EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Tucson High School and University of Arizona basketball standout Ernie McCray is a legendary figure to Tucsonans and Wildcat fans. McCray, who holds the Wildcats’ scoring record with 46 points on Feb. 6, 1960, against Cal State-Los Angeles, is the first African-American basketball player to graduate from Arizona. McCray, who now resides in San Diego, earned degrees in physical education and elementary education at Arizona. He is a longtime educator, actor and activist in community affairs in the San Diego-area. He wrote a blog for TucsonCitizen.com before the site ceased current-events operations earlier this year. He agreed to continue offering his opinion and insight with AllSportsTucson.com about Arizona Wildcats athletics. McCray also writes blogs for SanDiegoFreePress.org.
I was asked to write something that rhymes for Steve, a friend of mine, who was celebrating entering his 70’s and these words came to me:
with feather weight ease,
I say to my dear friend, Steve,
who has just turned 70,
has reached an age
where you can truly
do or say pretty
you damn well please.
Cuz the world doesn’t
give a hoot
about an old-assed coot.
I know because I’m 76 and I could
stand on the corner and poot
like Herbie Mann blowing his flute
and somebody would just up their walk to a scoot,
pinch their nose real cute
and carry-on with whatever their pursuit,
and say something relatively astute
like “Shoot, what do you expect but a poot
from an old-assed coot?
Dude’s a blip away from being a recruit en route
to laying down some loot
for a box to be laid in
in his favorite three piece suit –
or maybe he wants to slide
into a crematory down a chute.
Who cares, if you want the truth?”
So us old folks in a society
that doesn’t, particularly,
look at us anywhere near reverently,
can just live life free –
and I choose to live it with love.
Like my dear friend, Steve.
loves with grace and ease,
in many a way.
He’s a lover of sports
who loves to play
and teaches kids to play
just about any game
of this modern day.
He grew up surfing
and still competes in tennis tournaments,
sometimes having to travel faraway
to participate in such play.
And he loves to watch others play,
a keen appreciator of a well executed double play,
or a ball that’s struck nicely, landing in the middle of the fairway,
or a quarterback connecting with a wide out
who breaks away from a free safety and takes it all the way
for a six point pay day,
or a no look pass that gets a fast break underway,
or a beautiful diving “get” of what seemed
like a surefire kill, that saves the day,
leading to a rally that puts the other team away.
Such athletic goings on can make his day.
But that ain’t all Steve loves.
He loves life
and lives it enthusiastically,
at the ready to laugh easily
or cry if that’s what’s called for emotionally.
He loves his lovely wife aka Thunder Thighs
(*found out later that Thunder Thighs
was somebody else in the story of his life)
And the same for his beautiful children,
three of which made him “Triplet Man”
He loves music, both to listen to
and to play,
able to pick a guitar
and play a harmonica
simultaneously and melodically.
and loves to express ideas
and does so ever so eloquently.
He loves his people
and such Jewish Pride rides
on how they’ve
overcome so much
in their history
and how they’ve given so much
to the world
intellectually and artistically
and culturally and technologically
and scientifically and sociologically
and psychologically and anthropologically
and religiously and economically
and linguistically and comically
and mathematically and musically
and medically and philosophically…
Alas, I have only one complaint
in my relationship with Steve
and that came about
when I turned 40
and we played tennis
and he was beating me
as he did usually
and apparently easily
and he was doing just that
on this day, you see,
and all of a sudden he said to me
we’ve got to go
and I semi-fumingly
was going “What?
I don’t even get a chance
to catch up?” –
which would have been
in the category
of an impossibility
he was better at this racquet sport
which originated in England
in the late 19th Century
and I was more your
Negro from the ghetto
basketball playing whiz
from Arizona in the 20th Century.
So we get to his house
and people say “Surprise!”
and everything was lovely.
Steve and Marcia and Nancy
had put together a little birthday
delight for me.
They had all known each other
from their college days going back to the 60’s
and I’m thankful to this very day
that my dearly departed Nancy introduced me to such
a beautiful loving human being as Steve
and taking part in his 70th birthday
is an honor for me.
And since this is about love
I just have to say that
I loves me some Marcia and Steve.