Bo's daycare is studying that old weather folklore this week and Monday he came home with a lion mask. I asked him if March was going to come in like a lion. He said, "No, I think it's going to be a dinosaur."
***So, it's girls state tourney time here in DSM. I drive through downtown each morning to drop Mazy at school, and then again each night to pick him up. Consequently, I know downtown well. And my patience and tolerance for out-of-town drivers is very, very minimal. OK, it's non-existent. I hate this time of year! People don't know where they're going. They're stopping in the middle of the street, they're cutting me off because they realized they missed their turn, they're parking where they shouldn't, they're driving the wrong way on one-way streets... It's not pretty. And neither is my mood when I'm around them.
But..... I realized that I actually have wonderful memories of state tournament time and thought this was the perfect Wednesday to share them.
Excitement for Small Towns
Even when we were in elementary school, we always attended the state basketball tournaments if Panora had a team playing. Back then, WE were the out-of-towners, trying to find the right parking ramp, looking for other Guthrie County license plates, walking through the crowded skywalks, rushing to keep up with Dad. It was so exciting to enter the behemoth Vets Auditorium. We were overwhelmed by the number of people, the roar of the crowd, the hustle and bustle of state tourney time.
The tournaments were a big deal for small towns. Our school closed so we could go cheer on the team. Hundreds of people traveled to Des Moines to fill the stands assigned to our town. We painted our faces. We wore blue Panora-Linden (later Panorama) t-shirts and sweatshirts and buttons and hats. I often bought that special colored glitter hairspray and turned my blonde hair blue for the day.
And then the thrill of the games. Nail-biters. Every one of them. The girls played six-on-six basketball. The state switched to five-on-five in 1993 or 1994, when I was a senior. Every game seemed to come down to a free throw or hail mary shot at the buzzer. You either went away as a wildly excited and triumphant victor, or a terribly disappointed and despondent loser.
Looking back, I really appreciate my dad for taking us all to those games. Mom was usually working so he packed up the four of us and off we went. Half the fun was seeing how many people he knew as we wandered through those big crowds of people. And trust me, he knew a lot.
Grandma's Car Picnics
Another fond memory from this same time period was going to the sectional and regional basketball games that led up to the state tournament. Often, we rode with my grandparents, Keith and Betty Wirt. Grandma would make us a car picnic for the ride to whatever faraway, small town we were headed to. I loved those car picnics! Grandma could made bologna sandwiches and Sunny-D seem very special and delicious. And she always had a homemade treat for us as well, maybe her peanut butter cookies or her chocolate cake with walnuts. Something delicious and wonderful.
The best part was just being with my grandparents. My grandma was an awesome person and if you were near her, you were happy. Her joy for life was infectious. She and grandpa always listened to a local, oldies station -- songs from the 40s and 50s. They'd sing along and Grandma would nod her head back and forth with the beat of the song, sometimes clicking her tongue, sometimes singing the melody. She often turned in her seat to smile at us and laugh at something one of us had said. And she was always talking Grandpa into stopping for ice cream after the game, or pulling into the gas station for a candy bar for us to share. And he always did it. They passed on the "friendly gene" to my dad. There was not a small town in Iowa where they didn't know someone or couldn't find a connection to someone. Grandpa was famous for leaving early so he could drop in on the third cousin of one of his school mates who he hadn't seen in 30 years.
Anyway, now that I remember how much fun I had at state tournament time, maybe I will be a bit more tolerant of the out-of-town drivers this week and take it easy on them. Maybe.