But a whole football uniform! Our spirits quailed. Depression overcame us.
We became so unsettled that the Wallopers, with Indian Joe running wild, promptly counted three touchdowns. We were saved from complete disaster only because the football, an ancient heirloom, deflated in midplay with a sad sigh.
So routine was this that it caused no comment. Gus Dorais and the immortal Rockne had long since made a devastating weapon of the forward pass. To accommodate it, the football was becoming increasingly slim. But the balls we used were black with age, fat and stub-nosed, relics of the dropkicking era. A football was a treasure handed down from older to younger brother.
We removed ourselves to the shady side of the hedge while Marty Norstad, a bicycle owner, unlimbered his tire-repair kit. We rested while Marty pedaled off to the nearest gas station to reinflate the ball. Football repair was a problem requiring foresight. It was considered prudent to have an in with a friendly shoemaker who, free of charge, would mend a torn seam. When laces rotted, we replaced them with a shoelace. When a ball was really old and no longer repairable, we stuffed it with rags.
During this enforced rest period. Horse Swanson rekindled Hornet morale by pointing out that the fearsomely attired Bunny Kjeldahl had been unable to wreak the havoc of which he appeared capable simply because he lacked the minimum ingredients of agility and courage. Horse clinched his argument. "Notice they don't let him carry the ball none."
Reassured, we stormed back. As we broke for lunch, the score stood at a respectable Wallopers 42, Hornets 36.
When play resumed at 1 o'clock we decided to vary our attack with the tricky hidden-ball play. The plan was to shove the pigskin up the back of the sweat shirt of Sam Dodd, who had replaced the departed Hugh Clausen in our backfield. As we all ran down the field like crazy, Sam was supposed to amble goalward down the sideline wearing a bemused expression as if he had suddenly decided to withdraw from play.
Naturally, the play fell apart, as it usually did. The hidden ball required a boy with the nerves of a parachute jumper and the poise of a confidence man. It was necessary for him to stroll downfield with studied casualness while knowing full well that at any moment he might be belted unmercifully from the blind side by an opponent who had not been suckered by the stratagem.
As the afternoon wore on, play was punctuated by bitter complaints of limping ballcarriers: "Come on! Cut out the clipping, will ya!" Devotees of the Donkey Roberts block tackle were addicted to throwing it from the rear.
The game came to a temporary halt when Sid Pugh punched Jamie Rooney in the mouth. This led to several auxiliary scuffles. Sid accused Jamie of raking him across the face with his fingernails. "I'll probably get gangrene," he predicted, wiping his bleeding cheek with his grimy hand.