In 1980, the last Thanksgiving Day Game was played. Twenty-seven years have passed in the blink of an eye. In 1981, the first year after the last Game, eighty-three years of tradition was discarded. Nevertheless, I visited Manual Stadium. There were five other lost souls walking around in a stupor. One of the ladies said, ‘I thought they would open the gate today in the interest of nostalgia.’ Another one said, ‘Another tradition has gone with the wind.’ One of the attendees, who looked to be in his seventies, was wearing an old purple-and-gold sweater. The others were wearing neutral clothes. I never asked which school they were from, it did not seem to be important. It was a sad day. It felt like I had lost a dear friend, and I was surprised that there were not more people there to mourn the loss.
The next time I went to the stadium on Thanksgiving Day was the year my son was born in 1982. He was in a car seat, and I took him and the car seat out of the car. I set the seat on top of my car, put my camera on a tripod, and took our picture. Years later, when he was student at Manual, I got out the picture and showed him the first time he was at Manual Stadium. Over the years, I have gone back about five times. I went again this year. It is always the same: I am alone, the gates are locked, but the spirits are still present. I take a few pictures and listen. The ghosts still play.
The Stadium begs for a crowd. If a stadium could cry, it would be crying. It was a lonely, desolate feeling to be all alone on Thanksgiving Day. No cheers, no plays, no announcer, no heroes, no Goats, no Bulldogs, no cheerleaders, no passes, no runs, and no fun. There was no tradition left.
When I started getting cold chills, I shed a tear and went home.
Donald M. Heavrin
Literary Critic for the Old Goats Back To Menu