When I was a kid,
Thanksgiving feasting frequently lost out to football as the Santa Ana Junior
College Dons and the Fullerton JC Hornets played their annual grudge match on
Rivalry between the
two teams began in 1916, and from 1925 through 1956, they played on
Thanksgiving Day in the “Turkey Bowl.”
Tension would mount
between the football aficionados and the cooks who believed Thanksgiving
dinner was more important. Many housewives, including my mother, became miffed
if some, namely my Uncle Pete, were more interested in the kickoff than the
turkey. Pans would thump a little louder than usual as the cook hurried the
gravy along and hastily mashed the potatoes.
pressure to beat the start of the game. Helpers would rush between the kitchen
and dining room loading the table with turkey, sage dressing, giblet gravy,
fluffy white mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, assorted vegetables and
Quickly they would
rearrange the heirloom dishes piled with celery and carrot sticks, the antique
milk glass bowl brimming with shimmering red cranberry sauce and my
grandmother’s hand painted dish filled with my mother’s special pickled
peaches, trying to make room for the platters and bowls of hot foot coming
from the kitchen.
When every inch of
the snowy white table cloth was covered, the family and guests were summoned.
While the men sneaked glances at their watches, prayers were said in record
time and my dad determined the direction in which the dishes of food would be
passed around the table.
had served himself, plates were brimming, and the eating could begin. As
kickoff time approached, the big Majestic radio in the adjoining living room
was adjusted to top volume and the men strained to hear the announcer, glaring
at anyone who dared to speak. Hurriedly polishing off their heaping plates,
they declined pumpkin and mince pie until later, explaining that they couldn’t
eat another bite.
Soon, only women
and children remained at the table. This was the time for a replay of dinner.
“Was the new recipe for creamed onions as good as the old one?” “Grandmother
always served parsnips, but hardly anyone ate them today.” “Did you like the
Golden Glow gelatin salad?”
dissecting the leftovers, the kitchen crew postponed the cleanup which would
keep them in the kitchen, putting away the extra food and washing dishes,
until time to serve dessert in the late afternoon.
initial excitement felt by the men in the living room dwindled as the sports
announcer droned on.
several would be snoozing in their chairs, football forgotten, while others
sneaked outside for a smoke.
When tickets were
available, those who went to the game, which alternated between the Santa Ana
Bowl and the Fullerton Stadium, were welcomed back to a late evening dinner
with cutting remarks about Thanksgiving being less important than football to
After 84 games,
this competition between Santa Ana and Fullerton is the longest running
community college football rivalry in California.
SAC hold the
overall series record at 41-39-4 and currently has “The Key to the County,” a
large iron key with the schools’ colors.
SAC victories are
written on the red side while Fullerton wins are written on the yellow side.