My family in Oklahoma invited me to come enjoy a football weekend with them, when Oklahoma State University would play the University of Texas. (There’s orange and then there’s burnt orange.)
Our relationship with O.S.U. began over forty years ago when my husband was Assistant Sports Editor for the Oklahoma Journal and his assigned duties were to cover sports at Oklahoma A&M (as it was then called). Often the whole family would attend the home games in Stillwater. Now, with one grandchild holding a degree from OSU and soon to have another graduate there, I am still a fan of the Cowboys. This weekend was an opportunity for me to revisit some old memories and also to experience something new.
For the very first time in my life, I was a part of – Tailgating. This activity is rather like a potluck family reunion. Four couples were the organizers of our gathering on the OSU campus about a block from the stadium. They brought a tent, cookers, ice chests, camp chairs, folding tables and tons of food. Oh, and we weren’t the only tailgaters. Tents and cookers dotted two square blocks (at least) of that end of town. Friends and relatives of the four original couples came and went, sampling food and talking about football and life. Friends of friends and in-laws of relatives also dropped by. Children with trick or treat bags appeared. We were ready for them since more than one of us had thought to bring candy. A carload of people stopped, unloaded chairs, cake and wine. They had come to celebrate the 84th birthday of someone’s mom. I never was sure of the connection there, but we all sang our best wishes to her.
About 30 minutes before game time we walked to the stadium, covering the food, but leaving everything at the site. I was assured “No one will bother anything,” and this was true. After the game we returned, cleaned the area and loaded up before heading for home.
I had not attended a college football game in years, and had never seen Boone Pickens Stadium at OSU. Much different from the venue of the Sixties, this sports complex with three tiers and skyboxes seats 60 thousand people. And the battle between the Texas Longhorns and OSU Cowboys on Halloween night was a sell out. I loved the spirit and energy and excitement of the opening ceremonies. The “Oklahoma State University Cowboooooy Marchingband” spread across the field and the crowd was invited/urged to sing the state song, “Oklahoma.” A six-or-seven year old behind me sang out, not missing a word. Then we were invited to sing as the band played the National Anthem. This is the tradition I grew up with and I prefer it to listening to a soloist’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Again, the child sang with gusto, making up the words he didn’t know for sure, a children will do. Where did he learn that song? Are the schools of Oklahoma teaching the children to sing the National Anthem? I hope so.
None of us had any illusions about how the game would end, Texas being rated #3 and OSU #14. And it sounds like sour grapes to mention that there were some bad calls, though the huge screens showing the instant replays bore this out. Even when it’s my team winning, I hate to see a score of 41-14.
Well, I’m home again. I have a slight case of indigestion and my OSU sweatshirt smells like wood smoke, but I had a wonderful time with my family in Oklahoma on a football weekend.