One of the joys of living where we do is that we can hear the Winder-Barrow High School band practicing their half-time show in the evenings. Friday night home games are exciting even when we’re not in the stadium since we can hear the band throughout the evening. And, wow, does that bring back memories.
You see, all the Arnold kids were involved in either band, football, or both. Eldest brother Haase, Jr. was a sax player in the W-BHS Band while second brother Bob was a half back on the football team. Youngest brother Steve was a drummer in the band, but quarterback on the football team. His knees tell him today that he would have been better off to have stuck with the drums. I was a drummer and majorette a hundred years and many pounds ago.
Our weeks revolved around Friday nights during football season. With one or more of us involved in some aspect of our high school’s fall excitement, everything from what time Daddy closed the drug store on Fridays to what we wore to school that morning was dictated by the football schedule that night. Would we be leaving home right after school in order to make a kick-off in Rabun County? Did we have time to decorate the car? Did I have enough hair spray to reinforce my “do” against the inevitable dew of a fall Friday night in north Georgia? Frizzies and floppy hair were taboo.
When my brothers were in high school, Friday night football games were hosted on Davis Field that is now home to Russell Middle School competitions. Each home game was capped with a dance in the gym (long gone) or the cafeteria. One of the high school clubs would sponsor each event complete with decorations, punch, snacks, and chaperones. My parents did their bit more than once. I lived those Friday nights vicariously through my Barbie, Queen of the Prom game, though I was allowed to attend every now and then as the bratty little sister of whichever Arnold was being chaperoned at the time. Oh, it was exciting to see my big brothers and their friends squiring the objects of their affections to the dance each week.
By the time I got into high school and was old enough to date, we weren’t having after-the-game dances anymore. In fact, my junior year in high school was marked by no social events whatsoever since we were having some trouble making the transition from two high school communities into one. Daily turf wars were the norm and the list of expulsions and suspensions sometimes rivaled the list of students in attendance. Not a fun time. My senior year wasn’t much better, but we did get to have a Junior-Senior Prom.
During those years, a group of girls would get together after the home football games and drive over to Gigi’s Pizza on Baxter Street in Athens. Gigi’s is long gone, but they had the best pizza in the Classic City. Many a date night started or ended at Gigi’s and so did our football Fridays. There would be at least ten of us and, most likely, up to fifteen high school girls who gorged on pizza – we could do that back then and not be popping out of our jeans the next morning – and take the leftovers home to my house where my parents were apparently the only ones that could stand that many girls camped out in their living room every Friday night.
That’s when the floor show started. My father would be watching TV. when we piled into the house around midnight and we’d gather ‘round while he entertained this bunch of high school girls with jokes and stories while he batted clean up on the pizza we’d brought home. He loves cold pizza, but he got the biggest charge out of having the undivided attention of a bunch of high school girls.
Invariably, at some point during the night, one of my friends would remark, “Helen, your daddy is a scream!”
Friday nights have changed, but some things have not. He may not be doing cheers in his pajamas anymore, but my daddy is still a scream.
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.