Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My brother, Muddy Waters

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By W.H. WATERS    In the long ago, I was born into a family and had a brother whose name was George Hugh Waters. He started at Vanderbilt in 1929, the same year I started school. Never believe that age and distance ever barred us from loving one another. When I was little, he even carried me on dates now and then. He played with me and I thought he was the very best!My early memory of Hugh Waters was as a left-handed pitcher for Tuckers Cross Roads. He weighed 135 pounds and his claim to fame was a curve ball that seemed to stop 4 feet in front of the plate and then dive down just below the knees. This curve made his fastball faster and people simply did not hit him much. Gladeville and “Buck” Spickard were his greatest opponents and they battled tooth and nail for several years. At Vanderbilt he pitched some baseball, but it was not a major sport there. He worked while in school as money was scarce. His first year he worked for Neuhoff Packaging Company. He packed quarters of beef off the line and hung them up to age. For a 135-pound man, this was no picnic. His main job with them was to pitch for their baseball team. He did and they won a city championship.The next year he changed jobs and became a proofreader for the Nashville Banner and of course pitched for their baseball team. You see, city league baseball was very popular and you found thousands of spectators at Shelby Park on a Sunday afternoon. Unemployment and little wages left little money for other activities. In one of the championship games, Hugh “Muddy” Waters pitched against “Grass” Harper. One spectator was pulling for “Muddy” Waters and “Grass” Harper was the enemy. “Muddy” did win the game 3 to 2 and this was one among several city championships he won. In the fall of 1933, he started his teaching career at Watertown. He taught math and history and coached basketball. His salary was $35 a month. Before school started he had to find a car. He, Papa and I went to Nashville. The first car was a robin egg-blue Studebaker convertible. It was pretty and how my brother wanted it. Papa insisted that they look at other cars. We looked at a model “A” Ford with a rumble seat. The price on it was $186. Papa pointed out that the price more nearly fit his budget. He also pointed out that the Studebaker would have a hard time on the rocky, muddy roads on the way to Watertown. The “A” model won the day. William Powell, Holmes Neal and Curt Hobbs rode with him to school at a cost of 50 cents a week each. Others rode with him in the three years he taught there. After three years he became a teacher in Nashville. His second year there he became a principal, and in his fourth year he became an assistant to Mr. W.A. Bass, the superintendent. He became popular with the teachers as he treated them all the same. Black teachers in particular noticed this. The city and county had a joint teachers association. He was elected president of the association. This would never happen today because there is a unity between classroom teachers and authority. He never had this and it lasted until he retired. As president of the association he led the fight for Metropolitan government in Nashville. The teachers were the power that put it over. Later, he was offered the job of Superintendent of Metro schools. I sat in his living room and listened to him say, “I have three boys and I don’t see enough of them now. I simply cannot do this.”For 27 years he was Chairman of the State Text Book Committee. Many salesmen would tell me, “Your brother is a capable and honest man.” He became area superintendent and was there many years. Brother Hugh did not retire at 65. As he neared 71 it was mandatory that he retire before his birthday. I received an invitation to his retirement party at McGavock High School. Virginia and I came from Knoxville. He was honored by many dignitaries beginning with the president of the land and 3,700 teachers with school out in July. When the floor was turned over to him, I closed my eyes and listened to him speak. If he had been 35 and beginning his career, his caring for children and their welfare could not have been more profound. I know why 3,700 teachers were there. Trying to raise the education level of all children was the work of his life. I am proud to call him Brother! Editor’s Note: Mr. W.H. Waters is a resident of Lebanon and a contributor to The Wilson Post.
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