Sometimes you just don't know how well a column went over, or if anyone was reading -- unless you make a mistake. I actually thought I made a mistake once -- but I was mistaken.
Seriously, though, a column that appeared two weeks ago drew more positive reaction than any I have done in some time.
And, when you have a good thing, why not ride it?
I'm referring to the piece I did talking about the 196l game between the Owls and Pineknotters in Northumberland.
In addition to the verbal comments, many from those who saw the game, I recently received a letter from a 78-year-old high school football fan, who asked that I allow him to remain anonymous. The gentleman had some good stories to tell, and also suggested that I call then Northumberland coach Rich Young for some more details.
I did try to reach Young, but was unsuccessful. But, armed with some ready information, I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth (when in need of a column, or a little different one). So let me just share with you some of the anonymous Sunbury reader's narrative from a simpler time.
To make it read a bit easier, I am going to give this reader an assumed name. We will just call him "Joe" (simple enough, right?)
So "Joe" was an avid fan of high school football as a younger man. He never played the sport, noting that baseball was his game.
Calling himself "an old Pineknotter who just loved all sports" he recalled how during the mid-1940s, he and a friend used to hop a slow-moving freight train to Sunbury to watch the Owls play. "Joe" admits now that they never considered the danger of their actions (in other words: don't try this at home, kids!)
After spending the game admittedly always rooting for whoever was playing the Owls, the duo would either hitch another freight train or walk home.
"Joe" said they used to stand with about a dozen other fans on the railroad tracks (today's dike) where they had a good view of the action. The Sunbury football stadium was then located next to the old high school on Walnut Street.
"Joe" wrote, "Back then you didn't cancel games or postpone because of the weather -- rain for three days, still played. One (that) sticks out was Norry's 2-0 win over Bloomsburg in 1950 at Gross Field in Norry, in a foot of snow. The grounds keepers had every 10-yard mark and goal line shoveled."
"Joe" noted that" the Owls always had the manpower over Norry -- like Williamsport did over Sunbury. Norry led at halftime in many games with the Owls, but ran out of gas," he wrote.
He recalled a Sunbury 6-2 win in which the Owls' Chris Hatton scored late in the game. "If I remember correctly, the Owls did not have a first down for most of the game."
Had I been able to catch up with coach Young, I would have done as "Joe" suggested and asked him about the 1946-47 game between Sunbury and Northumberland that ended in a scoreless tie.
"I was standing just outside the end zone on that misty day," Joe wrote. "With time running out with Norry inside the Owls 15 and fourth-down-and-goal.
He continued that the Northumberland quarterback threw a pass into the end zone to a receiver by the surname of Rowe, who "had the ball in his outstretched hands, knee high, but, when his knees hit the ground, he lost the ball (and it fell) incomplete."
Sunbury ran out the clock a few plays later, he said.
Wrote "Joe", (the tie) was like kissing your sister, but it was a moral victory, yet victory was literally at Norry's fingertips."
I am sure that the writer has many more stories to tell, so, for those of you know think you know "Joe" you might want to ask him to share some more memories.
GETTING LUCKY: It was not a good week for picking the games, at least, those in the Valley (see picks box, C2). But in the Milton-Jersey Shore contest, I actually nailed the score: Milton 27, Jersey Shore 20. I also had Southern beating Mount Carmel 21-20, and it looked good until the Red Tornadoes converted the winning two-point conversion.
As it has been said, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while."
Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school sports for The Daily Item. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.