Thursday, December 25, 2008

This May Just Bowl You Over ...

How did an ostrich, a camel, and an elephant become involved with a rose? This is not a riddle but rather a question of history. However, I am ahead of the story so allow me to re-start.

In 1890, in Pasadena, California, the first parade was held that evolved into what we know today as the Rose Bowl Parade. There was no football game. Only the parade. That first Parade of Roses had no marching bands although they did have one the following year. Flower adorned horse drawn carriages made up the entire event as motorized vehicles were not yet available. The first parade made a net profit of $229.30.

Later, in addition to the parade, games were held including foot races, tugs of war and jousts among the local citizenry. But interest in theses type activities began to wane. The suggestion then was made to invite two college football teams to compete as a part of the celebration.

The two teams that played in college football’s first intersectional post-season game were Michigan and Stanford in 1902. Michigan was dominating the game, 49-0, when in the third quarter, the Stanford team left the field and went home. There was no more football at the Rose Tournament for several years after that “blowout.”

The main attractions in Tournament Park (the predecessor of the current Rose Bowl stadium) prior to football being reinstated included Roman-style chariot races. These races were popular until 1912, when a serious accident caused the townspeople to lose interest in that event.

So in 1913, two new events were scheduled. One of these was an ostrich race. This proved to be unsuccessful as one of the ostriches threw its jockey over a fence and into the judges’ stand. The second event was a race between a camel and an elephant. The elephant won the race but did not stop running when the race was over. After some panic with folks scattering to avoid the stampeding elephant, order was restored. So, no ostriches, camels nor elephants ever again raced at the Tournament of Roses celebration. By this time, motorized vehicles were allowed to be in the parade but they had to bring up the rear so as not to scare the carriage horses.

Finally, in 1916, football was resumed and when the new Rose Bowl stadium was completed in 1923, the annual game became known as the Rose Bowl game.

The Rose Bowl remained the only major bowl game in 1930. By 1940, there were five bowl games: the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Sun Bowl. By the year 2000, 25 bowl games were played. Currently there are 34 games on the list.

There is money to be made in the bowl game business. The successful ones, such as the Rose Bowl, are extremely wealthy. Not all attempts to create a new bowl game have been successful. Some of those that have fallen by the wayside include the Refrigerator Bowl, the Cigar Bowl, the Salad Bowl (later to become the very successful Fiesta Bowl), and the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl. There still is a successful Independence Bowl but the Poulan Weed-Eater part was dropped. This also was known as the Weedwhacker Bowl. Today, the bottom-rung bowl games are still referred to as Weedwhacker Bowls. And rather crudely the phrase Toilet Bowl sometimes is used to refer to a game that is particularly poor in play quality.

Bowl games are part of the American Way. And now you know the answer to my opening question, that being, a rose is a rose by any other name unless it happens to be an ostrich, a camel, or an elephant.

Winston Hamby

The Beaumont Enterprise
Guest Columnist

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seems Like Time Just Keeps On Keeping On ... Keeping On ... Keeping On ...

Just the other day while my back was turned, my 73rd birthday popped up.
Seems like just a few months ago, I turned 70. When I look to the future I see that most of my life must be in the past. Perhaps that is why I write mostly memory columns of growing up in Beaumont and surrounding area. I’ve got many more memories from the past than I have years in the future.

So what did I do on my 73rd birthday? My wife and I, along with our daughter and her family, went hiking in the Ozarks. That’s right. There’s nothing like a mountain hike to celebrate your 73rd birthday. One thing about the Ozarks even if they are in Arkansas is that they are beautiful during the fall season. Leaves of every tint and color blend together exposing a masterpiece of God’s handiwork.

My wife bought me a staff which is a walking stick about six feet in length. This helped me to maintain somewhat of a balance. For some reason my legs were more wobbly than I remembered them being before. The staff was a good aid in navigating those mountain trails.

I thought of that story of Moses in the Old Testament where he and his people were wandering in the wilderness. I wondered if his staff was anything like mine. Then I remembered that Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead the people. I wondered if his legs were as wobbly as mine. Probably not. I suspect that his years of sheep herding kept him in excellent physical condition.

Anyway, hiking in the Ozarks provided beautiful scenery and lots of adventure.
For example, we stopped at the Buffalo River so the grandkids could skip rocks across the water. I was standing there on the bank of the river watching the kids and looking around at all the beauty of God’s creation. Glancing to the ground I noticed a little rock that stood out from the thousands of other rocks. I picked it up and it turned out to be an arrowhead. That was a thrill. I hadn’t found one of those since hiking in the Mescalera sands of southeastern New Mexico back in the 1970s.

I called out to Julia, my 9-year-old granddaughter and said, “Julia, look what I found and I want to give it to you.” Julia replied with indignation, “No, Papaw, we can’t keep that. It’s on national reserve land and we can’t remove anything from here.”

I felt duly admonished and said, “Aw… OK.” Then a strange thing happened. While in the process of replacing the arrowhead to its rightful spot, it accidentally slipped into my pocket. Yep, I kept the arrowhead, reserve land or no reserve land. I was not about to return that little artifact to an area where no one would ever see it again. I figured it was better for me to enjoy it illegally than for no one ever to enjoy it legally. Someday I’ll tell my granddaughter what I did. Or maybe I won’t tell her. She looks up to me as a Papaw of integrity. She never needs to know that I lifted an arrowhead from the national park reserve.

Then there were the Indian caves. I couldn’t make it up to the second cave, but the first cave was plenty exciting. My wife and I stayed at the first cave while the others went looking around in the other one.

I will probably never take another mountain hike. I enjoyed every minute of it but my body kept reminding me, “Hey, take it easy… I’m 73 years old.”

Winston Hamby