The story of Billy and Tony

This is the story of Billy and Tony. It’s not a long story, mostly because if you know Tony, you know he’d lose interest in this if it were too long.

The two grew up in Northeast Texas … about 60 miles from one another. Both faced struggles through adolescence — divorces, not a lot of money, awkward 80s clothing (short shorts and knee-high socks). Both lived in po-dunk towns — Como and Ore City, Texas — and both attended mostly rural po-dunk high schools.
While neither knew each other through these first 18 years, both decided to attend Stephen F. Austin State University, where they spent their first semesters living just a hallway down from each other (again, without knowing each other).
It wasn’t until their sophomore years when the two men decided to join a fraternity — something you don’t expect a lot of poor kids from redneck towns to do. That’s possibly why they chose the fraternity they did — it was full of guys who cared more about girls, beer and friends than money, clothes and status.
Billy and Tony became quick friends, mostly because of their similar backgrounds, and in no time, they were getting into the kind of trouble my children will never hear about (until they’re 21 at least). The friendship went beyond school — they worked winters together at a factory, they worked graveyard shifts at gas stations and motels to get by in college and even lived near each other in Dallas for a short time.
One of them became a high school football coach, the other a newspaper reporter (covering high school sports at first). One of them soon became a head coach before he turned 30. The other ran his own daily newspaper before he was 30.
One of them took a high school coaching job in North Carolina … the other became a newspaper editor in North Carolina just a year later — a move that was purely coincidental.
Both have great families … both are achieving much more than some expected they ever would.

I bring up the story of Billy and Tony because tonight, those aformentioned high schools — Como-Pickton and Ore City — play each other for the first time in about 30 years in Texas. They never faced each other, despite being so close, when these guys went to school there. So tonight … for the first time, this friendship has a rivalry.

So all I have to say is Go Eagles.
That, and I’m proud of you, Tony.

P.S. I like you too, Greg … but you were from Houston, so that didn’t really fit in this story.


7 thoughts on “The story of Billy and Tony

  1. You have time to write a 500 word essay on how much you love Tony, but you don’t have time to pick up the phone and return my call?

    This is the story of Billy and Jeannie. I have known Billy all of my life. We grew up in the same small house in the same small town and attended the same small school in Texas. Together we faced the same struggles through our adolescence – divorce, not a lot of money, bad 80’s clothes (except Billy left out the cool mullet he sported…I believe there was a rat tale at one time, too).

    We were typical siblings and I wanted to be just like my older brother…even when he was throwing rocks at me or making me cry with his latest rendition of the “Weenie Dance”. We had a great relationship through high school…I even cheered on his football team as a proud Como-Pickton cheerleader and remember him doing the same when I was running track. I followed Billy to college and even though I transferred after my freshman year, we still had a great bro/sis relationship. I even let Billy hang out with my friends when he later transferred to the same college.

    After college I moved to Philly and Billy married the super wonderful Jennifer St. Clair and landed in NC. Eventually his journey would lead him into the world of journalism and mine into the world of government affairs. And, even though we are now separated by 8 hours in a car with a screaming two year old, I still managed a visit to my dear brother.

    I bring up the story of Billy and Jeannie because last night I placed a phone call to Billy. A phone call he still hasn’t returned.

    So all I have to say is CALL ME BACK.
    That, and I am very proud of my big brother.

    P.S. I like Greg and Tony.

  2. There is nothing more pure and untouchable by outsiders than a true friendship.

    Billy you and Tony have a rare and priceless friendship.

    Never let nothing or no one come between a friendship as strong as this.

    A great story that only you can tell with such feeling and emotion.

    We need more stories like this to make this world a better place to live.

    Thanks Billy for sharing.

  3. Wow don’t you wish the two of you could fly home this weekend?
    There is nothing that rivals Texas high school football..what a rush.

  4. Thanks Billy…I’m proud of you, too. Now, if I can just get my Cougars in the W column.

    Go Rebels

    PS…Greg and Jeannie both are pretty cool. But cheerleaders and Jewish…..I mean Catholic schools don’t fit in the story.

  5. Gosh Billy, this story makes me want to connect with so many people. Make you realize that those early connections were the stongest and mean the most. Well done.

  6. I think you forgot to mention how you two were born about a week apart too.

    I know I don’t belong in that story, but there are Tony & Greg stories, Billy & Greg stories, and Tony, Billy, & Greg stories too that I’m glad I am a part of.

    Hi Jeannie! How are you? I don’t think I’ve talked to you since college.

    By the way, I don’t think I even want to know what the “Weenie Dance” was.

  7. Great story, and I’m sure my parents and grandparents share your sentiments Jeannie. I think the male gender just isn’t on the same page when it comes to writing letters or random phone calls. I know I’m not 🙂

    I moved very frequently as a kid, transferring to multiple schools all the way up to my final 3 years in High School. So although I too had made many friends across the country, most were left behind.

    But I too made my closest friends in the college years, so I can relate. I don’t always talk to those guys and gal every day, as some are notorious about not saying a word for a year or more. But when they do, it’s like no time at all has passed.

    Oh and BTW, Texas High School football may be an event, but it’s an institution in Louisiana 🙂 It’s kinda nuts actually if you ask me! What’d West Monroe spend, something like $300k a year? I swear they think it’s pro ball!

    Great story I think many of us can relate to Billy 🙂


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