Football fans put Lancaster first

-A A +A
By W.B. Evans

The Chamber of Commerce is getting all revved up with its “Think Lancaster First” campaign.

Shucks, that's nothing new. Most folks around here always figured our old town came first.

In the late 1940s, down at the Roach Stewart Athletic Field behind Lancaster High School, it was real easy to put Lancaster first.

Especially when a tough football team like the Chester Red Cyclone came to town.

Local school kids were decked out in Hurricane Blue and toting sacks of steaming hot dogs from Mr. Lingles’ Arch Street stand.

They weren’t the only ones getting ready for the big game. There was more than a fair share of spit-and-polish law officers standing around the gates. Those pressed uniforms got ‘em free passes.

The fellas from Holland and Cauthen Funeral Homes had their ambulances waxed to a high gloss sheen and were parked along one side, too, just in case a player needed an emergency run to Marion Sims Memorial.

Coach McConnell’s Blue Hurricane played hard, but lost 14-0, despite a Stinky McManus’ interception.

Jimmy Williams almost tied the game after catching a touchdown pass from Billy Joe Hardin, but one of the Lancaster boys was offsides and the play was nullified.

Maybe Maxie Cauthen and the Chesser boys will have better luck at Clover next Friday night.

McConnell’s boys weren’t the only ones hurting when time expired.

Some unruly fan left the game with a nightstick headache, which was no different than usual.

Yes sir, there are two things you can count on at Roach Stewart field. There is gonna be a fight behind the bleachers and the referees will have to stop the game at least once when that pack of stray dogs runs onto the field.

However, tonight’s game had an added bit of excitement in the stands.

It seems that after lighting his Lucky, this fella accidentally flicked his match into a woman’s up-swept hairdo.

Thanks to alert fans, this hair-raising incident only made it to the singe and smoke stage.

I wish I’d seen it, though. Running around with your hair on fire is kinda like frying an egg on Main Street in front of Pierce Horton’s drug store. You gotta see it firsthand to appreciate it. I’ll have to tell Mama about that one in the morning.

As I walked back toward Chesterfield Avenue, I noticed how the amount of road traffic had picked up.

You know, I never understand why people complain about “nothing to do in Lancaster.”

Bless Pete, there’s plenty to do after the games. Family cars clogged Main and Catawba streets, stopping only for red lights and a brief conversation with those standing on the sidewalk.

The lights were still burning bright on the bottom floor of courthouse. From the looks of it, deputy sheriffs and highway patrolmen have gathered up before startin’ their midnight shifts.

Things were a little calmer at the police station and the fire department. I reckon those fellas are still tending to the football game traffic.

Most of the Main Street merchants had long since locked up for the night. The exception was the Parr picture show (Phone 101), where the last showing of “Raw Deal,” starring Dennis O’Keffe and Raymond Burr, was about to get started. I don’t recall hearing of this Burr fella before. I’ll have to ask Mama and Aunt Bess if they know who he is. With a name like that, he ought to be a lawyer like Uncle Harry.

I broke stride to read the movie posters. “Western Heritage” and “Big Town Scandal” are playing tomorrow, along with the serials and a color cartoon. It looks like “Big Town Scandal” is about a basketball team. Maybe I can come back if I get all my chores done.

For now, I better get back to walking.

The closer I got to home, the quieter it got.

Nobody actually rolls up the sidewalks. You know, it might be Friday, but about midnight, things will pretty much come to a screeching halt.

Most teenagers operate on the Mama/Daddy midnight curfew. And breaking it means they’ll be walking, to and from, the next home game just like me. Yes sir, if they don’t make it home before the clock strikes 12, that family car will be staying in the car shed.

It’s quiet right now, but in no time, Saturday morning is gonna come barreling back down Main Street.

The window shades will be pulled up, front doors propped open and the front sidewalks will get swept.

As some of the merchants take stuff outside to display it for the day, I imagine the conversation will turn to how Stinky almost ran back that interception for a touchdown. About 1 o’clock – right in the middle of the Saturday downtown politics – somebody will tune a radio to WTYC in Rock Hill when they rebroadcast the game. They’ll probably start talking about what  might have been if Williams’ touchdown would’ve counted. Oh well, that’s water under the bridge.

At least if I cross paths with a lady with a funny looking hairdo downtown tomorrow, I’ll know how she got it.