THE MORELAND BOYS
Edd, Joe & big brother Lloyd,& big sister Nita
Ed and Joe Moreland, 1954
Edd & Kay at their church the day the new christening font was dedicated. (Easter Sunday 2005) Edd made the font for the church.
Photo by Bob Grambling
The first six people are Jackie Bridges, James Simolke, Joe Moreland, Jack Moreland, & Doug McCrary I think the person on the far right partially showing is James Alan Norris.
The Moreland Boys Transfer to Minden
By: Edd Moreland
In order to start at the beginning, I must go back to the school year of 1951-52. Jack was in the eighth grade; Joe and I were in the sixth grade at Harris School, a small school in Claiborne Parish. There was a big controversy at the school because Jack, even though being in the eighth grade, started on the high school basketball team, along with my older brother, Ralph, who was a senior. As a result, several of the older players quit the team.
Harris High School played in a tournament at Evergreen during December of 1951 and captured first place. Ralph and Jack were placed on the all-tournament team. It was a sight to see Jack at 14 years old, 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing in at about 150 pounds. This is the first time that he was noticed because it was the first time that an eighth grader had been selected on a high school all- tournament team. He had developed his soft jump shot and was unstoppable.
Jack continued to develop his skills in the ninth grade but did not have much help. Harris still won several games, even with a horrible coach. He let the players who had quit in previous years come back and continue to stir up trouble.
We will fast forward to 1953. Minden High School Principal, Mr. W.W. Williams and Coach Doherty came out to our farm to go bird hunting. Evidently, they had heard of Jack and stopped by our house on a Saturday morning to ask if they could hunt on our land. I talked to Mr. Williams several times about this and this is the way he related the story to me. My Daddy brought up the subject; he wanted to transfer us boys to Minden. He recognized Jack’s ability and knew that no college would see Jack if we remained at Harris. It was also a given that Harris High School would soon be merged into Homer High School and Daddy did not want us to go to Homer. Even though he knew of Jack’s talent, his main concern was getting the education from a good school and he knew that Minden was the place to be; and, based on the academics and athletics, Minden was where we should be.
Of course, Mr. Williams and Coach Doherty were thrilled but were not sure of Daddy’s motives. They did not know my Daddy and thought that he might want to be compensated for the move. Daddy assured them that all he wanted was for transportation to be provided because we lived in Claiborne Parish and no bus came to our house. This is how we came to drive the “Red Carryall” for all those years. We would go to practice after school and drop other players off on our way home.
Within a week or two of the “visit”, Harris High School played in the Minden High School Basketball Tournament. Harris won the first game and the second game, against tremendous odds. Our third game was with Springhill, who had John David Crow on their team. Harris almost beat Springhill and in the locker room, John David asked Jack if he would transfer to Springhill because we had an aunt living there. I heard the conversation because Joe and I were on the traveling team. We got to dress out with the team but never played. Anyway, Jack told him that we probably needed to stay where we were. If Jack knew about our pending move to Minden, he never told me.
We went back to school at Harris until the middle of January 1954. About 1:00 on a Monday afternoon, Jack came to our classroom and told Joe and me that we had to leave. We got in the car and asked where we were going. Jack told us that we were going to enroll in Minden. This was the first I knew of the move and it scared me to death. I had always made good grades at Harris; mostly A’s and some B’s but we had heard that Minden was really tough and that we would have to study really hard to make average grades.
Jack was in the tenth grade and we were in the eighth grade. Now, you have to realize; our little school had SIX students in the eighth grade: 2 girls and 4 boys. When we got to Minden Junior High, we found 6 classes of about 30 students; and about half of them were girls. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. We were put in a class and soon began to fit in pretty well. We studied hard and made good grades. It just so happened that our History Teacher, Miss Sadie Reynolds, had gone to school with our Mother. That didn’t hurt a bit!! We had just studied the part of Louisiana History during our last semester at Harris and they were just beginning to study that period when we got to Minden. It really made us look brilliant!
Jack was 6 ft 6 in tall as a sophomore and weighed about 175 pounds. He was quick and could shoot like a pro. Everyone in North Louisiana began to know who he was; which is not always a good thing. Some of the schools charged that there had been illegal recruiting practices and that Jack was ineligible. The commissioner of Louisiana Athletics, Mr. “Muddy” Waters finally had to rule on the case. In order for Jack to play, our whole family had to make a “bona fide” move to Minden. That meant that we had to move everything from our house in Claiborne Parish to Minden.
It just so happened that our uncle, Mr. Drew Maddry, had a big, two-story house in Minden and he lived alone. He told us that we could move in rent-free. We took everything from our house and moved it to Minden; I mean everything. Not even a scrap of paper was left in the house because “Muddy” Waters came out and personally inspected it before he ruled that Jack could play ball.
Within two weeks of our move to Minden, Uncle Drew Maddry’s daughter and son-in-law advised him that they had been transferred to Minden with West Brothers Stores. Of course, this meant that we had to move out of the big, two-story house and move into a garage apartment. Remember, my family consisted of Ralph, (who was enrolled at La Tech), Jack, Joe, Mother, Daddy, and me…..all in a one bedroom garage apartment. Mother and Daddy put two beds in the bedroom, put their bed in the living room and we ate from a tiny kitchen. We stayed there until school was out and moved back to the farm. During our stay in Minden, Daddy had to drive twice as far to work and Mother had to drive to Homer every day to go to Draughn’s Business College. It was a tough time.
Since we had moved back to the farm at the end of our first year in Minden, it meant that Jack was no longer eligible to play basketball until mid January of the next year, 1955. Whenever you transfer from a school in one parish to another school in another parish, you have to sit out a year unless there is a “bona fide” move. Moving back to the farm made our original move null and void so Jack had to wait until we had been enrolled in Minden for one year in order to become eligible again.
Waiting to become eligible was not a big deal because we had only one district game before he would become eligible again and it was with St Johns of Shreveport, who never had a good team.
Sure enough, we won. The first game that Jack would play after he became eligible again was with North Caddo in Minden. There was a standing-room only crowd and Jack didn’t disappoint them. He made over thirty points and the rest is history; we won the district and state basketball titles that year.
Almost immediately after our move to Minden, some people in Homer were outraged because they wanted Jack to transfer to Homer High School. Everyone just assumed that we would eventually come up there because we lived in Claiborne Parish. My Daddy worked in the Homer Oilfield. Shortly after the move, his boss came to him and told him that pressure was being applied on him and that Daddy was going to have to transfer us to Homer…if not, Daddy would be fired. Daddy had an eighth grade education and knew no other kind of work. He dropped his tools, told him where he could stick his job, and started walking to his truck. His boss stopped him and told him that he didn’t have to go that far…..something could be worked out. Daddy didn’t quit and we stayed in Minden, but Daddy never had respect for him again.
Minden won the basketball state championship in Jack’s junior year and should have won it in his senior year where he scored 1,954 points. He still holds the third highest high school career point total in the nation after almost fifty years, 5,030 points. He averaged over 30 points per game all through high school and led the state in assists as well. He shot 60% from the field and 90% from the free throw line. He was drafted #1 in the NBA in 1960 and played pro basketball for eight years.
He was second in his high school graduating class. In four years of study, he made only one “B”. Ironically, it was in PE and given by his former coach at Harris after we transferred to Minden.
I realize that this was supposed to be an account of our transfer to Minden. I also realize that it has turned into a tribute to Jack. I could not let the opportunity pass without paying homage to him.
Joe & I continued to drive the “Red Carryall” to school each day until it finally died just before we graduated. It has been over fifty years since the move and no one in our family ever regretted Daddy’s decision. Minden became our home.
Jack died on December 19, 1971 of Cancer. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He was the best high school basketball player that I have ever seen, but to me, he was the best brother.