Peter You Gonna Win The Hundred
Peter Ford was an excellent athlete, his specialty was the low and high hurdles. I believe his senior year he was undefeated. Peter ran the 440 relay and also the 100 yard dash. Hawthorne usually took state in track as we had so many fast black athletes. Kent Jackson and Phil Estep battled it our week after week in the hundred yard dash, sometimes Kent would win and sometimes Phil would win. Both had run under 10 flat that year. Kent had run a 9.8 and Phil had run 9.6 after the season on a rubberized track at U.N.R. But today they were on a dirt track for the state championship, the last time they would face each other that year. Phil Estep was from Yerington so he had the home track advantage.
As fast as Peter Ford was he could only manage a third or fourth place finish against this stiff competition. Peter had never won the 100 yard dash nor had he ever run the 100 yard dash under 10 seconds.
Hazel Green was a four foot nine inch bundle of energy and personality. I don’t think I ever heard Hazel Green laugh softly. I think if Hazel thought something was funny, everyone in the county needed to hear her laugh about it. Hazel couldn’t laugh sitting or standing still, she had to grab on to someone and spread her laughter all over them. Hazel was so into people that when you were speaking to her she tried to finish your sentences. Sometime she would steal your words right out of your mouth. When Hazel finished your sentence wrong, she would just back up and redo it the way you just said it, and then have the both you nodding in agreement.
About a week before the State Track Meet, Hazel had a dream. Hazel told her boyfriend Peter Ford that he was going to win the 100 yard dash. Peter laughed, “Hazel, I’ve never won the 100, and I’ve never beat anyone who runs the hundred.” Hazel was undeterred. “It’s ok Peter cause I had a dream and you gonna win the hundred.” Well, this talk went on all week long. Peter kept telling Hazel to stop bringing it up cause someone might hear and it’s embarrassing. Well Hazel wouldn’t stop talking about it and pretty soon a lot of people were talking about it, you know about the fact that Hazel had a dream and she wasn’t bashful about telling everybody that Peter was going to win the hundred. Peter started avoiding his girlfriend Hazel when she wouldn’t stop talking about her silly dream, after all Kent Jackson and Phil Estep went 1 and 2 at every meet.
Well the day of the championship finally came and the stands were jam packed. Yerington was always a close second cause they has so many kids enter races that you got 1 or 2 points for 3rd and 4th places, so they always managed to come in second. Hawthorne won most of the gold medals and this year they announced that Yerington actually won the State Championship and we got second. It wasn’t till a week later that the news paper wrote a retraction and stated that Hawthorne had actually won State. It was kind of a downer cause Yerington got all the glory and the pictures and the press and kinda stole our victory from us, well at least until a week later. Its kinda like kissin the head cheerleader in your sleep and you hear about a week later. All the fun is long gone.
The whole stadium waited for the start of the 100 yard dash. Kent and Phil were next to each other in lanes 3 and 4. This is where the race was going to happen. Peter was in lane 8 all the way outside away from the action. All 8 sprinters were kneeling in their starting block waiting for the gun to fire. Guns up, ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET-------- Phil Estep jumped the gun. We were pretty happy about that, one more false start and he’s out of the race disqualified. After a couple minutes all the runners were back in their blocks. Guns up, RUNNERS ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET-------Kent Jackson false started. We were pretty upset about that because one more false start and Kent would be disqualified.
After a couple more minutes all the runners were again in their blocks. The tension in the air was thick. Guns up! RUNNERS ON YOUR MARK, GET SET---------BANG!!!!!
This time nobody jumped the gun and they were all off and running. Peter Ford looked like he was shot out of a cannon. To say it wasn’t close was an understatement. The runner in lane 8 clearly had the best start and left everyone else sitting in the blocks. At the 25 yard mark Peter Ford was in the lead by at least 6 feet. Kent and Phil had yet to make their move into the lead which everyone expected to happen any moment. At the 50 yard mark Peter Ford still maintained his lead. Hazel was on the front row of the bleachers near the finish line and was jumpin out of her skin. She looked like a gyratin jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
At the 75 yard mark still, Kent and Phil were in 2nd and 3rd places. Peter was not going to relinquish his lead easily; he had a dream to fulfill. When did Peter actually begin to believe? Was it at the twenty five yard mark, the fifty yard mark, the seventy five yard mark? Hazel was in near cardiac arrest. She had to be restrained from leaning to far over the rail and nearly falling onto the track as Peter ran by. As Peter crossed the finish line a full six feet ahead of Kent in second place, the field erupted. But the epicenter was coming from the 4ft 9in girlfriend Hazel Green. Hazel ran onto the track and grabbed Peter around the neck and repeated over and over “I told you, you was gonna win the 100, I told you, you was gonna win the hundred”, over and over and over.
I ran up to Hazel who was more out of breath than Peter. Hazel was laughing, crying and hyperventilation. It took several minutes before Hazel was able to carrying on a normal conversation. We should have entered her in the shot putt competition at that moment, because just off adrenaline alone she could have beatin the state champion from Yerington and the runner up from Hawthorne, Jim Graf who by the way was State Champ the year before.
Author`s note, Peter Ford not only won that race, a race that he had never won before, but set a personal best of 9.9. Was all of this just a coincidence you know, the dream and all? Some things in life never leave us. I think we are to learn form the lessons of the past. Did it matter that Peter didn’t believe that he could win the hundred? Often life kicks so many in the teeth that not only do they lose the ability to believe in themselves, they also lose the ability to believe. Some have mistakenly thought “ that if I can see, then I will believe.” This false belief is bassackwards. Take God for instance, many say I will only believe if I see. They don’t understand that believing is seeing with spiritual eyes. There are other ways of knowing, other than sight. When I die, I’m not going to be surprised or relieved when I am in the hereafter. When I see God I’m not going to have the urge to jump up and down and shout hosanna “I’m so glad that you are real”. At that day my eyes will see the things I already knew through the eye of faith. That will be the day when I cross the thin veil of faith to the kingdom of pure knowledge. Having said that, I don’t believe I will know any better then than I do now, for believing truly is seeing.
When we come to that defining line, even the same line that our special friend Hazel has recently crossed, we will all find a Heavenly Multitude who love us and have always believed in us; even if there may have been times when we personally forgot how to believe.
Dedicated to Hazel Green 1954-2012