Monday, October 25, 2010

Brown County Town

I had to upload this memory to the Net since the Packers won last night.  I only saw the replays but didn't have to see much footage to know what a helluva party Green Bay and most of  Brown County, WI had last night.

I used to live in Green Bay.  My ex and I were stationed there for an "evolutionary" piece of my emotional career that lasted about 3 years or so.  I spent most of my life in the DC Metro area, Northern Virginia to be more precise, so I have typically been a Redskins fan.  Since I am not religious about football I have the privilege of casually supporting 2 teams: The Redskins* and the Packers.  And no, it's not like cheating on a spouse.

SO.  We moved to Green Bay.  That was around.....mmm...2002? 2003?  I can't remember.  It's not too important.  What I DO remember is how masculine the town felt.  Yes towns and states and regions all have a "feel" to them.  I have lived in many many places, being a military brat and eventually a military service member.   All military brats learn to assimilate - quickly.  My adjustment period in Green Bay was no different.  Get apartment, learn the lingo and slang, decipher the accent, and carry on.  I did this dutifully, and when I felt confidant enough, I got in my car and went to the grocery store.

Pleasant people.  Folks were very friendly.  And driven by something.  That was odd.  I didn't expect that.  There was a sense of urgency in every aisle.  Slow down lady. Where's the fire?  What was up with these folks?  It didn't dawn on me until the cashier handed me my change and said, "Go Packers!"  OOOooooh! I see.  It was Sunday.  Factoid was duly noted and logged into my mental database, cross reference "super fans".

Green Bay has a current to it that is kicked into a fierce gear during - you guessed it- football season.  I won't go into Packer history.  You can find that here.  But when the fans own the team, you will have fierce fans.  The street signs in Green Bay are green and gold.  My ex-husband worked on Holmgren Way.    Football icons are elevated to historical status.  We're talking f. a. n.'s.   Well to an outsider, as I was when I got there, it seemed oddly extreme, albeit refreshing.  

I felt like I was in college again.  The pride I felt for my Alma Mater when I was in college (VaTech) was strong.  So was this feeling in Green Bay, except it was much, MUCH bigger.  In college, the fervor for the team (Hokies btw) was contained to a demographic that was roughly 18-36 year olds.  But Green Bay...  well, it was infants to grannies.   I'd see little old ladies knitting green and gold scarves (or purple things in crocheted nooses.)  I saw oblivious babies in green face paint.  Packer fans crossed genders and generations, but they added a sense of family as well.

To illustrate how Green Bay life changed when the Packers played I will describe a trip to the grocery store, Festival Foods.  I liked going there because they had a  day care at the front of the store.  You could deposit your offspring, get a claim ticket,  not unlike a hat check, and commence your shopping experience.  Loved it.  Well Festival knew how concerned you as a parent could be when you were separated from little Wally.  So they installed monitoring stations all over the store (ie TVs).  In the meat aisle, look up and there's Wally!  Eating a crayon, how cute.   This made my shopping experience great!  My son was, well, a little difficult.  I relied on the monitoring stations.  They kept me paced.  Eating crayons- ok, that means he's still good.  Running around the room - eh, maybe 10 minutes.  Mouth-open scream and a slight delay in the sound getting to me in produce - OK. It's time to go NOW.  

So lets recap.  Monitors = Brilliant.  HOWEVER, Monitors + Football Season + Packer Game = Monitors SHOWING Packer game.  Yes.  This particular day it was a Packer game.  I strolled along the meat section, looked up and... What the hell!  Where's Wally?  I saw Brett (whose name was still spoken aloud back then) running here, there, whatever.  "Where are the KIDS?"  My concerns were drowned out by happy fans who cheered throughout the store when Green Bay took that pigskin and scored.  I gave up.  I submitted to the waves of exhilaration when the ref's hands went up.  The kick was good.  And for a good half hour everyone in the store- rich, poor, hispanic, white, Canadian were all united in a joy that lasted all football season, every Sunday, especially during home games.  Thanks for the great memories, Packers.    

*(By the way, I have just as happy memories of my 'Skins and will write about them this winter when I go back to DC for holiday.)

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