It was a beautiful spring day in April, the perfect day for our first baseball game of the season and perfect just to be outside. Our school in Lincoln County was small, so small in fact that it took all the boys from the 6th-8th grades to make a baseball team. Sometimes a girl or two would play in those cases when there weren't enough boys to make up a team. I was afraid coach/teacher, Mr. Tilly would play a girl instead of me so I convinced my older sisters to work with me the summer between 6th and 7th grades in hopes of improving my skills. Sister Lynn is left-handed and had an 80 (est) mph fast ball. There was great incentive to learn to catch well. Jeanne Ray warmed the bench after that summer. But the point of this story isn’t really about small schools or baseball.
Wood was a year younger than me but tall for his age and a great athlete. He stared this game at shortstop, I started as catcher (told ya). Sometimes we changed positions, just wherever coach wanted. We had been coached to call for the ball on any fly ball or “pop-up”, and we both called for it, too late as it turned out. Head to head collision. Unconscious, they carried us to the gym and laid us on the wrestling mats. No 9-1-1 in those days and the closest ambulance/hospital was at least 30 minutes away. We regained consciousness after some time and went on to class, no big deal! Don’t remember if they finished the game without us, Jeanne might know. But the point of this story isn’t really about athletes, pop-ups or 9-1-1.
After 8th grade, I went to high school in McLoud. Woody attended at Meeker where he became a valedictorian and onto everyone’s “A” list. Not an easy feat for a young black man growing up in the 60’s. You couldn't help liking him, young or old, just one of those personable types who made friends easily. We saw each other from time to time over the years and I’d remind him that he was unconscious for a longer period of time than me. He reminded me that the collision knocked me further back than he. But the point of this story isn’t really about schooling, growing up or reunions.
Another beautiful spring day in April, the perfect day to be at work downtown but also to enjoy the flowers, green grass, birds singing and thinking how good life felt that day. This just had to be a productive day, had to get the cooling working in City Hall...Then the whole building shook. A fellow worker thought a boiler had exploded but we know this building didn’t have one. We left the basement quickly and ran outside, then four blocks toward the Murrah building. I didn’t know for several days that Woody was there, on the 3rd floor.
So what’s the point? First, to honor the memory of my friend and the other 167 who perished on that day 20 years ago. Secondly, you never know what a beautiful spring day might bring. It’s not a good time to be unconscious. It’s a time to remember how quickly life can change. We, young or old, should focus on being ready and sharing the message with others. The Lord provided a plan for it and paid a price—for all of us.
When you visit the National Memorial, walk to the 3rd row of chairs, 6th chair from the east to find the monument for Woodrow C. “Woody” Brady. It’s a good place to visit on a beautiful spring day, to remember lives lost and to pray for hard-headed boys.