Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
Every summer my neighbor Nate Poss throws his annual Christmas party. He loves Christmas (his two dogs were named Rudolph and Frosty) but apparently also loves outdoor parties when the weather is perfect. And as UTEP’s assistant athletic director for football operations, early summer is the best time for him to relax and have a party he can totally enjoy.
The best part of his parties is that Cindy and I get to meet people from every walk of life, but with an emphasis on sports. At his most recent party this June, we sat with two assistant track coaches at UTEP (wife and husband Lacena Golding Clarke and Davian Clarke), both of whom competed in multiple Olympics for their native country of Jamaica. I had to go online to discover how accomplished they really were, with various world championships on both their résumés; Davian even earned a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics. In person they were inspirationally humble and polite, preferring to talk about the student-athletes they coached.
Joining our table was Larry Jessee, the former UTEP pole vaulter who won the indoor college championship in 1974 and still holds the UTEP record at 18’0”. As a masters’ age athlete he achieved six world records, and still could clear the bar at 18 feet at age 40.
During our conversation, I mentioned that my dad played college football for the Citadel in South Carolina. Jessee pointed out UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter sitting at a nearby table; Senter had served as athletic director at the Citadel for several years before coming to UTEP at the end of 2017.
I went over and introduced myself. I knew that Sender would be familiar with my father’s class, the famous but non-existent Class of 1944. Everyone in that class was inducted into active duty at the end of their junior year, so the Class of 1944 never graduated.
My dad signed up for the U.S. Army Air Forces, but by the time he completed all his training as a pilot, the war was winding down and he didn’t make it overseas. He made the cut to become a permanent officer just as the U.S. Air Force became its own branch of the military in 1947. Dad flew cargo planes for most of his Air Force years, including a 17-month tour in the Korean War, where he also commanded a supply depot. Dad stayed in until 1965, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. So even if the military cut his education short, it gave him a great career.
My father came to mind as I was reading Lisa Tate’s story on the War Eagles Air Museum (see Page 19). Back in 1991, Dad was in El Paso for a weekend visit and I took him to the museum. He was familiar with every airplane, since nearly all of them were from the World War II and Korean War eras; in fact, he had flown several of them.
As we toured the museum, one of the guides saw Dad admiring the Link Trainer exhibit. The Link Trainer was a flight simulator and mechanical marvel that not only provided great replication of a pilot’s instruments and controls, but also mimicked a plane’s motions in flight. The guide invited Dad to get into the trainer and see if he could figure it out. Amazingly my dad — who was about 69 at the time — managed to control the trainer as well as any modern-day flight cadet. I guess flying a plane is a bit like riding a bicycle — you don’t forget.
Dad died about six years later. Seeing him smile like a kid as he took the controls of that Link Trainer remains one of my favorite memories.
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'
Copyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.