Here is a good and true football story for the wonderful football Sunday approaching us this Sunday January 6th 2013. My
husband served in the Army during the Korean War.
He was stationed at Camp Gordon, Georgia. In his group was a young man named Ken Panfil. He had been a player with college football and he
had been drafted as all servicemen were in those days other than the ones who
joined because they wanted to.
Ken had been with the Purdue University football team and he had to interrupt his playing time because of the draft. There were others
players there too. Ken and my husband Jerome Clayman became friends. When they went to the mess hall to eat, he ate with the players sometimes. On this
particular day, he was in line and somehow he jumped to the start of the line
and one of the other servicemen did not like it and made a comment. Just then
Ken and the other football players came in and they always went to the eating
area ahead of the regular guys. Ken saw this about to happen and he called
Jerry in to come and eat with him. He yelled “come Clay eat with us.” So Jerry
went ahead legitimately.
After they both got out of the service, Ken came to play ball here with his team against the Colts. Jerry went downtown to meet with him
since they knew each other from the Army days. It was a nice reunion. He wanted
to take Ken out to dinner, but they were not allowed to go then.
When in Baltimore, he was with the Cardinals after having been traded from the Rams to the Cardinals in a big swap of nine players including Ken for Ollie Matson.
It was the biggest trade at that time and it was a good move for Ken. By 1962
injuries forced him out of the football game and then Ken worked for various
steel companies for thirty years.
He passed away at age 71 many years ago.
Jerry has not forgotten him and the fun they had in their off time in the Army.
This is just a small football story, but a cute one.
Everyone out there has their own remembrances of a nice football encounter perhaps with some of our Ravens team. A friend told me that
last Sunday, he could hardly get into the sporting goods store in Owings Mills,
because everyone was trying to buy Ravens clothing.
I myself bought last year through the NFL official store out of town, a ladies leather Raven logo jacket. I shall wear it tomorrow for the
first time. I will keep wearing it this whole week in honor of them winning on
Jerry remembers the 1958 Sudden Death football game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. It stands out in his mind as a
fabulous time and an even more exciting memory.
I have in my time met a few television stars and a few actors. What stands out in your memory is how they reacted to you, the fan. I
met on the street in about 1946 actor Henry Fonda who was very obnoxious. I
never cared to view his movies after that encounter. I met Dana Andrews who at
that time was an equally fine and popular actor. He was gracious beyond words.
Needless to say, I always watched his movies. I met Don Ameche who was in the
movie Cocoon which was a great success many years ago. He too was gracious and kind. The kids and I met Danny Thomas who was starring in a television show
that was popular. He played a nice guy on the show, but he was not so in
You tend to associate their work with the person you met on the street and if they treated you courteously, you somehow remain their
viewing buddy forever.
We saw Johnny Unitas in a local restaurant here months before he passed on. I wanted to go up to him, but I did not want to disturb his
dinner. I wish I had because he died a few months later. I can say I watched
him eat his crab cake from afar. My daughter and I met a soap opera star at the
intermission of a play at the theater here and no one recognized him but the
two of us.
He was very gracious and he had come to see the play because his friend was in it. Every time I saw him on the soap opera, I felt like he
was my new friend. His name is Lloyd Battista and he was happy to talk with us.
I knew one of Robert Duvall’s previous wives. So I always felt like I knew him too; I did not, but I had this feeling that somehow I was
These people, television and movie actors are somehow different than our football stars. Somehow, we feel a common ground with the football
or baseball players, because we watch them either in person or through the
television set and therefore we are buddies and friends.
When Ray Lewis comes out on Sunday January 6th, we all who like and respect him will remember it for a long while, just like I
remember Dana and Don with fond memories,
and the not so fondness of Henry Fonda, who walking on a street in NYC
could not even be courteous to a pre- teen that recognized him. No one else
walking past him knew who he was or cared who he was at that time.
So as we are told all the time, be nice to everyone you see and in my case, I always remember something about them or their lives and I ask
how is your grandson, how is your daughter, how is your wife? People like to be
remembered from things in their lives and it does not hurt or cost any money to
ask about them.
So if I had known Ken, he was before my interest in football, I would have told him about him and Jerry eating lunch together or
meeting in the downtown hotel so many years ago.
Brief encounters can be life long memory happenings and how nice it is to have these moments to savor and even to write about.
One of my fans who reads my articles in this Patch wrote to me how she enjoys my articles and she said “one day we will meet.” It will be
my honor to meet her and even though, I am not famous, it will be an encounter