My life began as William Clayton Young III in 1939 in my father’s farm house just north of Mineral Wells, Texas, near the tiny hamlet of Salesville. The farm sat just west of U.S. 281 and about ¼ mile east of the Salesville Post Office and store. Mineral Wells was once a very famous spa and I believe the Chicago Cubs trained there before the 1919 season.
Move to Harlingen
My father sold the farm and moved us to Harlingen in
August 1946. We lived on Taylor near 13 th Street, next door to my cousin Coranne Young whose father owned Haynes Cleaners at 6 th & Harrison. I worked there as a teenager to earn dating money.
I began school at Sam Houston (now the Matz Building) and set out to learn and discover. My 1stgrade teacher, lovely Antoinette Moss, was one of my best teachers ever. From there it was on to Travis and then Gay Jr. High, which included grades 7 to 9. While at Gay I met and began palling around with Johnny Bourg whom I have known for more than 60 years. I also met my very first girlfriend, Norma Palmer, who later on led the cheering for the Harlingen Cardinals. We remain good friends today.
Early Baseball Interest
My earliest sports interest was baseball. Johnny was bat-boy for the Harlingen Capitols, and I would join him before games to play catch and pepper with my
heroes on the local baseball team. I lived every kid’s dream hanging out in the clubhouse with those players though Mom would have been horrified at some of the players’ salty language.
Johnny and I also spent hours in the sweltering Texas heat playing our version of wiffleball, using a practice golf ball and Capitols’ broken bats.
My Early Jock Years
My jock years started with Little League baseball (our team was
2-16), followed by PONY League baseball when I was captain of the 1953 Harlingen PONY League All-Stars. I played football on the Gay Raiders junior high team in the 7 th and 8 th grades, and was captain of Bill Killough’s freshman team in 1954.
Cardinals ‘A’ Team
I was surprised when I was one of only four sophomores Coach Joe Hamrick picked to move up to the ‘A’ team rather than spend a year on the ‘B’ team. I was coached for three years by Hamrick and his able assistants Eldon Long and Dewey Smith.
We had very good Cardinals teams those years. Our record was 22-8, and our 8-2 record my senior year was outstanding by any standard. We fell short of winning district championships for three reasons: Alice’s trick play, Corpus Christi Ray, and Miller. We upset Miller my senior year 9-7 to finish 2nd in 14-AAAA. Ray won state two years after my senior year and Miller the year after that. What a tough district!
My good friend, the late James Moore and I were selected on the 1 st team All-District and All Valley. We were joined on the All-District team by one Miller player and eight Ray Texans — nearly their entire 2-way lineup.
Don’t think I was by myself during these times. I had friendships that endure today, with John Bourg, Graham Smith, Frank Davis, Scotty Cavender, Douglas Davis, James Clark, Chipper Zamora, and Bill Cartwright. Many of the girls in our group, including Norma, also remain my friends today as we attempt to defy the actuarial tables. (Editor: Bill has a rare ability to maintain friendships for decades, many from quite a distance, unlike anyone I have ever known.)
College & Military Service
I accepted a football scholarship to Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, following 3 or 4 Cardinals who had played there just before me. I was anxious to be a student/athlete, but the coaching staff mistakenly thought a football scholarship meant you went to college just to play football. Moreover, I decided I knew more than my professors and took — and profited from — manual labor jobs until the Selective Service reminded me I was 1-A.
I spent two years in Boston — thankfully rather than ‘Nam — and fulfilled my six-year military obligation in the Texas National Guard.
First Media Jobs
During this time I took a ‘dream job’ as Brownsville Herald Sports Editor. I then moved over to the news side, and enjoyed a nearly 10-year stint as a correspondent.
In 1974 the folks at KGBT-TV4 contacted me to ask if I would be interested in getting into broadcasting. I quickly said yes and said good bye to print media. I stayed at Channel 4 10 years before jumping to KRGV-TV5 in 1984. In the early days of TV we were doing 16mm film, color, black and white, silent and sound. Then video tape took over and the rest is history.
TV Career Highlights
Being in broadcasting, including responsibility for FM radio station KELT, enabled me to be dispatched to Rome to cover the election of a Pope; dispatched to report on an erupting volcano in the Mexican state of Chiapas; countless stays in Austin covering the Texas Legislature; and trips to Miami to write a prize-winning story about the Cuban mafia in the Valley.
One of my favorite experiences was covering President Ronald Reagan at the National JayCee convention in San Antonio. This was his first public appearance since being shot. Some 10,000 JayCees began to spontaneously chant “USA, USA, USA….”. It was chilling.
I treasure my five first-place awards for journalism excellence while I was in the TV racket.
While I was at Channel 5 the Brownsville City Manager called to ask if I would be interested in becoming the city’s first Public
Information Officer. The call caught me off guard so it probably took 10 seconds for me to say, “Of course!” In November 1991, I wrote my last TV script and headed for the world of local politics. That lasted more than 21 years, bringing to 50 the number of years I worked in communications. For the city, Idid newsletters, annual reports, press releases, and broadcasts on the city’s TV channel. None of these could have been accomplished without the great help from my colleagues at the City of Brownsville.
Life After Work
I retired in February 2013 and have become active in Republican Party politics. My daughter, in fact, is chair of the Cameron County GOP and I am a precinct chairman.
Retirement also affords me the opportunity to have lunch and coffee with some of my life-long friends and evenings out with those same friends. I am one of the founders of the ‘Over the Hill Cardinals’ lunch group well into our 7 th year where we meet to share our RGV memories.
Communications by e-mail and Facebook have greatly enhanced my ability to stay in touch with old friends.
Love of My Life Pat
It was during my last years at Channel 5 that I met and married my dear wife Patricia Cisneros. Friends kept telling me about this smart, attractive teacher who had been a top student and cheerleader at Villa Maria High. While putting up with me for about 35 years, Pat has taught high school English, taught others to teach English, earned a Master’s degree, and become fully certified to be a Principal. I am so proud of her.
We have three children. My step-son Noah Drumwright has five children in Corpus Christi. Our daughter Morgan Young Graham lives in Brownsville and has a six year old daughter. Our son William Clayton Young IV (Clay) lives in McAllen. We own our home on a beautiful resaca in Brownsville and enjoy the blessings of a good life.
Growing up in Harlingen and forming my early — and I’m sure some would say later, too — life there is replete with memories not only of dear friends but walking the streets going to visit girls and having a good time climbing water towers, honest.
In 1961 I took a motorcycle trip across country, winding up in Boston, in search of beat writer Jack Keroac whom we never found. Keroac was the author of “On the Road” a best seller about hip wanderers.
All this aside, Patricia the other night remarked how nice it was to be at home and I have to say when it’s all said and done…there’s no place I’d rather be.
“Cardinal spirit never dies!”
A NOTE FROM JOHN BOURG: This is a new feature within a feature. From time to time we will republish a column, often somewhat longer in the current format. This inaugural column was written by my good friend, retired veteran writer Bill Young.