I could hear the low wailing  in the distance—it seemed to be coming from downtown Waco. Earlier in the evening it had started when I heard it while walking around the block. At first I thought it a far off police siren or the wind in the trees. But as the evening went on it grew louder and I knew that it was wailing and weeping, although I did not yet hear any gnashing of teeth.

I had heard wailing like this often in the jungles and mountains of Papua New Guinea, where we once lived. Invariably, someone had just died and the piercing wails would echo across the hills for hours on end. It was chilling and sobering to know that someone had died.

So gradually I realized that there must have been a death in downtown Waco and that it must have been someone important for such protracted wailing and howling.

It was not until the next day that I learned the reason for the “Weeping in Waco” as it is now called. I also learned that this was a rather unusual experience, hence its protracted and rather severe nature. It was more austere than a single death—it seems that a whole movement had died.

The movement—or lack thereof—was in fact the defeat and death to end a string of victories by the once mighty Lady Bears. Wait, you ask: Who are they and have they died?

The “Lady Bears” are not especially ladies and they definitely are not bears. Both labels are to be taken metaphorically. A “lady” is a woman of good family or social position, quite refined, the correlative of a “gentleman”.

These “ladies” play basketball and try to maim and damage other “ladies”. In this particular instance, the opponents were metaphorically stampeding herds of cows, with long horns, trying to impale and disfigure the Bears who opposed them.

Our “ladies” are not like that: ours are, metaphorically, bears, who this night played more like ladybugs or ladybirds. Bears should be overbearing and convincing beasts of prey who bore into their adversaries. As their coach, Ms Milky, reportedly said, “We got punched in the mouth and they punched us and kept on punching us.” Ms Milky, it should be noted, often comes out with words of wisdom like these for the press.

The Bears did come out of hibernation late in the game and then made a charge, as if sniffing bluebearies in the wind. But it came to naught as the female bovine animals, acting like the cowgirls they were, shot from long range at a basket suspended from the ceiling and scored repeatedly.

As Ms Milky so poignantly said, “You gotta come out the gate swinging” and instead her Bears had acted like cave women coming to a Neanderthal party—plenty of muscle but no finesse.

And so the wailing had actually begun much earlier than I had heard it. It had been low and fairly indistinct—Ms Milky had started it herself. “It is miraculous that we got into the game at all,” she was overheard saying, “being that we be kinda soft lately”. The wailing then resounded up and down the Pecos River, into McLane Stadium, and up and down I-35. It was as loud as the 18 wheelers going to and from Mexico. It continued all night.

People who wail in Papua New Guinea often decorate their bodies with various sorts of clay and wear mourning beads.

I’m going down to Magnolia Market and try to get some for Ms. Milky. I know it will be hard to decorate a Bear with clay and beads, but she needs to try.


A well-known musician and  devoted follower of the Lady Bears is said to have composed this requiem in honor of the team:

Weep no more my Lady Bears
Oh weep no more today
We will sing one song for my old alma mater
For the old bears and bovines far away
They shoot no more by the glimmer of the water
The night went by like an arrow to the heart
With sorrow where once had been delight
The time has come when the game must start
Then my old Lady Bears will fight

(All sales proceeds will go the Alumni Association—which one we are not sure!)

Karl Franklin
February 2017