It’s homecoming time in Texas, the time of year where you should be wearing a sweater and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, but instead it’s so hot you have to wear fanny shorts and suck on frozen pickle juice to avoid a heat stroke.
It’s the time of year for class reunions where there will be a certain awkwardness because Facebook has outed all the liberals and serious Candy Crush addicts, and everyone there will know who you are.
It’s the time of year when navigating your way around Hawk Stadium requires an absolute lack of personal boundaries or aversion to the sound of bells, specifically those attached to homecoming mums. It’s so crowded at the homecoming games that I understand it’s possible for children to be conceived with less physical contact than you will accidentally receive on your way to the fried corn on the cob wagon.
But even more noteworthy, it is a time of tradition; and rekindling of friendships; and of understanding change and reliving memories that shaped our lives.
You might notice the fact that the school you walked a mile to get to each day – uphill and in blizzard conditions – has changed.
Yes, the kids have it good these days, with a beautiful updated campus and a brand-new auditorium, gym, stadiums and more. They now carry their schoolbooks inside of a freakin’ iPad and enjoy stadium seating on the home side at basketball and volleyball games.
That mile is getting longer and the snow deeper, isn’t it?
But before you start shaking your fist like the old codger you swore to never become, think about this:
When the lever is thrown Friday night to turn on the lights at Hawk Stadium, you will be home.
You will hear the familiar voice of Robert Wilcox, who has announced Hawk football games more than 65 years. You will hear your fight song and your school song; and you will not remember way too many names of people who have fond memories with you, but you will nod and smile like you do remember.
You may see turf in the place of the real grass you remember from your glory days, but there is a player on the field with the same drive and love for the game you had when you played.
Like me, you may remember sitting in those stands as a student . . . then a parent of a player, cheerleader or band member, and now as a nice return to all the goodness about small towns, including the fried corn on the cob the FFA sells at the home games. Mostly because it is home, but also because it gives us a human contact social media will never replace, and shouldn’t.
I fully expect it to be scientifically proven someday that the only cure for Facebook will be Texas homecoming games, which will give us a rather cool tourist industry. Mums would make great souvenirs and hot canned cheese poured over nacho chips from Sam’s and sprinkled with jalapeño slices grown in hell will be a destination favorite for people who still actually want to talk to other people face-to-face.
And that’s not all. There will be the annual bonfire Thursday night, Homecoming parade Friday afternoon; and Saturday promises a Whoop-T-Do, alumni activities and reunions. Add to that the many great restaurants and shops in town, and I smell the perfect weekend.
We will all be at the largest community gathering of the year where politics, religion and Candy Crush don’t matter. What matters is tradition and respect, and it’s already here.
Iowa Park’s defacto community center