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The Past is Present

The Past is Present

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Published by William E. Spear
THE PAST IS PRESENT is a celebration of the 75th anniversay of the Industrial Football League (IFL) of Roberts County. It is also the last work of legendary sports announcer, Johnny Parks.
THE PAST IS PRESENT is a celebration of the 75th anniversay of the Industrial Football League (IFL) of Roberts County. It is also the last work of legendary sports announcer, Johnny Parks.

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Published by: William E. Spear on Aug 16, 2009
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09/11/2009

THE PAST IS PRESENT By William E.

Spear

Two Plus Plus Productions LLC Clinton, New Jersey www.TwoPlusPlus.com Two.Plus.Plus.Productions@gmail.com

The Past is Present In 2007, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Industrial Football League (IFL), executives of the league commissioned a tribute titled “The Past is Present.” They turned to Johnny Parks, longtime IFL announcer, to write and voice it. The IFL is a six-team, two-conference organization consisting of independently owned clubs around Roberts County. It was started in 1932 during the Great Depression by local businesses as a means to boost morale among employees and customers. Players earned extra money at a time when it was hard to come by. The second job status from the league’s early days was never abandoned. Even in current times, the league’s players hold down jobs elsewhere and play for their respective teams in the evening and on weekends. Only choice for tribute was Johnny Parks Parks’ reputation as a sportscaster was legendary. His broadcasts of events in and around the county had thrilled listeners for decades. He was the first announcer voted into the Roberts County Hall of Fame and the only sports figure inducted before retiring. His selection as the voice for the tribute was never questioned. In the summer of 2007, Parks began writing the tribute. His health had been failing and he would give himself as much time as possible. He spent the entire month of August at Spring Lake, New Jersey crafting the piece. His words and voice would be accompanied by original music and archival footage of the IFL’s first 75 years. In September, one month before the start of the season, Parks recorded “The Past is Present.” Everyone in the studio raved about it. Parks captured both the historic roots of the league and its part-time players. Further, he presented the pain and grueling season endured in terms and extremes similar to other professional footballers. Tragedies Later in the evening, a fire broke out in the recording studio. Everything was destroyed, including that day’s work on “The Past is Present.” No backups or duplicates had been saved nor had second versions been stored elsewhere.

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The Past is Present Parks and the league quickly scheduled another session for two weeks later. But before he could get into another studio, he died. Words survive Although no recordings of “The Past is Present” survived the fire, Parks’ words are printed in their entirety: “THE PAST IS PRESENT” Offices they flee Their echoed strength to see If age or softness rule. Suits during the day Football nightly they play Hitting and blocking duels. Teams are of seven, And pain south of heaven, Wearied beyond all fatigue. Their muscles are sore In the IFL, or Industrial Football League. Speed is the power Which carries the hour And brains help win each game Courage, together With helmets once leather, Will bring the victors fame. The season is long For the men who are strong As they fight to excel. Their journey each week, Not for mild or meek, Is called the IFL. Started in bleak times, With few nickels and dimes, In nineteen and thirty-two.

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The Past is Present Winning footballers Promised cheers and dollars. Losers were left black and blue. From fact’ries they came, And their farms just the same All had stories to tell. Drenched in the cold rain, And stabbed by frozen pain, To play the IFL. October they’d start With a rise in their hearts And smiles as wide as fields. December they’d slow Running through ice and snow. That’s when desire yields. At length, two teams stood, Above all others good, To answer one last bell. Then fiercely they’d fight. With all means in their sight. Such was the IFL. Many decades hence On fields frostily dense They rage and roar and yell. Victors still echo Through past and present snow. This is the IFL. The Present The IFL commissioned other announcers to perform Parks’ work at the start of the 2007 season as a memorial to him. Included were Sam Jackson, longtime announcing partner of Parks, and Kate Dougherty, whose career was inspired by Parks’ work. The response to their tribute, “The Passing of Johnny Parks,” was so overwhelming, they performed it live for seven nights in a row. The End

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