Crimson Tide vs Auburn War Eagles

To say that football was King in the Billingsley community was a vast understatement. In our household, time and the seasons were measured by the Crimson Tide’s football schedule for example: Three months, sixteen days till Alabama kicks off, ten days till spring training, two weeks before the Tide rolls over and drowns that no-good-cow-college Auburn.

I remember a special Saturday afternoon in the mid to later ’40’s. My two older sisters, youngest brother and I were gathered around our dining room table and our portable radio. Our attention was riveted to the Alabama Crimson Tide football game.

Coffee, a must for all family celebratory events, and homegrown popcorn handy, but forgotten, we leaned, as if pulled by magic, toward the radio. That magic was named Harry Gilmer jump passer extraordinare.

The game almost over, the Tide needing a touchdown to win, the ball being snapped, Harry Gilmer going back to pass, he jumped way up, just hanging there and rocketed that ball into the end zone and into history. God above! We managed to take a breath and went nuts, screaming, pounding on the table and throwing popcorn into the air.


Time past. I reached junior high and my siblings were either away in college or married and gone, but the devotion to the Crimson Tide they had instilled within me had been nurtured and grown.

More students at Billingsley High were Auburn fans, and, to me, Auburn fans verged on the fanatical. I, of course, never stooped to being fanatical. Soon, I discovered that riling them, was easy and fun.

My favorite provocation was throwing epithets. I called Auburn fans cow herders and their War Eagle a featherless chicken; they called Alabama fans stuck-ups and the Crimson Tide – shoreline scum. In a good volley, epithets could be slung back and forth for ten or more minutes before the long suffering teacher put a stop to it.

In seventh grade our exchanges ratcheted to new heights – poetry and essay. I wrote a two page poem about the travails of Auburn’s hapless quarterback trying to play against Alabama’s heroes of the field.

Smart and quick witted, Wilfred and his group countered with essays equating Auburn’s quarterback’s triumphs on the field to those of Hercules.

Our teachers were so astounded and pleased by our sudden plunge into literary endeavors that they let us read our compositions to the class.

Well, it didn’t take long for us to realise that our writing and reciting was getting us out of class.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the teachers to reach that same conclusion.

Oh, well, we de-escalated our football battles back to the mere slinging of insults, but it continued to be great fun.


Harry Gilmer’s name and his technique of jumping to pass came from my memories at five and six years of age. I went to to fact check these memories before posting the story. Imagine my pleasure when a picture of Harry, jumping up to pass, came on screen. Making it even sweeter was finding that he is still alive. Turns out that Mr. Gilmer was quite the athlete, and some of his records still stand.

Below are two links to read of his career and see the picture of his famous jump passing.

Harry Gilmer

St. Louis Today on Harry Gilmer

March 12, 2010 В· Carolyn В· 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,  В· Posted in: Crimson Tide

2 Responses

  1. Melanie - March 13, 2010

    How cool is that to finally see the actual image of Gilmer in the air on that pass after picturing it in your head from that radio broadcast so many years ago!

  2. Sue - March 13, 2010

    I was the same way growing up in Columbus, Ohio with OSU (Ohio State University) We went nuts when they played Michigan or went to the Rose Bowl!

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