This column about Homecoming appearing 12 days after the events of that week is not a mistake, I felt that coverage in last week’s edition needed nothing further about the subject, so it appears this week as planned.
A bit of confusion arose in my mind the other day, a not altogether uncommon phenomena, when while enjoying conversations with friends at Ricky’s 40th birthday gig I became aware that a friend’s daughter and three of her girlfriends, all KCHS students, were all gussied up for the Homecoming Dance to be held later that evening in the high school cafeteria. What confused me was I was sure I had the Homecoming parade and game marked for the following week, and when I mentioned this, I was informed that the Homecoming Dance is held the week prior to Homecoming.
Well, given the definition, traditional and modern, of Homecoming that just don’t work. The word “week” is important to this position, as is an understanding of the original purpose of inviting alumni and former students back to the campus in the Fall and including them in activities over a one-week period, culminating with a sporting contest, most commonly a football game.
Numerous sources cite Homecoming beginnings, but four stand out as likely candidates as template for today’s celebrations. Northern Illinois University held their first alumni homecoming in 1903 followed by two Texas colleges, Southwestern University and Baylor. But the biggest impact on homecomings took place in Missouri.
The brainchild of the athletic director of the University of Missouri Tigers who were going to play their rivals, the Kansas City Jayhawks, a fierce rivalry since 1891 whose games were up until 1911 played on neutral turfs but was now schedule for the Tigers home field. The university invited all alumni to join in numerous events, such as bar-b-ques, dances and parades resulting in 10,000 former students attended the weeklong festivities ending in a football game. This one-week template is still widely accepted and practiced.
So, it seems to me there are two variations now in place here in King City regarding Homecoming Week. The first is an event was held the week prior; which I admit is no major upset but both the scheduling and venue elicit questions. As for the venue: why in such a relatively small area? Has past numbers of those attending the dance been low enough administration chose the cafeteria? I should think the gymnasium would better suit the needs of a dance far better than the smaller venue. And, if Homecoming Week is scheduled a year ahead of time, or at least months prior, then shouldn’t the dance venue be considered at that time?
The second variation is that as a graduate of King City High School I don’t recall any public invitations going out in any media to come join in any events during what is what the week is all about. It has been traditionally done here that the classmates of 20-years past are invited, but that is all. While that is a wonderful gesture, it does fall short of inclusion of any other former students. And we are out here and I am sure many would respond to an invite to ride on an all-classes alumni float, to have (room permitting) a section of the grandstands set apart just for us and for those still in musical form to join in the Pep Band during the game (if such a sub-group exists). It might be a good way to bridge the gaps, at least for one week, of the generations of people who call themselves Mustangs both past and present.
Going home is not a big trip for me, if one refers to “home” as that town, city or region where one spent one’s formative years then my hometown is a 15-minute bus ride away (or 54 minutes on bicycle). On a recent trip up to Greenfield I was almost surprised to see new construction taking place, and my surprise was not at the work in progress because the little town has seen substantial growth in the past decade, but rather at the location of the new construction.
The area now being leveled and scraped and whatever takes place in the early stages is a large lot that lies east of Third Street, south of Walnut Avenue; this is a section which has seen significant growth to the south and east where a school and housing fills land once devoid of anything but a few farmhouses. To the west and north, catawampus across Walnut, are two large apartment complexes with another going up, and directly west is more commercial building adding to the fuel, coffee and food businesses already operating there.
That this piece of earth is finally seeing construction is a surprise just because the landowner apparently held out a long time. But the section now under assault by land movers and whatnot is oddly shaped because only one lot section abuts both Walnut and Third while two houses facing Third stand unmolested; one can suppose either owned by others or just not part of the deal. I’m sure all this can be known by a search of city records, or by asking any local who knows, but I’ll just leave it that Greenfield is on the move, and the next decade will surely bring even more construction surprises to those of us who can still see the town as it was 60 years ago.
I want to add here that I did make it to the Homecoming football game. I went primarily to see a freshman named Carson play varsity ball and to see if either of the two ladies I knew vying for Homecoming Queen would be crowned (one did, congrats Quinn). According to Wikipedia, one of the early aspects of homecomings was to schedule football games with lesser teams to guarantee a win. Unfortunately, not the case that night.
Take care. Peace.