Check out Bo Carter’s book review of Coach Gerald Brence’s “Old Money.”
By BO CARTER
Any time the three main characters in a coming-of-age novel are named Kid, Mule and Runt, readers know there will be some interesting character development and content.
No, these characters are not based on three former Plano (Texas) High School football student-athletes from author Gerald Brence’s Texas High School Coaches Football Hall of Fame.
They are three fascinating city youths wandering a bit aimlessly as young teens as the novel begins and become public servants and businessmen under the watchful eye of Clinton Derryberry – the farmer/entrepreneur protagonist and surrogate father to the sometimes-unruly trio.
Their exploits form the basis of the book and some page-turning reading. Readers see their metamorphosis from basically scared and ignorant youngsters to hard-working and rough-and-tumble later teens and then young adults branching into three different directions.
Author Gerald Brence, who coached a state football championship team at Plano and reared three football-playing sons (including Big 12 Conference Sportsmanship Award finalist and Baylor standout linebacker Collin Brence) draws from the experience of watching youngsters grow into men to set some interesting scenes in the Olathe-Mission-Kansas City areas of Metro Kansas City.
One of the great characters in the book is the town bully and later millionaire Tom Wayne Rhyner (possibly named after Texas Radio Hall of Fame member and popular, retired KTCK Radio host Mike Rhyner) who is intertwined with the three main characters among street fights, tense verbal standoffs and later major business deals. Rhyner presents a perfect foil to the Kid-Runt-Mule trio and resurfaces at the most unfortunate times for the aspiring agriculturists and later business people.
As Mr. Derryberry ages and eventually succumbs, his influence on the three prime movers in the novel takes on even more significance. And a strange plot twist around the middle part of the book with Runt’s involvement and thrill seeking sets the stage for a surprise ending and some solid, end-chapters reading.
This book by Brence earns five stars in this writer’s estimation, and how did it get its title, by the way?
Runt often refers to ill-gotten gain in his later career as “old money” and evokes memories among Dallas-Fort Worth friends of the Fort Worth Club, Colonial Country Club, TCU athletics events, and other major social gatherings in the Fort Worth area.
One pundit told a friend at a major Fort Worth Club confab, probably the annual Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award: “That’s a lot of old money in here.”
This version of “Old Money” holds the reader’s interest throughout and makes book devotee’s eager for a possible sequel or similar coming-of-age novel from the laptop of Gerald Brence.
Bo Carter served as Big 12 media director for a decade, has taught at UNT, Texas Woman’s, Texas Wesleyan, worked for Mississippi State, graduated from Vanderbilt and North Texas, and works for National Football Foundation and writes for Sports Page DFW, The Texas Sports Daily.