Monday, February 7, 2011

A station wagon driven by a 35 year old man put the world at my feet

Dempsey Hovland's World Famous Texas Cowgirls Basketball Team 1949-1977

"Cinghiale disposizione rappoto a te com prima pron capo A te ara devastato miei asse di pavi mentazione! No mandrianna porta! Ate fottuto donne. Casinista, no sorvegliante di bambina. Evizione!"

It was not our boots. We were dribbling our basketballs working on a pass through the legs and over the head and bounce off the knee to another girl. We figured rubber doesn't hurt wood, we made a living dribbling  balls on wood. Upstairs in a boarding house  we lived in during training camp maybe not the best idea, but it was raining cat's and dogs.

 Mrs.Genna made that threat true and dialed up our boss .   We were all in the front yard sitting on our  wet luggage when Dempsey arrived with the station wagon. His face got really red  when angry it  Torzeski would say it"" lit up like whore house porch light.  But he was a teddy bear who was kind and protective. So we knew he was mad  when he said "If your brains were dynamite you wouldn't have enough to part your hair . I'm not just talking to the one with those tight perms squeezing her brain". That was toward my sister Francis who was laughing . He said "You girls think she was a landlord that was tough ,wait till you meet Ma Kearns. ( Jack Kearn's the boxing managers mom). 

We threw our personal luggage and the team equipment onto  giant  painted  car rack  without tying our luggage  down , the trip was only a few blocks to Jack Doc Kearns mama's.

The trip was faster than my mama flipped flap jacks at  breakfat .We all apologized excessively for getting evicted, to Dempsey all the way to Ma Kearns. Him smiling with his trademark Cheshire grin. His bark was always was worse than his bite. He took good care of us girls. He expected professionalism all the way. He had his hands full on the road with a bunch of females, most of us just out of high school. I think our shenanigans prepared him to be a good dad to his daughters. When your thirty four year old man  in a car loaded with females for hundreds of miles a day you your ears have got to get sore. He had a little baby he was raising himself. We all mama 'd that little guy, he was a trooper and a good traveler.

 If Frances got her hair permed at the local beauty salon in any town we pulled into for a game ,it meant some local boys scouted our station wagon with the car size rack on top promoting the team and were ready to chase us. She would say "Dates for everyone , we're gonna crank up the radio and do some dancin' in the motel ... quietly .... when Dempsey falls asleep." Most of the time we were good washing out our uniforms hanging them on registers to dry and sleeping like rocks. 

We had  some  guys with crushes on us girl basketball players we invited over. A few of the gals would  have followers from city to city, and a few of those left the road to marry those boys. We had to have try outs on the spot at games and pick up a new girl when that happened.

Curfews were set by Dempsey and dating was only allowed in pairs. He pounded on our doors every night and did a head count- bed check . Even if we were sleeping we better get up and answer that door. He kept a close on on us. We were 17-22  year old young women traveling coast to coast in a station wagon for 160 games with a lot of road in between.

"Jane" had snuck out on a dinner date alone. Her date insisted she let him come back to the motel .She ate the meal he purchased and crawled out the bathroom window , injuring her ankle. She played on it any way..... she did not want her insurance Dempsey provided to not cover her  ditch and date while breaking the team rules. Climbing in the hotel bathroom window was even harder to avoid being in trouble. No one could be benched there simply was not room in the vehicle for extra players we all played tired ,sick or injured. That is why we had rules. We were top knotch athletes and expected to follow that creed and standards Dempsey set for us,

We were in Montana with no town anywhere near, and the station wagon conked out. We were finally rescued by a state trooper in the sub zero weather, but not before one team member who shall remain nameless thought of the bright idea of lighting game programs on fire IN THE CAR to keep us warm. I tell you not all ball players on the road could figure out survival , or equipped to live life on the road. It was different then ,if a phone was needed you walked miles to a pay phone.

I made it out of  Gillham Arkansas population 100.  Dempsey showed me the world I met Bob Cousy ,George Mikan, I played at Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden and all of the big NBA Stadiums.  I married him, we built a World Famous tam together. He always took time off the road when we had a baby.He would stay in the hospital with me until I came home. He would only leave long enough to go home kiss the kids make a chocolate malt and club sandwich for me and come right back.

I would suit up and go back on the road for many years, I coached and trained , and scouted and recruited. Dempsey me seven children and dozens  of athletes and entertainers..... that was life with Dempsey.


  1. In photos Leona Evans and Florence Holder-Hovland
    Big Ed McCaully NBA
    Bob Cosy NBA
    Texas Cowgirls basketball team
    Unknown admirer in hotel room may me Nick Torzeski Jimmy Hoffas right hand man
    Francis and her perm
    Texas Cowgilrs owner Dempsey Hovland's station wagon and the famous luggage rack. Dempsey is not in the photos see other blogs.

  2. Cherokee Gerry is the woman in Cowgirl hat serving food she had travelled with us
    as a singing cowgirl. She sang with her guitar at halftime Hank Williams Sr and his wife sang at halftime with her a few times. She wanted to marry the team owner Dempsey Hovland- he had his heart set on the pretty Florence Holder from Arkansas and married her.