Readin' and Writin' and 'Rithmetic . . . and So Much More

As I mentioned in an earlier blog some of my most vivid memories of “back-to-school” season was Friday night high school games with my dad. To begin with, if your father was not a high school and/or college football player, you have my sympathies!  My father’s body bore many scars from his football days but the most visible was an immovable, grotesquely shaped finger which had been broken so many times they just casted it in one crooked position. I mention this because he was Exhibit “A” for the parents of our friends who considered playing football. The mothers (and often the fathers, as well) would drag these potential players over to our house and demand that they look at his hand and have my dad repeat the “war stories” of his playing days. Now I think that his enthusiasm as he recounted his glory days probably outshone his message of bodily injury!

In any event, although we did not live in the same town where he had grown up, we did live about 4 blocks from the stadium where the local high school played. During the fall, on the Fridays that the team played at home, my dad and I walked over to the stadium together. We always walked hand-in-hand and I was thrilled to have his undivided attention as I told him about my latest adventures. I was quite the tomboy and an enthusiastic student so I always had lots of stories.

Our town was small enough that “everybody knew everybody” so once we got to the game I had to share him with the other dads whose sons were actually on the field. At the time I thought it was perfectly normal that he had to explain what their sons were doing in every play and why the play was called. I thought it was by pure magic that he could call the play before the snap.  When I learned enough to know that it was the lineup of the players that determined what was about to happen I was a little disappointed. Meanwhile, the cheerleaders were not yet Olympic gymnasts. They really led the spectators in unison to “Lean to the left, Lean to the right, Stand up – sit down, Fight Fight Fight.” The concession stand had plenty of sodas, popcorn and candy and I consumed enough to feel slightly sick on the walk home.  Oh, the walk home. Now it was my father’s turn to talk.  He relived his football memories – both the football game we had just watched and similar events from the days when he played. Life was good. By the end of the game there was almost always at least one house in the neighborhood that had a fire burning. That distinct fragrance inhaled with autumn-cooled air evokes a sense of peaceful excitement that has lasted decades.  I love back-to-school – sigh.

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