I really got lucky this past week. Kirby Shofner, my step brother, asked me to come to his home in Little Rock to see if I’d like to take some items off his hands. It was everything from dad’s study.
When Orville Henry, my father, passed away 15 years ago, I really didn’t step in and ask for anything. Kirby was asked by his mother, my step mother, to clean out his study. I guess no one really asked her what would happen to that stuff. I sure didn’t. Not my place. I was gone from the home when my dad re-married years later after my mom’s illness. Kirby didn’t live in the home with my dad, either.
Kirby had boxes and boxes from my dad’s files. He kept all of the important letters he wrote, working with carbon paper for about 50 years. He had all the important letters he received, filed by persons names. You can probably imagine the kind of stuff he had from Arkansas head coaches of different sports. There are also personal letters from the likes of Darrell Royal, Bob Devaney, Doug Dickey, Hayden Fry, Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson. The list goes on and on. The letters date from the 1940s.
There are also important columns he had written, along with clips from other papers all filed by subject.
Among the things Kirby gave me were my dad’s Masters caps, brief case and clip files of his early days with the Arkansas Gazette when he was named sports editor at age 19. There is the original story with his mug when he was named SE. There is an introduction of my dad from Ben Epstien, the SE who left. It is literally amazing.
The real prize is something I’d never seen, a Bobblehead doll of my father. It says Big O on the base. It’s a little bigger than most. I didn’t know that anything like this exists. Maybe someone else has one, but I suspect it’s some kind of prototype. In talking about it, I’ve discovered that my dad was embarrassed by it and it was never displayed. It was hidden in his desk, but Kirby wound up with it. I’d never seen it. Maybe there are more, but I am not aware of them.
There is also something I didn’t know, my dad was an Eagle Scout. There is his Eagle Scout sash with all of the merit badges.
There is also a picture of him between two men when he was 18. He was working at the Gazette. He had taken six years of Spanish. The Travelers signed a Cuban catcher. The manager did not speak English. My dad was asked to come handle the translations. The paper ran a picture of him between them. My dad was 5-5, 120 pounds at the time. He looked tiny.
There is also a picture of the entire group of writers who covered the old Southern Association. It had to be taken in the mid-1950s. My dad looked like a junior high kid amongs these veteran writers, most of whom were in their 50s and 60s at the time. That had to quite the experience sitting in those press boxes. That was in the day when the writers traveled to cover the teams. He told me he had covered games for the Travs all across the south and was looking forward to the SEC days. You see this picture and the names of the men and their papers and it hits home.
I’ll ask Matt to put the picture of the OH Bobblehead on here sometime this afternoon.