“You worked in the watermelon patches,
chicken yards, or turkey pens, or shaking pea-
nuts,” Streety continued. “You were making
enough money to buy your school clothes and
go back to school.”
Gilbreth and Streety attended Southwest
Texas State in San Marcos and began coaching
“My first job was in Freer, Texas,” Gilbreth
said. “We were just married and we were a long
way from home and were learning. It was a real
experience. I still can hear from some of the
“In Poteet, I got an education in coaching.
The town was divided. You learn about how your
school board and education gets into coaching.
I got to go to Cotulla from there and it was just
a different world.”
Streety’s wife, Janie, was working on her
degree at Southwest Texas when he began
coaching at the junior high in San Marcos. He
went to New Braunfels High as the JV coach
before becoming the head coach in 1974.
“It was a great place and great job,” Streety
said. “I just didn’t think I could stay there. I origi-
nally thought about being an administrator, but
I began to think that a change would be a good
thing. The Madison job opened up. We had
played Madison in the first round in 1990 and
I was impressed with what I saw. I just thought
it was a good fit. Twenty three fast years later
another change came along.”
Gilbreth left Smiley before Streety went to
high school, but their families were familiar.
“What I remember most is Buster’s dad,”
Streety said. “He used to cook chickens on
Saturdays. I could smell those chickens cooking
Gilbreth coached at San Antonio Kennedy
before moving to Cuero, where he would have
BY MIKE FORMAN
CARS AND TRUCKS PASS BY THE OLD Red and White grocery on U.S. Highway 87 as the sun begins to peak through the clouds on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. A few patrons enter the store but seem not
to notice the two men seated at a table toward
the rear. Eagle Ford shale has brought an influx
of wealth and activity to the surrounding area,
but not much has changed in Smiley.
The Gonzales County town with less than 600
residents doesn’t have a stoplight. The high
school closed after the school district consolidated with nearby Nixon over three decades ago.
The Smiley Bantams are nothing more than a
distant memory, but their legacy in high school
football is etched in the record book.
Buster Gilberth and Jim Streety combined to
coach for 76 years and claimed 567 victories.
But neither has forgotten his roots and they welcome the chance to return to their hometown.
“It was probably the greatest place in the
world at the time we were here,” Gilbreth said.
“We were barefooted and in overalls and we
would run and play. If we wanted to go the railroad yard and climb in a boxcar, we did that. We
could go up to the old gin and climb on a bales
of cotton. We could go anywhere we wanted
because the town was small and we knew everybody and everybody knew us.
“That was a bad thing,” Gilbreth added with
a smile. “You get in trouble, you just didn’t get
away with it and you couldn’t get away with any-
thing. It was the only place we knew. We didn’t
have a lot, but we had good parents and they
took care of us.”
Gilbreth will turn 84 in July. He is retired and
living in San Antonio with his wife, Frances. His
last coaching stop was at Fort Bend Clements
Streety, 70, stepped down as the head coach
at San Antonio Madison in February, to become
the athletic director for the New Braunfels
school district, where he began his coaching
career. He and wife, Janie, continued to reside
in New Braunfels while he coached at Madison.
Streety’s brother resides in Smiley, and his sister and her husband retired on the site of their
old home east of town.
“For the boys, everybody played all the sports
because that’s all there was to do,” Streety
said. “There was football, basketball and track
and you went from one season to the next.
Buster Gilbreth, now 84 and
retired from coaching, has
never forgotten the time he
spent with his players.