Friday, October 13, 2006

Four Bucks of Hometown Goodness

I only ever recall going to one high school football game growing up. At that time, our high school didn't have a football field on the campus--all games were held at Autzen Stadium. And it was usually cold and wet. I don't really recall anything about the game except that Leech drove (she was a year older than I) and that we huddled under a too-thin blanket, trying to stay warm in the Eugene drizzle.

But this isn't Eugene. And the high school has it's own quaint football field with covered bleachers. Cars lined both sides of the street and a very full parking lot. CrafterKat and I were amazed at the turn out. I whispered, "Welcome to our future."

CrafterKat found a place to park, handed off a cell phone to Critter, and got in line to pay our football admission. Four dollars a person. I had to blink. That's it? Teens and pre-teens milled around the track oblivious to the game but extremely excited to be 1) away from their parents, 2) outside at night, and 3) socializing.

We found an empty bleacher and spread out blankets. The stands were filled with young families and proud fathers. Boys with saber-long Pixie Sticks poked their siblings. Young girls wore Gladiator shirts and smeared mascara under their eyes to imitate NFL players. Moms sold fresh corn on the cobb to raise money for the graduation party. It felt like the whole small town had turned out for this event--it was quite obvious that people who didn't have high school kids were attending the game just to have a family excursion.

Within two minutes our Gladiators had intercepted the ball and scored a touchdown. The crowd went wild and I admit I was a little misty-eyed. We bought a flashing football pin and a licorice rope, clapped for the thick-legged cheerleaders, and cheered on the team.

The night was warm for October and stunningly clear. There was a small hometown feel to this event that I've never experienced. Perhaps it was the high school band playing renditions of Ease on Down The Road and the Magnum P.I. theme. Or the announcer thanking the small businesses like Uncle Al's car mechanic shop, a family dentistry, and a concrete cutter for their financial donations. Or the local Harley motorcycle club dropping off the Senior Gladettes for the half-time dance.

No drizzle. No wind. CrafterKat and I huddled under the blanket and soaked in small town warmth.