One of the connection stories Jimmy told this week was about a trip to the state cross-country meet back in the fall of 1974. Each athlete was allotted about $2.50 per meal from the school for the trip. Well, the cross-country team arrived in Louisville Friday afternoon, practiced on the course and checked into the Holiday Inn. At suppertime, half of the team decided to use their meal money at the McDonald’s next door to the hotel. Jimmy and Henry Cunningham decided they would take the meal up a notch and eat at the restaurant in the Holiday Inn. Well, two young runners by the names of Bill Fort and Mike Wright decided to follow and eat with the wise senior leaders. Upon being seated, the waitress brought us the menus. It didn’t take long for our table of four to realize we were not in Cadiz any more. One look at the prices told us that we would blow our entire meal allowance for the whole trip if we ate there, not to mention any personal money we had brought. Therefore, we had to get out without losing our honor. Jimmy and Henry led the way. They chose not to walk back past the hostess who had seated us and out the front door. That would be too embarrassing. So the senior leaders headed to what they thought was the back door with their two young teammates in tow. Jimmy, in the lead, burst through a door only to find himself smack dab in the middle of the kitchen of the Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn chefs in their tall white hats looked at us in bewilderment as our group of four marched through their kitchen toward another door. As a matter of fact, Jimmy actually spoke to the chefs and proclaimed, “NICE KITCHEN!” Then we think it was sophomore Bill Fort who followed that up by saying, “Yeah, but it ain’t the Cadiz Restaurant.” (A lot of Cadiz veterans may recall that Bill’s parents Willie and Nell used to own and run the Cadiz Restaurant.) Our fancy Holiday Inn supper just didn’t pan out as we ended up at McDonald’s with the rest of the team.
Brother Jimmy also recalled with fondness the great cheeseburgers and chili he used to eat at Kenny’s Snack Shack while growing up in Cadiz. Jimmy said, “Kenny Akemon served up the best cheeseburgers and chili that you could get anywhere. They might have been more than just a little greasy, but they were good.” Jimmy went on to say that Kenny wouldn’t serve french fries or onion rings, however, because he said they just weren’t healthy. Go figure.
In regards to Jimmy’s messages on “Making Sense of Life,” I have come to a few simple conclusions. Some are more in-depth and spiritual in nature, so I will leave those for my own thoughts. One is more of a statement about our community, however. I will share that one. Here goes. It is obvious from Jimmy Gentry’s speaking that this community and Cadiz Baptist Church had a tremendous impact on his life and ministry. Jimmy even said, “This community nurtured me and allowed me to practice my ministry as a youth who had just committed to the ministry. I am thankful everyday for the people who contributed so positively to my life.”
Therefore my conclusion is this. We adults never know who the next Jimmy Gentry will be. We need to be ever mindful of being there for our youth of today and supporting them as they being their individual journeys through life.
OK, let me get down off my soapbox before I fall off. Thanks for reading. See you next week.
OT: I have been trying to finish a column on the fastest walking woman in these parts. I bet you know who that is. I just have to catch her first for an interview. Maybe next week. Stay tuned.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.