All for the Gators, Stand Up and Holler

22 11 2008

Two bits!

Four bits!

Six bits!

A dollar!

All for the Gators, stand up and holler!

george-edmonson-mr-two-bits

“The Gators are on top now. They don’t need me like they used to.”
He couldn’t be more wrong.

In today’s real world where the economy is crumbling and the future looks grim, we need somebody who will inspire us to cheer when we feel like booing.

And in today’s sports world of noxious negativity, drunken debauchery and message-board misery, we need that old man in the yellow shirt.

The fact is we need Mr. Two-Bits now more than ever.

— Mike Bianchi on what Gator Nation loses in real life today

mr-two-bits-at-retirement-11-22-08

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8 responses

22 11 2008
JJ

They’re flipping the coin right now — I just heard live (radio) the very last Mr Two Bits cheer to start a home game, and my heart caught in my throat and my eyes welled up, no exaggeration. I’ve seen and heard that sound from that place so many, many times since the 1960s.

Mick Huber said ALL the players were surrounding Mr Two Bits midfield, closer and closer like he was a rock star; they all wanted to see, to be able to say forever that they were right there when it happened for the last time. Damn.

22 11 2008
COD

The Citidel? Was the local high school too busy to play them today? 🙂

22 11 2008
JJ

Now, now — I figured it was a special send-off tribute to Mr. Two Bits, since that was his alma mater and the first game he ever did his thing at . . .

And hey, we only played the Heisman winner for about half the game, we’re good sports!

22 11 2008
Not June Cleaver

We were supposed to be at the game today. Plans changed.

23 11 2008
JJ

The FSU game next Saturday is “here” instead of Gainesville but for me, that’s still an away game and I won’t go, even after living “here” almost 20 years. 🙂

25 11 2008
Not June Cleaver

I completely get that!

DH’s grandmother is 97. Her health has been deteriorating quickly the last 2 years. He thinks that may have been his last chance to take the boys to a game. I hope he’s wrong.

25 11 2008
JJ

And I get THAT. Alma mater — nurturing mother.
The whole “be true to your school” spirit is no doubt a socially supported way to feel and express family loyalties, and something to talk about even if you haven’t much else in common. 🙂

Home really is where the heart is. For me the Gators are caught up in my family feelings, not just as my alma mater but as our family’s home. My grandmother in Gainesville passed away right before her 95th birthday, and when my parents died, the family lost their season tickets on the faculty side, section 26, whence my earliest memories of Mr Two Bits originated. I knew all the sun and shade patterns minute by minute on autumn afternoons from that perspective.

The last time I saw each of them was in Gainesville. I haven’t been to a game since, but it doesn’t matter. I am so totally connected that it all happens vividly inside my head. And my folks are a part of that, and it feels like they’re still with me in those seats.

My kids don’t get this, of course, and they never will, not for the Gators. That IS sad. I won’t be able to pass that on to them the same way.

I’ve been thinking about this. I realize now my folks felt this way about Clemson as alma mater and family home, when THEY were growing up. It stayed with them their whole lives, vivid and real and tied to their youth and their families forever. We visited up there as kids and even went to a football game or two, but they couldn’t pass on the connection to us, because Clemson just wasn’t our home. Our memories of them weren’t going to be tied up with that school.

(Although the giant tiger paws painted on the road leading to the stadium really impressed me. I actually flashed back on that memory during the Beijing Olympics, when I saw the fireworks footsteps in the air leading through the city to the opening ceremony.)

So the way my family succeeded in passing on the love was by embracing the new, making a new home where we were and making new loyalties we all could share. I can’t do that with FSU for my kids, not to the same extent my folks did, but I’m managing at least to let them like it, without snarling and making them feel disloyal to me. 🙂

But their dad adopted the Gators for me so I wouldn’t be alone in the world, and he’s a wonderful convert, very loyal, and he remembers my parents even though the kids don’t, so it does connect the generations for me. Then we as a family adopted his generational sports home, Red Sox Nation — which I guess shows it doesn’t have to be school loyalty per se. (I had to marry a Yankee to get this — down here as NotJC knows, we’re not religiously tribal about pro sports, only high school and college.)

It’s the “nation” you come to see yourself and your friends and family to be a citizen of. . .

25 11 2008
JJ

And of course, it’s no accident we talk about Gator Nation and Red Sox Nation — be true to your school is just a way of making patriotism bite-sized. Thinking Parents might like taking this discussion another giant step through the city, with this Chronicle of Higher Education polemic, “Progressive Patriotism”:

Let me back up. Born in 1951, pure midboomer, I grew up moving every year or two because my father was a career naval officer. I used to love his crisp white uniforms and dreamed, briefly, of becoming the first Jewish admiral — until I found out Uriah Phillips Levy had already claimed that honor. I learned to play “Stars and Stripes Forever” on my clarinet. And I supported the Vietnam War vigorously until the fall of my senior year in high school, when my friends and teachers began to convince me otherwise, and my father fought a losing battle against my “too liberal” environment.

The war took over everything. (Say “the war” to anyone in my generation, and the only one that registers is Vietnam.) Deeply influenced by the now-late William Appleman Williams’s The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959), I became a historian mostly to understand how U.S. history had given rise to the Vietnam War. And I wanted nothing more to do with patriotism. I was ashamed of the pillage that followed the flag in Vietnam. I saw the emblem brandished at pro-war rallies, dividing our country into deep factions. It pained me to hope for an American defeat in Vietnam, but every alternative struck me as worse — for everyone.

For the next four decades, I felt profoundly marginalized by mainstream American political culture. Including the flag. . .
I tried to take my cultural sustenance from left traditions, but not having been raised in red diapers, I found a diet of Woody Guthrie; Paul Robeson; Pete Seeger; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Phil Ochs — even spiced with Joan Baez, Country Joe & the Fish, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen — to be thin soup. I found it tough to subsist on exclusion, self-righteousness, and the sense that I was condemned to remain a guardian of unpopular truths.

With absurd optimism, I guess, I majored in American studies and followed it through to a Ph.D. I wrote my first book on early baseball — and felt conflicted every time I visited the ballpark during the national anthem. I refused to sing it for the longest time, but found it too complicated to explain to my kids and eventually caved. In my heart of hearts, I felt the anthem — and the flag — belonged to “others.”

Since September 11, 2001, this gap, which often feels like a chasm, has deepened, as the most partisan administration since Nixon’s has converted dissenters into terrorist sympathizers. At the center of post-September 11 patriotic schlock is “God Bless America,” sung at far too many seventh-inning stretches, ahead of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” — a practice begun by the Yankee owner George Steinbrenner (who pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to Nixon.)

So when Donna interrupted her own order of service last Sunday to ask her pianist to play “God Bless America,” I said (to myself) “Oh, no!” — but began, haltingly, to sing. And as I sang, emotion that I didn’t expect, and didn’t even know might be there, welled up inside me, and the tears flowed; I’d forgotten a handkerchief and didn’t care and just kept singing.

And did I have company! I spoke to a dozen other people about my own age at coffee hour afterward, including several academics; all had resisted at first (“I’ve hated that song,” one historian told me) and then given in, joyfully and tearfully. A longtime leader of the Village Independent Democrats had brought a batch of flag-lapel pins — I grabbed one, and the rest were gone by the end of coffee hour. What’s going on here?

Since I’ve already confessed to a ton of emotions that would have embarrassed the hell out of me a month ago, I might as well crawl further out on my limb. When Michelle Obama got into hot water before her husband’s nomination for saying that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” I found myself agreeing, wondering: When had I last been proud of my country?

The answer, sad to say, was very rarely in my adult lifetime. Which country was I to feel so proud of?

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