Friday, November 2, 2007

Yea, Purple!

Yea, Purple!
8.5" x 11"
"Yeaaaaaaa, Purple! Yeaaaaaa, Gray! Yea, Trojans! Yea! Yea! Yea!"
Our cheerleaders, all 4 of them, lined up on the stage in the Calvert High School auditorium on Friday afternoons in the fall. We sat in the wooden chairs, lined up in rows, and followed the traditional yells, that most people in town knew and had participated in when they were in school.
Football players, teachers, and students from first grade through 12th grade sat out in the audience and followed the cheerleaders' directions. The band didn't play, there wasn't a skit or entertainment. Sometimes, the bass drum and a snare drum might be used during the pep rally. We just yelled for the boys who were going to do battle later that night for the dear old Trojans.
We yelled things like "Orange crush, lemon ice, hit em once, hit em twice" ; "Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar"; and solemnly sang the school song, "Cheer for the purple and gray" (or as it came out, "cheer for the pulrp n gray".
The cheerleaders were dressed in long satin circle skirts, made of purple and gray gores. The matching blouses had balloon, long sleeves. Each cheerleader wore rolled over white socks, (with rubber bands to hold them up) and saddle shoes. They had purple, or some years, white, megaphones with a silhouette of a Trojan, and the cheerleader's name painted on them. Those, and, sometimes, purple and gray pom poms, were reserved for the football field. The head cheerleader might have her's on stage to announce yells. The others might just keep their's in a row by the lights at the foot of the stage. Fashions at the time dictacted that the hem of skirts should be 1 1/2 inches above the socks. Later, that changed to a space of 2 1/2 inches above the socks. At the time, it was a bit on the risque side, that women were showing so much of their legs!
"Just wait," people would say. "The styles will change and skirts will come back down again."
Little did they know that mini skirts and bare tummies, plunging necklines and such were on the way.
The circle skirts swirled in unison as the cheerleaders spun around. They poofed out, then fell, when the girls jumped in the air and landed on their feet.
We would get almost through a pep rally, when someone, sometimes the cheerleaders, would start singing, "Beer, beer for old CHS. Oh, lordy, we're such a mess." And, when the teachers would realize what was being sung, they would come out into the audience and try to stop the singing. They announced, insisted, pleaded, explained, while some kids tried to sing, or giggled at how upset the teachers were. Mrs. Brannon explained to us that the song promoted drinking and we must not act that way, especially at school. I guess some of the same parents who insisted that dancing, card playing, smoking, and drinking, were wicked, got to the board, the superintendent, and the teachers, and told us to cut that stuff out.
It didn't work too well, all the time, and the teachers would yell at us. Someone might sing it softly until everyone joined in. Or, if we couldn't manage that, we would wait until we were outside, possibly in the street on our way home after school, or at the football game that night, and then sing it over and over, at the top of our lungs.
I would crack up laughing when the school where I was teaching, in later years, changed the school song from the very traditional song they had for years. I guess they were trying to keep the kids happy. Everyone was assembled in the gym when the band started playing, "Beer, beer for ole CHS". I had to turn around and stifle my laughter. "How could anyone have that song as a serious school song", I thought. I had quit singing because I didn't want anyone to hear my croaky voice, but, in my head I was hearing, "Beer, beer for old CHS" as sung at Calvert High. I even mouthed the words to it since no one knew the new song, yet. A little rebellion, I guess.
Maybe they had never heard the song the way that I always heard it! It certainly wasn't a song that glorified the school and pledged undying love and loyalty to the school.
Our parents and older generations had sung the same songs. They didn't see anything wrong with it either. But, whatever the teachers said, we had to do. Grandpa, who was on the school board, just listened when I told him about how unreasonable those old teachers were being to us poor little kids, with no comment. After football season, it would all die down and we forgot the restrictions until the next year.
One time, when a cheerleader or two were out sick, I was asked to be a substitute cheerleader and so I went onstage for the pep rally. It was fun to swirl around, and do all the moves that I had watched for years. We had played cheerleader and practiced with the elected cheerleaders, not to mention watching them for years. So, the yells and moves were all familiar. That part was easy. But, being a shy kid, getting up in front of everyone made it hard to breathe, and I felt really hot. I took a deep breath as everyone was leaving the auditorium. At last, that was over! And I just had to play in the band that night, not stand in front of everyone and lead cheers.
Several high school boys came up to the stage after the pep rally.
"Good job!" one said. "You were really good," another said. "Have you thought of running for cheerleader?" "I think you should run for cheerleader. I sure would vote for you!" were some other comments. I just said "Thank you." I was just happy that I could get out of there.
I should have tried those things, as I look back now. But it was hard enough to have to recite in class or to have to get up in front of a crowd with the band. At least, in the band, I was in the middle of a lot of other people and hoped that no one would see or hear me!
We left the pep rallies, with the football boys going off to get ready for the game, and to eat a meal prepared by the homemaking girls, if they were going out of town. Cheerleaders went home to get ready for the game that night. Band members gathered at the band hall to get their music, lyres, and have the band director check uniforms before the game. Spectators started gathering early while the PTA ladies readied the concession stand. Rows of cars parked on the outside of the fence in order to get a good viewing spot. Daddy and other spectators would gather between the shrubs and the outside of the fence, so they could watch the game without having to pay for a ticket. We only lived 1/2 block away, so we could just listen to the game announcer and the crowd from my great-aunt's porch, or just go out in the yard, or even open a window. Daddy liked to go to the games, but he would just as soon stand behind the end zone and watch, and talk about the game with men.
If you have a favorite team, I hope that they win tonight at the big Friday night game. One of our local teams played last night, so I hope all those people will go downtown to the Art Step event!
I have a couple of paintings there. One is the larger acrylic painting of "Deco Street", and the other is the smaller watercolor of the farm house. I sure hope that we don't have to bring them back home after the auction! It's a beautiful night here, clear and cool, so, hopefully, a lot of people will turn out and buy, while they are having fun.
Thanks for passing this on to others who might be interested.

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