Pep and pet rallies in Cape history

June 9, 2017

Pep Rally - A pep rally is a term older than Grandmom Rose that just keeps hanging around, just like her, but mostly the term has given way to the less ruckus and more formal “Recognition Assembly.” I was honored to introduce the state championship girls’ lacrosse team at the pep rally June 5. Mike Dmiterchik introduced everyone before me, from spring all-state players to the driver’s ed all-state competition team to the librarian of the year. And then he said, “Here’s Fredman to introduce our girls’ lacrosse team.” I’ve been retired 10 years as a teacher, maybe longer, who’s counting? I stepped to the mic and said, “If you don’t know who I am, clap!” Many clapped 144 times, like a Twitter post. “If you don’t care who I am, clap louder!” They got into the spirit of the moment. “That’s great because it’s not about me, it’s about your nine-time state champion girls’ lacrosse team. It’s about 55 total state championships for Cape Henlopen, the most of any public high school in Delaware. It’s about 30 state titles during the new millennium!” The kids were great; they forgot they applauded to show they didn’t care who I was. It wasn’t about me, it was about 2:47 dismissal time and another great year in the rearview mirror, where things actual size always appear much bigger. 

Three high schools ago - A Friday football pep rally in 1975, my first as a Cape teacher and football coach, everybody packed into the Savannah Road gym. The band played and cheerleaders cartwheeled, the sounds bounced off the walls and so did the students. Friday night lights, the opening game, Dover was coming to town. The pep rally at 2 p.m. lifted off an eight-hour “this is our house” party. It was time to turn this sucker out! Dover was coming to town and when they took the field this Philly Boy said to his new friend Bill Collick, “What are the New York Giants doing on our field?” Mature fans representing all stations of life arrived tuned up like band instruments. Cape was off-road deep south back in those days. “We” actually did “run this town.” Cape won the game 14-7. Dover sophomore Mike Meade had scored the first time he touched the ball on a straight dive. Mike looked like that runaway boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark, defenders scattered like broken pebbles. Cape has had such stellar athletes as Purnell Ayers, John Bishop, Thurman Batson, Tyrone Gibbs, Vaughan Trammell, Mark Steele, Quinton Phillips, Bilbo Dunning, Gilbert Maull, Rex Dickerson, Angelo Shugart, Donnie Donahue, Alfred Davis, Randy Johnson, Jeffrey Hood, Emory Sumlin, Jeff Marsh, Teddy Vignola, John Stevenson, Bunky Dukes, Anthony Burton and Bobby Maull. I’m pulling those names from the cobwebs of my memory bank, time to put them back on the shelf for now.

Midnight hour - Another end-of-the-day pep rally 1976, only two high schools ago, inside the Little Big House. A car stopped on the Kings Highway side circle. I was the only teacher of special needs students in the entire building. Anita said to me, “My mom is here, I’ll be right back.” She came back in with a black kitten wearing a blue and gold ribbon. Other students looked at her then back at me waiting to see my play. “What’s the kitty’s name?” I asked. “Her name is Midnight.” “And what is Captain Midnight doing here in our classroom on a Friday afternoon?” “She’s going to the pet rally,” Anita said. All my “kids” had experience with others laughing at them, but nobody laughed; they just looked at Anita then back to me waiting for my play. The bell rang - The Midnight Hour - our crew rolled to the gym singing “Let the Midnight Special shine her ever-loving light on me.”

Snippets - Darby Dog, picked from car parts at Matt’s Car Care 11 years ago, is now a 77-year-old truck-riding maniac. He hears the truck start; he gets excited, which is kind of disgusting for an old dog, but that is how much he loves riding to banks for biscuits, Wawa for doughnuts and mostly the Transfer Station where you get a yogurt-covered broken biscuit on the weigh-in and on the way out, plus you get chatted up until they notice you’re rocking some Animal Planet instinct that is just too much reality for daytime transmission. Get a truck-riding dog, then get an old truck, then just ride around watching the world go by. Go on now, git!

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