Autumn is South Texas is not like autumn in New York, or Michigan, or even Oklahoma. In September we may get a cool front, before the month is gone, but sometimes we sweltered in the heat until October.
By then the scenery was brown, or tan, with blowing sand and dust. Most of the things growing had turned brittle and except for the late peanut crops, which were green, everything was brown, the corn had been gathered in, the brittle stalks piled up for fodder for the cattle. We looked expectantly to the north all the time, watching for the dark blue “front” that would blow in and bring cool weather.
By the late 1940’s, me, and my sister, Margaret, and brother, Jr., were all riding the school bus to Poth High School. The one thing we looked forward to was the Friday night football game. As in most Texas towns, it is one of the most exciting social events of the year. The school being so small, we only had a six-man football team. If you haven’t ever seen a six-man football game, you haven’t lived! They are probably the most exciting games in the world. Probably because there are so few men on the field, it is fast and exciting. The scores are usually pretty big. More offense than defense.
Poth’s football field was right behind the high school. Every one walked, or ran, up and down the sidelines, to watch the game. The schools didn’t have bands, but we usually had a pep squad with drums. We even had cheerleaders, or as we called them, “Pep Squad Leaders”. I was a snare drummer. So was my sister, Margaret. I loved playing that drum. Of course, the more popular girls became leaders, just like now. Gold and blue was our colors, and I still remember the feel of the gold silk long sleeved blouses we had one year, with our navy blue skirts. Of course, the skirts were long, to our knees. I felt so good in that uniform. We wore loafers and navy or gold socks.
All week, we practiced marching and cheering. This was after school. Then came Friday afternoon. We didn’t have to ride the bus home that day, because we had to stay in town for the game. If we went home, we may not get back in time, since Daddy was working and was always late coming in from the fields. They may not get to town in time for the game to start.
I would stay in town with one of my friends. Sometimes it was Jennie Lee, sometimes, Gay, or Anna Marie, or Crystal. They were the only girls in my class who lived in town. I would walk home with them, and I loved Fridays most of all. To stay in town and go home with a friend, and just lay on the bed and gossip and talk, and giggle and laugh, and maybe walk down to Schneider’s Café, to get some French fries, and a coke, and hang out…. walk around town to see who else was hanging out, and then go back and start getting ready for the game. I could feel the excitement in the town.
Finally, we were dressed and walked back up to the school, where all the pep squad girls were assembling together. Margaret had probably gone home with Margie Stavinoha, too, and they came back up about the same time. The boys were on the field going through pre-game warm-ups, and we could see the pickups and cars driving up to the field, parking right next to the field, where the occupants could sit on the backs of the pickups and watch the game.
I could smell the hot dogs cooking over at the concession stand. Kids running and squealing and playing tag. It was Friday night in South Texas! The sounds of the snare drums and the girls starting their chants and cheers, along with the shouts of the boys and the coaches, and the whistles…. made an exciting night for a 15 year old brown headed, dark eyed, country girl.
Finally, the coin toss came, and the game started. By the end of the night, my throat was so sore from all the screaming and yelling. The game went back and forth, from one end of the field to the other, because six-man football is a fast game! I could see most of the men, running up and down the field, trying to keep up with the plays. Looking down the sidelines, I saw Mother and Daddy, with my younger brothers and sisters. They had gotten to the game after the first quarter, but at least they came. Some Friday’s they didn’t get to come.
That is, until my brothers, Jr. (Lawrence), Bob, and Donny all began to play football. Daddy loved football and even played when he went to Floresville High School, and my brothers including my younger brother, Sammy, all played high school football, and Daddy was in his glory. He tried to make every game the boys played in. He was proud of them.
At half time, the pep squad marched on the field, and to this day, I can still remember how to play the beats that I played on that drum. I never played the drum again, but after 50 years it is still in my head. I don’t think I went to many games after my brothers quit playing football in Poth, in the early fifties.
But I still remember “Pirates Forever! Hail Gold and Blue! You know forever and always, we’ll be true to you. So fight, fight, fight, fight boys! Show honor due! To the Pirates Forever, hail to thee, the Gold and Blue!” How come you never forget things like that? I sang that for my grandchildren! They laughed, because they couldn’t believe I still knew that song!
Going to the away games were even more fun. The best part was after the games; we could ride back to Poth, on the same bus with the football players. That is when the guys could sit with the girls, and if you had a boy friend, you could sit with him. Most of them did. Crystal and I would most always sit together and talk. Sometimes, I would sit with Jennie, or Dorothy Ann, or Anna.
If we had won, it was fun and we were all laughing and cheering. If we had lost, it was quiet and not much talking. When the game was over, it was time to go back out to the farm. I would ride back with Daddy and Mother and the rest of the family. If they hadn’t come to the game, one of the teachers or coaches would take us home, when they took the players home.
One night, as we drove back out to the farm, the dust flying in the moonlight, I felt a cool breeze blowing in the bus window. When I got out of the bus, I felt it! A Norther had blown in! Was that a drop of rain I felt? I could even smell rain in the air. As I looked up and saw the dark clouds scudding across the moon, it was like a promise. There was a change coming.
Next Friday night, the Poth Pirates would win, and the pep squad would learn a new song, and I would go back to school on Monday. I looked at the dark house, and saw a light in one window. Everyone was asleep but Mother. She was probably up reading. I could hear the low of the cows, in the pen, and a coyote howled in the dark. Margaret and I shivered in the cool night air, and ran into the house. Winter was soon coming, and then it would be spring, and then summer again. It was autumn in South Texas.