The Gentle Ex Boxer From Laredo & The Man From HebbronvilleWednesday, June 01, 2011
|Fernando García & William Averitt|
These two gentlemen, Fernando García and William Averitt had not seen each other since García had graduated from St. Edward’s High School in 1961. William Averitt had one more year to go. The reason both are in this picture which I took last Sunday is because of a fatal accident.
On April 27, 2010 William Averitt’s brother James died in an automobile accident somewhere in Texas.
In August 2010 my granddaughter Rebecca and I visited Mike East (Class of 1962) in his Santa Fe Ranch a few miles from the oddly named Falfurrias. While there Mike East drove us to that town on our way to Sarita, Texas and I pointed out to Rebecca the town with the funny name.
Mike East and I in some of our late afternoon chats in his living room where I had Doctor Pepper while he would drink his beer and his Tequila El Patrón Silver Label; would reminisce of our days at St. Ed’s. The conversation would eventually steer in the direction of “Do you remember this guy?” I had a bit of a trouble because it was a sort of rule that one’s class would pretty well ignore those students that were underclassmen. Since I was from the class of 1961 and Mike East from 1962 many of the names he threw out at me were familiar only in name. But he was adamant about the Averitt brothers. We were unsure if they were twins. They were both in his class but they did not really look like each other. The boys had been from a small town called Hebbronville which was near where Mike East lived. The three had been on horses together. Mike East had lost touch with them. “Find them for me if you can,” he told me.
Back home I tried and ran into dead ends. That was the case for months until one day I learned the trick of using the middle initial in my search engine. It was then that I hit an obituary for one James M. Averitt who had died in April. The obituary was posted by the Funeraria del Angel in Falfurrias. I called the funeral home and asked for James Averitt’s brother’s phone number.
I called William Averitt and we chatted and exchanged emails. I kept in touch with him as it was our plan to combine forces so that we might persuade his shy friend Mike East to attend the 2011 reunion.
A few months back I contacted Averitt and asked him if he was going to go to the reunion. He cited some rather serious medical conditions and that he had to have an operation. He told me that he might postpone that operation and come to the reunion.
William Averitt did come to the reunion with his wife and they had a warm visit with Mike East and Letty García.
On the last day of the reunion, the brunch after Mass, I spotted these two in warm conversation. I never did ask them if they had been friends after St. Ed’s or perhaps before. It was unimportant.
Fernando García was our handsome, tall and star boxer. I was not his friend as we were in different circles. García was part of the yet to be called Chicano contingent of our school. We called them the Latinos. I was not a Latino because I looked like an Anglo, but I was not considered an Anglo because I spoke Spanish. I was in my shy no-man’s-land all by myself. But in my observations I noted a young man who never became angry or abused his size and strength. He was one of our better football players. I remember his quick smile and his quiet voice.
Why you may ask is it that I spend money that I don’t have to travel to Austin to meet up with people that you might say I have nothing in common with? I have an answer which might not satisfy. But it does satisfy my own puzzlement over my enthusiasm for these Texans. They are eccentric and hold views that are mostly to the right of our pristine majority rule Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
I feel that what I share with these Texans (some are from elsewhere but it is most convenient to call them all Texans) is a shared experience. This experience if they were not my personal close friends or roommates is still a strong experience since we were “locked up” in an old Gothic revival castle for four years. The bond is not a bond between us but a bond from all around us that pushes us into a centre where, suddenly, after all these years we feel a centripetal pull. We may look older and sometimes almost unrecognizable from our yearbook pictures but the bond is an inescapable one that calms, satisfies and makes me feel like they are all versions of those old shoes of my life that I treasured and could never throw away.
Talking to Fernando García, elegantly dressed and wearing tassled black cordovan Johnston & Murphy shoes, I asked him to pose with William Averitt. The picture you see here amply describes this bond, this bond that came from the fact that these boys that we all were when went to St. Ed’s and that men, men of the order of Holy Cross, with an instruction that came from a liberal Catholic education, turned us into men, too.