Saying Goodbye to Eddie

By Don Henderson 12/31/18

I believe God puts us with certain people and there is no doubt he placed Eddie and I together. When my
Grandparents moved back to Malakoff in 1946 I had just finished the 1st grade in Oklahoma. I began the 2nd
grade in Malakoff and soon after I met what was to be my best friend, Eddie Nokes. I really have no
remembrance of the 2nd grade, but I do remember our third grade and the beginnings of a life- long friendship.
During this time Eddie lived south of our house off Crossroads Hwy. which was an unpaved dirt road. One of
the many things I will miss about Eddie is his memory. Like now I am trying to remember when he and his family
moved next door to me. I could ask Eddie and he could tell me. Sometime between our 2nd grade and 4th
grade, the Nokes moved next door. I remember before the Nokes moved next door he and I would walk home
from the Old Rock School and sometimes he would stop at my house and we would play. Once he lingered too
long and his Mother Velma tanned his hide for being late…he never was late again as far as I remember. After
the Nokes moved next door we walked home together and played in his or my front yard and he didn’t get in
trouble. In those days we could roam the countryside from sunup to sundown and never have a problem. Well,
yes, problems that we generated for ourselves like the time we were having a BB gun fight in Robertson’s field.
Our friend Royce (fellow Southside member)  organized us into teams and set the rules. No shooting above the
waist. Fine rule, but……Eddie came charging at me with his Daisy Red Ryder spraying BBs in my direction. I
responded with my Daisy Pump and all of a sudden, Eddie dropped like a big tree. Yes we could get hurt, but
God was taking care of us. I thought I had killed him or put out an eye. Eddie had a big knot in between his
eyes and no worse for wear. This ended our BB gun adventure. Eddie and I put our BB guns to better use….
killing birds. Sometimes we would hunt from early morning to late in the afternoon, killing birds. He and I have
talked extensively over the years about this and both agreed we were very sorry for this and this is one thing
we both wished we had never done.
From the time Eddie and the Nokes moved next door until he joined the Marines we were doing something
together practically every day. Neither family, the Hendersons or the Nokes’ had a car in the early days, so we
walked to and from school when we were in the Old Rock School and later when we attended Malakoff High
School (which is now the Malakoff Middle school) Since the Sheltons had a car, we often road with them. The
Nokes’ front yard or mine was a beehive of activity. We were either playing catch with a football, playing chase,
croquet, rubber gun/ china berry fights or just goofing off. What a great time to be growing up!! Across the
street from us the Dodson’s afforded another place of play. Their large pasture was on the southside of their
house and beyond the pasture up on the hill is where the Shelton’s lived. Frequently the Dodson field became
our gridiron, baseball field, or  basketball court. Since we were South of the Malakoff Railroad it became
common place for us to call ourselves The Southside Gang.
As we grew older and bigger (well not yours truly) we still continued playing our games and Eddie and I still
remained great friends. Our friendship continued even after high school. During the fall of 1957 several
Malakoff grads decided to go to HCJC (now Trinity Valley) Back then we would meet at the Tiger Inn and a
school bus would stop and pick us up and carry us to Athens and Henderson County Junior College classes. It
was always my plans to go to college and obtain some sort of degree. Eddie, on the other hand was never one
to like school work, so I think he went just because he didn’t know what else to do. He and I were given a
scholarship to play in the HCJC band, which was a laugh because neither of us had played an instrument in a
while, me since the 9th grade and Eddie since elementary school. Anyhow, after one semester, Eddie decided
to join the Marines. So in our 2nd semester at HCJC, 1958, Eddie left SCHOOL for his new adventure. So, this
became the 1st time we had not been together since the mid 1940’s. He truly was proud that he had escaped
School. I still have one of the first letters he wrote me after boot camp in which he told me not only did he have
School, they made him go and actually study. During the time he was a Marine and I was attending college, I
received several letters from Eddie and so even though we were separated by distance and goals, we still were
great friends.
As I think back on it I am remembering some things about Eddie. Although I was picked on by different people
for different things, Eddie never picked on me. In fact, often he would stand up for me when someone else was
picking on me. He always got a good laugh when I self-inflicted myself, like the time when we were playing toss
and catch with a football and I ran out for a pass he threw. I caught it took one step and ran head-on into his
Dad’s brickyard truck  Years later every time we talked about this incident we both had a good laugh, but I
certainly didn’t at the time.  I never herd Eddie ever use a cuss word, which is surprising thinking back on it
because many others did. I never saw Eddie get mad, well there were two times. Once when Coach Loggins
wanted Eddie to get some fire in his tackling and Eddie was just being Eddie…..laid back. This was our Junior
year and Royce was our star running back. Royce took it upon himself to give Eddie more incentive. As Royce
went through the line with Eddie playing defense, Royce gave Eddie a forearm shiver to the Adam’s apple and
suddenly Eddie became” the incredible Hulk” (before we had even heard of such) On the very next play Royce
carried the ball intending to run over Eddie. Instead Eddie was fuming mad and grabbed Royce, slinging him to
the ground like he was rag doll. Royce had awaken a giant and he knew better than to try that again. The other
time I saw Eddie mad was when Ben Garcia and I stole the English paper he was working on. This was a
mistake. Eddie was attempting to finish a paper that was due to be turned in. Ben and I finished ours earlier
and were intending to torment Eddie. Ben ran with that paper and again Eddie became “the incredible Hulk”
and chased Ben down. We got the message loud and clear…DON’T MESS WITH EDDIE’S paper.
In recent years, Eddie would call or text me and we would talk about old times and as I said before he always
had a great memory. During the past several years he and I talked about the Malakoff Tiger Football team and
several years ago we both tuned into a radio broadcast (he in Malakoff, I in Spring) and listened together. We
decided we jinxed the team because they lost, so we didn’t try that again, but we did continue talking or texting
and also talking on Facebook.  God put us together many years ago and I thank God for allowing me to be
friends with Eddie Nokes for nearly 70 years. Tears are in my eyes now as I say Goodbye, Eddie; Old Friend,  
you were my best friend ever.
See you on the other side. Pedro