I have some pleasant memories of high school football games. None of mine have anything to do with sitting in a dark corner of the parking lot and making out with a girl named Marilyn in the backseat of a ’55 Chevy while being attacked by famished mosquitos.
This memory is about our high school principal, a guy named Norby Weiss. He was a wonderful man and had empathy for hung over students on any given morning and also was a man who knew how to teach, young men in particular, important lessons in life. He relayed the story you are about to hear to me several years after the incident.
All of our high-school football games in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s were held on Friday nights and since traveling long distances was sometimes needed the games didn’t start until 7:00 p.m. Because they started near or after sunset they were always played under the glare of lights.
One wonderful sunny Thursday afternoon in mid-fall while Mr. Weiss was substituting for an absent teacher during an afternoon Study-Hall four senior boys, none of them football players nor the Valedictorian type, cornered him and explained that they would not be at school on Friday because they had a day of fishing planned at one of the crystal clear lakes near Crosby, Minnesota and since Melrose was going to be Crosby’s opponent in a varsity football game the same day they were going to double their fun by spending the better part of a day fishing and then go to the football game.
Mr. Weiss advised them against ignoring their studies, something they more than likely had done since first grade, and also mentioned that he didn’t think they should show up at the scheduled football game since there could be dire consequences for them.
This was perceived as a threat to the four buckets of bricks masquerading as students. “Oh, don’t worry about it Mr. Weiss, we all can take care of ourselves, and my Ma has already said she’d pack us plenty of food since we don’t know if Crosby has any restaurants,” replied one.
“Okay, fellas. If that’s what you’re going to do, you’ll do it no matter what I say. I just don’t think you’ll be seeing the football game and I won’t know if you’ll be there or not since I won’t be going,” said Norby.
True to their word the four did not show up on Friday when the morning school bell rang. They were more than likely fishing when Mr. Weiss announced, to all attending students, over the school public address system that the football game for that evening in Crosby had been canceled about noon on Thursday since the lights at the playing field were on the blink and the game would be rescheduled at a later date.
Monday came and the four downtrodden boys were ushered into Mr. Weiss’ office about their absence on Friday and what they guessed would be some sort of punishment. That wasn’t Norby’s style. “How’d the game go Friday?” he asked the four nimrods.
“Can we talk about the fishing?” was one meek reply followed by, “why didn’t you tell us the game was canceled?”
“For one you never asked, and I did tell you that I didn’t think you’d be seeing a football game and I assume I was right,” said Norby. “I think you wasted a lot of gas to go fishing more than a hundred miles away since we have some very good lakes full of fish near here.” Norby added.
“You could have told us in clearer English and missing the football game was better than me not missing the deer that jumped in front of us on the way back up by Long Prairie,” replied the driver. “You know that old ’41 Ford I have doesn’t have the brightest headlights in the world and I busted one out when I hit that deer. It was a long drive home with one intermittent headlight on those dark roads and the four of us had to work hard in the dark for about two hours to bend the fender away from the tire so we could limp back home.”
“Bobby, Ed, Tom, Ralph, no matter how I would have told you, you wouldn’t have understood anyway since I believe you are all D or lower students as far as English goes. And by the way how did the fish taste?” asked Norby.
Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.Profile
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