Mobile, AL (WKRG)
The University of South Alabama takes on the San Diego State University Aztecs tonight during a big game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. On the sidelines will be a lifelong Aztecs fan who also served aboard the USS Alabama 70 years ago. Tom Ables is no slouch. With cane in hand, he makes his way to the battleship during a Saturday morning tour.
“Believe it or not, you may not think it looking at me but I stand on the sidelines with the team,” said Ables while making his walk. A month after he left the deck here on the Alabama in 1946 he enrolled as SDSU and attended his first Aztecs football game. With more than 700 games under his belt. He’s the heart and soul of the football program.
“He’s inspirational, he’s in his 90’s and he still stands on the sidelines and watches every game,” said Aztecs Hall of Famer and Mobile native Pete Inge. Saturday he was climbing up and crawling through the ship he once called home.
“Awesome, just like today, when I see it, it still makes me emotional,” said Ables. One of the highlights is a tiny weird little coffee maker that taught Tom Ables an important lesson about coffee. Don’t drink it if you know how it’s made
“Anybody have a dirty skivvy shirt?” asked Ables with a smile as he turned to the people who followed him to the engine room. “That’s what we did; put a shirt over it, there’s a wire retainer, crank it back and forth and that was coffee.” Tom Ables also recorded an oral history of his time on the ship–part of the battleship’s continuing mission to preserve the stories of the people who served.