The best teacher I ever had cost his football water boy a 10-yard penalty

By Jack Hackley

Mae Cline recently celebrated her 100th birthday at a local church. In a scrapbook was a “Jack Remembers” column that I had written on her 90th birthday.
The article told about the one-room country schools where Mae had taught in her career. The church on that Saturday afternoon was packed. Many of the people present were Mae’s former students who were not too young themselves. If you were a one-room country school teacher, or know someone who was, let me know.
Mae’s husband Herschel was superintendent of Oak Grove schools in 1947 when I was a freshman. Including Herschel, there was a total of four full time teachers and a part time music teacher in the high school.
One day, Herschel gathered all the high school boys in to one room and had a football in his hand. He explained to us it was called a “pigskin” and we were going to have a football team. It is hard to believe today, but a lot of the boys in that room had never seen a football. The school had not had a football team since before World War II.
Herschel, who also taught science, agriculture and other classes, was the football coach and our first game was against Henrietta. Although we would play 11-man football before the year was out, this was a six-man team. I was dressed out but definitely not going to play.
There was a time-out, and Herschel said, “Hackley, take the water jug out to the team.”  When I did, the referee hollered, “Too many men on the field, 10-yard penalty.”
Herschel and Mae, with little remuneration, devoted their lives to teaching common-sense classes, but it paid off.
I overheard one woman at Mae’s birthday event say Mae was the best teacher she ever had. And I can say is that Herschel was the best teacher I ever had, even if we both were responsible for the first football penalty in Oak Grove’s 65-year history of continuous football.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove 64075, or Visit

You must be logged in to post a comment Login