Without doubt, one of the most memorable events of my duty in the United States Army was a result of an out-of-conference basketball game. Opponents in that game were "the University of Kentucky Wildcats" and "the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin." First of all, I normally associate Wisconsin with beer and fine cheese, but in this case, there was a Saturday basketball game played in the afternoon during November, 1964. Three buddies and I were recovering at home from the stress of a thirty-day tour. That televised athletic event resulted in a serious dispute between two
Wisconsin natives and me.
Three soldiers were sharing a compact apartment with me. Two were from the state
of Wisconsin and the other from San Antonio, Texas. A fan of "the University of Kentucky", I sat among the three soldiers, and we drank beer as we cheered and booed
in response to a game in which the lead changed hands often. It was a close contest all the way, and the battle between the two colleges went into overtime.
UK was ranked #1 in the nation at that point in the 1964 season. An out-of-conference game, Adolph Rupp was Kentucky's coach. Coach Rupp's team was in for a surprise that afternoon. The percentages from close, the foul- line, and skill shots were nearly identical. Both teams hustled and played excellent defense. I seem to recall that Wisconsin won the game in double overtime.
Two of the three soldiers sharing the apartment were from Wisconsin. Jerry hailed
from Madison and Charles from Kenosha. Having been drafted into the U.S. Army, the former
had been a business student at the University of Wisconsin. The latter was the son of a successful businessman; enlisting in service in order to join the entertainment group to which we were assigned. As a "University of Kentucky" fan and native, I commented to my comrads, "Did you guys know that I've watched a junior college team
come near upsetting a four-year-college team that was highranked in its division?" Some of the players in junior colleges are "hotshots" from both the foul-line and at distance. I've also seen them do a fantastic job defensively. It's not healthy to enter into any game with overconfidence. Even when they're hot, Kentucky can be beaten."
Suffering little stress from viewing the game, a feeling of brotherhood
continued within our group until the man from Kenosha threw "custard-pie" towards me
by use of proclamation. "George- I'm surprised that those people from Kentucky are wearing shoes. Most of the people from Kentucky go barefooted. I had my Army physical in Louisville. Those were the "rattiest-looking people" I've ever seen. We have hillbillys in Wisconsin, too- a lot of them."
At that point, my anger was beyond anyone's control. Arising contemptuously from an easy-chair, my bottom lip first began to curl, swell outwards, and to protrude. As a bull entering into an angry rage, I began to spit the fire of a Chinese dragon.
A neck-muscle below my left ear twitched at three-second intervals. Then cupping my hands into tiny and delicate fists, my artistic and somewhat stubby phalanges were
shaped into two mighty weapon of combat. "I have a black-belt in karate!" I shouted at the two Wisconsin specialists.(I outranked them one grade.
The two were SP-4's, and I was an SP-5. That's nearly a sergeant.) In ballet style, I made entry into a warlike dance, encircling the straightarmed chairs in which the Wisconsin soldiers were seated.
"Haw! Haw!" snorted the soldier from Kenosha."Let's see you use it against me!"
"Hold-on here, now!" interrupted the SP-4 from San Antonio. "That game there is
over. It ain't worth a fight, and it doesn't even count in the rankings. It's more
like an exhibition game. Why- half the athletic contests we have in Texas don't turn-out the way expected. They fight on the football field or on the basketball court. Then they visit each other off-season and practice together. You need to calm-down, George!"
Unable to quell my building hostility, the man from Kenosha had a fight on his hands. I had smelled blood. It began to fester on my face and in my eyes. A "beast" had been released in me, and I could have defeated an entire squad of Fort Carson's
best infantrymen. I could have raided a commanders' tent and have seized his plans
for battle with just an M-1 rifle. I felt enough strength to have fought and won a war by myself.
That desire for battle experience was denied me. Finding myself with two huge hands quickly under my shoulders from behind me, those vices were locked tightly behind my neck. With gentle kicks, the soldier from Texas was able to keep my knees from locking. Standing there immobile and nearly helpless, I was unable to break the
restraining hold placed on me. Although much shorter than I, the man from Texas possessed strength equal to that of a pro-wrestler. I, SP-5 George Fulks, was guided
out the apartment exit in that manner; the two Wisconsin men in rapid pursuit. Clinching fists, cursing loudly, red-faced in rage, I was subdued.
It just so happened that, at that instant, the apartment complex manager was walking his German police dog down the alley at the rear of the housing the four of
us shared. It is supposed that he may have heard our shouting. Had the manager telephoned the police? Yes.
Soon, an officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department arrived at the scene of our
dispute. Removing his revolver from its holster,(must have been at least a 45 caliber)that officer fired four rounds into the sky and shouted, "I'm going to arrest all of you, if you don't settle-down right now. Everybody here is complaining
about you. How about a night or two in jail? Disturbing the peace here all the time,
Just so happened that the German police dog belonging to the apartment manager broke away from the hold its owner had on its leash. The dog, having been frightened by the shots fired, fled the area completely. That animal was last seen leaping over a chainlink fence surrounding Golf Acres Golf Course. It could have
returned to the wilderness and taken up with wolves.
This writers' last views of Pike's Peak, Colorado Springs, and the golf course were on 24 December, 1964. Processing out of the United States Army at Fort Carson, my 1962 Rambler-American was loaded, and I drove my way back into the direction of
Western Kentucky via Lamar, Dodge City, Witchita, and across Southern Missouri. That's really some pretty country.
There again were the hills I had longed to see- bearded women and men, and children outside in their underwear. Cattle and hogs stared respectfully from over
their fences. Donkey's stood on mounds and brayed, waving their ears in greetings. "There's George again," the animals thought. "Welcome back
home, George. We've seen you on television. We enjoyed the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show."
And soon, there they were- my father and mother in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. My heart may have skipped a beat or two. They were delighted that their only son had not been killed in a war and that both arms and legs were still attached to his body. No Russians had been killed either. We had entered into what has been called a coldwar. Following three years of honorable military service, a soldier was free. All that time had belonged to President Lyndon B. Johnson- our Commander-in-Chief.( "George, would you go into the army again?" Most certainly- yes.)
That basketball game waged by the University of Wisconsin and the University of
Kentucky Wildcats had been lost. Few have knowledge that four soldiers stationed in
Colorado Springs viewed that game and quarreled over the outcome. Until this day, I
have never shared this episode with others, but the outcome of that basketball game remains significant to me.
Whatever became of the four soldiers who shared a small apartment is another chapter in the story of life. The man from Texas became a dentist and married someone once "my sweetheart." The one from Madison, Wisconsin entered into business
administration. Jerry married a friend of mine, and later, he became a college professor. The former soldier from Kenosha, Wisconsin, as an excellent and gifted German tenor, studied opera and gained the expertise needed to earn part of his livelihood singing. Appearing with the Metropolitan Opera and on KMOX, St. Louis are
among his achievements of which I have knowledge. I, George Harold Fulks, became a
public school teacher, and I have three wonderful daughters.
Among the first acts performed upon my return to Kentucky was my removal of my
shoes and "stockings."(Making friends with some Iranian exchange students, those
referred to socks as "stockings.") Again, I trod barefooted over creekbed rocks, sharp stones- through nests of copperhead and timber-rattle-snakes. Piles of horse,
cattle, and hog-manure. So far as I know, it resulted in no harm to anyone.
That 1964 Kentucky-Wisconsin basketball game weighs heavily on my mind. People of my ancestry are inclined to hold permanent grudges.
Thanks to Mike's Zoo/ Ft. Lauderdale, Florida/U.S.A./photo of cougar
George Fulks, October 10, 2008..second addition