DOCK SEWELL

FARM TRACTORS

 

We lived in the east part of Levelland on Cactus Drive in 1949; it was late Spring of my eighth-grade year (I think).  There were farms just east of where we lived.

 

A boy who lived on a farm near our house visited occasionally, and I would also visit his house (I do not recall even his first name).  He would sometime drive a Farmall tractor (started by hand-crank) to our house; on one occasion, as he was leaving, I offered to crank the tractor for him.  He climbed on the driver’s seat, and I began turning the crank; when the tractor started, the crank flew-up and hit my left front tooth.  Those who knew me in high school may remember seeing that broken-tooth when I smiled.

 

Sometime later, the same boy drove to my house in a pick-up, and asked me to help him by driving that same Farmall tractor to somewhere north of town.  He assured me he could show me all I needed to know even though I had never driven a tractor; so I agreed and went with him.  He showed me the throttle, clutch, gearshift and how to use the hand-brake which was a lever located to the right of the steering wheel.

 

Nothing to it; so, I drove west on Cactus Drive, turned right on what is now College Avenue heading north with my friend following in the pickup. Everything was fine until I crossed the railroad tracks at the Lubbock Highway; the traffic light was red, so I reached for the brake lever, pulled it......... & kept going through the intersection!

 

It was my lucky day; there was no cross-traffic on the Lubbock Highway; I had pulled the power-lift lever instead of the brake.  I cannot remember where we left the tractor, probably because I was so shaken by running that red-light.

 

That incident made me realize:  Country as I am, I’m a city dude, and I haven’t messed with any cows, horses or farm tractors since that day.


 

THE QUARTERBACK

 

This is a story about the quarterback on Levelland’s ninth-grade football team in the fall of 1949.

 

The Sewell family moved to Levelland during late August, 1948 (Dock Sewell’s eighth-grade year).  The Levelland Junior High, 8th grade, football team had already begun practicing football when the Sewell’s moved in; Dock was a 90-pound weakling but wanted to play football.  He approached Coach Wheeler and asked him if he could join the team.

 

Wheeler looked at the “wanna be" football player and told him that he was too small to play, adding, “we have lots of good players already.”

 

Dock was very disappointed and dropped his head saying, “thank you, sir;” he was extremely bashful & lacking in self confidence.

 

Dock’s “extensive” football experience had been at Andrews Junior High the previous spring; he had joined the Mustang’s seventh-grade football team during “spring training.”  It was an unusual situation:  they actually played a 7th grade football game at Seminole during the spring.  Dock was a substitute guard (offense & defense).  Andrews was ahead of Seminole 6 – 0, in the 4th quarter (Dock hadn’t been in the game), time was running out and Seminole was on offense near the 50-yard-line.  With time for one more play, Coach Max Goldsmith sent Sewell into the game.  Seminole ran directly over him for a touchdown, kicked the extra-point and won the game 7 - 6.

 

When the 1948 school-year started in Levelland, Dock was assigned to one of Coach Wheelers P.E. classes.  After a few days of school, Mr. Wheeler decided to let him join the football team; however, the principal would not change his schedule until mid-term.  After the first semester, Dock finally got in athletics and played eighth-grade basketball; his coach was Mr. Tyre.

 

During the late forties & early fifties, all schools in Texas (junior & senior high) were allowed to conduct spring football practice.  On the first day of spring workouts that year, Coach Wheeler said, “Okay; linemen over there (pointing to the far side of the practice field), and backs stay here with me.”

 

Dock didn’t want to be presumptuous that he had any skills or size (which he didn’t) dutifully reported with the linemen.  Coach Tyre (basketball coach & football line coach) said, “You are not a lineman, you’re a quarterback; get over there with the backs.”  So, the Sewell kid reported to Coach Wheeler who told him to work with the other quarterbacks.

 

An unknown number of boys were competing for quarterback at that time, and Dock was fourth-string QB all during spring training; very few reps were his.  He was quite sure he would never play in a game, but at least he was a part of the team.  The three quarterbacks ahead of him were:  Ronnie Leatherman, Bozo Belk and Steve Parker. 

 

During the summer after spring training (1949), Steve Parker moved to California, and Bozo Belk quit school.  That meant Dock would be second string quarterback that season with little chance of playing.  Ronnie Leatherman was the starter & one of the best athletes in Levelland.

 

The young Lobos’ first game that fall was away from home at Whiteface.  It was a good match between the Levelland 9th graders & the Whitefaces; neither team could score. 

 

About one-minute to go before halftime, Coach Wheeler walked over to Dock and said, “Sewell, go in there, tell Leatherman to move to right end and you throw him “Pass One;”  Pass One was a simple play where the end angled across just behind the linebackers for a very short pass.  Sewell took the snap, tossed the ball over the linebackers to Ronnie and it worked; Leatherman caught the short pass, quickly eluded the defenders & ran for a touchdown.

 

That was Ronnie’s downfall; he never played that position again even though he was the best athlete on the team.  During the second-half of that game, Dock scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak; the final score was 13 – 0, and Sewell who threw for a TD and ran for one (only one-yard) became that season's 9th grade starting QB.  Ronnie was moved from QB to end and running back for the rest of his football days at LHS.

 

A few years before Ronnie Leatherman died (January 10, 2010), Dock told him, “Ronnie, if you had missed that short pass, you would have been the quarterback throughout your Lobos’ playing days; you were by far the best quarterback on the team, certainly most talented, and a much better leader than than I was.”

 

Ronnie (who knew the truth) only said, “I appreciate your saying that.”

 

That was a situation where an inferior athlete was awarded the starting quarterback job because of another’s outstanding talent.

 

Written by Dock Sewell, February 5, 2016 – Kerrville, TX


 

 

Telephone Party Lines


In the spring of 1953, I picked-up the phone at our house on Avenue J planning to call my girlfriend; two girls were talking, so I put the phone back on the receiver.  A few minutes later, I tried again and heard the same two voices; so, I began visiting with the girls; one was Betsy Smith who was a senior (I was also in the 12th grade) and the other girl I did not know.

 

After visiting with them awhile, I told them I wanted to call Carolie Sikes whom I was dating at the time.

 

They assured me they were about to hang-up, so I told them thanks; instead of hanging-up, I just clicked the button on the receiver and kept listening.

 

The girl whom I didn’t know said, “Who was that?”

 

Betsy said, “Aw, that’s old Dock Sewell; he lives over here by me.”

 

The other girl said, “Gosh, he sure has a cute voice.”

 

And, Betsy replied, “Yeah, but he sure is ugly.”

 

At that point, I rejoined the conversation, and they, both, insisted they knew I was still listening.

 

I knew better; and, that broke me of snooping on party lines.

 

Written by Dock Sewell - LHS, 1953


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