It doesn’t matter how long any of us have followed alabama football, there are stories about people we remember, but may not know well. The magnitude of college football’s largest program is a cherished fact, but there is more to the Alabama Crimson Tide story, little-known stories about those who did much to build and sustain the program.
Every Alabama football fan knows Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant. Those of us of a certain age can tell dozens of stories and memories of Bryant. What’s too often lost in accounts of the Tide’s Bryant era is the impact of others who worked hard with Bryant to make Alabama great.
A new window on history has been opened with a book entitled A TIDE OF DREAMS: The untold backstory of coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant, Carney Laslie and Frank Moseley. The author, Carey Henry Keefe, is the granddaughter of former Alabama football player and Alabama assistant coach Carney Laslie.
I recently had a long and passionate conversation with Carey about her book. It has taken her many years to complete the project and speaking with her it became clear that a ‘labor of love’ best describes her endeavour.
The book is about men who played and coached soccer. But it is not a football book. It’s a story of how three special men came together as Alabama football players in the 1930s and the lifelong bond that followed. A bond that perhaps had a greater impact than any other relationship in their lives. What the three men shared was a love of football, which led to friendships that came to be shaped by war, a passion for shaping the young, and a deep reservoir of love and mutual respect.
As I listened to Carey’s take on the three men, I wondered if Carney Laslie and Frank Moseley ever felt like they were in Bryant’s shadow. Carey’s answer to that question was no. Of course, the friendships coalesced long before anyone credited Bryant with greatness, when Laslie and Moseley were his equals. It is a tribute to each of them that being ‘the same’ never fundamentally changed.
When talking to Carey, he told me a story that is not in the book, despite being an eloquent example of the love that Paul Bryant had for his grandfather. She gave me permission to tell it here.
After Laslie’s death in 1970, while golfing, Bryant was asked about his old friend. The answer revealed a depth of feeling that few would expect in a man known for many things, but perhaps most of all for his toughness. According to Carey, a teary-eyed Bryant said of his equally tough friend, Carney Laslie: “Carney Laslie was the sweetest man I ever met.”
Carey Henry Keefe will be in Tuscaloosa for the Texas A&M game. She will be doing book signings at the Bryant Museum and the Alabama Supply Store.
More information about the book is available on Carey’s website. There is no better endorsement for the book than one written by retired Bryant Museum director Ken Gaddy.
Carey Henry Keefe has written a love story, or rather, a story of many loves. ….the devotion of a group of men who experienced the common bond of playing football for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide takes the reader on an adventure…. through the trials of World War II, family, winning and losing football games.
Carey will be signing books on Friday at the Bryant Museum between 11:00 am CST and 3:00 pm and again on Saturday from 10:00 am CST until 2:00 pm Also on Saturday she will be signing at the Supe Store from 2:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.