Wednesday, March 4
Sterling Hardware has been around for a long time. During hard times in the '30's, my dad, Sebe Watts, lost his Brakeman job on the L & N Railroad. He eventually went to Coyne Electrical School in Chicago where he studied radio & refrigeration service & repair. Returning to Hazard he went to work for Sterling Hardware. He had a shop on the second floor. That was around 1936. Sterling is a good business selling everything, hardware, refrigerators, radios, sporting goods, toys, & bicycles. My first American Flyer electric train, basketball, football, and Converse basketball shoes all came from there. Dad, later went out on his own. Billy Douglas worked with him for a while just after he returned from the war. Back then if you made a phone call you talked to the operator and gave her a three digit number... During and after the war, rubber products were not available. Around 1945 or '46 Roy Eversole had to buy gym shoes for the Hazard basketball team that had synthetic rubber soles. We had just refinished and painted the gym floor. To our surprise the black synthetic shoe soles left horrible skid marks on the floor. After a couple games the floor was marked up so bad you couldn't use it. It was a tough job to clean up those marks. The new basketballs had synthetic bladders and they did not bounce very well, either. In the training room we had four big hampers of old shoes and stuff that had been discarded. I remember spending a lot of time trying to find shoes that could still be used. Don McGuire was the older team manager then, along with Jimmy Elkhorn. Hazard had a good team: Kern Price, Bobby McGuire, Jack Steel, and Bill Strong. Over the years, I knew Sammy Burke, Bill Barbeaux, Bill Zoellers, Howard Lusk, Dick Mitchell, Joe P. Ray, Bobby Cisco, and Garland Townes who later was a member of the great 1947-48 Kentucky Wildcat team. There was another guy in the group, Dick Mitchell. Tough kid. He went on to play for the U.K. Football team. I saw him play against Georgia Tech in Lexington in 1952.