West Tyler Automotive

Grady Arnold


Travis Covin, my cousin in Texas, owns a used car lot in Longview, Texas.  His father owned it before him.  His grandmother, Birdie, was my grandfather's niece.  Travis was raised by his grandparents. His grandparents owned and ran a store about two miles from my grandmother's old house. I spent about a dozen years living with my grandmother Elsie Elizabeth Arnold.

I first went there in the second grade.  My cousin Jim and I would walk over to the store barefoot on hot summer days.   Mr. Reece, the grandfather of Travis, would always offer me a big RC from the refrigerated drink machine.  Travis was always around the store when he was not off in California with his Aunt Marilyn.  For some reason, Travis always called her Charles.

After I graduated from New Diana high school, went into the service, and returned to get my degree in physics, I started doing contract engineering out on the road.  When I would return, I would often go by West Tyler Auto and visit with Travis and his family.  Neil Covin was Travis’s father and had owned the lot before Travis bought him out. During these periodic visits, I got to meet and visit with a lot of the folks who dropped by Tyler Auto.

While Jackie Sherrill was coaching at A&M, Travis, Angie, Nancy, and I would go to some of the games.  On January 1, 1988, the great coach Lou Holtz took the Fightin' Irish to the Cotton Bowl with the latest Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Brown.  His opponent was Jackie Sherrill’s Texas Aggies. These two historic teams had never met before.

My wife and I were headed to Dallas to see this great contest. Travis said his wife Angie was ill and could not go. So, we three went off to Dallas that cold morning in a rented Cadillac.

Well, Notre Dame scored the first 10 points on the 30 degree day with the wind whipping through the ancient stadium.  I especially remember the great Lou Holtz ranting and conplaining to the referees before the game about the Aggies singing their songs and yelling their yells.  The referees knew no violation could be called before the game started.  This all happened about the time Travis bought a maroon and white corsage for Nancy and pinned it to her lapel.

We settled into to our designated seats behind some drunk Notre Dame fans while they passed their bottles around.  After they introduced themselves, Nancy told them, "I'm an Irish Catholic, but I'm here to yell for A&M college today!"

We all watched as A&M appeared to be ripe to be routed. A&M had many freshman players.   Notre Dame had a lot of seniors and juniors and the great punt return man “Downtown” Timmie Brown.

But late in the first quater, we watched with disbelief as an unknown, at least to the two Cotton Bowl Notre Dame TV announcers, A&M freshman defender intercept the ball in the end zone to stop a drive which would have made the score 17-0.

The Fightin' Irish secondary had been grabbing the receivers in the air as they caught the ball thrown by Bucky Richardson and carrying them off the field.  Apparenty, that was a legal part of this game.  So, the A&M coaches sent in Lance Pavlas as quarterback for the second quarter. Lance was a 4.0 GPA student and another freshman.  He quickly threw several passes into the middle of the field and scored on his first drive.  A&M kicked to Notre Dame, and they set up on the 20 yard line. The Irish quarteback, on the first play, threw the ball to a receiver who fumbled to A&M.  Lou Holtz went out of his mind as the A&M band drowned him out and the A&M freshman Darren Lewis romped into the end zone. Then, a moment later, as Lou continued his assault on the officials, yet another freshman from A&M, Larry Horton, ran the ball into the end zone for a 2-point play.

In the second half, Notre Dame never scored.  With the score 25 to 10, Sherrill was beginning to call his players off when “Downtown” Timmie Brown, Heisman Trophy winner, caught a punt and was immediatly tackled by the 12th Man player.  Well, the young player was so happy after just tackling such a celebrity, he grabbed Timmie's towel.

Heading back to the A&M bench, he was waving it over his head.  Tim could not stand it and ran after and jumped on the young player’s back. Of course, this caused the A&M bench to mob the field immediately.  The Aggies won "the ral old fight" as their song says.  After the mayhem settled, Lou Holtz pulled Timmie from the rest of the game, and A&M poured another 10 points on the Irish.  Well, those Jackie Sherrill Aggie freshmen went on to win 35 to 10.

Another notable event later in the second half occurred when the Irish quarterback stepped back from his line with the ball and turned around just in time to see Sammy O'Bryant a foot from his face. As they both tumbled to the cold ground, Travis stood up and yelled, "That's what I like about the South!" and Nancy hollered, "Welcome to Texas!"

Sammy stopped that Notre Dame drive by sacking that quarterback 8 yards behind the scrimmage line.  Then later, in the fourth quarter, Sammy went head-to-head with the Irish fullback.  Sammy got up and realized he had knocked the great fullback out as he lay motionless on the cold ground.

This was the same Irish team which went on to win the national championship the next season.

Nancy drove the rented Cadillac while Travis and I sat in the back seat laughing about the rout A&M had dealt to the great Lou Holtz that day.


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