“Big Fred Smith” by Doug Fincher

November 1, 2016 - “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” Proverbs 18:24  

I met the late Fred Smith when I was a student at ETBU in Marshall, Texas.   He was one of our best (and biggest) basketball players and his size earned him the name “Big Fred”.  Our paths crossed again when I met him in his pickup on the hill at Geneva, Texas back in the seventies.  “Hey, Fincher”, he hollered. “Hey, Fred,"…"Whatcha doing nowadays?”....  “Fox huntin’”, he laughed.

Fred and I often bragged about how poor we grew up and often sat on his “gallery” (a.k.a. “porch”)  and compared our stories of poverty.

“Fred, were y'all rich enough to take ‘lightening bread’ in your school lunch?” “Not very often...but when we did, we didn’t hold it down low.  We held it up high where everybody could see it!”  “My school lunch was usually a hammer and two “hiccer nuts”, he laughed.  “Hey, Fincher…. if you want to hunt doves in the back pasture, you’re as welcome as the flowers in May.” 

When I asked Fred what he played in High School football, he laughed, “Mainly the bench. My coach never learned my name. He just called me ‘Boy’”. “When we played Center one year, they almost killed us. Finally the coach told me to go in. The next thing I remember I was being hauled off the field in a wheel barrow and they parked me on the sideline in a bunch of goat weeds”. 

It’s no wonder that I so enjoyed visiting Fred “on his gallery.” He was a fun man to be around and never failed to lift my spirits with his wit and sense of humor. 

When he crossed the Jordan years ago, he left me (and his world of friends) many wonderful memories.  And he was what many men never are.

He was a good man.