The only Rose Bowl I ever attended was January 1, 1950, the year Ohio State University played the University of California Golden Bears. Since I was the head cheerleader for OSU, I was happy to be rooting for the Buckeyes who won the game in the closing minutes, 17-14. Jim Hague, a fraternity brother, kicked the winning field goal and my high school teammate and classmate, Curly Morrison, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. I had traveled by train with the OSU marching band famous for its high-stepping script OHIO formation. With stops in Chicago, Denver and San Francisco on the way west, conducting pep rallies for the faithful, the band was able to strut its stuff. It also gave us a welcome break from monotony of travel. Playing cards, contract bridge mostly, through the day helped, too.
The Rose Bowl parade itself was a dazzling affair, with intricate floats of fresh flowers, wonderful bands and music and the usual posses of magnificently groomed horses and riders. I ran along side the OSU band, 120 strong, as it and the energetic drum Major (also a fraternity brother), headed toward Pasadena’s iconic stadium. Being attired in my cheer-leader’s uniform, white pants and a red sweater with a big, gray “0”, I was an easy target for the California fans as they peppered me with “California snowballs” (ripe oranges) on my way to Ohio State’s more friendly side of the field.
The Rose Bowl game this January 1, 2019, I only watched on television and while it prompted the above reminisence, It had a meaning all its own, a meaning that had little to do with athletic skills and final scores and more to do with social skills and matters of the heart. My friend, Sherry, and I chose New Year’s Day to get away to Fairhaven’s Village Inn in Bellingham, Washington, to celebrate the start of our seventh month as a couple. We would have been just as happy had the Washington Huskies won this year’s classic. As it turned out, the Buckeyes won but it wasn’t the cinch that it appeared to be at half time with OSU leading 21 to 3. The final score: 28 to 23. Our score as a couple, on the other hand, was a tie, both claiming victory, holding hands and laughing, happy we had found each other when we had and looking forward now to a new life as partners, maintaining our independence but relishing and honoring the precious time together, a lively 70-year-old and an active 91-year-old, making it work.
We followed up the game with dinner at one of the many good restaurants in Fairhaven. Sherry had made the reservation at the Mambo Italiano and registered her disappointment when the hostess wanted to seat us in the large, drafty courtyard area. It was wonderful to see Sherry holding her ground, insisting on something more in alignment with the special nature of the occasion. After waiting a few minutes, we got the booth we wanted in the main dining room. Then it was my turn to improve the setting. The overhead light in the booth was much too bright. I asked our pleasant, young waitress to remove the bulb and bring us one of the crystal candlelight units for the table. She was only to happy to comply, tickled that we (an elderly couple) wanted a more romantic environment. From then on it was pure pleasure, sipping our cocktails, enjoying the bruschetta and savory, baked-chicken breast coated with parmesan , letting the soft conversation and flickering light play across the table. We could not have imagined a better ending to the beginning of our first new year together.