Dr. C.W. “Bill” Beson Jr., who says he’s “pushing 90,” admits organized youth sports activities back in the his younger days were limited.
As an adult he’s played a little golf ...
“I’ve had two holes-in-one.”
... even bowled a 279 once.
But, he wasn’t any kind of sports standout during his growing up years.
“I wasn’t very big,” Beson admits, with a chuckle.
But back in the 1920s and 1930s, there were plenty of other “youth” activities, Beson recalls.
He’s a Claremore High School graduate. He worked as a janitor for RCB Bank while attending Oklahoma Military Academy and later attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned a degree in petroleum engineering. He served in World War II and later earned his optometry license.
But among fond memories, from younger days, is one of playing hockey in the alley behind the Daily Progress.
It wasn’t exactly an organized youth sport. It was something for the kids to do while waiting to pick up papers to be delivered to the homes around the city.
“Back then, we had to put every one of them (the newspapers) on the porch,” Beson said. He talks about target precision throwing. The papers had to land at a certain spot on every porch.
Standing, on a recent summer day, just outside the door to what was once his optometrist office at 111 N. Missouri, Beson noted the hot noonday sun’s glare reflecting off the asphalted streets and sidewalks around him.
“Every once in a while, there would be someone there waving at you with a glass of ice tea, lemonade, or something. That sure was good,” Beson said. “The streets were all dirt then. Downtown was the only brick street.”
Another youthful activity in which he engaged was delivering ice and milk when he was about 7 or 8 years old. Not exactly a quarterback position, but it was a valuable life lesson.
After the war, he traveled to Chicago where he acquired his optometrist’s license, then returned to Claremore and opened a practice that lasted for 31 years. In the meantime, he and his wife, Mary, raised five children. He’s now married to “Bonnie” ... and “I’m her Clyde,” he said with a smile.
Times have changed.
Yes, some newspapers are still being “porched,” but home delivery is a thing of the past for ice and milk. Folks don’t have iceboxes on their back porches any more. And, they’d certainly have to think twice before leaving cash money out back for the delivery boy.
In any event, the good doctor’s acquired knowledge from days gone by, and perhaps the realization that the youth of every generation needs things to do and has lessons to learn, prompted his recent generous gift to the Claremore Youth Football Association.
CYFA President Eric Munden said he first contacted Beson back in 2004 about the office space at 111 N. Missouri.
“They (RCB Bank) had torn the old Armory down. That’s where we were,” Munden said.
When the Armory went, so did CYFA’s place to store equipment and hold meetings.
“We had just contacted Dr. Beson about buying it (the space), and that’s when I got the shock of my life,” Munden said. “He just gave it to us.”
Munden brought Youth Football to Claremore about 10 years ago when his son wanted to play. The city’s youth programs at that time did not include a football component and the nearest towns were Owasso and Broken Arrow.
Youth football leaders in those communities encouraged Munden to start a league in Claremore. Today, the program has nearly 500 participants, in grades two through six.
Munden mentions the impact of the program. Many of today’s area high school football standouts — Kord Hawkins, Andrew Rounds, Levi Richardson, and more —first played Youth Football.
“It makes us feel real good,” Munden said. His own son, Trey (who played football at Verdigris), is a walk-on at the University of Tulsa University this fall.
The building is still being remodeled. Lumber and drywall are stacked in the middle of what is now a large open room. But it’s more than CYFA had ever hoped.
“(Munden) told me what they wanted it for, and I just thought it would be a good thing for the youth,” Beson said.
What was once Dr. Beson’s optometrist office now belongs to CYFA with the stipulation that it “always” be used for youth programs.
“It’s in the contract,” Munden said.
Under the awning, just inside the entryway, is a placard renaming 111 N. Missouri the Beson Youth Sports Building. The lettering spells out the purpose “Dedicated ... by Dr. C.W. Beson to further promote youth sports in Claremore.”