September 2, 2003

Memories of AHS football 1951-56

Coach Ramsey had been hired right out of Mississippi State to take the AHS football from 6-man to 11-man teams.   In those early years, we were a Region A school with a small student body from which to recruit players.   We played  Stone Mountain, Tucker, College Park, Hapeville, Druid Hills, Southwest DeKalb, Chamblee, Clarkston, Marist, Campbell at Fairburn, Campbell at Smyrna--all
Region A schools at that time.

Until our senior year (1956), we attended the old high school and played our football games on the field beside the old gymnasium. The field was hard-packed clay mixed with stones and an occasional blade of grass.   No sod, no irrigation..... Before each home game, the team would line up across the field and walk from one end to the other, removing stones and other debris.   Then the field was marked of with chalk by using a string and applying the chalk by hand following the string.  Our stadium consisted of sections with wooden planks bolted to an open framework constructed from angle iron. That way, mischievous students could play pranks on unsuspecting friends from under
the stands. To preserve the field during our twice-a-day preseason practices, we would dress out and walk down the railroad tracks to the Scottdale Mill field. For the first couple of days of those remaining hot, summer days, the grass would be tall and then gradually would be worn down.   We were able to get water from the kind residents of the mill houses that face the field.   I can still remember the smell of home cooking just before we ended our second practice session each day.... Then we would walk back to the AHS field to run laps around the field before hitting the showers. The fragrance and feel of sweat-soaked uniforms and pads greeted us each practice session.   Throughout this routine Coach Ramsey was (outwardly) unsympathetic to our discomfort.   It was just a part of his conditioning program to make us mentally and well as physically tougher.   We didn't have a weight room but he and his assistant coaches Harry Logue, and Reed "Pushups"
Parham provided the necessary strengthening regimen.   Although our win/loss record was not always stellar, it was the beginning of the dynasty that hundreds of AHS players created under the coaching prowess of Coach Calvin Ramsey.  I can attest that lifelong friendships were forged during those years of growing and learning together from a great Coach.   We didn't know just how fortunate we were to share those experiences.

Peyton L. Lingle