This is the first in a four-part series entitled, “Scrapper Game Day: The People, The Traditions and the Memories.” Each new part of the series will be published every other week leading up to the first Nashville Scrapper game, against Hope on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Sean Payton, Super Bowl winning coach of the New Orleans Saints, once said that football brings us together in a way that is unlike anything else in the world. “I would give anything to be in my high school uniform again…That feeling comes around when you get married, it comes when your child is born. So you get it, but you just don’t get that Friday night feeling everyday,” he said.
For one resident of Nashville, that feeling has been renewed every fall Friday night for more than 70 years. Reeder McCullough, owner of the White Way Barber Shop, would have a tough time convincing anyone that walked into his barber shop parlor that he wasn’t a Scrapper. Plastered on the walls are memorabilia of almost a century of football in Nashville.
“I’ve started collecting them since I’ve been here and I’ve got some earlier than that,” Reeder said. “I think 1922 is the oldest one. I’ve got a ’37 at home. In 1937, we beat Dierks 106-0.”
In 1946, Scrapper Stadium was not in its current place. Rather, it was on the south end of town, featuring only one old dressing room. When the visiting team came to play, it would split the locker room in half.
“It was good enough for us,” Reeder said. “Our senior year, we had 21 players out for football. We had a great year…I’m not too sure we had a playoff, but we finished second in the district.”
For Reeder, memories of games played echo through the walls of the barbershop—a lifetime spent on haircuts and football.
“I became a Scrapper when I was playing and have been one since. That ol’ saying, ‘once a Scrapper, always a Scrapper,’ is so true,” Reeder said.
The year was 1963 and Reeder was working in Bossier City, La. when he and his wife Emma, were at home for a weekend. Visiting friends in the White Way Building on Main Street, he mentioned ambitions to own a barbershop when the owner offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse. Now, 52 years later, Reeder still talks Scrapper football as he cuts and styles hair for hundreds of Nashville folks.
Past, Present and Future: Reeder knows almost everything there is to know about the Scrappers. A lifetime marked by his involvement in the Scrapper Football Program, Reeder shares memories of his time, his son’s time and his grandson’s time as a Scrapper. Three generations. Three Scrappers.
“There’s so many games you remember,” He said. “The playoff games are the ones I probably enjoyed more than anything else. Beating Warren when I was still playing was one of my favorites, because anytime you beat Warren, that’s a good thing.”
The 1949 Scrappers, led by team captain Reeder McCullough, finished 8-2-1 on the season. A distinct memory in his mind, Reeder likes to talk about the Texarkana game.
“We tied Texarkana nothin’ to nothin’. I remember it well. Texarkana was the favorite, but the Texarkana Gazette said that, ‘you better watch out for those Scrappers,’” Reeder said.
What makes Reeder so special to the Scrapper Program though is his secret powder.
“We have this thing called Scrapper Powder. We put it on all the kids that come through the barbershop and we’ve done it for years. The kids just swell up when you put that on them. You ask kids around here what they want to be and nine times out of ten, they’ll tell you that they want to be a Scrapper,” Reeder said.
And when asked about his favorite players to have come through the barbershop on their way to Scrapper glory, he mentions two.
“I always loved Jared McBride and Greg Washington. They were the most fun to watch as I’ve ever seen in football…I said then that they could have told the other team what the play they were going to run was and the other team still wasn’t going to stop them. And that was true. The first play of the game was almost always a touchdown.”
Glistening off the top of the barbershop on a little shelf is a signed ball from the 2007 Nashville Scrapper State Championship Football Team. It’s subtle and almost hidden. Signed by a senior class that won three State Championships, the ball is much more than a ball to Reeder: it’s a mark in history.
For many, Scrapper Football is just a game. For Reeder McCullough, it’s life itself. And life for Mr. McCullough has been a long, rewarding adventure of hair, family and Scrapper Football.