Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

The Time We Took Mama to Rasslin

The time we took Mama to rasslin

the time we took Mama to rasslin

“The Time We Took Mama to Rasslin” is an excerpt from my book Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales). The book promotes generational legacy through story by telling the story of one Mississippi family.

As a writer from the great state of Mississippi, I am of the opinion that if I did not write about my sister Wilagene, my Uncle Hob Nob, my Aint Bubba, and my cousin John Earl, then I wouldn’t even be trying. The same can be said about the time we took mama to rasslin. (You do understand the difference between wrestling and rasslin, right?)

Click here to read the title chapter: “Lines in the Gravel”

Purchase a signed copy of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales).

The Time We Took Mama to Rasslin

 We called my mom Mama until we went away to college and got all sophisticated; then, she became Mom. She never really acted very sophisticated. After all, she was from out in the country near North Carrollton. She didn’t have to go far to get above her raisin’. There was one glaring exception, however. Rasslin (not to be confused with wrestling–like collegiate or Olympic wrestling) was waaaaayyy below Mama’s dignity.

Andy and I watched Mid-South Wrestling every week without fail. We grew up with rasslin legends like “Cowboy” Bill Watts, Skandor Akbar, Killer Karl Kox, the Junkyard Dog, and “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. There was Ted DiBiase (before he became the “Million Dollar Man”) and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, who we used to see occasionally at the Bridges Quickie #3 out on the highway in Star. And Mike Williams, 202 pounds from Mobile, Alabama, and everybody’s whipping boy who won one match ever (when he was knocked out and his tag team partner put him on top of the bad guy for the ol’ 1-2-3). And “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch, who once did a commercial for Tulsa Welding School that started with his statement, “When I’m not rasslin’, I’m weldin’.” (Head scratch)

Youth Group Outing to Rasslin

Andy and I had had the opportunity to go to the live rasslin matches at the Coliseum in Jackson a couple of times, but once, when we were teenagers, our church youth group decided that going to rasslin would be a fine youth group outing. This is the same youth group that on youth movie day went to see Airplane. That was when the you-know-what hit the fan (literally, it’s an Airplane thing) with our youth groups sponsors’ younger daughters watching. As the adults sat frozen, wondering what they had gotten themselves and all these kids into, D.C. looked over at Ms. Melba and said, “It really hit it, too, didn’t it Ms. Melba?!?” (Seat slump, face palm)

All that to say that it wasn’t a far stretch for the Wesleyanna UMC youth group to be loading up on a Saturday night to head up to the rasslin matches. Replete with sponsors. Sponsors that included one Annette Ainsworth, avowed rasslin snob, whom we somehow convinced to go with us.

The Time We Took Mama to Rasslin
Hugo Fernandes / / CC BY-SA

People Watching at the Rasslin Matches

If you’ve ever been to the live rasslin matches, you know that it’s just about as fun to watch the people as it is to watch the action inside the “squared circle.” Like the grannies who would fight you to the death if you implicated that rasslin was fake. Or the fan (which, I will remind you, is short for fanatic) we saw one time who got so caught up in a come-as-you-are street fight match that he folded up his chair, climbed through the ropes, and hit the bad guy over the back with his chair. Heard he got a butt-whuppin’ back in the security room after the matches were over. Andy and I each spent this night with one eye on the rasslin’ matches and one eye on our mama.

I have to say, Mama kept her dignified air throughout the better part of the night. But then, it was time for the main event. I don’t remember who the good guy was, but he was fighting “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd in a steel cage match. As is usually the case with a main event, the action started slowly and built throughout the match. Back and forth the grappling went with neither cager gaining a decided advantage…at least not for very long.

Andy and I were experienced enough rasslin’ fans to be familiar with the tempo of a match and how the drama built. (You know, like when one of the rasslers is taking forever to climb to the top corner turnbuckle, and all experienced rasslin fans know that he’s going to get knocked off before he can leap on his theretofore incapacitated opponent.) Well, Mama didn’t understand the tempo of the match and, finally, the drama was too much for her. At one point late in the match, the good guy clearly had a big advantage but was taking too much time to make his next move. Ernie Ladd, meanwhile–and unbeknownst to the good guy though thousands were trying to inform him–was staggering to his feet. My rasslin-proper mama ultimately could take it no longer. She bounced to her feet and hollered, “Hit him!!!  Hit him!!!”

No Denying It

My mama, who had only agreed to accompany us on this mind-numbing adventure as a chaperone, had clearly and unequivocally engaged in this “pure stupidity.” There she was, yelling with all her might with all the other minions at “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd. In front of God and everybody. It was a church outing, after all.

I don’t think Mom has watched a rasslin match, even on TV, ever since. But it will forever be a part of our family’s lore, the time we took Mama to rasslin.

the time we took Mama to rasslinThere are chapters of my book that have stood out to people who didn’t grow up in my hometown because the stories are so universal (at least the part of the universe in the South…and to some points beyond). I have heard from others who rummaged through the church closets to find something to make into a ball and something to hit it with after family night suppers. I have laughed as others have recounted their first-time experiences with smokeless tobacco. And, yes, I am not alone in having a tale of the time we took Mama to rasslin.

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About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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