Exemplar of Character……….#66 (the 50’s)

Gary at the game

It’s not an aroma,  a scent,  or smell,  it’s more than an odor that can frequents public transportation and if you add twenty-five high school football players who have had a prior workout,  it’s an experience.   Key System,  the city’s public transportation company  provided a means for students to ride to school by adding extra buses and also provided charter buses for school activities.    A designated bus charter for a local Oakland Athletic League football game may have included as many as four coaches,  one for the team and others for the pep club , cheerleaders, and those residual students desiring to attend.   Kick-off  time for all O.A.L. football games was between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m., just enough time for a Castlemont students to journey across town for the away games, and like most school athletic activities they were for the students with few parents in attendance.

Capuchino High School was positioned across the bay in San Bruno and was a high school football team powerhouse.   The discipline school  was a member of the Mid-Peninsula League, which was composed of seven schools situated from San Francisco  to San Jose.   Capuchino was ranked the 2nd best high school team in California and The Castlemont Knights were scheduled to challenge the Mustangs  in unusual night game across the bay in San Bruno.

Coach Stu Carter

Gary position as sports editor and staff photographer of the Ye Castle Crier, Castlemonts weekly newspaper enabled him to take advantage of the football team’s transportation on out of town games,  accompanying the Knights on the their charter bus.  Mounting the Key System transport, clipboard in hand,  toting the schools ancient Graflex speed graphic and a Kodak brownie flash 11, this occasion would be a first in photographing the team during an actual out of town game in action.  The reporter have already made a  decision  to turn down any request to run the down marker or chart the teams stats as in the past.  As the bus embarked from the school he was noticeably aware of  something different about this excursion, a quietness, hushed tones prevailing aboard the bus, this wasn’t the team he knew.   Also aboard were many junior varsity players to augment the twenty-five member varsity and also in attendance was J.V. Coach, Tom  “Tank”  Tancredy.   Gary’s concern about the lack of enthusiasm was building when Coach Carter stood to address the team and with a minimal number of words, the players and game plan came to life.

Castlemont Pepsters

Gary watched as the Knights in uniform accessed the field end-zone, preceded  by the pep-rallying cheerleading pompom group,  cascading toward visiting team side of the grid-iron in front of the small but ardent  group of Castlemont supporters.  Suddenly a cacophonous sound and the celebrated Capuchino Marching Band entered the field.   Gary reflecting, the only school marching band he had ever witnessed at Castlemont was the ROTC band accompanying The Corps on the drill field.   Directly behind the band  followed an exceedingly number of cheerleaders  leading the throws of the Mustang team,  but instead of rallying to their perspective bench,  they proceeded to circle the field, not  once, but twice, to the accolade of their fans.  It wasn’t the action of the team that astonished the sports reporter,  it was the number of players.   Gary didn’t  count, but he estimated the number at more than forty players.   He speculated that every big oversized male athlete in the school must be a member of the football team.

Gary’s classmate Herm Hutchinson

Hutchinson in action

The game began as the cool damp night air filtered in from the bay.  Gary realized from the inception, this was no quotidian team.   The Mustang’s players physical weight was considerably more than members of the Knights and it was soon apparent, this game would be a callous contest.   The first casualty of the game wasn’t on the field,  it was on the sidelines.   Unfortunately Gary, in his role as a photographer,  wasn’t  fast enough in removing himself from a collision course with an oncoming locomotive name Herm Hutchinson.   Gary leaping aside at the last instant, avoiding direct contact,  but the speed graphic didn’t, in his haste he left it deposited in the path of destruction.  He considered switching to the Flash 11 to finish his photo project, but concluded that a clip board and the written word was safer.

A Game changer

A Game changer

Gary Rodgers

The beginning of the second half  the Mustangs leading found a new player in the game,  this performer could definitely influence the outcome.  When this uninvited competitor entered the field of play, those attending were oblivious to the competence it displayed.    A stillness prevailed as the faction moved into the pigskin arena,  a damp cold chill engendered the meteorological atmosphere.   This player,  a member of mother nature’s team would change the whole complexion of the contest,  the all-encompassing dense ground fog rolling in from the bay,  its presence obscuring the playing field visibility would be a game changer.   Castlemont was  stopped at their end of the field,  a punt was in order.   The ball rose in accession and disappeared into the fog enshrouded vault,  only to reappear,  the Mustang recipient dropping the catch and the Knights Gary Rodgers recovering the ball.   The crusading Knights scored and on the ensuing kickoff,  the advocate obscuring mist once again enveloped the ball and as before Capuchino fumbled the ball, Gary Rodgers once again recovering,  the Crusaders Herman Hutchinson adding another six.  Gary was amiss by the circumstances and remained fervent that this atmospheric settlement would continue,  but to  no avail,  the enveloping fog began lifting to its normality in the heavens and the advantage returned to the Capuchino Mustangs.

The San Bruno home team prevailed 35 to 19, but Gary concluded,  the score reflected a deprivation of points, but in reality the game was a win for all,  because it was an exemplar of character.

6 Responses to “Exemplar of Character……….#66 (the 50’s)”

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