Story Worth Response by John Nyfeler


What I have won in the past?  I did win something.


As a 1953 high school senior, I won a letter sweater as a three year member of the Del Rio High School, Wildcat track and field team.  It is a handsome, white, heavy, mid-length, wool sweater with the D/R overlapped letters embroidered emblem, with three hash marks in the maroón and gold colors of the school.  The irony of the award won is that in the three years a track team member, I never, ever won a race…not in 880 yards (this is before we all came to use the métric measure for track distances) or the mile or in any relays.  I got lots of seconds, and thirds, and fourths; enough to help the team in gathering points in team competition.  I won the letter sweater by routinely coming close but not winning.

In addition, the heavy wool sweater in Del Rio, Texas, along the Rio Grande, separating us from Mexico, was a piece of winter wear that was appropriate for about 1-1/2 days of a typical south-west Texas year’s weather.   That meteorological fact has been a contributor to the lucky outcome of the sweater being in about pristine condition after these 66 years that have passed.  The letter sweater is in a protective clear plastic envelope in a treasure box somewhere, which, given some time, I could likely put my hands on.

Apropos to the sweater’s wool material, Del Rio, Texas advertises itself as the "Wool and Mohair Capital of the World”.  That’s where wool comes from.  Like the wool in my treasured 1953 letter sweater.   There are more sheep and goats in Val Verde County than in the human population by about 100 times, at the least.  And I am willing to embrace the romantic notion that there is at least a possibility that in its making, the wool in my letter sweater has come from sheep raised on the ranches of the families of my high school track team pals.  After being sent from one place to the other all across the world for grading and sorting, then cleaning and scouring, to carding and spinning, weaving and finishing the wool from those Del Rio sheep was sewn into the making of my letter sweater.

That old wool letter sweater that I won, keeps me tied to my fond and semi-reliable memories of high school days of the safe, Eisenhower years of the 1950’s of my childhood in Del Rio, Texas.  I am grateful. 


John (Jack) Nyfeler