The forced departure of Pint Boone was offset when we lost our star, Hugh Clausen. We were driving nicely for our third touchdown when a Walloper lineman pointed to Hugh's feet and hollered in choking disbelief: "Look, he's wearing spikes!"
Hugh, the only son of a professional man, owned more toys, games and sporting equipment than our entire neighborhood combined, and he had sought to gain additional broken-field running traction by donning baseball shoes. He was summarily banished.
The game wore on. We matched them touchdown for touchdown. Marty Norstad returned to our huddle and announced, "Goodpaster's got wooden legs or Somethin'. I kick him in the shins and he just laughs." The Wallopers' Emmet Goodpaster had come up with a remarkable innovation. He had constructed an admirable pair of shin guards simply by stuffing magazines inside his knee-length stockings.
Play halted suddenly. Paul Rasmussen's father had been standing nearby observing us. Adults were not encouraged to hover about the sidelines at our games. They were a nuisance. We railed at Paul, "How'd he find out? Betcha told him." Rasmussen's father was an even graver threat to our peace of mind than most. He sometimes went so far as to offer advice to players.
The Wallopers were equally vehement. "Get him to go or forfeit the game." They were not being unduly nasty. The appearance of an adult could cause a game's speedy removal to another site, or even end it completely.
Paul sheepishly engaged his father in whispered conversation. Mr. Rasmussen strolled off.
The game ceased once more at the approach of the Wallopers' Bunny Kjeldahl. Bunny, or Bernard as he was known in school, was an undistinguished football player, yet the legendary Bronko Nagurski could scarcely have caused more excitement among us.
Bunny was wearing a complete football uniform, a supreme rarity. He announced that it had been bequeathed him by a former college star, a friend of his father's. The elegant golden jersey caused unabashed awe. It boasted a fierce red lion on its front, and we all envied Bunny. Our huddle reeked of sour grapes as we voiced dark suspicions that he suffered from an infirmity known as "chicken."
But the Wallopers rejoiced in Bunny's equipment. They thought it made them invincible, and they were pretty close to right. A team owning a real football helmet could hand it around the huddle to whoever had been elected as the next ballcarrier. This detracted from whatever slight deception the attack may have possessed. But it gave the ballcarrier extraordinary confidence. He saw himself, grandiosely, as a human battering ram, immune to physical pain.
This terrible offensive weapon could be countered, though. By begging or borrowing a pair of shoulder pads, one became a veritable defensive Goliath. Like the helmet, shoulder pads were passed around as needed, in a rough and ready sort of socialism.