Guest Columnists

Backyard Brawlers
by Edsel Harrison

We had a lot of fun growing up in the small, poor, cottonmill community of Lupton City,Tennessee.  When I say we, I mean me and my wrestling buddy, Lesley Metcalf.  Back in the '70s, it just wasn't too cool for any of your friends to know you liked professional wrestling.  And, God forbid them to know you went to the weekly cards and often acted out matches and angles in your own backyard.  If any of this leaked out, you were sure to be teased and made fun of at school.

Lesley and I were best friends from day one because of our common interest in wrestling.  I can remember sitting in class many days as the teacher would be rattling off the daily assignment.  My paper would read, "Memorial Auditorium, Saturday night, 8:00 p.m."  I would be making up my own wrestling card that Lesley and I would often act out in my parents backyard.  Lesley did the same thing in his classes and we would exchange cards at the end of the school day to see who had the better one.

We made up our own angles.  Heinz ketchup in packets served as our blood.  Also, whoever played Tojo Yamamoto got to throw salt at the other one.  My parents had a chain link fence, so I took a swingset post and drove it into the ground.  I found some thick rubber ropes (they looked like the real ones), tied them to the fence, and the card was under way.  We spoke into a piece of waterpipe for our microphone.  It gave our voices an echo sound.  We also had a homemade bell that we would ring.  We had a black belt that we used for the backyard version of the Southern Title.  And, of course, we had chains and foreign objects, just like the real wrestlers.  Since there was only two of us, we often had to do double duty as the ring announcer.  I had a cassette tape recorder that we used to do our interviews on.  I still have those tapes and they sound really funny today.  We were the undisputed, undefeated, World Backyard Tag Team champions.

Looking back now, we were really creative for a couple of kids.  One reason was because we had a great teacher.  We learned from the "Dean Of Promoters", Nick Gulas.  We lived for that one hour of T. V. wrestling on Saturdays and the house show on Saturday nights.  We ate, breathed and slept professional wrestling.  Nick Gulas was a great promoter and each week, he would top the show he had the week before.  I can still remember some Gulas angles from when I was seven or eight years old.

We really had a great time playing the role of our own favorite wrestler, and the secret that we loved wrestling was always kept between the two of us.  It was as close to being in a real ring as we could get.  We always dreamed of someday wrestling for Nick Gulas.

My mother still lives in the same house that I grew up in, and every time I walk through her backyard, I can't help but think of all the good times we had wrestling when we were kids.  Whoever said, "Money makes the world go 'round" told a lie.  Our families were far from being rich, but we had the time of our lives.

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