Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, October 30, 2014, 6:52 a.m.
This amazes me because it’s so sentimental and hokey in comparison with the way the world is now.
When I played football at Clinton High School, an undistinguished member of distinguished teams, every time we came from a road game, and we didn’t lose any of those in my two years on the varsity, when the bus pulled through the gates, everyone on the team sang the alma mater.
Here’s to our old Clinton High School / Hail, hail, hail / Here’s to our old Clinton High School / Hail, hail, hail / High school days and childhood days and light of life soon fail / But our love for Clinton High School / Will never fail.
Now, it was popular to ad-lib “It’s hell, hell, hell,” but it was still amazingly sentimental. As best I know, it was a tradition that perpetuated itself spontaneously. No one told us to do it. Of course, no one told us to chant and sing all the way home from Inman or York or Greer, either. That wouldn’t have happened if we’d ever lost, but I think the alma mater would have been sung regardless.
We were proud of our school. For the most part, we still are. That’s why Clinton High School is celebrating a thousand football games, dating back to 1920, on Friday night. It’s actually a thousand and one. The thousandth game was in Chester last week.
My school has won eight state championships, the first in 1939 and the most recent five years ago. My brother played on one (1978) and I was on another (1975). Four were in the seventies and two in the eighties.
The team has fallen into a rough patch, but Clinton High will be back. When I look across the Wilder Stadium stands, I’ll see men whose grandsons are playing for the team, and moms who were cheerleaders before I blinked and awakened thirty years later.
My daddy was number thirty-three. My brother was ten. I was fifty. Brack played in the Shrine Bowl. The best that was ever said about my athletic ability was that I was smart.
Now I’m fifty-six. I cling to the belief that I’m smarter.
It’s Halloween, but Halloween doesn’t scare a Red Devil. Out on the lawn of the old high school, they’re holding a community trick-or-treat, Trunk or Treat, actually, before the game.
At the end of the halftime ceremonies, the band is going to play the alma mater. That’s because our love for Clinton High School “will nevvverrr failll.”
I drew heavily on my high school and childhood days in my novel, The Intangibles, which is set in the 1960s in a town, Fairmont, that bears some similarity to this one. Here’s how you can buy it, as well as my other books: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1414631316&sr=1-1