Jabo

Friday, November 08, 2013
I graduated with flying mediocrity from Lookout Mountain Elementary in 1972 and from there it was Saints Peter and Paul for me. That's where all of us Catholic Glascocks went. I was scared. I didn't know anybody so I signed up for wrestling because that's what all of what appeared to be the cool guys were doing. And, you know, they really were cool. So we practiced and practiced and practiced and the time finally came for a real life wrestling match.
It was with the hated cross-town other fish eaters: OLPH.
 
We walked into their gym and Jimmy Reynolds gravely said, "There are guys here like Robby Gaddis and Charles Key. Jabaley's gonna be here too." Jabaley? "Yeah, James Jabaley. He's a stud." The butterflies.
 
Before the match, everybody sort of mingled as the coaches sorted things out. Gaddis's big brother Lenny was (still is) my brother Jimmy's best friend so I kind of knew who Gaddis's were and while we were saying "I know your big brother," this tiny brown guy with thick, jet black hair and piercing eyes that I later learned could be as sweet as Jesus walked up. With rock hard confidence he demanded, "You're a Glascock, right?!" "Well, uh, yeah..." "You're goin' to Notre Dame, right?!" "Uh, I guess so, yeah...." "GOOD!" he said and his eyes became round and he smiled with his whole face.  "We'll see you there!"
 
It was like he took a fierce note and stuck it in a ledger in his head for later use. I was to be "in" when I got to Notre Dame. I'd just met Jabo. 
 
A couple years later, I was about a week into being a sophomore and by then Jab and I had become great friends. I walked into the locker room and I heard two guys saying "Open hands, no fists and nobody gets mad, okay?" "Yeah, okay." "Okay." I turned the corner to see Jabo, 103 pounds soaking wet, squared off with Craig Underhill who was a freshman. Craig was a running back and he was built like a heavy wide receiver or a light defensive end. He was about 70 pounds heavier than James and absolutely able athletically. He could knock you silly. If you didn't know Jabo, you'd think he was a freaking bully. But he knew Jabo and so did I. It was an even steven deal.  
 
In their Notre Dame approved dress code (1970's polyester shirt, bell bottoms and fat tie knot with zipper head hair do's) they smacked the snot out of each other. Pap, pap, PAP. Craig was landing two or three to every six or seven that Jab planted. Their faces started getting red and I said, "Hey guys." "Hey!" "HEY GUYS!" and then Craig finally delivered one to Jab's shnoz that let the blood flow and the match ended. Craig dropped his hands with a thank God look on his face. 
 
The blood was really flowing and we started to clean the place up but Jab said "NO! Watch this." He cupped his hands and collected the red river and started smearing it in a way that looked like somebody was attacked by a killer and was in mortal escape mode. The knife murder "struggle" went from the floor, across the wall and to the mop closet door where the "victim" tried to turn the knob in terror but, big red smear down the wall, fell and died.  There is some poor teacher or coach or janitor out there who cleaned that up and who now knows they'd been Jabo'd. I can't tell you how hard I laughed. That is but one story. The boy showed me and a ton of others a whole nuther world. He was spot on in his imitation of Dan Akroyd doing Jimmy Carter describing his enemies. "These ah lusty, zesty men, seeething with vital hahmoanal secreeshuns."  
 
Jab really was a stud. He won three state championships as a wrestler and, though tiny, linebackers wouldn't mess with him. He, like all of us, had demons later on but he was a champion and he fought back. He smiled with his whole body and with his eyes. These days, I learned, he has literally saved many people's lives from death from addiction. That, besides his son, has to be his greatest accomplishment.  
 
In 1972 he decided he'd be my friend for life. I didn't deserve that or earn it. It was his decision. I am lucky to say he is my friend.
 
I saw his picture with a ribbon stuck to it at Notre Dame the other day. The ribbon was, like, today you need to remember this guy because now he's gone. It broke my heart.
 

Jabo has round eyes that I'll love forever. I will never forget.

Savage Glascock, Sr.


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