Goodbye Old Friend

...so God can look down and watch His team play.

It all came tumbling down today. Just like Jerry said it would. I tried hard to be bitter, but the new stadium is just so awesome.

But that doesn’t make watching Texas Stadium reduced to rubble any easier. I avoided watching all day. And even when I thought I had it down and was ready to watch, it took my breath away.

It’s hard to describe why an old sports venue evokes such emotion. Guess it doesn’t have to be old, I felt the same way about Reunion Arena when it returned to dust. But I guess it has to do with decades of recollections.

From high school in the 70’s when the stadium was brand new, going to watch the Cowboys play the Vikings. My friend’s girlfriend was part of the halftime show and we had a double date set up for after. We sat at the very top of the end zone.

To watching my number two son play a little league football game there when he was about 9 or 10. The Princess was just a baby but even she seemed fascinated by the place and watching her Bubba play ball there.

To the many high school playoff games there, Westlake winning a state championship, Plano winning and losing hard fought playoff games. And probably the most famous (locally) high school game of all – 1994’s Tyler John Tyler vs. Plano East. East’s improbable comeback and the even more improbable result.

So many memories. Too many to chronicle.

Farewell Texas Stadium. You’ll live forever in our hearts and on Youtube.

Rollback. Flashback.

 

What goes around comes around
What goes around comes around

The year was 1971. After 24 years in the military my Dad had finally figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up. He loaded up all his Navy retirement money and bought a service station. Conveniently located on IH 35 E – R.L. Thornton Freeway in Dallas, just up the hill from the Dallas Zoo. It was right about that time that I remember ~30 cent gasoline. It was a Gulf station with three different grades of fuel. No-Nox was premium or ethyl. Good Gulf was regular. And there was a brand new grade that had just been introduced, Gulftane – Low Lead. It seems that folks were figuring out that perhaps lead wasn’t healthy for humans or the environment. We didn’t sell any of it but we had it.

 

Anyway, all that was to tell this story about buying cheap gas the other night. Local grocer Tom Thumb – A Safeway Company, has a fuel promotion. For every $100 worth of groceries you buy you get 10 cents off per gallon at their fueling stations. They’ve done this for awhile, but their new promotion allows you to save them up and use them all at the same time. So we did. Eleven of them. A dollar ten cents off. So it was with great pleasure I filled up Esposa’s MegaSUV for a mere nine dollars the other night. To amplify the savings, we had an outbreak of global warming and it was around 27 degrees Farenheit with a 25 mph north wind so if the experts are right and you get more for your money when it’s cold, it was a double Yahtzee.

Now. Back to reality. That means we spent $1100 on groceries between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Let me consult the Semitough Magic 8 Ball for an appropriate reaction:

The Sun Also Rises

sunset_txstadiumThe sun set on another great season of Wildcat football tonight with a heartbreaking last minute loss to Trinity, 35-42.

I was all set to blog about the classlessness of Trinity for booing our band as they played the school song during the pregame show, but after watching 48 minutes of hard hitting, gut wrenching football. After watching our kids leave it all on the field in what will become an instant classic high school football game. And after watching the Trinity kids huddling around Plano’s Mr. Superman, Rex Burkhead after the game, it all seemed a little petty. I did not film the Trinity Haka dance, which Esposa now calls the “Phelgm Dance” due to lack of equipment (left the camera in the car.) But it’s probably best. It’s their tradition. It’s what they do. So be it.

I snapped this picture with my cell phone as the last rays of the setting sun filtered through the hole in the roof at Texas Stadium. Today will mark my last visit there. The Cowboys will have a few more games, but soon enough the seats will be ripped out and carted away for sale as souvenirs. I’m sure other fixtures will be as well. The shell that is left will be demolished to make room for other development. And from the dust of what is left something new will emerge.

Many of the Plano football stalwarts will be graduating this year, the players that have made the past few seasons so exciting. But next year will bring new stars and out of the dust of this season, something new will emerge.

Great season Cats. See you next fall.

Comida Deluxe

Now that's some fine eatin' right there
Now that is some fine eatin' right there

Comida Deluxe is actually the name of the combination plate I had for dinner last night at the new Plano Chuy’s (of Austin fame). Two cheese enchiladas, flautas, beef taco and queso tostada with rice & refries.

But to call this simply nachos is to understate the awesomeness that is the $8 “Super Bowl Nachos” served at Texas Stadium. Chips, cheese, chili, pico de gallo all topped with a healthy pile of smokin’ hot jalapenos.

Note the paw in the background. Wildcats 42, Panthers 15. We live to play another week although the next game will likely be versus the overheated and overhyped Trinity Trojans. Number one in the nation and stars of their own Gatorade commercial (Can you pay the toll?). Meh. I have committed to my northern readers to at least attempt to catch the Trojan Haka dance and publish here. We’ll see.

Oddest thing at the game. The opposing team’s mascot was the panther. As far as I know a member of the cat family. Which would come nowhere near explaining why at different points during the game their band broke into the Florida State Seminole chant type music and the fans did the Tomahawk Chop. Strange indeed.

Best overheard quote: (Note this is a high school team playing in an NFL stadium) “Hey, they don’t have a big TV to show the replays on like we have at home.”

Playoff Bound

hole-in-the-roofHeading out to Texas Stadium tonight for what could possibly be the last time. The Wildcats will take on the Panthers of Duncanville in a first round bidistrict game.

Texas Stadium is a favorite spot for local high school playoff action. I remember my first game at Texas Stadium, a Cowboys-Vikings preseason game in 1974. It was all shiny and new with it’s classy I.M. Pei design and distinctive hole in the roof.

The stadium hasn’t aged well. Changes made to make it more profitable and more “big league” (aka more luxury boxes) have altered the design and made it a different experience.

Calling this stadium venerable is a bit of a stretch, but it has been the scene of some great football over the years. I’m hoping the Wildcats go deep enough into the playoffs that we get several more visits over the coming weeks. But if it’s not to be I will treat tonight as my last opportunity and will savor the cool fall air, reminisce about every name in the Ring of Honor, and have an order of those amazing stadium nachos, each as if it were my last. And I will say farewell to a place that has been a part of my childhood, adolescence, and adult life.

The City of Irving will demolish Texas Stadium after this season. But not before ass raider Jerry Jones rips out the seats and fixtures to sell them as souvenirs and hauls the Pokes off to Tarrant County. A sad ending for the house built by the likes of Tex Schramm, Tom Landry, Roger Staubach and others. But then JJ has never been one for any Cowboy tradition that didn’t line his pockets.

Farewell Texas Stadium. Job well done.

Cats Roll

Hit the road for an away game this week. Wildcat action moved west to the friendly (not so much) confines of Hebron’s Rink E. Dink Memorial Football Stadium (sic), Grill & Car Park Emporium. I guess when your team plays in a 14,000+ seat stadium it’s mostly downhill from there, but when you see visiting fans turned away by the hundreds because the visiting side is sold out you gain an appreciation for the luxuries of home. Texasbob lists Rink E. Dink capacity at 9500. Two words. No effin’ way.

We were unable to purchase tickets being 15 minutes late and all so we stood with the crowd of 150 or so crammed against the fence. It started in the parking lot. No football stadium parking. The field is on campus so it was just the normal high school parking lot parking except it was like bizarro parking with every possible 3 foot gap covered up by a car. We parked on some grass. I’m not sure that was allowed. Or appreciated. Oh well.

Finally we decided to try the other end of the bleachers. Figured we might be able to grab a spot by the fence and watch from the end zone outside the field. That’s when we encountered Mr. Crowd Control/Concessionaire Specialist. We could see the open back door of the concession stand. And the Security Concessionaire had arrayed his 55 quart Igloos in such a fashion as to block the path to the other end of the field. I suspected trouble, but thought perhaps they might just need some extra room for slinging dogs and slapping patties on their brought-over-from-the-Hebron-trailer-park-in-the-back-of-Chuck-Fred’s-pickup propane gas grill. I could see him tense up in his chair, expectant. All cat-like, ready to pounce. So we went around. Esposa, Budman and me. Charging into the breach. Determined not to be beaten down by the Man. Si Se Puede!

Security Concessionaire/Propane Gas Grill Chef: There ain’t no entry back there.

Me: <not breaking stride> Thanks. We’re not looking to enter.

SC/PGGC/A55H0l3: I said. You cain’t go in back there.

Me: <tense, but bravely pushing forward, almost past him> No problem. We’re not going in. <past the 55 quart Igloo coolers. almost there>

M1ST3R D0Uch3: <rising from his chair, sensing my challenge of his territorial superiority, chasing us down> Sir! You’re gonna need to take your family and git outta here!

Me: <scared now. he’s approaching me. tempted to sacrifice the family by saying. Who? I don’t know these people and leaving, but instead reaching way down deep inside for the courage and appropriate air of superiority. I stop. look him up and down. look back at his grill and sheepish grill partner and say…> What? Are you the concession stand guy? <Esposa and Budman are through, ahead of me now.>

p4tt13 m4st3r: <smugly, cocking his head back> We control this whole side! <looks from one end of the tiny “stadium” to the other so as to demonstrate the full expanse of his domain>

Me: <regaining my composure now. understanding that this tiny little man has never had this much authority in his entire livelong life> How nice for you. <glancing at his partner> How nice for you both. Your mothers must be proud. <His uncertainty is palpable. I hold his eyes in a steady gaze. Nose slightly elevated in that Plano sort of way. Finally, he’s had enough. He blinks>

h0t d0g c00ker: <deflating, wilting before my very eyes like Barack Obama at a Sarah Palin Tupperware party>I’m gonna call security….

<Wah! And what? they’ll call my Mommy?>

Me: Send him over. We’ll be right over there. <pointing>

p4tt13 fl1pp3r: <petulantly setting his jaw>I’ll do it.

Me: <ever gracious in victory>Please do. I’ll be happy to chat with him.

Esposa: <from somewhere behind me> BRING IT!!! <hustles off>

<Jeebus. It’s the skunk story all over again>

Anyway. We got past the crack security/concessions staff. Found us a nice spot on the fence and watched the Cats roll 41-28. Victory made all the sweeter by the lack of Hawk Hawspitality.

So here’s to you Mr. Security Concessionaire! As Black Bart used to be fond of saying….”You must love your f**king job.”

(I should note that we were not alone. There were dozens of fans in the are we moved to and dozens more came over during the game. Hot Dog Security must have had a full night,)

Flashback

I knew all day what day it was. I put the flag out at sunrise. Had a short conversation with a colleague in Frankfurt who shared his remembrances of that day from his perspective. But for the most part it was just another routine day at the home office.

But then on the way home from practice pickup I was sitting at a red light. The sun was quickly sinking to the west. A couple of blocks away I could see the giant American flag at the outlet mall at half staff, flowing gently in the breeze. Then into my peripheral vision flew an airplane. A Southwest Airlines 737 on approach to Love Field. He was flying low and fast like the Southwest jockeys are wont to do.

Framed there just for a second was the setting sun, the flag, and the airliner and it all came back. The confusion. The disbelief. Shock. Grief. Anger. All in a few hot seconds. And I felt guilt for going about my business as if it were just another day at the home office.

We should never forget September 11, 2001.  Or take it for granted. I never will again.