Photo by Salt Water New England

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Comment from Ferd on This Time of Year

Comment left by Ferd: 

This time of year also sees the start of that most Prep of all Preps sporting event, New England Small Athletic Conference Men's Lacrosse games at venues such as Williams, Bowdoin and Trinity. These events typically attract more dogs than spectators but once in a while you will spot Mummy and Daddy standing quietly on the sidelines watching their son, who is inevitably named Philip or Charles, play America's oldest game. 

They will stand out because of their attire. He will be wearing his father's Camel hair overcoat and corduroys, finished with #8 Alden half strap loafers that have seen better days a very long time ago. She is a size 2 and will wear her younger son's Andover Hockey jacket over khakis. Her footwear, incongruously, will be Belgium loafers. 

Attached by needlepoint leashes will be two Golden Retrievers always named Honey and Bear. 

Most noticeable however is that they never cheer, certainly never scream at the referees in the manner of parents from Long Island or New Jersey and, in fact, rarely watch the game itself. He will often leave his spouse to walk over and greet another parent with whom he went to Groton. She too will wander about chatting with acquaintances, especially her friend with whom she just had been shopping with at Eye of the Needle. 

This couple overall will display the casual, calm attitude of today's American aristocracy. When the game is over, they will approach their son on the sidelines but never hug him. The father might shake hands if the son's team had won. The couple will not linger as they will have already done all the socializing they need to do during the game. The Retrievers jump into the Defender and off they go to West Hartford, or Darien, or Boston. 

With deep regret, I must report that the pandemic has either cancelled this experience for the Spring of 2021 or drastically reduced the number of games to be played. Bowdoin, for example, is not playing at all this Spring. Perhaps it is resting on its laurels after being ranked the #2 small college in the country this winter, but then I really don't know.

28 comments:

  1. You painted each detail of that picture perfectly. The paternal handshake was especially poignant and opened a floodgate of memories.

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  2. Lisa Birnbach would be proud of the nostalgia, but it’s not lacrosse in 2021. Male or female, Division III (the small schools) or Division I, half the players hail from public school, with an increasing number from the Midwest and West Coast. They are all outstanding athletes if they’re playing for the New England small colleges. Also, it’s one of the more popular growing sports among younger people, so absent COVID restrictions, expect a healthy (and loud) student spectator contingent.

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    1. Agreed!!! Lacrosse in Austin is borderline boisterous, and the parents, dressed in Patagonia, Nikes, Oakleys, and gimme caps from ski resorts or big name golf courses, are less than restrained. The ECUSA hug has happily replaced the handshake. The arc of time shows a favorable inflection.

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    2. "The ECUSA hug"! I love it. Kumbayah. No thanks, give me the composure and gravitas of the old days, any day. " But that's what makes horse racing".

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  3. What wonderful images your words evoke. Thank you so very much!

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  4. Many people do not understand the civilized culture you accurately describe having never lived experienced it. They may try to emulate it, but do not understand the values. A life of moderation is more rewarding than today's excessive behavior.

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    1. Well stated.

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    2. You are so right.

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    3. As a 9th grade lit teacher a dozen years ago, I simply could not explain Joe DiMaggio to kids reading The Old Man and the Sea. They could not imagine a world in which people admired someone who didn't show off, talk trash, wiggle, make goofy faces, pray in public, point at heaven after hitting a home run, or have a tattoo.

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    4. “There is but one success-to be able to spend your life in your own way.” - Christopher Morley

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    5. I'm just delighted to have them emulate it. Those that emulate are at least better behaved.

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  5. Lacrosse? Great sport.

    A few years back I wrote a novel (THE PREPPY AND THE TROUT) about an ex-lacrosse star from Colgate. Nobody bothered to read it – the fate of about 95% of all novels nowadays – but it might be of interest to those interested in Preppies and lacrosse:

    https://www.amazon.com/Preppy-Trout-Robert-Reichardt/dp/1521243867/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=robert+reichardt&qid=1617460568&s=books&sr=1-10

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    1. Hi Robert, I love your book! Downloaded it on Kindle a couple of years ago after I read about it on 'Ivy Style'. My interest was more the fly fishing than the lacrosse however. How about a follow up??

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    2. Robert ReichardtApril 8, 2021 at 4:27 PM

      Thanks, James, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Now if I can just find a piece of paper and a pencil I'll see what I can do.

      Stay well.

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  6. Lacrosse always was popular at least in Maryland, on Long Island (where the greatest American lacrosse player of all time, a black man from Manhasset, grew up) and perhaps in parts of New Jersey? Somehow it became popular, in the ‘80’ and 90’s (?), and morphed into a symbol of “privilege.”
    And it’s so organic, after all who can resist a game running around carrying a basket handed down from the Mohawks? We tried it. It was okay to play. But it’s not anywhere near as much fun as being out there on the ice.

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    1. I assume you’re talking about Jim Brown. He’s the reason players have to cradle the ball by moving the stick; the sport changed the rules to require it because otherwise, it was apparently nearly impossible to get the ball away from him. It’s remarkable to think that despite his hall of fame talent as a professional football player, he may have been even better at lacrosse, where he’s also in the college hall of fame.

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    2. Reminds us of Chicago Black Hawk great Stan Mikita pleading once with Mr. Robert Orr,
      “c’mon Bobby, give us the puck!”

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    3. Jim Brown would have made one heck of a hockey player, so would have Jackie Robinson.

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    4. Brown also played basketball at Syracuse and was on the track team. I believe he participated in every track and field event. He sometimes had lacrosse and track on the same day, which is no problem if you're Jim Brown.

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    5. I'm only qualified to speak for Connecticut schools, but I will say that Lacrosse is quite popular here. I'm not sure if things have changed in the ten years (wow!) since I graduated, but lacrosse was the only sport that the student body seemed particularly invested in.

      I was on the ultimate frisbee team. It was a lot of fun, and good exercise, but the team was full of kids who didn't take athletics too seriously (myself included).

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  7. Phillip and Charles are more appropriate names for the retrievers. For the boys, Woodsy and Blinky.

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  8. I graduated from a public high school in Nassau County on Long Island. It seemed that half the males in the senior class carried their lacrosse sticks with them to class.

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    1. I went to school in Manhasset. It was long enough ago (late 1950s) that sticks were not allowed in the classroom. There was a neat old room over the gym full of old, wooden lacrosse sticks and leather helmets and, for indoor roller hockey, skates and hockey sticks.

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  9. Lacrosse is very popular in the Mid-Atlantic states. In New England, Ice Hockey is competitive especially at schools like Avon Old Farms, Andover, Nobles, Deerfield, etc. Players with professional aspirations are recruited by Yale, Harvard, Boston College, etc.

    To a lesser extent, Ultimate Frisbee is played in loosely organized matches between alums of Williams, Amherst, Dartmouth, etc.

    For the rest, I presume sporadic meet-ups for Hacky Sack happen on campus quads in between classes.

    Interestingly, skeet shooting was an activity enjoyed by execs at the old Morgan Stanley under John Mack.

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  10. Ferd comments are the very best. Keep them coming please. GLH

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  11. Unless this game was played in Palm Beach or Nantucket, Mummy didn't come from shopping at Eye of the Needle. They sadly closed their Newbury Street shop years ago.

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  12. Outstanding composition...I am a teacher and lacrosse coach in southeastern Mass, kids play lax, they love the game. Quick op here to jab at NJ :) Son played last summer in CT tournament, NJ parents and players, wow, oh wow - enough said. DIII lax love it for what it encompasses. However, I would like to substitute Great Pyrenees for labs in my rendition!:) New England or nothing! Enjoy

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