Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Oklahoma's Football Coach a Pulitzer Prize Winner

This Saturday, October 6, 2018, the #7 ranked Oklahoma Sooners will play the #19 Texas Longhorns in the Red River Rivalry Game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

I've been attending this game since 1974, and Rachelle and I will be going again this year. I've written about my familial connection to it before, and if one loves football (as I do), the game is a highlight of the collegiate season.

Invariably, Texas fans will make jokes about the ignorant Sooner fans, and the Texas band will stop just long enough in their marching to chant "Beat the hell out of OU," so Oklahoma fans should anticipate another weekend of sarcasm from Texas fans as they berate their biggest rival.

But for all our Texas friends and family members, I'd like to share a piece of Oklahoma football trivia with you that should at least cause you pause before you question the intellect of Oklahoma Sooners players, fans, and coaches.

V.L. Parrington

Oklahoma University head football coach Vernon L. Parrington won the Pulitzer Prize (1928) for his epic historical work Main Currents in American Thought, Bruce Brown, in his new introduction to Parrington's Pulitzer Prize classic writes of Oklahoma's ground-breaking football coach:
VERNON LOUIS PARRINGTON was a truly great American -- this nation's seminal intellectual historian, the inventor American literary criticism, the founder of the Oklahoma Sooner football and still one of the winningest coaches in the history of University of Oklahoma's storied football program, perhaps the greatest classroom teacher of the 20th century at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he spent most of his mature years, and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history.
For a fuller biographical sketch of Parrington, read Brown's full essay here.

Next time you are on the campus of the University of Oklahoma and spend a little time at historic Campus Corner, look straight across Boyd Street at the Parrington Oval. The football coach with an 80% winning record during his three-year tenure (1897-1900) is honored with his name on the campus' north oval.

I'm writing a paper on Coach Parrington entitled Transformation of a Tory: V.L. Parrington and the Progressive Populism of America’s Seminal Intellectual Historian.

As I walk the fairgrounds of the Cotton Bowl and hear the Texas taunts, I'll not respond out of cool confidence that Oklahoma football has had the only Pulitzer Prize coach in NCAA Divison I history.

Oklahoma University's South Oval
Portrait of Gate at Parrington Oval (North Oval)


Rex Ray said...


I’ve heard when Mr. X moved from Oklahoma to Texas, the IQ of both States increased.


Anonymous said...

Boomer Sooner!!

Wade Burleson said...

Rex, you're funny!

Rex Ray said...

I feel there’ll be room on for a story.

After World War II, there were many American soldiers and their families in Germany. Their kids needed American schools. My father and mother were selected to teach for two years. He went first to find a house. Mother, twin brother, younger sisters, and I were on a boat so slow that oil tankers passed us. It took 17 days.

One day the ship hit bad weather. It pitched and rolled like a cork. The front deck stayed very wet. Unknown to anyone, my 15 year old brother and I would slide from the high side to the low side like we were on roller skates. Fun, fun, fun.

When the ship rolled extra high, I hit the low rail so fast that I almost went over. I was balanced like a see-saw looking death in the face. It was the worst moment in my life. Needless to say, we went below without telling anyone.

Christiane said...

I find this quote from V.L. Parrington to be extremely comforting in the light of current events:

"The humanitarian idealism of the Declaration (of Independence) has always
echoed as a battle·cry in the hearts of those who dream of an America dedicated to
democratic ends.
It cannot be long ignored or repudiated, for sooner or later it returns to
plague the council of practical politics. It is constantly breaking out in fresh
revolt. ... Without its freshening influence our political history would have been much
more sordid and materialistic" (V.L. Parrington)

Christiane said...


what a story!

That is a classic example of how fifteen-year-olds can do really dumb stuff and live to tell about it. I'm also thinking how much trouble you must have given your Guardian Angel in those days. :)

Bob Cleveland said...

You should've said "IF there are any Texas football fans who can actually read, that is.....".

Rex Ray said...


I think that Angel had a harder time the ‘second worst time of my life’. :)

My twin brother, Hez, and I had never shot anything bigger than a jackrabbit when our moose hunt in Alaska turned into a bear hunt. It came down to who was going to get who.

It began when Hez, (using binoculars) in a tree stand near a lake said, “I SEE A POLAR BEAR.” (It was a ‘silver-tip grizzly that looked white a quarter mile away.)
I got the binoculars but couldn’t see because our stand was shaking.
“Stop shaking the stand!”
“It’s not me. Your wife is coming up.”

My wife of one month, Belle, lost her fear of climbing when she heard “BEAR”. She said later, she thought she was going to be a young widow.

The bear was going back and forth; catching fish and eating them on the bank.

We developed a plan. I was to approach on the bank while Hez sneaked from the rear. He had left his gun in the boat so I gave him mine; an army 30-06 that had a strange way to remove the bolt. I got his 308 rifle from the boat, and the attack was on.

When I arrived where he’d been, he was gone. After a while he came out of 200 feet of alder thickets that surrounded the lake. At about 80 yards, I shot and his roar made my knees weak.

Hez yelled, “Did you get him; did you get him!”
“No, I just wounded him; he’s out there where you are!”

I was afraid to go for a while as you can’t see much more than 20 feet. I got some courage and saw him lying in a deep hole. I heard Hez and I said, “He’s over here” but he didn’t hear me. When he saw him, he jumped higher than I’ve seen him jump in basketball.

“Yeah, I think he’s dead. You better shoot him again and make sure.” (I wanted him to have some of the action.)

“I can’t see his head; all I see is white fur.”

With a roar he came out of that hole looking like a mountain. Hez had my gun’s bolt messed up and couldn’t shoot. The grizzly’s back was to us but whirled around. We were so close I didn’t aim but shot point blank. He ran away fast.

I followed to where he was lying. He stood up and I took aim and shot. To my horror the gun was empty. He ran again.

I waited for Hez. He had the gun in one hand and the bolt in the other. I asked, “Do you have any more bullets for you gun?”


“I’ll get the bolt in. You take this pistol and find the bear. Don’t shoot, but wait till I get there.”

I heard: “I’m going to slow him down! Bang, bang, bang…” He emptied the pistol.

The bear was gone and we had a brother to brother talk: “I told you not to shoot! This was our backup gun!”

The bear had run a bee-line toward the tree stand. Using binoculars, Belle had yelled several times, “You’re going to step on him!”

Hez followed, carrying the empty guns. The bear was laying down ten feet from me, but jumped up with his paws over his head looking like ‘David’s Goliath’. I shot and his reaction was like I had spit on him.

To put another bullet in, I jerked the bolt back hard and it came out in my hand over my shoulder. It seemed eternity as I looked at the bear unable to get the bolt in. I figured we were dead if I didn’t get it in quick. I got it in, looked up and he was gone.

The next time we found him, he had gone to bear heaven.

The following year my brother’s tax-accountant was fishing in the same area and was killed by a bear.

Christiane, a grizzly usually charges if wounded, but maybe that angel told him to run.

Christiane said...

Rex Ray,
I'm glad you believe in 'bear heaven'. :)
BTW, grizzlies EAT PEOPLE!!!!

Around here. we just have black bears that come in from the woodlands and end up in trees in suburban neighborhoods. I think these bears come looking for food in dumpsters and trash cans, and as far as I know, they haven't attacked anyone.

What happens is usually someone calls the police and the animal protection people come, tranquilize the bear, it falls into a net, and they take it back to the woods and let it go.

My son finally got up to Alaska, but it was in the Coast Guard. Yep, he saw bears up there too, but he didn't have as much fun as you did when you were there. :)

Rex Ray said...


Ah, Bears is a favorite topic of mine. After the grizzly hunt, Belle and I joined our father and mother in teaching in a four teacher school at King Cove, Alaska. It’s located where the Aleutian Islands start, which was located in the country of the large “brown bear” and sometimes referred to as the “Kodiak bear”.

The world’s largest to be killed weighed 1,600 pounds and 12’ 6’’ tall.

When bear season opened, I hunted every Saturday and got in after dark.

My Dad said, “I’m going with Rex today and we’ll be back before dark.” (It was his first and last time to hunt with me and we got in at mid-night.)

I’ll skip the unsuccessful hunt to the WORST POSITION in my life. Due to his bad knee, he started using his gun as a crutch and my shoulder to hold on to. It was a cold 38 degrees. I had on hip boots, heavy coat, and two guns strapped to my back.

In the dark, I stepped into a deep hole of water. I stretched my arms out and got hold of some grass. That wasn’t the worst part. My father’s stomach pushed my head under.
A top view would picture us as an airplane: (him the body and my arms the wings). When I ran out of air, I’d strained to lift him enough to get a breath and yell. “GET OFF ME DADDY.”

With his arms thrashing the water, he yelled: “I CAN’T.”

Growing up, we did not dare tell our father ‘I can’t without getting a lecture, but that night we had a fast SON FATHER TALK.

I don’t have to tell anymore as you know the end.

Christiane said...

Good Morning, REX RAY

a bear hunt . . . . well, I guess bear meat is edible, but it would be like eating Winnie-The-Poo or Paddington Bear

I can't even eat venison, which is a very healthy meat . . . I won't eat Bambi

In my MOTHER'S family, they didn't eat lamb. I don't either.

It seems to have had something to do with a reference to Our Lord as 'the Lamb of God' according to my Mom who got this from my grandmother (who WAS a Southern Baptist); so I wonder if you have ever heard of such a thing as Baptists not eating lamb out of respect for Our Lord? I don't see Baptists as having religious dietary rules, so this has always puzzled me a bit.

Now my Aunt Rhoda, of blessed memory, up on the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts, had her share of bear troubles . . . they persistently got into her trash cans and into the sheds on her property (she lived on the side of a great mountain in Charlemont just near the Deerfield River). So we know from bears in our family, but you've had more fun with them.

Rex Ray said...


“…but you’ve had more fun with them.” DUH

How do you like this song?

“The preacher went out a huntin on one Sunday morn
Was against his religion, but he took his gun along
He got himself some mighty fine quail and one measly hare
On the way home he saw a great big grizzly bear
The bear got down lookin' ready to charge
The preacher never seen nothin' that large
They looked each other right in the eye
Didn't take long for preacher to say bye

Preacher run till he spotted a tree
That tree's where I oughta be
By time bear made a grab for him
He was sittin' on a limb
Scared to death, he turned about
Looked to the sky and began to shout

"Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
And Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
So the good books do declare
But lord, if you can't help me,
Please don't help that bear"

Christiane said...

Hey REX RAY, I love that song, but you left off the ending:

"Ya, look out preacher
Well, about that time the limb broke off and the preacher came tumblin' down
Had a straight razor out of his pocket by the time he lit on the ground
He landed on his feet right in front a that bear and lord what an awful fight
The preacher and the bear and the razor and the hair flyin' from left to right

Well first they was up and then they was down, the preacher and the bear runnin' round n' round
The bear he roared and the the preacher he groaned, he was havin' a tough time holdin' his own
He said Lord if I get out a here alive, to the good book I'll abide
No more huntin' on the Sabbath day, come Sunday I'm headin' to the church to pray
Up to the heavens the preacher glanced, he said Lord won't you give me just one more chance
So the preacher got away, he looked around seen a tree where he'd be safe and sound
Jumped on a limb, turned about, looked to the sky and began to shout"

Good stuff, this.
But I prefer the old "Teddybear's Picnic" which starts out '. . . if you go out in the woods today . . .

Rex Ray said...


I’ll add some about the hunt with my father.

Once I yelled at him to stop as I had stepped off into a five foot ditch.

We found an easy way to walk through high grass when we found a bear trail that went in the right direction. Their trails had two trails, one for each leg almost three feet apart.

We hoped none of the bears walked in their sleep. :)

Rex Ray said...


"Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
And Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
So the good books do declare
But lord, if you can't help me,
Please don't help that bear"

Christiane said...

how wonderfully appropriate to talk bears during the very week the Church holds the Blessing of the Animals (a custom that honors God as Creator of all living beings)

here's a part of that service:

"Jesus Christ, as we join in celebration with You and all creation,
We ask for Your blessing
on the creatures present here that we love
and on all creatures celebrating in the wild.
In the name of God, Who creates all life,
In the name of Jesus Christ, Who redeems all life,
and the name of the Holy Spirit, Who renews all life,
we cry with all in the circle of life:

Rex Ray said...


My cousin-in-law, Tommie Dobson, was the mayor of King Cove, Alaska. He told us this story:

He had killed a caribou. (We thought caribou tasted better than beef.) He was carrying it home when he noticed a bear in the distance following him. He could have left the meat, but he thought he could outrun him back to town. He had a half-a-mile to go when he realized he wouldn’t make it. He started shooting when the bear got in range. The huge ‘brown’ died 15 feet from him.

The next day, some school kids asked him to see the bear, but when they got there, he was gone. They saw a long trail made by him being drug away that led to a large brush-pile.

Bears will cover a dead bear; when it’s rotted, they’ll eat it.

When they walked up to the brush-pile, a bear behind the brush-pile stood up looking at them. Tommie knew if he failed to kill him with one shot, kids would die. He knew by the ‘look of his ears’, he was more sleepy than angry, so he shot into the air and the bear ran.

Christiane said...

Great story!

I love bears. But I respect wild animals, too. So the way I see it, some people 'hunt' animals but don't eat the meat, which I think is not right, unless the animal has been known to attack farm animals and is a threat to a community;
on the other hand, some people want to live among wild bears and that's also wrong because it temps the wild animal to become a man-eater, which happened when 'The Grizzlie Man' got eaten up by a bear that then turned around and ate his girlfriend. I guess 'The Grizzlie Man' thought he could trust the bears because he had lived among them for a while but one bear got hungry and that was it. Oh well.

I'm for live and let live if possible; for preserving lands for wildlife; for trying to help species reproduce if their numbers get dangerously low approaching extinction (example: panda bear reproduction assistance in China with the littles cared for by 'Panda Nannies, so cute)

I'm not comfortable with people who torment animals because they can just for sport, no. I just don't understand that. Patterson's big game trophies and his 'stuffed' chimpanzee I find bizarre and sad. But then again, he wasn't so kind to women either, was he?

Rex Ray said...


Not only was Patterson unkind to women, he victimized them.

While visiting Patterson’s trophy room, Wade’s son asked his father, “How much skill does it take to shoot a giraffe?

Three stories about bears and I’m finished. :)

At one time, my brother taught school in Seward, Alaska. It has a stream named “Bear Creek”.

A biologists was told of a bear cave where bears hibernate. He planned to install motion cameras and record one having her cubs. He hired a hunter to go with him. Later, they found him dying. They surmised a bear had charge out of the cave, and killed the hunter. All the biologists said over and over: “She got me.”

Some guys were working on a mountain. One said he saw a brown bear and he was going to shoot him. They heard him shoot, but he didn’t come back. They found the huge bear dead but not the man. Eventually they found him crushed to death under the bear without a mark on him.

One of our cousins was overweight and slow. We had to keep waiting on him to catch up while walking a couple of miles on a muddy trail to a lake in Alaska. We didn’t have any guns. After a while we returned. We didn’t have to wait on our cousin anymore after we saw bear tracks on top of our tracks.

Christiane said...


thank you for the trifecta of great bear stories

I can share this from my memory:
Auntie Evelyn always took us cousins up into the state parks in Massachusetts in summer time, and on one trip, it was blue-berry season . . . there were patches everywhere, and we ate all we could and tried to put some in a pail so Evelyn could make blueberry muffins later that evening . . .

last thing Evelyn said as we headed towards the blueberry patches was 'watch out for the bears', and I took this to heart. . . . I kept looking around for bears and my cousins Larry and Ronald knew I was worried.
After a while, I heard rustling in the bushes and a slow steady 'grrrrrr' . . . well, I dropped the pail half-filled with berries, and raced down the mountain and wet my pants out of fear, but it was only the boys teasing me. . . I was never able to 'get even' either :) but no matter, so I went and jumped in the ice-cold mountain lake so I could hide the reason for the wet pants: I'd already been teased enough for one day :)

Christiane said...

Rex Ray, since we are on 'bears',
here is a link you might enjoy. I brush MY bear-bear (small dog) Noah, and this link made me laugh:

Rex Ray said...


Enjoyed the big bear pet being groomed, but your jumping in the lake was the funniest story I’ve heard in a long time.

Rex Ray said...


I told you that was my last bear story, but I ran across this that my wife, Belle, wrote two years before she met Jesus.

November 11, 2010
Bear story from a women’s view
Six weeks after I married Rex Ray, I met his parents for the first time in Fairbanks, Alaska. I had agreed to teach school with Rex and his parents in a small fishing village at King Cove, Alaska. I had heard ‘stories’ about his father, Dave that had me worried about all of us living together in the school house. Sure enough, the first night with a few hours’ sleep, a chainsaw ripped a four-foot hole through a log wall a few feet from my head at four in the morning. It was Dave making a window.

A few days later, Rex came to get his mother, Elizabeth and me to join Dave and Rex’s twin brother, Hez, on a moose hunt. They had found a cabin we could stay in. It was a two-hour drive on a trail only for jeeps, but they had made it in our car. Rex had gotten stuck in the mud twice coming to get us, but with the aid of a bumper jack had made it. He drove faster than I wanted him to, but he claimed if we slowed down we’d get stuck.

He explained in the daytime there was no problem where the lake started in the high grass, but since we would be arriving at night he had propped up some dead trees where to stop. That really had me worried but not as much as when he started yelling, “Where did the road go?” We hadn’t seen his trees and the car plowed to a stop in water up to the floorboard. We waded to shore, found the rowboat, and paddled to the cabin.

Hez slept on the floor and the rest of us slept in a large homemade bed. I thought it can’t get any worse than this, but little did I know. Not having an alarm clock, Dave said he would wake us up at the right time before sunrise to go hunting. “Get up! Feet on the floor! Rise and shine!” Elizabeth started cooking some breakfast until someone looked at a watch and said, “We’ve only been asleep two hours! We went back to bed with Dave saying he thought it was time to get up. No one gave him any sympathy.

When we did get up, Dave said he would work on getting the car out of the lake. Hez and Rex rowed the boat and me across the large lake to where they had made a wobbly tree stand to look for moose. They said Dave had gone to sleep in the stand the night before and a cow moose had stopped under the tree moving her ears back forth listening to Dave snore. I could understand her concerns as only being exhausted can one sleep in the same room with him. Years later while visiting Rex’s parents our young daughter rushed into our room in the middle of the night crying, “There’s a lion in the house!”

I felt much safer where I was than joining them twenty feet off the ground until Hez started yelling he saw a bear. I almost flew up that ladder where I got a lot of instructions to watch the bear with the binoculars and let them know which way he ran. The bear could run fast on the tundra while all they did was stagger and fall.

Even though the bear was about a mile away when I heard Rex’s gun fire, I heard the bear’s growl. I was glad he ran away from Rex, but he ran towards Hez and me. The bear stopped in some bushes. They walked almost on top of the bear before he jumped up on his hind legs and faced them. They both shot about the same time and the bear ran toward me again.

They kept repeating the process. After I counted nine shots, I thought that was the toughest bear in the world or they were the worst shooters. I didn’t know they were out of bullets except for one gun, but that would explain why Hez was walking behind Rex. They were close to the tree stand when I saw Rex shoot the bear and the gun bolt came out of the gun. The bear looked at him for some long seconds. I thought I was going to be a young widow, but he ran away his last time.

Rex Ray said...


Sorry about that promise, but I ran across some old files from another computer and found this along with Belle’s bear story.

This guy lives just outside of Soldotna

At 11:16 am, I was walking our dogs in a residential area on a road about 2/10 of a mile from our house.

I heard a twig snap, looked back and saw a huge brownie on full charge; ears back, head low and motoring full speed! He came with zero warning; no standing up, nothing like TV!

He charged from less than 20 yards and was on me in a second. I managed to draw and started shooting a Ruger 457 pistol from the hip. My second or third shot rolled him at five feet and he skidded ten feet past me as I sidestepped and fell backwards on my last shot.

He weighed about a thousand pounds and took five men to drag him onto a tilt-bed trailer.

Never-ever-thought "it" would happen to me! It's always some other guy. Well, I am still high on adrenaline, with my gut in a knot. Almost puked for an hour after, and couldn't even stand up as troopers conducted their investigation! It totally wiped me out.

All I can say is Praise God for my safety and for choosing to leave my wife and kids at home!
Talk to ya soon, -Greg

Christiane said...

Impressive bear stories indeed. Around where we live, bears don't eat people, but they do get into dumpsters and trash cans looking for food. I guess in Alaska, the bear population is not above eating people. That place where the Coast Guard has a base is called Kodiak Island for good reason, and I hear those bears are bigger even than Grizzlies. But I also hear the most fearsome of all are the polar bears which actively hunt and kill people.

Glad I live in 'little bear' country where the 'wild' bears are almost tame compared to their Alaskan cousins.

Alaskan in Texas said...

Is it VL "Pennington" (spelled with an "e" followed by two n's) or "Parrington" (spelled with an "a" followed by two r's)? Maybe I need new glasses, or your post is referring interchangeably about two similarly named men.

Rex Ray said...


What do you think about Oklahoma vs. Texas football Saturday? Wonder if that’s the correct wording since I hear most of the players for Oklahoma were recruited from Texas. :)

Christiane said...

Hello Rex Ray,
next time you are threatened by bears, this video shows a kind of noise-making called 'kulning' that is said to scare away bears and wolfs. I can't guarantee it, so take other precautions with you:

Wade Burleson said...

Alaskan - typo! Thaks a million. Fixed it.

Wade Burleson said...

And the Thaks is my humorous way of saying Thanks!

Wade Burleson said...


The OU Texas game?


Rex Ray said...


Ah, football. My high school senior grandson, Dylan Porter, loves it. At 6 foot 3 inches, he’s the fastest on the team and set a record of most tackles in a game, and caught several game winning passes. Last year, he won the 110 yard high hurdles at district. His academic grades are in the top. At one time he played offence and defense. Newspapers in referring to their next game had named him as one of the players to watch. He’s been accepted next year by Oklahoma State University.

But recently, the head coach chews on him for every little thing; like not catching a pass that’s ankle high. Other coaches have told him: “If you’d done that, you’d gotten chew on.” Some games he’s not received one pass even though he’s open. His mother is so angry with the coach for jumping on him and not letting him play she’s told him it would be OK if he quits. He doesn’t want to. His father has refrained from ‘taking the coach on’ as he sees there are other ‘factors’ like one player’s mother has raised $42,000 for their football program.

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