Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 1st

July 1st has come and gone once again. It is one of those days that probably do not mean much to most people.

For a lot of us, it just means the Fourth of July and fireworks are about here.

Everybody has a few certain dates they remember. It could be birthdays, anniversaries or special moments.

I remember July 1st because it was three years ago that we lost my father.

My father, Gene Hall, had battled cancer once previously in his prostate. The cancer returned to his body in the fall of 2007. We were frustrated that it didn’t seem like the doctors would do anything about it and his condition grew worse.
His battle ended on July 1, 2008, three years ago to the date.

I try not to dwell on his death and the absence he left for my family, but remember the good things he did.

My father loved several things: his family, Heavener, photography and OU football. At the end of his funeral service, we didn’t leave on a sad song, but blasted Boomer Sooner, which we all thought was appropriate.

Some people consider me to be a pretty good photographer. I take some good ones, but nothing compared to my father. If he was in the right location or got a good break, my father would have been considered to be as good of a photographer as there is.

He was a perfectionist in many ways, including his photography. He used film for photography and for a long time, had a dark room set up in one of the bedrooms of the family home.

Now, two rooms of the home are filled with his images of people and places, mainly of Heavener and LeFlore County, but also from OU football games.

He took pictures for the Southwest-Times Record of Fort Smith of many OU games in the 1970s.

I always think the best pictures tell a story. His certainly did.

Probably the one best known is the one pictured here to the left. At first glance, it is not all that remarkable until you consider the OU running back is Billy Sims, who won the Heisman Trophy the previous year.

The game was against the University of Iowa in September, 1978. If you look to the right in the picture, the player wearing No. 41 was a freshman for the Hawkeyes named Bobby Stoops.

That freshman weighed around 170 pounds, and was diving over an OU blocker to tackle the best football player in the country, one who outweighed him well over 30 pounds.

I think that tells something of the drive that Bobby Stoops had and why some 21 years later, that player, now better known as Bob Stoops, became the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and returned the program to the greatness it had achieved in so many previous autumns.

My father has hundreds of pictures from OU games. He made the trip to Dallas several times and he could capture the excitement of that adventure known as OU vs. Texas like few others.

We watched the OU-Texas game together in October, 2007. Somehow, I had a feeling this was a special day and this was probably the last time we would watch an OU-Texas game together. It was. And the Sooners winning that day made it even more memorable.

I also wanted to share my favorite photograph my father took. It is one from Wister Lake with the sun looking huge and a pair of boats out on the lake.

This photograph should have been on the cover of every tourism magazine for Oklahoma. It is not easy to get a picture like this, trust me, I have tried many times.

He captured it perfectly. Remember, this was taken back when photographers used film. There weren’t any viewfinders on the camera and you could not check out the image and make changes like we can now.

My father used to enter his pictures in the Fort Smith Photography Alliance contest every year. He won some awards, but one of my prized moments was when a photograph I took several years ago won second place in the contest.

He was probably more proud for me than if the award went to him.

1 comment:

  1. Great tribute to your Dad, Craig! Gene was indeed a Great Man! - Jim Patterson