From The Bleachers: A Long Ride Winding Down
I first met Kathy Lewis (pictured above) during the spring of 2008 while waiting in line for an autograph from Everson Walls and Patrick Crayton. It didn’t take me very long to realize that, when it came to the Dallas Cowboys, here was a person who had been around and seen a lot. We talked for several minutes, exchanged contact information, and went our separate ways. From that chance meeting came a three-hour interview two days after Thanksgiving the following November.
So it happened that on the final day of the year, with my final article of my very first season covering the Cowboys, this story of one fan’s love for America’s Team hit the front page of The Clifton Record, a small-town newspaper in central Texas. Mrs. Lewis and her husband have since passed away, but I will always be grateful for the generosity and the patience exhibited which helped a young 19-year old capture the spirit of their experiences and share it with others.
This is for all those who have ever wondered “What was it like to be a Cowboys fan in the old days?” Enjoy!
A Long Ride Winding Down
After 37 Years Of Experiences, This Cowboys Fan Is Hanging It Up
(From the December 31, 2008 editions of The Clifton Record.)
Many great players have donned the silver and blue uniform during the Dallas Cowboys’ illustrious history. Almost too many to name.
But not only have they been blessed with great players down through the years, but also great fans.
And Kathy Lewis, of Hillsboro, should rank near the top on the team’s all-time fan list.
Mrs. Lewis, devoted wife of 57 years to Truman Lewis, who is a salesman at Gloff Ford-Mercury in Clifton, has attended Cowboys games since 1968 while the team was still playing their home games at the Cotton Bowl and been a season-ticket holder since 1972.
How many people would wait all night in the snow and ice in a parking lot to purchase tickets to the Super Bowl? Fourteen-hundred others to be exact on that January night in 1972 prior to Super Bowl VI, but crowds, sleet, snow, and biting cold weren’t going to keep Mrs. Lewis from purchasing her tickets to paradise.
“Sitting for the Super Bowl tickets, when you sit up 24 hours you have gotta be an idiot…but it’s fun. You meet so many nice people.”
Her fanaticism for all things Cowboys isn’t something that has been kept undercover but rather is well known throughout the community, and has even spread to her church.
“Every time [the pastor] would stand up to preach and the Cowboys kicked off at 12 o’clock, he would say, ‘Well, I’m gonna have to have a quick sermon today because the Cowboys kick off at 12 o’clock.’ And everybody would look right straight at me.”
Lewis has attended five of the eight Super Bowls the Cowboys have advanced to – VI, X, XII, XXVII and XXVIII. While in New Orleans for Super Bowl XII, Truman rented a hotel room for her and some family which had come along. Oh, this just wasn’t any hotel. Rather, it was the same one where the Cowboys were staying.
And while there, she met and received autographs from past stars such as Harvey Martin, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Lee Roy Jordan, Jethro Pugh and Tony Dorsett. Mrs. Lewis didn’t care that, due to lack of writing material, they had to sign their names to a brown paper sack. Their autographs were obtained and that’s all that mattered.
She has witnessed four different eras of Cowboys football – from Tom Landry and Roger Staubach all the way to the present unit which has Tony Romo and Jason Witten leading the team. After all those years and hundreds of games she has no problem naming her favorite player: Roger Staubach, hands down.
“He could always come back,” she said of the 1985 Hall of Fame inductee.
Yet, as life so many times turns out, she wasn’t able to be at Texas Stadium when Captain Comeback worked possibly his greatest come-from-behind win in his 12-year career.
“That game with the Washington Redskins that night, it was so cold. It was 1979. And he brought ‘em back in the last two minutes or minute-and-a-half. Dumbo me and Truman, we had left, we had got so cold. But I had just gotten a pacemaker… And I was giving out and I told Truman we had to leave.”
But she did get to see Staubach speak at a Christian Youth Rally in Fort Worth a couple of years after he retired.
Thanksgiving Day games were always a unique experience for the Lewis family when fans were still allowed to bring food and drinks inside the stadium.
“Every Thanksgiving I would cook eight pecan pies. The couple that sat on one side of Truman would bring the forks and another couple would bring the paper plates and I would sit there and just slice pie. Eighteen years we had pecan pie. We had pecan pie each Thanksgiving until [Jerry] Jones bought the team. He won’t let you do it.”
But even security measures were slow to catch up to the daring and determination of Mrs. Lewis and Co.
“Well, we would sneak in pie for awhile… I have these big old insulated cover-alls – Truman won’t walk with me whem I’m like that, toboggan and all – and I would walk in with pecan pie all in my legs and up my arms. Of course, they’re wrapped up in individual slices. And I would tell everyone, ‘Now don’t let anyone see you,’ and would pass the pie.”
Even with her team being the Cowboys, and having been to such classic venues as The Rose Bowl and The Orange Bowl, Lewis declared that her all-time favorite stadium is Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Chiefs, where she attended a game during the 1980s.
“That stadium is beautiful… It’s a lot better than Texas Stadium. It just gives you that football feeling.”
Though still the owner of season tickets through this season, she hasn’t attended a game since 2006, due to players she claims have taken the joy out of it, one of which is controversial wideout Terrell Owens.
“The last game we went to I couldn’t even cheer when [Owens] was running for a touchdown. I don’t see many people that do like him… I just don’t have any desire to go anymore.”
That’s not to insinuate that she, like other fans, are completely against this new generation of Cowboys. Mrs. Lewis will tell you that it isn’t the case, and that she liked every player on the team through the years except a select current few. And while some have abandoned the Tony Romo Bandwagon, she is still riding it.
“I like Tony. Yeah, he’s a sweetie. I liked Tony even when he was a backup.”
She said she will not purchase season-tickets when the Cowboys move to their spanking-new stadium in Arlington.
“No way. $30,000 for a lease? That’s not counting the ticket. Of course, the upper section is only $59, but it’s 200 feet above the football field. The players are going to look [too small], that high up. Someone said, ‘Well, you can watch the big screen (at the stadium).’ I said, ‘Well, if I want to watch the big screen, I’ll sit on my couch.’”
But even though she won’t be going to anymore games, Mrs. Lewis will still watch the Cowboys on television and will always be surrounded by the team’s past history, thanks to having taped over 400 Cowboys games.
Faithful is the one word that describes her support of the Dallas Cowboys over the past 40 years. Win or lose, rain or shine, it didn’t matter to her. The Cowboys are America’s Team and she has always treated them like it.
But there is a time in everyone’s life when they have to step back and pass the torch on to someone else. For one Kathy Lewis, that time is now.