By Dick Trone
The 1950 football season saw the arrival of a new face on the Del Norte High football staff. Thaine Eldor Gatlin, known forever after only as Tex, joined his former teammate from Southern Oregon College of Education, Chuck DeAutremont, as a Warrior assistant. Tex went to S.O.C.E. after serving in the Army during the second World War, where he saw considerable action in the European campaigns.
He worked as an assistant during the 1950 and 1951 football seasons, and took over the head coaching duties in 1952 when DeAutremont moved back to Oregon. He held the head football position from 1953 through the 1966 season. During his tenure as football coach, he turned out many very successful teams.
There was another special side to Tex. I know of more than one young man that was taken into the Gatlin home by Tex and wife Eris. One of these young men went on to become a very successful coach and father. I know this from personal experience since he became one of my assistants when I was coaching in Yucca Valley. There were a number of Gatlin's Warriors that went on to very successful college playing careers. A few that I remember well were Bill Sullivan at Oregon State, Rick Hintz and Linfield, and three that were very special to me because they became Humboldt State Lumberjacks. Drew Roberts, Dan Sousa and Matt Kelley were all instrumental in putting together a 20 game Jacks win streak. Drew is still talked about and recognized as one of the top pass receivers in Humboldt State history.
I had the experience of playing for Tex when I was a senior and then also playing with him on the old Crescent City Merchants baseball team and on recreation league basketball teams.
I have one story I have to tell about Tex, but it is not about football, it is about fishing. One day during my senior year, Tex was talking to me and a teammate of mine, Larry Holcomb. Him being new to the area, he was still a rookie in the fishing department. Tex said, andquot;I hear you are catching candle fish on the Klamath.andquot; Larry said yes they are would you like us to take you and catch some. andquot;Sure,andquot; he said, so we picked him up that evening and headed for the river. We had our net and our bucket and were ready to go.
It was a cold dark night, butenthusiasm was high. When we got to the river, it started to down pour. Larry showed Tex what to do and after awhile we had a bucket of fish. Tex was now complaining that he couldn't remember ever being so wet and cold. We took them to Tex's house and his wife cooked them. Preparation must not have been very good because the fish were not very good eating. Later, when we asked Tex if he wanted to go again, he gave a definite andquot;No.andquot; He said candle fishing was almost the same category as snipe hunting.
After Tex retired, he ran a motel and restaurant in Gasquet. On my trips to the area from my job in Yucca Valley, I used to always make a point to going out to see him and we would talk football for hours. I miss him.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring. Currently, he is head coach of the South Coast Storm semi-pro football team, formerly called the Siskiyou Savages.