We are a cheerful, if diverse, company of travelers, united presumably by our allegiance to LSU football. Young and old alike, we will root fervently for the Tigers. The Southern young are surprisingly friendly with and respectful of their elders. They chat with them as enlisted men permitted a fling in the Officers' Club. And they seem much less likely to fly the family coop than their contemporaries in the rebellious North. The LeBlanc boys obviously respect their father as the captain of his ship, the Wanderlodge.
"Ah'd like you to meet a friend of mahn," LeBlanc says, introducing a round, pink man with hair the color of twilight. "This is Dr. F. P. Bordelon. The F. P. stands for 'full of penicillin.' "
"That's right," Dr. Bordelon says, acknowledging the introduction. "Ah'm a G.P., general practitioner. Ah give mah patients penicillin. If they're allergic to it, ah recommend another physician."
Dr. Bordelon is attired for the game in a purple jacket, purple and gold tie, yellow shirt and flannel slacks that, when hiked up, reveal purple and gold socks with LSU embroidered on them in gold. His underwear, he discreetly implies, is similarly adorned.
"Ah'm just a red-headed Cajun," he says proudly. "And don't call me fat. Ah'm not fat. Ah'm just too short for my width."
He is standing outside the Wanderlodge now amid the pregame hubbub. The stadium rises like a doge's palace in the setting sun. This will be a twilight game. It is warm, in the high 60s, and Dr. Bordelon's forehead is moist.
"Ah tell ya, ah owe this place an awful lot. Ah tell mah own children ah don't care where they go to school as long as it's LSU. Going to these games is a little like going home again. Football may be a lil' different heah in the South. It's a fashion show, a parade, all those parties, these won'ful people. In the North, it may just be a game. Heah, it's a way of life."
Tiger Stadium is known in the South as " Death Valley," no reflection, certainly, on its playing surface, which, far from being an arid wasteland, is a lush green lawn of unartificial, real live grass. The sobriquet refers instead to the grisly fate that awaits even the best teams to visit an arena housing patrons so fiercely partisan. Visitors to this Death Valley succumb not to thirst but to earache, for it is THE NOISE that ultimately does them in. Just as Los Angeles baseball fans once applauded themselves for showing up in such great numbers, thereby shattering all existing attendance records, so do Tiger fans raise their voices in tribute to THE NOISE they can make of an evening.
The stadium is acoustically perfect for cacophony. Its seats, which are close to the sidelines, rise sharply above the field so that even a hiccup from the 40th row resounds in the huddle like the report of an artillery piece. And when 68,000 Tiger zealots scream in unison, the effect on even the most placid of quarterbacks is unsettling.
The sound of a thousand rock concerts attends the arrival of the first Tiger player. By the time the entire team has been trotted out, Lindbergh has been feted at Le Bourget, V-J day has been acclaimed in Times Square and Judy Garland has sung Over the Rainhow in a comeback appearance at the Palace.