The madness of the month of March has arrived! My mother used to predict the weather for March 31 by what it was like on March 1. “In like a lion, out like a lamb; in like a lamb, out like a lion!”, Mama would say every March 1. According to my sources on the ground in Oklahoma – March 1 was a beautiful day this year. Here’s your advanced storm warning – be prepared on March 31!
The lion and lamb analogy can be aptly applied to other areas of March life. Take for instance my nephew, Adam, and the love of his life, Mary. Their first day of March roared in like a lion on the waves of labor pains. The pains brought forth a precious little red haired princess, Virginia. Something tells me that other than cries of hunger or wet diapers, their March 31 will ease out like a lamb for Princess Virginia, her sister Elinor and their parents. I wish I could say that Virginia arrived in the land of red dirt but alas, she arrived in the bayou area of southeast Texas. Someday when she is old enough to understand, her paternal grandmother, Clara, will entertain her with stories of the five generations of her family that equated red dirt with home.
Meandering around the madness of March memories of lions and lambs, several favorites have popped up to the top. Youth retreats, spring revivals, and school breaks all bring to mind events that began like lambs but ended like roaring lions. One of my favorite youth retreat destinations is nestled in the Quartz Mountains, across Highway 44 from Lake Altus. The Southwest Baptist Assembly Grounds (SBAG) harbor many fond memories, including such firsts as my first week at church camp, embarrassment at my lack of knowledge of Donnie Osmond (he was the Justin Beiber of my day), first time as a camp counselor and numerous retreats as a teenager.
If ever there was a doubt that God can still use this place to His glory, one need only look at the lion of a wildfire of Summer 2011 that roared around the mountains surrounding the campground. The fire necessitated the evacuation of both SBAG and the Quartz Mountain Christian Camp located a mile north. God protected both sites with His hands – one over each campground. A tour of the area a few days afterward showed that the fires literally stopped at the edge of the campgrounds, within a few feet of some of the cabins. God also protected the firefighters that day. No serious injuries were reported as the fireproofed water bearers fought the flames while enduring temps in excess of 100◦F.
What does the lion and lamb analogy have in common with speeding tickets, sectional snow, “Hoosiers” and “Believe in Me”? March Madness, of course! Did you really think I could make it thru a blog titled “March Madness” without a mention of the basketball, that great orange orb that draws the attention of most of the nation for the month of March?
First, let me give a tip of the hat to the state that ratchets up the madness a notch or two in the form of Hoosier Hysteria. “Sectional Snow” kicks off the month-long hysterical state. Most life-long Hoosiers agree, “If it’s sectional weekend, then it’s snowing somewhere, either at home or the sectional play-off site.” High school sectionals are nearly always the first weekend of March. While all the teams roar into the playoffs like lions, at least half or more will retreat like lambs. The movie “Hoosiers” accurately portrays the hysteria. Until a 1998, the play-off system for basketball was just as it was in the movie – there were no classes based on school size, making it possible for the little team from Hickory to take on the big city team in the state finals. Some “Hoosiers” trivia for you – though the movie is labeled fiction, the story is based somewhat on the 1953-54 team from the tiny town of Milan that won the state championship. There really is a town named Terhune, Hickory’s arch rival in the movie, though the school has long since closed. The opening scene where Gene Hackman, as Coach Dale, is driving down the highway to a general store was filmed on location at Terhune. (note: The referenced section of Hoosiers is completed at about the 1:20 mark. The whole clip is 4:00 minutes long. Also, the movie features Sheb Wooley, another Oklahoman.)
It is time to dribble and pass the almighty orange roundball back to the red dirt of Southwestern Oklahoma, land of my first speeding ticket. I picked up this souvenir on the H.E. Bailey turnpike on the way home from the state semi-final basketball game where my high school team lost. It was an expensive way to learn that yes, there are highway patrolmen near Chickasha that will pull you over for speeding, even in heavy traffic. However, we seniors of grand ol’ Altus High were still happy that our men’s basketball team went as far as they did.
Finally, if you want to enjoy a great basketball movie rather than endure a game of teams other than your own, may I suggest that you download, rent, buy, or otherwise find a way to watch the movie “Believe In Me”. Critics have described it as the ladies’ version of “Hoosiers”. You might have guessed by now, this movie from 2007 (or 2006) is set in Southwestern Oklahoma in the 1960s pre-Title IX days of girls’ high school basketball. The movie was fictionalized, of course, but it was inspired by the true story of the Sayre Lady Eagles and their coach, Jim Keith. The movie is taken from the book, “Brief Garland” written by the Newberry Award-winning author, Harold Keith, a life-long Oklahoman, and uncle to Jim Keith. If you want a double-header, watch both movies, “Hoosiers” with actors from Oklahoma, and “Believe In Me” set in the red dirt home of Oklahoma.
Have a great March – see you again in April with an Easter Story.
~ Southwest Sara
Laura Sadler, Clara Cromer, Marvin & Penny Savory, Hoosier Friends