Watching the 49ers lose, thinking about crab for lunch

Cooked crab draining in colander -0755

 Fresh cooked crab (with a torn part of a paper bag in one of its claws, it had been trying to hold on when Michele put it in the boiling water).

As Michele and I were getting ready to watch the 49ers beat the Seahawks, Michele suggested she get some popcorn and hot dogs. She thought it would be a nice touch, typical football game food; I thought, What? Crab is much more typical playoff food after all it comes in season just in time for the playoffs, before I caught myself , realizing that hot dogs are – indeed – the quintessential game time food. At halftime, as we waited for the teams to come back so San Francisco could finish off Seattle, we ate our hot dogs. But, in the second half, as it became increasingly certain that Seattle would win, I started thinking about watching those Super Bowls with my mother and stepfather.

Growing up, college football was a much bigger deal than Professional Football, my stepfather – who my mother had married while I was stationed in Korea and did not feel like much of a father figure – however had season tickets to the 49ers at Kezar Stadium. Kezar was a much smaller stadium – only 18,000 people between the goal lines – than Cal’s Memorial Stadium or Stanford Stadium, and watching the 49ers play there, in the early 60’s, seemed more amateurish than watching the actual amateurs (and I think college players were amateurs in the 60s).

I was living in Oakland at the time and, a couple of years after the Raiders came to town, I got season tickets. Oakland was a great place to live that always seemed to be getting the wrong end of the stick compared to the much more glamorous San Francisco and that carried over into football. The 49ers were in the NFL and the Raiders were in the new AFL which was considered inferior. My stepfather, Sherry, was very gracious about the NFL’s superiority however, and several times we took each other to our team’s games.

After the first Super Bowl, Sherry and I talked after the game. We both agreed that Green Bay was almost unbeatable, after they beat Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10 (most people considered the real Super Bowl to be the NFL Championship game in which Green Bay had beat the Cowboys). During the second Super Bowl, while Green bay was crushing Oakland, Sherry called me several times to talk during the game. We agreed to watch Super Bowl III together at his home.

My mother was not especially interested in football, college, professional, or otherwise. As an aside, I played football in highschool and it occurs to me that my mother never came to a game. End aside. As uninterested as she might have been in the game however, my mother was interested in having a nice lunch for the occasion. In those days, going to a professional game was more formal and the men would wear sports coats and ties – maybe this is where the term sports coat came from, something to wear to watch a game, that would be more casual than a suit – and I am sure that I showed up for Super bowl III wearing a coat and tie.

Going to my mother’s was usually a formal occasion and this luncheon was no different even though the occasion was a football game. The women were probably wearing dresses, the TV was probably black and white, and most people expected the NFL to – again – beat the AFL team. In this case, the NFL team was the Baltimore Colts that had gone 13-1 during the regular season and the AFL team was the New York Jets. The Colts had crushed the Cleveland Browns 34–0, in the NFL Championship Game, and the Jets had to come from  behind to beat the Raider’s in their Championship game (they had previously lost to the Raider’s in the infamous Heidi game, named that because NBC had cut away from the game, with the Jets leading, to broadcast the film Heidi). 

At halftime, we broke for lunch, in the diningroom, with the Jets leading 7-zip and we were served fresh crab with a salad. Today, it seems so incongruous, even slightly archaic, but it started a Parsons/Stern family tradition of getting together for the Super Bowl with fresh crab.

Unlike the 49ers, the New York Jets increased their lead in the second half and beat the 19-point-favorite Baltimore Coats 16-7.

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