Harvey H. Jackson: Toomer’s final day — When the roll was thrown down yonder, I was there
Apr 24, 2013 | 3574 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was chilly, like a fall morning, except the leaves were coming out green, not turning red, and the air was moist instead of autumn dry and crisp.

Still, it was closer to football weather than you usually get in April, so it seemed right and proper that we were going down to Auburn to watch the A-Day game.

We were also going to return Bo the Lab to my son. Bo, you might remember, was visiting us while the scion of the family was doing something that was not dog friendly. And we were going to roll the trees, or what was left of them, one more time.

The day began chaotic, as days with dogs usually do, with a feeding frenzy that would do honor to any school of sharks and a battle royal that involved a great deal of growling and bumping and rolling about.

Awakened by the noise, the rest of the family rose, got ready and loaded up, and with the arrival of my daughter Anna’s friend (also Anna), off we went — two teenage Annas, one wife, Bo the Lab and me.

I have this theory. My experience, limited though it is, indicates that the number of alternatives suggested to solve a problem doubles with the number of women involved — one woman, two alternatives, two women, four alternatives; get the picture? At the same time the ability to decide between the alternatives remains constant despite the number of women involved — one woman, two alternatives, no decision; two women, four alternatives, no decision.

Believing this, I had an idea how the day would unfold.

So off we went. As we approached our destination, traffic picked up and pretty soon it was apparent that this was not going to be your regular gathering for a spring intrasquad game.

Arriving at the boy’s abode, there was the required Mama-eye-rolling at the squalor in which he lives. I, on the other hand, noted that he had the garbage sacked up to take out and the dishwasher was washing, which was more than I had expected. But my lovely’s expectations have always been greater than mine, hence the eye-rolling.

Then it was decision time.

Do we walk to the stadium and afterward Toomer’s Corner, or do we drive? Walking would involve a couple of miles or more. Driving would involve parking, which was uncertain.

After some discussion leading to no conclusion, I hesitantly suggested that despite my wife’s uncanny ability to find parking places where none could possibility exist, walking might be the best alternative. Although no one took issue, as the day wore on, I suspected some felt I should have kept my opinion to myself.

While we walked, the lunch discussion began and alternatives were offered. If asked, I would have said “pick a place that serves beer,” for the day was getting warmer. No one asked, so we ended up at beer-less Chick-fil-A.

Then on to the stadium, where the general admission early-birds had already grabbed the best seats. At that point my wife, having been denied the opportunity to find that elusive parking place, took us on a journey to find the best four-together seats remaining. We wandered from one end of the stadium to the other, but no seats suited. Soon we were back where we started, a situation the two Annas delighted in pointing out.

Finally seated, we watched an entertaining game, the significance of which I will leave for real sportswriters to assess.

However, I can comment on how unprepared Auburn University was for the record turnout. By the start of the second quarter, so many folks were looking for seats that they had to open the upper decks, which were blocked off when the game started. By halftime the concession stands had run out of food. My wife noted that it was a bigger crowd than at some games during last year’s miserable season.

Then, as the contest on the field wound down to its inevitable conclusion — Auburn was playing Auburn, so Auburn was gonna win — fans began to trickle out and head for Toomer’s Corner.

It was not the somber trek I thought it might be. It was more like attending a going-away party for old friends.

The faithful surrounded the oaks, threw rolls of paper and took pictures. Many brought their children and grandchildren so that one day they could look on faded photos and tell of how they were there.

Speeches followed and later there was a concert, but we didn’t stay for that. In a moment of remarkable unanimity, the ladies picked a place to eat, one that served beer, and after a fine meal, we walked back to the car and left.

And not once, during the whole day, did I hear anyone mention Harvey Updyke.

He is not forgotten.

He just doesn’t matter anymore.

A new day is dawning. WDE.

Harvey H (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. Email: hjackson@jsu.edu.
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