lions won a Title was 1957. Is this the case of the revenge of the Poetrooper (vice Bambino)?

  4. bg2 says:

    This story is awesome! Thanks for writing!

  5. Sparks says:

    Good article Poetrooper. LMAO.

  6. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Good one, PT!

  7. ChipNASA says:

    That was so good, I read it twice.
    Can’t wait for the ABC Movie of the week.

  8. Perry Gaskill says:

    One of the stupidest bar fights I ever saw was in a grubby tavern near Puget Sound. The bartender, a guy named Jan, had a policy that dogs were allowed in the tavern but only if they were well behaved. No climbing on tables and scarfing the pickled pigs feet, or whatever.

    Late one afternoon, two guys were sitting at the bar. One of them, minding his own business and apparently in a foul mood as it turned out, had a female hound sleeping quietly on the floor by his bar stool. Sitting next to him was one of those annoying drunks with a compulsion to talk to somebody, anybody, whether anybody wants to talk to them or not:

    Drunk guy: Nice bitch you’ve got there.

    Dog guy: What?

    Drunk guy: I said that’s a nice bitch you’ve got there.

    Dog guy: WHAT DID YOU SAY???!!!

    Drunk guy: No, really. That’s a VERY nice bitch you’ve got there.

    And that’s when the dog guy punched the drunk guy, and started a brawl that had tables crashing, glass breaking, dogs barking, and memorable pandemonium. Somebody could have sold tickets.

    Both yahoos got 86’d in the end, but I don’t remember if it was a lifetime kind of deal or not.

  9. Jonp says:

    I thought for sure you were going to say he arm wrestled him. What a great story

  10. 1610desig says:

    I always like reading your posts, Poe! You are a true recanteur!

  11. Skidmark says:

    Lol, great story. As a lifelong, born & raised Michiganian & unfortunate Lions fan…I watch my beloved Lions get their asses kicked like that every week & it’s been a long 46 years of it. Maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the curse of Bobby Layne, maybe this was the beginning of our “curse”?
    Again, excellent story…very well written.

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