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Why I Love Sports: Swamp coolers and old Highway 77

Our “Why I Love Sports” series ended in the Monday Oklahoman, after 100 straight days, and readers were bummed. They enjoyed the series.

But I got an idea. I would offer a compromise. Keep the “Why I Love Sports” submissions coming, and I would post them daily on my blog.

I can see the appeal. It’s like I wrote in the series finale, which you can read here, sports are about memories. And reading about others’ memories can be as heartwarming as remembering our own.

In troubled times, like 2020 has brought, nostalgia is a balm. Not everything about the good old days was good. But remembering warm yesterdays can help us get through difficulty, and sports is nothing if not warm yesterdays.

I decided to kick off the new portion of the series with a submission from reader Jon Tooley, who I think captured the spirit of what the series became:

“Berry, another great article. Have followed each and every article on the series of ‘Why I Love Sports’ and kinda figured you would be batting cleanup at the tail end.

“Your article brings a lot of childhood memories back to me as well. Namely my father was born in Joplin in 1916 and he instilled sports into me and my older brother, Ron. I can remember growing up in Skiatook playing little league baseball and my dad listening to the Cards on the radio out in the garage with an old swamp cooler trying to keep us cool before TV days.

“Then to Pauls Valley playing pee wee football and up to OU on U.S. 77 to sit in the south end zone to watch Bud and Gomer and to see the end of the 47-game win streak (the only time I remember seeing tears in my dad’s eyes on the way back to PV.)”

Short, but sweet. A man born 104 years ago, still resonating with a man today. We don’t really want to do away with central heat and air, or interstate freeways, or cable television. But swamp coolers and two-lane highways and crackling radios weren’t so bad in the old days. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›