Commentary by Dr. Lucas Boyd: Winstonís Story
By Dr. Lucas Boyd, Columnist
Winston is not his real name. If I used his real name people of this area would recognize him as a member of a prominent Nashville family. He went to a boarding school where I coached him in football for a couple of seasons around 1960.
Stocky, strong, and hard-nosed, his style of play belied his privileged upbringing and made him an excellent linebacker. Winston graduated, went off to college, and I lost contact with him.
In 1968 I went to UT to begin doctoral work. We were living in a large, married-student-housing complex. One day who but Winston came walking by. He, his wife, and little boy were living just two buildings away. We got to know each other again and played a good bit of tennis. We also did a lot of talking and he told me his story.
He had gone to Southwestern (now Rhodes College) in Memphis but had decided that college was more about partying than classes. He’d sign up for classes but never go. After a year of all Fs, he flunked out. Memphis State (now U. of Memphis) let him in but he had not yet learned his lesson and continued on the same track.
One morning he even woke up in a pile of hay being muzzled by the water buffalo in the Overton Park Zoo where some of his drinking buddies had deposited him the night before. Another year of all failing grades bounced him out of school again.
Since he liked fooling with animals, he went on the rodeo circuit doing menial tasks. Finally he realized that he was headed down a dead-end road so he came back to Nashville and got a job selling insurance. He met a nice young lady, got married, and had a son. But his feel for animals would not go away. A local vet let him help out part-time. Then, one evening he had one of those “life-changing experiences.”
After meeting with a client, he was returning home through one of those hilly sections of Nashville when a car ran a stop sign, side swiped his car, and kept going. The impact threw his car over the edge and into a deep, wooded ravine. A few minutes later an unidentified caller (probably the person who hit him) reported the accident. That saved his life for the first time that night. He’d not have been found otherwise.
Winston had severe head and other injuries. While the ER doctors were working on him, he “died on the table.”
Because they had a number of other accident cases that were coming in and because he was bleeding all over the place, they just tied off the blood vessels and shoved him over in the corner with a sheet over him.
About three hours later when things got a little less hectic a nurse heard him groan. They wheeled him back out and saved his life for the second time that night.
After that experience he decided to do something more with his life. He set his sights on becoming a vet.
But first he had to get a bachelor’s degree and since he had two years of straight Fs on college work, finding a school that would accept him was a major hurdle.
Somehow UT let him in and he showed what results could be gained by actually gong to the classes he’d signed up for and doing some studying.
He only had two or three Bs; the rest of his grades were As. But every semester he was at UT he was on academic probation because he was dragging those two years of Fs along with his current good grades.
As graduation approached, he began to apply to vet schools. Tennessee did not have a vet school at that time. None would accept him; all those Fs were his undoing. In a meeting with the admission people at Auburn, Winston asked, “Why won’t you let me in? You know I can and will do the work.”
Their reply: “Yes, we know you can but we have only so many spaces. How can we bump someone with straight As who didn’t spend two years racking up Fs and give you his space?’’ Winston did not have a good answer.
We talked for the last time after graduation day. He was a little bitter about the way things had turned out but then said, “Well, I’ve got something I didn’t have when I came—a degree. And I know what I can do and what I could have done. I just played around too long.”
Winston went back to Nashville and his insurance job. I’m sure he was good at it and a good husband and father and a positive influence in his community.
It was sad in a way that he had to learn the hard lesson and suffer the consequences of “playing around too long.”
Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at
Posted on: 9/4/2013