Jim Buchan’s excellent sports column, “Tales of Bill Till dear to Derby’s heart” (April 7) is a must read for those who do not normally read the sports page.
The following are a few recollections from a young neighbor boy of Bill Till, who had no idea who the neighbor over the hill was. Bill Till (Jr.), about whom Jim was writing, lived over the hill from our farm just south of the state line. They were our closest neighbors.
Over the hill was about half a mile, while the road route was over a mile.
Bill and Bill (Bill Till Sr. ) and young Bill’s mom lived there. Today, it would be called a “hobby” farm. As I recall, Bill Sr. worked for Pacific Power. Dean Derby mentioned Bill had broken his leg in a game. I remember Bill and a buddy came over that same hill one fall hunting pheasants, his leg in a cast, and their hunting dog on a long rope.
One time I was asked by the Tills to feed their pets while they were gone (probably to one of the Washington football games). I think the first vehicle I ever drove (years before I was legal age) was taking an old Oliver tractor over the hill to feed the Tills’ pets. They even had a magpie in a cage. I think I told my mom I was going to the Tills and she thought I was walking. At any rate, she never said anything.
And there it was in the Till yard ... part of Bill’s gym. It looked like an Olympic bench press, except it was made of old metal wheels on each end for weights and an axle shaft for the bar. A farm kid’s workout; apparently, it worked.
There was another positive force at work with the young men who were on those winning teams. Over half of Bill’s and Dean’s football team either lived on farms or worked on them during vacations. It provided a work ethic, now available to only a few young people in the Walla Walla Valley, that was a force in their phenomenal success.
Our father later bought the Bill Till Sr. farm and, naturally, it was called the Till place.