Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Orange Bowl

As I was walking today, I paused to look at the Orange Bowl.  To an outsider, it might look like a run-down, maybe even abandoned, football field, but to those who live here, the Orange Bowl is the proud home of the Fredonia Hillbillies.  It sits at the bottom of the hill that leads up to what was, until recently, Wheelock Primary School.  But before Wheelock Primary School, it was the site of Fredonia High School.  Many years ago, the team name was Hilltoppers, or so we've been told, presumably because the school was on the top of West Main Hill.  When and why we became the Hillbillies, I do not know, but we wear our black and orange with pride!   The high school is now on the other side of town, but the Orange Bowl remains.  Although we don’t have a fancy synthetic turf field surrounded by a new all-purpose track, and although bleachers and press box are old and rickety, and although when it rains (which is often), the incline gets so muddy, the superintendent has been known to stand guard and give people a hand up, I love the Orange Bowl.  As I stood by the fence, my mind went back to when our family was young and we lived in a house right near the field.  On game nights, we used to walk down the street and spend a few minutes watching the Hillbillies in action from the fence while the kids ran up and down the hill.  A few years later when the kids were older, we started going to the home games; we had moved by then, but our house was still within walking distance, so on crisp fall nights, we walked through town to the Orange Bowl.  For years our kids were in the band and in the stands with their friends, and we were there, too, cheering the Hillbillies on.  But then the last Wendell graduated from Fredonia High School.  We’ve been back a time or two since, but I know fewer and fewer of the players on the field and the parents in the stands.  So I’m back to watching from the fence for a few minutes on Friday nights during football season.  And on this misty Tuesday afternoon in May when the only activity on the field is a couple of grazing groundhogs, I find myself hoping the Orange Bowl stays exactly the way it is for another generation of Hillbillies.

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