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The Yale Bowl

Rich Marazzi, The Valley's sports guru, told us little unknown facts of the YALE BOWL.

It is always the way, the closer you live to a famous landmark, the less you know about it, or even have visited it.

When I was growing up, I lived far from the action of the town. My parents were immigrants and they had much to learn about the culture of America. I had three much older sibs. I was born late in my mother's life, so I was practically an only child left to navigate on my own. The child's mind has many ways of interpreting words and what people say and what they really mean.

I would hear conversations between my sibs and their friends like, "You guys going to the Bowl today?"

I know you eat soup in a bowl, or you sit on the bowl in the bathroom, and long ago, when September came and the boys needed a haircut for school, their fathers would bit a bowl on their heads and cut all the hair that hung beneath the bowl.

My seven your old mind thought, "Why are they all going to eat soup at the bowl, or sit on the toilet bowl, or even get a haircut?"

Well, age brought wisdom, and I found out The Bowl was The Yale Bowl. New Haven's famous landmark that belongs to Yale University.

Later, as I traveled away from home, I always met new people that always asked, "Where are you from?"

"A little town in Connecticut," I would answer.

"Where in CT?"

"Seymour, about 13 miles from New Haven."

"Oh yeah," they would exclaim, as if they knew it well, though they have never been here and probably will never come.

Rich told us bowls are round, but The Yale Bowl is elliptical, oval, and an optical illusion. A real innovative engineering first.

I had never been in the Bowl, though I passed it every day going to work. On a crisp Autumn day, my quasi-boyfriend invited me to a football game at the Yale Bowl. Yale vs. UCONN.

Seymour never had a football team when I was in high school, so I knew nothing about the game. I was 21 and still a naive country bumpkin. This quasi guy was a returning WWII Air Force Veteran, who had spent time in German prisoners of war Stalags. And he was trying desperately to fit in the life he knew before the war. Sometimes feeling like a stranger in his own neighborhood.

He parked the car on the neighbors lawn, three bucks, and walked towards this structure that looked half out of the ground. We walked through a tunnel. I could see a light at the end. Finally into daylight.

OMG! It is a big hole in the ground with seats all around that look down on the bottom, which is green grass, nice and flat, and there are dark holes at ground level around the bottom of the bowl.

1:00 p.m. - The crowd roars.

From one of the dark holes out comes a bunch of guys that look like the Michelin Tire man. They are wearing blue shirts. The crowd is yelling, whistling and booing.

On the opposite side of the bowl, another bunch of guys looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy enter the bowl. They are wearing white shirts. They both form a straight line facing each other. All the shirts have numbers on the back. I guess this is how they can keep track of them. More yelling, screaming, foot stamping, and booing. A loud whistle blows and these guys start charging each other. It looks like they are trying to kill each other trying to get a hold of a little brown ball.

The seats are yelling, screaming their brains out and urging these guys on. Football made no sense to me at 21, and still makes no sense at 89.

This big hole in the ground has hosted many a memorable event. She was the first and the ma'ma of all the bowls that were born after her.

Her bones have been repaired many times, but she will always remain The Grande Dame, even as we pass into a sleek modern world. We love her just as she is.

You could feel her pride when Eli's parade and show off their living mascot, an English Bulldog named Handsome Dan, who has been given quite a dog house of his own. Handsome Dan XVII has passed on. A new little puppy who is being trained and will have the Honorable Title of Handsome Dan XVIII.

I have not been in the bowl for a football game since, but that first time was a very special day because I married that then quasi-boyfriend.

But he never did invite me for soup in the bowl.

A little tidbit from your hysterical historian: Ivy League Colleges are not so called due to the ivy that covers their walls. At one time there were only four prestigious colleges. Hench the Roman numeral IV was designing the four colleges. They were Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth.

A report by our hysterical historical historian.

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