• You already bought your ticket

    When I was in junior high school – called middle school here – and during my freshman year of high school, I lived in a small city in Wisconsin.
    It was still small enough that there was only one public high school, though it was growing and had split into two campuses. “South Campus,” the new complex that was meant for juniors and seniors, was the center of civic life in that city of 30,000.
    There was a beautiful auditorium where we went to hear the local symphony orchestra and to see high school plays and talent shows. There were travelogues on Sunday afternoons that my mother and I attended. I attribute at least some of my wanderlust to those amateur Super 8 movies and slide shows.

    There was an indoor pool and when the thermometer read -3 degrees F.
    outside, we could pay 15 cents and swim laps, wearing fetching swim caps.
    We didn’t go there in the summer, though, as there were a couple of city
    pools that City Parks filled in the spring and we could get enough vitamin
    D there to last us through the dreary winters, sunning ourselves like seals on the concrete deck around the pool, chatting with our friends.

    In the winter, when the Fox River froze over, we went ice skating.

    In the huge exhibition building at South Campus, there were boat shows
    and “white elephant” sales. When the annual Symphony Fair was scheduled, my friends and I would go try our luck at balloon-popping games and spend our babysitting money on silly things and fudgesicles, regardless of the weather outside. Hard to believe, but we could buy a ticket to watch the senior prom – and they actually promenaded, a stately march at the beginning of the dance; the girls in frothy dresses and the boys in rented tuxedos as the loudspeakers played a recording of “Twelfth of Never.”

    There was a basketball court in the exhibition hall. There were two tiers of bleachers for the fans – one on the floor and one on a mezzanine. On Friday nights in the winter, we could go there and cheer the team on, win or lose, and the stands were full. In the fall, the whole town (or so it seemed) turned out for football games at the old campus downtown, under the lights, where on old rickety wooden bleachers we waved our pompoms and ate hot dogs, our breath a cloud in the frosty air. Halftime entertainment was the high school band and the visitors’ bleachers were as big as the home side. And as full.

    I went to the Breakers’ boys soccer game a couple of weeks ago, at the beautiful new Breaker Stadium. It was the game against Carmel, and I expected there to be a crowd. But the spectators could have been seated in one section of bleachers. There were more vocal Carmel fans than there were from Pacific Grove. It was an exciting game even though Carmel got a winning goal in the last minute and gave the Breakers their first league defeat. The boys played their hearts out, and virtually the only people there to watch were their parents.

    I see the photos fans send me of the boys and girls basketball games, and the stands are empty. Why is that? It’s great, free entertainment and a chance to see friends, so why don’t more townspeople turn out? I know that people come out for the Shoe game because I can hear them from my house four blocks away, the loudspeakers picking up the crowd noise and broadcasting it all over the neighborhood. So why are there not more fans for la crosse and basketball and all the other sports?

    Come on, Pacific Grove. Whether you have children in the school system – and most of us don’t – remember that tired adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” You voted for that stadium, so you already bought your ticket.

    Go see some good ol’ smalltown high school sports and cheer on the next generation. Buy a hot dog and a cup of cocoa. And while you’re there, see if there’s a play or a concert or a dance concert scheduled and make plans to see it, too. We have outstanding thespians and musicians here in The Last Hometown. See you there.

    – Marge Ann Jameson

    P.S. If you resolved to get fit with the New Year, walk up to Breaker
    Stadium and take a brisk lap or two around that wonderful all-weather track. The adult soccer games are fun, too, and they’re paying a fee to use the stadium.
    You already paid.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 27, 2012

    Topics: Snarkin' With Marge


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