Friday, September 11, 2009

My Blood Runneth Orange

Last night I found myself yelling at the TV. Clemson was playing Georgia Tech (and not doing too well during first half) and it will not matter if I live out the rest of my life in NC and that my daughter is a UNC grad and my son is a student at East Carolina my blood is at least half orange.

Growing up in SC you were either a Clemson fan or a Carolina (SC that is) fan and there wasn't any in between. As for me I had no choice. My grandfather went to Clemson from 1915-1917 and my dad went to Clemson in the early 50's. Both grandfather and father were drafted into military service before they finished college. My grandfather into WWI and my father into the Korean conflict, but they both were HUGE Clemson fans.

If I had been born two days later both my doctor and my dad wouldn't have showed up for my birth. For many years and as far back as when my grandfather was at Clemson the BIG game was played on what they called BIG Thursday. The third Thursday in the month of October. Lucky for my mom and me I happened to be born on Tuesday before BIG Thursday and yes my dad and doctor did leave on Thursday for the game.

Clemson football ruled my autumns. I had to make sure when planning my wedding that the date didn't interfere with a Clemson football game - luckily October 1, 1983 was an open day. But one thing for sure: I have great memories of growing up going to Death Valley on Saturdays. I don't think I have ever had tailgate food as good as what my mom packed. She would go all out; fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans, homemade biscuits filled with country fried ham and brownies (nothing healthy - just southern goodness). We would load up in the family wagon and take off for Clemson. We especially loved homecoming where all the fraternities and clubs would build these great displays some of them even mechanical (after all Clemson is known for engineering). (I must admit when our daughter went to UNC and we went up for their homecoming game I was disappointed - no displays and there just wasn't the spirit like at Clemson.) Dad always made sure we were dressed from head to toe in orange and we could chant the C-L-E-M-S-O-N-T-I-G-E-R-S cheer.

To dad's disappointment, although he never said this, neither my brothers and I went to Clemson, and was just as proud or at least acted like it when we went to Lander College (now University). We still met my parents over at Clemson during the fall of our college years and I have some good memories of going over to Clemson during college years. I think that is what I admire the most of my dad - he would have loved for my brothers and I to go to Clemson, but he supported our decision to go to Lander and when I decided to go to graduate school I had to make a tough choice and I entered USC because it was the best choice for me at the time - my dad supported me. Our daughter was accepted to Clemson in 2005 and my dad was so proud, but because we live in NC and the whole in-state-out of state thing she went to another ACC school - that one in Chapel Hill - Dad was proud. The bottom line is that dad was just proud that his children and grandchildren got an opportunity to go to college and to finish college something he and his dad didn't get or didn't get a chance to follow-up on.

I will always chant for Clemson and admit that when they play UNC I do find myself a bit divided (basketball is always tough for me because UNC usually has the better team so I like pulling for the underdog which is usually Clemson). I will always associate Clemson with good memories and with my dad. He and mom went on vacation this week and I knew Clemson had an away game when they planned their trip because he would never miss a home game! So as I turn 50 I am grateful to have had a dad who was just proud of me for going to college and for a dad who gave me pleasant memories!

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