Misty Water-Colored Memories


Today is Super Bowl Sunday. A big day in the Moore household growing up. From late August to January, football dominated the television on the weekends. College ball on Saturdays, pro ball on Sundays. I was more familiar with the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas than I was with any female athlete…until, of course, Olga Korbut in 1972. In order to get any attention from my father, I had to be athletic. I could play baseball, football, basketball and swim by the tender age of 12. I had two older brothers to compete against, so I had to try.

As the months have passed since my father’s death, I find many memories falling by the wayside. The acrimony, the fighting, the disagreements and the emotional misunderstandings, for now, have minimized. The memories of playing catch, watching football, talking about construction and the various moments when my father stood tall stand out. I didn’t realize that I’ve been missing this person for quite some time, even before his death. My dad, who I could call when times were tough, would listen and be supportive. Even when my ex was arrested, my father, who ordinarily wouldn’t miss an opportunity to hurl a criticism, was supportive of me, and even said, “I’m not gonna kick someone when they’re down.”

But Super Bowl….always a day I talked to my dad. If I wasn’t with him on Super Bowl Sunday, I called him many times. Football was one of the avenues we could walk side by side. We would scream and yell at the TV, my mom too…not screaming at her, but she was screaming too. It was fun watching the games with him. I miss my dad today more than I did on his birthday last week. It’s hard to watch football without hearing his voice…albeit swearing most likely. This game ran through his veins.

Today I had to venture into the City to drop off a kid at the bus. I passed out all my cameras to the others in the car and ordered them to take some good city shots. I don’t often get into town, so when I do, I like to be camera-ready. We passed by Third & Mission. Ellie mentioned that Eva worked right there near Moscone Center. I responded that I worked at that high-rise hotel next to the church, and your grandfather and his father worked right on this corner as well. History lesson.

To wander through the City on Super Bowl Sunday only exacerbated my father’s absence. We drove all the way on Geary from Downtown to the Beach. We hoped to grab burritos at Gordo’s, but parking is cursed on Sundays around noon. Took a slight bypass on Clement so I could swing by my grandmother’s place on 36th Avenue. Misty water-colored memories of enchanted Christmases long ago.

Great Highway was closed, so I chose to jump up to Sunset and drive to Sloat from there. Passed S.I. and all the memories of going to high school games with my dad…at Kezar. Even though I should have been embarrassed to go to those games with my dad, I don’t remember being that put out. I was just glad to go.

Today I am explaining some of the game to my youngest. She doesn’t remember football being a part of her life at all, she said she should watch football more often. That’s a good idea. But today is the last day of the season….we’ll have to catch up with the boys of autumn later this year.

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The Boys of Autumn

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The Boys of Autumn

by Robert Moore, as told to Donna Fentanes

It’s September 1948. The curtain had come down on World War II, the airlift in Berlin was underway, and something was brewing on the Korean Peninsula that would dramatically affect our lives in the near future. The grim memories of the war were retreating to the attic of our memories; except for the few whose wounds were so deep that they would remain front and center forever.

Under this backdrop, these boys of autumn assembled, and the season of ’48 began. We were anxious to prove ourselves worthy of the Red & Blue. If we didn’t know each other from the “goof squad”, we met at the two-a-days in August. Nineteen forty-eight was our year. Our fifteen minutes of fame. We were S.I. And we were going to go all the way.

Football is a great, all-consuming sport. Just being on the field is exciting. There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass; nothing like the sound of a kick-off. The anxiety right before a play, the crash of shoulder pads, and the scrambling for the ball are all experiences non- transferable to the stands. Your eyes are fixed on the ball, your ears alert to changes in motion, the sweat and mud permeate your skin, you spit blood and mud, and, yes, you can smell a linebacker a mile away.

Football demands all from your body, your heart and your wit. We were happy to comply and submit to its demands. Our coach, Mike Hemovich, whipped us into shape, bruising our bodies without bruising our spirits. A war hero, Coach Hemovich was the kind of coach who not only taught good football, but also taught good and right living. He was a nice man with nice manners. He treated us kids with respect and kindness. His stock is sorely missed today.

There we were. The S. I. Wildcats Varsity Football Team.   We had a good season and made it to the semi-finals. From the “goof squad” to varsity, we saw football first hand, on the field, playing and watching from the sidelines. We wore the uniform. We felt the wet earth, we heard the groans. Then we graduated. We’d return to games to see younger brothers, or just to relive our memories. Then we came to watch our sons or bring our kids to see games. It’s different in the stands than on the field. But you can still smell the grass or think you feel the gravely mud in your mouth. And you always feel the pain.

It’s September 2006. The dusty streets of Baghdad headline the newscasts. A woman stands poised to become the first female Speaker of the House. And something maybe brewing, again, on the Korean Peninsula that could dramatically affect our lives or those of our children and grandchildren. On a warm, bucolic afternoon late in that September, the boys of autumn huddled once again for the first time in 58 years. There we were The Varsity Football Team of 1948, or what remained of us, regrouping on Dante Ravetti’s Hillsborough patio. We enjoyed a superb luncheon graciously hosted by Dante and his lovely wife, Terry.

Certainly not the same sight as 58 years earlier, but definitely the same men.   We reminisced, and thought about those who weren’t with us any longer. We commented on how well we looked and held a few more mental reservations. A good time was had by all; and at the end of the afternoon, we, then, entered into the 4th quarter of our lives. What a game!!!

Above, the 1948 St. Ignatius football team. Below, in 2006, at the home of Dante and Terry Ravetti were members of St. Ignatius College Preparatory’s 1948 football team; front, from left: Bob Moore, Bill Helmer, Dan Ravetti and Laurie McCaffrey; standing, from left: Pete Arrigoni, Jack Cunningham, Bob Menicucci, Jack Mackall, Gerry Martin, Preston Lee (foreground), Gene Lynch, Pete Labrado (partially obscured), Bill Rippon, Harry Mullins, Phil O’Connor, and Tevis Martin.

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