ARMISTICE DAY HS FOOTBALL

In those days not so long after WWII, the big rival HS football game between Riverton and Lander was always played on Armistice Day. Since Lander was our arch rival in those days, the success of our HS football team was measured by the results of the Lander-Riverton game. Even though Lander was a smaller town they always seemed to have good teams. So the traditional game was held on November 11 each year, on what was called Armistice Day after the end of WWI when an armistice was finally reached. Often it was cold by then and game was not always much fun for the players, especially considering the pressure to win seemed of extra importance for that rival game.

So, early on Armistice Day the recent veterans of WWII would gather in the VFW Hall and elsewhere to begin a day of celebration fueled by what we now call adult beverages. By game time it seemed that many of these celebrants were pretty far along the path to alcoholic bliss on what they considered to be their day of celebration. Obviously, most of the town’s people were sympathetic the right of those war heroes to have a day of celebration as long as there was nothing being done that would harm anyone. Mostly the veteran’s celebrations were boisterous, happy events.

So, by 2:00 PM it was time of the big game, the game of the year. This year the game was being played on the field in Lander. Lander’s field was not sunken like Riverton’s, just a completely level area with parking all around the field and some bleachers on both sides for the rivals from each town. The game begin and the high school teams were moving up and down the field as usual. However, there was another game getting going on the field besides the HS game. It seems the veterans are bored with the HS game or maybe just looking for something fun to do along with their alcohol-induced happy spirits, so they decide to have a game of their own. Their game was mostly contained in the end zone, but as time progressed it moved out onto the playing field. Before too long the two games get mixed up and if the HS players had not have had uniforms it might have been hard to tell which game was which. Some happy vets seemed to want to join in on the HS game and lined up on the line of scrimmage with us. Well, after some time order was restored and the HS game was completed. All in all it was a happy time and it seemed the rivalry game took second place to our feelings about the vets and the sacrifices they made fighting all over Europe and the Far East.

The thoughts of WWII were still very much in our minds in those days and it did not seem much time had passed since the end of the war. Even trivial things such as remembering the day when bananas returned to the grocery store were still strong in our minds. Those Armistice Day games were a highlight of the football season, not only for us as players, but certainly for small-town Wyoming still seeking some diversion from the difficult times of the long, hard depression and a brutal world war.

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