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Where Dreams Die Hard: A Small American Town and Its Six-Man Football Team Hardcover – August 16, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In tiny Penelope, Texas, population 211, six-man football rules. The game is a scaled-down version of the more common 11-man version, originally designed in the 1930s by a Nebraska coach who wanted small, rural schools to be able to have football teams. Fast forward to today, and six-man football thrives in small Texas communities, where it's played among high schools that have fewer than 99 students. Stowers, a Texas journalist, went to Penelope to observe the world of small-town, small-team football. He intersperses his observations of football practices with interviews with various members of the community, and in doing so paints a picture of present-day rural life. The book poses questions surrounding the survival of small towns, as Stowers himself wonders whether the students he's observing will actually stay in Penelope. Although at times Stowers's narrative could use more visual description to really evoke the place he's writing about, the book is a glimpse into a small town rallying around a cause, and a look at a way of life that city dwellers rarely see.
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Review

"A great read and terrific insight... Stowers is a tremendous writer." -- sixmanfootball.com August, 2005

"A heartwarming story that will make you glad there are places like Penelope, Texas, still around." -- San Angelo Standard-Times 9/9/05

"A nifty little paeon to small towns and their six-man football teams." -- Montrose Daily Press 9/13/05

"An easy book for anyone to love." -- The Book Worm 9/8/05

"Engaging and fantastically detailed." -- Turtle Creek News 8/26/2005

"Far more than football." -- Houston Chronicle 9/18/2005

"Get a copy.... You'll be encouraged and uplifted." -- The Mexia Daily 9/16/05

"Heartwarming...This book is about much more than football-it's about people who care about each other." -- Deseret News, 8/29/05

"Moving...Stowers' account is like spending a weekend with your country cousin." -- Texas Monthly September, 2005

"Not just about football. It's the saga of Penelope the town, and how that isolated community... rallied around its team." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram 9/25/05
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (August 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814044
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,641,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As the August breezes begin to pick up, the days start to become shorter and thoughts return to fall, the end of the summer season brings about the start of another season, the high school football season.

Thousands of players will have participated in two-a-day practices throughout the dog days of August, all in the hopes of winning games, setting records and pursuing championships.

The only difference between most of the squads competing in the United States and the 112 public high school teams competing throughout Texas, is that they do it a little differently. For those smaller Lone Star Schools, whose student enrollment falls below 100, they play under their own Friday Night lights in the glorious game of six-man football.

Author Carlton Stowers became tired of his own newspaper's front pages, dedicated to the misdoings of others, bombings and mayhem he had seen from a news reporter's eyes. He made the decision to turn his reporter pen and pad towards a quieter town, in a quieter portion of Texas and follow the world of six-man football for a season.

His travels took him to the small town of Penelope and it's populous of 211 residents and the Wolverines six-man football team.

The railroad had left Penelope in 1960 and so went with it the cotton commerce that brought people to it. In 1963 the high school made the decision to abandon its football program. In 1999 a student, Marvin Hill, prodded by his classmates asked the superintendent requesting that football be re-instated in the Wolverines fall season.

The game of six-man football was established in the late 1930's as a sport for the small rural schools. It involves three lineman, three backs and a quarterback.
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Format: Hardcover
Having chronicled so much disaster, destruction and unspeakable horror committed by people against other people during his extensive writing career, Texas author Carlton Stowers was looking for something simpler in the wake of the 911 tragedy. As he writes in the preface of the non fiction book "Where Dreams Die Hard" on page XIV:

"When a young editor argued that what those of us under her charge had to provide readers was more `red meat,' more hard-hitting, finger-pointing controversy, I rolled my eyes and began considering my leave-taking. Though fully aware that there were endless fakes and frauds needing exposure and countless crimes begging courthouse justice, such tasks no longer interested me. It was time to let someone else try to sort reason from the unreasonable, spend days in the company of devastated victims, and chronicle the social ills for which there seemed no cure."

His quest was for a Norman Rockwall type America if it still existed. Where folks still cared about each other regardless of political or religious affiliation. Where crime was not a problem and where red meat referred to what was on the grill and not something literary.

He found what he was looking for in the small town of Penelope, Texas located about an hour south of Dallas. Penelope has a population of 211 and eagerly and actively supports their six man football team the Penelope Wolverines. As sports fans may know, six man football has seen a revival the last few years in a number of states including Texas. Much of the book covers one season in the life of the town both for the players, their families, and the surrounding community.

While he chronicles the struggles of the 2004 team, author Carlton Stowers does much more than that.
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Format: Hardcover
What do kids do who want to play football and the town's too small to field a football team in the high school? More importantly, what do their moms and dads do, especially in a state like Texas where everything is football when you're a teenager. He can join the Penelope Wolverines and their brand of rural, thin population "six-man football," designed for school with 99 or fewer students! If you liked FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, you'll appreciate the even bigger sacrifices made by the boys in this book.

Stowers tells the perhaps apochryphal story of a country in west Texas where one man refused to give up his farm and move to the next county, even though a prominent oilman dangled him a job with a salary far beyond anything he would ever be making if he stayed home. The oilman, you seem had designs on the farmer's son. No, not sexual designs, but he figured if he could get that boy enrolled in the high school of his own county, the boy was talented enough to score enough touchdowns to make the difference in the season. But his dad kept saying no, we're staying put. The oilman didn't understand the meaning of the word no and one night, while the family was away, their entire house was moved, lock, stock and housecat, to the oilman's county. The dad figured he might as well join em at this point. Because he would have to pay the cost of airlifting his house back to its original cellar and that he couldn't afford. So the boy joined the high school team and, sure enough, justified the oilman's belief in his nascent talents.

Why, I had never so much as heard of "six-man football" before picking up the latest effort of Carlton Stowers, a true crime expert whose own family was touched by tragedy some mite back.

Now I know plenty.
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