When I was in the 8th grade, there wasn’t a lot to do, so we came up with several games. One was playing football at my best friend Jerry Holmes’ house. The word would go out, “..game on at Jerry’s at 5.”
Right on time, about 6-8 of us would gather; Jerry would furnish a small football. In front of the Holmes’s frame house was an area about 20’ x 60’. That was the field. There wasn’t a blade of grass to be found. It looked like a grader had made several passes over it with a sharp blade. It was scorched earth. The rules were simple: None. We would take turns choosing sides, then after a coin toss (that was often a problem since nobody had any coins. Jerry would borrow one from his mom, then game on.)
We’d start and it’s impossible to describe how rough it was. Gang tackling a ball carrier and smashing his face into the ground was good form. The ball carrier would usually stand, shake his fist at the tacklers, then say, “Your time’s coming, you bastards!” Then, payback, in spades. We’d play until it was so dark we couldn’t see, then we’d each walk (or hobble) to our respective houses.
I remember walking in my house, bruised, lacerated with my clothes in tatters. My mom would look at me and say, “Football at Jerry’s?” I just nod and say, “Mom, you should see the other guys.”
It was the best of times in my life.
-james a clark