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Flyer Reunion
Flyer Reunion
Published by Swampy Meadows
07-11-2011
Flyer Reunion

BEVERLY HILLS (MI) -- Most of the time in a blogger’s world, you have got to chase the story. You have to get in your car and go see a game or watch a player in order to have material to write about.

And then sometimes the story finds you.

The weather in metro Detroit today was stormy and 70,000 homes lost power. By the time I left work it had cleared up to the point that I thought about shooting some hoops, since Mrs. Swampy was in PA visiting her mom. I drove down the street to Groves HS and shot for awhile and nobody showed up. Jumped in the car and drove up to Seaholm HS. Same deal -– nobody there but a bunch of lacrosse players. Back to Groves. Some guys were playing pick-up soccer on the field and there was a gray-haired black gentleman walking on the track, carrying a golf putter. Nobody on the basketball court. As I shot by myself, the guy with the putter came off the track and around to the court. He saw my UD Flyers t-shirt and asked if I went to school there. When I told him yes, he said “So did I.”

His name is Mel Taylor.

Mel was UD Class of 1968 and played football for the Flyers, which meant he graduated the year before I was a frosh. “I was MVP my junior year" he said proudly. He told me that he was one of nine black recruits in the Class of 1968 and he was equally proud of the fact that of those nine, he was the only one who graduated on time. Mel explained that up until then, UD had featured a succession of slow white running backs and of the nine black players in his class, 7 of them were running backs. Mel mentioned names like UD assistant coaches George Perles, Len Fontes and Tom Moore, all of whom went on to coach in the pros, as well as the man he held in very special regard, UD Head Football Coach John McVay. “A true gentleman” Mel said of McVay, who went on to great success in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.

He talked with pride about his four years at UD. He was put on academic probation after his first semester in his freshman year because “I wasn’t used to all that freedom.” He made the adjustment and straightened out his grades after that. “I became a man in Ohio” said the Chicago native.

His roommate in college was Billy Mayo, who just retired after spending his career working for the University in a variety of positions. Mel knew Rudy Waterman, Glinder Torrain and Don May and all of the Flyer hoopsters of his era, as well as guys like Jim Paxson, Sr. who played before his time.

We stood there on the court and talked for 10-15 minutes and out of the blue Mel said to me “Well are you gonna take the ball out?” When I asked him if he was sure that he wanted to play he replied “That’s what you came here for, right?”

I beat him pretty handily in the first two games. Mel said “Okay one more game and you’re gonna have to earn this one.” I started out hot but then Mel went all football player on me. By backing me down under the hoop, he maneuvered and pivoted until he got himself into position and then made layup after layup. He might have been 5 years older than me but there was no doubt as to which of us was stronger. Mel made a three pointer to end it, 11-9.

We then picked up our conversation where we left off and Mel told me about his grandson Devin who is an accomplished piano player and just graduated from Groves. Mel and his wife have raised Devin as their own son and you could see how proud Mel was of his boy’s talent. He even invited me to come and hear him play.

Did somebody mention ‘football players?’ By that time two rather large, football player sized young guys had walked on the court and were shooting at the opposite hoop. Mel looked at me and said “Let’s take ‘em on!” He confidently walked down and asked the fellas if they wanted to run a game of two-on-two “old school vs. new school.” Naturally, they took Mel’s bait hook, line and sinker.

The old schoolers embarrassed the newbies by whitewashing them 7-0 in consecutive games before they had any idea what hit them. The third game was never close, but at least our opponents managed to score. Mel told them after we won “That’s how we do it, old school style!”

We thanked the young guys for the game and Mel and I stood there and talked for another 15-20 minutes about life, marriage (him for 42 years; me for 38 years come this Thursday), kids and the such. He gave me a hug and called me his “Flyer buddy.” I told Mel that I write a blog for a UD website and asked him if it was okay with him if I wrote about our meeting. I let him know that I would print out a copy of it and keep it in my car for the next time I saw him. Mel thought that was great.

This one is for you, Mel.

That’s it “From the Swamp.”
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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  #1  
By UD Sam on 07-11-2011, 11:28 PM
Great story, Swampy. I am always amazed about stories of a UD fan wearing their UD paraphernalia and a stranger approaches them because they are a UD fan or attended school at UD.
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  #2  
By DetroitFlyer on 07-12-2011, 08:23 AM
Hammered in Canton

Hey Swampy.

We got hammered in Canton. I have so many branches and tree limbs down in my yard I do not even know where to begin cleaning up.... The good news is that nothing fell on the house or my fence and we did not lose power.... Kind of glad I was at work when the storm blew through....

DetroitFlyer
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