In January of 1972 my family took a road trip to see the University of Alabama play football against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. I think my Great Uncle had gotten tickets through his contacts at the phone company where he worked. Mom prepared for the trip by getting find-a-word puzzles, books, snacks, and all those other necessities Moms are so good at remembering. She knew I'd be bored to death on the car ride and she was right. I think I read some stupid learning to read book about a horse named Bessie about a hundred times. I guess we didn't take that big ole Pontiac Catalina we had for so many years, because I don't remember lying on the "hat rack" and watching the clouds that day (a Pontiac had to have been the best car in the world for a kid who liked to watch clouds and stars out of the back window). Instead, I recall being in a seat just like the poor kids of today who are forced to miss out on some of the finer pleasures of growing up. Anyway...
When we arrived in Miami we were welcomed by my Grandmother's Sister, my Uncle, a bunch of cousins, and other family friends. The whole lot of us went to see the Orange Bowl Parade, of which I remember very little. I think there were clowns but I wouldn't even guarantee that. When the tailing fire truck passed we piled in behind with a mob of people and followed the parade back to an area close to our cars.
On the day of the game we road a bus to the stadium. I remember talk of how nice it was to be able to pass right by cars which were stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. Looking back now, I assume the tickets & bus ride were probably part of a package deal of the type given out as a company bonus. I'm not sure if the game was really slow, or if I just had the attention span of a 5 year old, but I recall it being very boring and disappointing. As best as I can tell that'd be about right, as historical records indicate my home state's team lost 38-6. Riding in a car for what seemed like an eternity, just to sit through a losing football effort may well be what started my interest in Auburn, my home state's other well known University.
The most memorable part of the trip was the football party held at my Aunt and Uncle's house. I wasn't especially close to my cousins whom I'd hardly met (since they were so physically distant for the time) and I was hanging close to Mom and Dad. My Uncle attempted to make me comfortable and offered something from a plate of appetizers. "Here you go, son. Wouldn't you like to try an hors d'oeurve?" My response was one which our family has laughed about for years, since it cut right to the bone of his fancy sounding offer. If there were a way to bottle the innocence and sincerity of an 5 year old child I'd love to have a few cases of this to use on University professors. I answered, "What is it? Looks like potted meat and crackers to me."
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