Oct

12

Homecoming, from Bo Keely

October 12, 2016 |

 The thrill of coming home has never changed.

Homecoming is an annual tradition in the United States. People, towns, and particularly high schools come together, usually in early October, to welcome back alumni and former residents. It is built around a central event, such as a banquet, parade, and, most often, a game of football.

The field lights drew me from deep in the desert where I'd been hiking all day. I stared long and hard and was taken back to my last visit seven years ago at the Blythe, CA high school homecoming. I was a newly fired sub-teacher at the high school – the most treasured by the students and teachers echoed their evaluations – after dismissal for trying to stop a playground war. In California a teacher is expected to stand back and let kids clobber each other.

Why not? I drove toward the field lights. I was curious to discover how the rules of engagement had changed.

The last time, in about 2009, I had sat on the opposing side bleachers to avoid the embarrassment of the kids standing and cheering when I entered the barbed wire perimeter, way out by the cotton and cow pastures, onto the sidelines. It was 90 degrees at 7pm at the kickoff, and the opposing team bench warmers sat after the pledge of allegiance as the kicker teed up the ball. A hissing and chugging behind me drew my attention from the field, as the city insect fogging machine bumped along directly behind the rival team bleacher and fogged them with insecticide. Tackles and guards puked, a cheerleader fell to the ground in convulsions, and hot, dead bugs rained on the visiting families' hair like Briylcream.

By the time the visiting team recovered from the exterminator, they were down 13-0 and never recovered. The Blythe Yellow Jackets won the homecoming.

But now, seven years later, a new stadium had been built with a perimeter chain link fence that prevented the fogging truck from entering. Brawley high school, my new home, was the visiting team. Clear headed, the Wild Cats took the ball to the goal posts every time in the first quarter, holding the Yellow Jackets to zero yardage as the first quarter gun shot. Final score, as Brawley started substituting everyone but the water boy from the bench: Brawley 35 – Blythe 0.

Blythe had lost its cheating edge.

The student body had changed dramatically since I taught in every room on campus for almost ten years. They were overweight, listless, and lacked the usual spark in desert kids' eyes. They were soulless fans.

It was good to leave for my new home.


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  1. William Hotchkin on October 25, 2016 5:15 pm

    Steve, Jason Hotchkin my son is moving to Weston, Conn. Needs a real estate person. Can your friend Victor put someone on to him. His phone number is 717 357-9700. jrhotchkin@gmail.com . Jason.hotchkin@midlanticmachinery.com . He’s being transfered to NY for LaGuardia project and others. He’s a Komatsu satelite control expert. Wife, 3 kids, pay range +/- 100,000.00 Same employer, different Ehrbar is the New York side. Call me 864 325-7020 or e-mail williamhotchkin@netscape.net. Our family is origionally from Guilford.(1740) Matt almos go a Yale assistant soccer coach job, to bump him to a Division I job. Thanks

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