Things I remember about this time of the year:
Friday night lights, but we didn’t know that term back then. It was still the same, however. Cool, brisk air with distorted lighting that made it difficult to find the ball on deep passing routes and punts.
Fans giving the home team their vocal support while grade school kids played their own football games in the grassy areas behind the stands. Hotdogs and hamburgers were on sale, bringing about meager profits to help the school’s rawboned budget.
Catcalls from the stands, targeting the referees, who in that environment — the fans right on top of the action — could hear everything said. Every syllable. It wasn’t profane, but a deep throated type could make himself a nuisance to the men in stripes.
I remember the pretty cheerleader I wanted to date, but knowing she would not approve of one who would show up in a pickup truck. It had not yet become fashionable to date anyone who drove something that hauled fertilizer, firewood and animals.
I remember the World Series in October in bright sunshine. There always was balmy weather, even in New York where it looked as though the Yankees would never lose the fall classic. My team was the Red Sox so I was always waiting till next year.
Following afternoon church on Sunday, there was a rush to get to the car and find the radio broadcast of the World Series. Mantle hits one out. Maris hits one out. Berra hits one out. Damn Yankees. Made you wonder if the man upstairs wore pinstripes.
I read about the subway series when the Yankees and Dodgers met in this great event. I was for the Dodgers, but that was heresy in those years. “Boy,” an ole timer would chide me. “They got Jackie Robinson.” I was too young and too timid to argue back, but all I knew was that I didn’t have anything against baseball’s first black player and, besides, anybody who could beat the Yankees was all right with me.
The fall brought many dividends. Except for having to pick scattering cotton, there was not much labor required in the fields. Firewood had to be cut, but that meant that firewood and a fire put you in a grateful mood. You could read by the fire, you could listen to the Grand Ole Opry by the fire and you could become entranced by the flickering flames and reflect on what was beyond the horizon of the farm that modestly sustained us.
There was time to walk in the woods — amongst the pines, oaks and sweetgums — wondering what it was like in the northern U.S., which you read about in a book about an Irish setter, “Big Red.” Even today, recall of reading about Big Red, makes me consider that the prettiest dog known to man, other than a bulldog, is an Irish setter.
When Thanksgiving came around, we couldn’t afford a turkey but we had fried chicken, which was not so bad. While I try to make different food choices today, I have never met a piece of fried chicken I didn’t like. Sometimes there was ham. Ham paired with everything, especially vegetables, which were always in abundance.
When the day came that turkey became a Thanksgiving staple, you couldn’t get your fill of turkey, cranberry and dressing. There was a long-winded blessing before the meal and a Bible verse. Sometimes those experiencing the most humble of lives are the most thankful.
Saturdays during October were for listening to college football. Georgia Tech was winning and the Bulldogs were struggling. I often wondered if my sins had anything to do with it. The Yankees were always beating the Red Sox, and the Yellow Jackets had the Bulldogs’ number.
By the time I got to Athens, things were about to turn. The Bulldogs broke the drought in 1957 and not only did I see that milestone victory, I became friends with Theron Sapp, the heralded hero. That was a memorable Thanksgiving week, but I would have to wait 47 more years on the Red Sox to make my day.
I loved the harvest scenes, the plethora of pumpkins and boiled peanuts in the fall. Then there was pecan pie, made from the pecans I gathered from the backyard. As it is now, I was about as useless in the kitchen as a rhinoceros, but I felt good about my contribution by accommodating the harvest that led to the tasty pie.
Early on, October became my favorite month. Nothing has changed.
Now it is gone again, leaving me with the sobering awareness that we only have so many of them.