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1985 - The Greatest 

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat add up to the best story we've ever published.

In the long history of the Arkansas Times, we've written stories that have made people mad. We've written things that have made people disgusted. We've published things that have made our readers - our very bread and butter - furious, red-faced, and out-and-out outraged (see "Thirty Years of Hate Mail, P. XX).

In between, though, we've printed some pretty good stuff too, if we do say so ourselves. In the Times offices is a long, long wall fairly stacked, packed and racked with awards we've garnered over the years, if that means anything to you. For all the hate mail and accolades that have been lavished on us, however, we knew that any self-respecting Anniversary issue had to include The Greatest.

Picking The Greatest was not, contrary to what you might have expected, all that hard. The Greatest is not, after all, "Best Reported," or "Most Revealing" or "Biggest Scoop," though we've had our share of those over three decades. Around here, the thing that has always gotten us through is heart. We're suckers for it. And when it comes to finding The Greatest - the story with the biggest heart over the years - there was really no hesitation amongst the old timers. To boot, it just so happens The Greatest is a work of comic genius. It wasn't even a cover story, come to think of it.

Without further ado, we give you the most reader-requested article in the history of the Arkansas Times. Mike Trimble's September 1985 downhome masterpiece, "Memoirs of a Miner."

Most of us are doing pretty well, I guess. Salty Crowson is selling insurance and raising a short ton of kids over in Conway, and Jonesy is a college professor with a highly praised book under his belt. Satchelbutt Wilmoth married his high school sweetheart; ditto Bud Richards, who, last I heard, was running a very used car lot out of the highway and serving on the Bauxite School Board. I earn three squares a day just sitting in a chair, typing.

I don't hear much from the members of the 1960 Bauxite Miner football team - except for Salty, who handles my insurance, and always calls around my birthday to remind me that I am one year closer to dying - but every year around this time I start thinking about them - Salty and Satchel and Bud and Rolleigh and Harold Selby and Dan Reed and the rest - and I wonder if they are still as embarrassed as I am at getting beat by Bryant.

I don't mean getting beat by Bryant last year, or even the year before; Bryant doesn't even play Bauxite in football any more, having outgrown any semblance of athletic parity with the Miners since becoming a landing field for Little Rock's white flight about ten years ago. I mean getting beat by Bryant in 1960, the year that Rolleigh and Dan Reed and Bud Richards and Jimmy Birmingham and Bill Ramsey and Jonesy and Johnny Holland and Paul Mansfield and I were seniors.

I am getting embarrassed right now, just thinking about it. My God! Bryant! Until 1960, Bryant had NEVER beaten the Bauxite Miners, Ever! They had seldom even scored. Until 1960, the Bryant game was the annual slaughter, always played at home because Bryant didn't have its own field; always played against a bunch of skinny, inept players whose uniforms didn't even match. I remember lining up as an eighth grader against a Bryant tight end who played in cowboy boots.

We had started the 1960 season as the undefeated District 5-A champions. In 1959, the mighty Black and Gray had roared through the schedule like a turpentined kitty. We had rocked 'em, we had socked 'em. We had Kicked Butt. Now, only a few months later, it was ashes, all ashes. Sic transit gloria mundi! The Bryant hornets had beaten the Bauxite Miners, and before the season was over, so had just about everybody else. The center had not held, and I was the center.

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