Author Archives: Amanda Lewis

Football Games at UC Davis

The informant is a 19 year old computer engineering student at UC Davis. He is currently a freshman there after graduating high school the previous year. He grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and has no strong religious ties. His family has been living in Southern California for many generations.

I asked him about the customs and activities associated with the football games at UC Davis. UC Davis is located in Davis, CA. This is northern California, which is slightly different culturally than the informant’s hometown. Though UC Davis has had an almost continuous football program since 1918, the team was only established as a NCAA Division I team less than a decade ago. This contrasts greatly with other universities who have structured themselves around their football team, like USC.

The football games are free for students to attend, but the informant says that the main draw for students to attend the game is the free giveaways of UC Davis apparel from various sponsors before and during the game. He said that he knew of giveaways of clothing such as scarves, beanies and t-shirts. There does not seem to be much hype for the games themselves. In other words, the students do not seem to be going because they are interested in football or supporting their university’s team, but just as something to do on the weekends. There does not seem to be as much pressure on students to actively support sports teams as there is at other universities that are more famous for their teams. When asked how he decided to go the game and who he went with, he replied that the decision was pretty spontaneous. A couple of his friends asked if he wanted to go and he said sure. He did not look forward to the game in advance.

Tailgating is found at UC Davis, but the informant said it was relatively minimal compared to other universities and takes place mainly in an empty field outside of Aggie Stadium. Aggie Stadium seats roughly 10,000 people and opened in 2007. The informant does not personally take part in the tailgating.

During the game, the student section is called the Aggie Pack. There is no assigned seating and people come and go as they please. There is a student leader in charge of leading cheers, but the mascot (a horse named Gunrock) plays a relatively small role in the games and is merely a person dressed up in a typical horse mascot costume. The informant said that the most exciting part of the games is the UC Davis tube sock giveaways, in which pairs of tube socks are thrown into the student section randomly.

When asked about half-time, the first thing he mentioned was that people like to leave then. This reinforces the idea that the students attend the games merely as something to do and not to actively watch the games.

All in all, there does not seem to be much hooplah surrounding the football games at UC Davis. Football is not the defining feature of UC Davis and this is evident in the blasé attitude towards the games. This is also evident in the attendance of other sports, including basketball. Even when ESPN was going to be filming one of the games, the students had to be lured in with free items to fill in the usually pretty empty stands.

Cram it, Clownie!

The informant grew up in various parts of California, due to his father needing to relocate for work. The contemporary legend described below was first heard by him in Norwalk, CA when he was 9 or 10 years old in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. The informant’s older brother and his friends (older by 3 years) first told the story and the informant overheard them. He remembers seeing the Bozo show, but he does not remember this specific episode. He tells this story when reminded by a story about similar defiant acts by children or when televison-related urban legends are brought up.

The story is as follows (paraphrased):

There was a television show in the 1960’s called Bozo the Clown that had children as guest stars on each episode. It was supposed to be an honor to be one of these guests, and most kids were happy to be there. These programs were not heavily edited and time-delayed like the television shows of today. There was one kid, though, that was not having it. When Bozo asked the child to do something or answer a question as was normally done, the child loudly said “Cram it, Clownie!” This was obviously not the expected response and is probably why this story gets told.

The story caused my informant to laugh as he told the story. My informant had not actually seen the episode in question, and the show was probably not rebroadcast if this did occur. This really shows the unpredictability and unfiltered nature of some children, which was entertaining even to 10-13 year old boys in the 1960’s. This wouldn’t be entertaining if children were ‘supposed’ to be like that, so the fact that the story is still entertaining shows something about how children realize that they are not supposed to behave that way. I think he remembered this legend because he has seen instances of children misbehaving like this in public throughout his life and career and therefore enjoys an example that was publicly broadcast. Because he has raised two children (19 years old and 22 years  old) I think he has a different perspective now as a parent than he did when he first heard the story as a child who wasn’t much different in age from the child in question.

 

How to Make a Baseball Team Win

The informant (my father) grew up in various areas of California, but spent his high school years in Chino, CA and has lived in the Rancho Cucamonga area for most of his adult life. He has been an avid baseball fan for as long as I can remember and sometimes refers going to Angels games as a child and knows a lot of the history behind how the Angels teams has moved around and changed names(from Los Angeles Angels to the California Angels to the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, etc.) Though we did not go to a lot of games when I was a kid, he listens to most games on the radio or watches them on TV, much to the good-natured annoyance of anyone who wanted to watch or listen to something else.

I asked my father if he had any good luck charms or rituals and he  explained briefly about what he does to make the Angels win, though he noted “it didn’t seem to be helping lately,” as the Angels are not doing very well this season. He said he feels like if he accidentally neglects to listen or watch the games that the Angels will not do as well. It did not seem that watching/listening more was “good luck” but that watching/listening less was “bad luck.” He also drinks out of a special Angels cup gotten from some promotion years ago to help the Angels win. The cup is old, but has a near-permanent place on the kitchen counter in my parents’ house.

Interestingly enough, my dad did not mention any of the things that the Angels fans are known for, like the rally monkey that comes out if they are tied or losing in the 7th inning, or any of the phrases typically associated with the Angels like “bring out the red.” Additionally, there was no special mention of any Angels clothing even though he has multiple Angels t-shirts and baseball caps that he wears regularly throughout the year.  He seems to focus on his attention and specific actions as what is important to helping the Angels succeed. Even though the outcome of the game is not changed by actions and I think he understands this for the most part. The most important part of this idea of good luck is remembering to drink out of his cup and watch/listen to the game. It is more about his attention to them than it is about the action of drinking out of a special cup.

Forsee Did It

The informant is one of five children. He has two older sisters (one of which is now deceased), one older brother, and one younger brother. His mother is in her 80’s, and his father has been deceased for many years. The family has been in southern California since the children were born. The family frequently gets together at his mother’s house for holidays like Easter and Christmas and family jokes present themselves often.

The joke explained here is one that started in the 1960’s by the informant’s maternal grandfather. In addition to asking the informant and his siblings questions like “Are you married yet?” and “So where are you working?” when they were children much too young to have a spouse or a job, he would also tap their shoulders and say “Forsee did it!” Forsee was the grandfather’s wife. Other small things like accidentally bumping into something or dropping something would also be explained by saying that Forsee did it. This was done in a teasing manner, not a mean-spirited manner. My informant remembers his family talking about his grandfather saying this joke moreso than remembering specific incidences where he witnessed his father saying that Forsee did something. This continued long after the grandfather and grandmother had passed away. Though the frequency of the joke has lessened in the last few years, the informant also tells the joke even when he is not at an extended family gathering and is just in his own home with his own wife and children, though he does so rarely. Though the joke is told relatively often at family gatherings, it is almost always followed by a discussion of how that joke started with the grandfather, even though it is discussed at almost every family gathering. I think it is explained mainly for the benefit of whatever new friend or boyfriend one of the younger generation has brought to the gathering, to bring them “into the family” just a little bit.

This joke speaks to the relaxed nature of this family. Joking around is encouraged, even by the older generation and many family dinners end with loud laughter. There is also a lot of teasing that goes on, both by younger members and older members of the family. Family gatherings are never formal, and the younger cousins often eat on the couch in the living room instead of bothering to get a folding chair out of the closet. Overall, the jokes like the one focused on here and the informal nature of the events really show the relaxed and comfortable nature of the family relationships.

A Rose to Remember

The informant (A) has been married to her husband (D) for 24 years. They got married in a non-religious outdoor ceremony when A was 24 and D was 29. Though I do not recollect them being overly romantic while their children were at home, this changed slightly after their youngest son left for college. I asked A if she remembered anything she wanted to share with me about her wedding and told me of a practice that the reverend suggested on their wedding day and they continued to do for a couple years after their wedding. The reverend was of no special importance to them other than that he could legally marry them. When the reverend was talking to them before the ceremony, he said that they should give each other a single red rose whenever they needed to remember that they loved each other enough to get married. This could be in response to an argument, a special day like an anniversary, or just because. A continued to say that she gave D a red rose on their anniversary, and they maybe did this a couple of other times in the first couple years of marriage, but as life went on they forgot about the practice when other things became more important. A did not seem upset that she and her husband had stopped the practice. It was just something to do.

The romantic nature of a red rose itself has little to do with this gesture other than being a pretty story. The red rose could be replaced with anything: a favorite candy bar, a stuffed animal, a card. The meaning to this gesture seems to be in the kindness of remembering to give the red rose rather than the red rose itself. Effectively, giving the red rose simply says “I remember that I love you, and I want to show you that I remember.” A and her husband stopped doing this a couple of years after they got married, which coincides with when they had their first child. This is the point at which I think that they ceased to be a “couple” and started being a “family,” which does not need special gestures to show that there is love between them. A rose pales in comparison to looking at a child that you created with another person. Being romantic and stereotypically sappy does not seem to be a part of A and D’s relationship.