Homecoming TP, names of high school mascots and other “traditions”

I dropped by the Bussey, Iowa Post Office (population 387) a week ago Friday morning, just at sunrise, to pick up the mail. I was thrilled to see the kids from Twin Cedars High School had TPed the city for the ride home.

In 2021, Twin Cedars had 95 students enrolled in high school, which means there are approximately 23-24 children per year on average. Considering the level of effort and the number of buildings affected, it seems that most of the children spent a large part of the night there.

Imagine the fun!

For some of you, dear readers, wipe the frowning brows from your face and imagine that you are young again and ready to push the boundaries of our existence. Run with me! Embrace the cacophony of chemicals in our brains and glands, dopamine, hormones, pheromones and adrenaline, mixed together with the sheer wonder that we even exist.

I remember doing lab the day before I got home as a kid, and it was so much fun – and so emotionally charged. Driving in the cool autumn air, then jumping out of cars, running, throwing TPs as far and high into the trees as possible, trying to shut up, but unable to stop laughing, but afraid of getting caught , and me trying to stay close to the girl I loved more than anyone else in the world, trying to make her laugh, without her thinking I was a weirdo.

The school didn’t allow such shenanigans, so we were on our own. After finishing my last year of lab, a new kid invited us over to his house to hang out because his parents were gone. He pulled out some shot glasses and greeted us to raid his parents’ liquor cabinet. He handed me a bottle of Southern Comfort, I looked at it and read the label.

The tag read, “It’s the end of your football season if you get caught and your dad is going to kill you.”

I admired the efforts of the kids at Twin Cedar and hoped they wouldn’t get into trouble back to school and that no one would get into trouble overnight.

The Bussey Public Library, decorated for the reunion. (Photo by Bob Leonard)

They nailed down the library.

Wilson’s Corner convenience store windows carry the #shavethemohawks back-to-basics message. (Photo by Bob Leonard)

It’s Wilson’s Corner, a convenience store and the only place to get gas in town. Cold beer, drinks and snacks, and great pizzas. Nice people. The gas pumps are old so there is no payment at the pump. A weathered paper sign says we’re supposed to pay inside before pumping gas, but no one does. The staff behind the counter looks out the window, sees someone there, and turns on the pump.

If you’re using vapers and heading east, north, or west, you’d better get some gas now, because you have about a 20-minute drive to get to another station- service in Knoxville, Pella or Oskaloosa. If you’re heading south, you’re probably ok, because there’s a Casey’s in Lovilia about six minutes away.

It’s hard to see, but the flap on the left above is soaped “HAPPY HoCo”. The school logo is the T and C intersection with crossed sabers.

The right pane of the window has 2022 by the logo, and below is #shavethemohawks. The Mohawks are the Mohawks of Moravia. Moravia (population 637) is about a half hour drive south. I assume that reference is to using a Twin Cedars “saber” to metaphorically shave Mohawks.

The school became known as Twin Cedars Sabres. I don’t know where the “Sabres” part comes from. Twin Cedars refers to the confluence of Cedar Creek and North Cedar Creek, approximately half a mile south and east of the school.

Many would protest using the “Mohawks” mascot because it’s racist. And probably, the “Sabres” too, because too militaristic.

I don’t know why they are the “Mohawks” of Moravia. Moravia takes its name from the Moravian Faith, or the Moravian Brethren, one of the oldest Protestant denominations. It was founded in the Kingdom of Bohemia sixty years before Luther’s Reformation. Moravian families left Salem, North Carolina in 1849 to found a settlement in the west. Money was sent to purchase 40 acres of land for a town site by several benevolent Moravian sisters. Their wish was that the town lots be sold and the money be used to build a Moravian church.

So where did the “Mohawks” mascot come from? I have no idea, but I suspect it will be a long time before the term “Mohawk” is rejected in this small community.

In fact, I “know” how it happened. Not in reality, but in my head.

For most of Iowa, one-room country schools were consolidated in the 1950s and early 1960s. Let’s say it happened in Moravia (not a rabbit hole I need to descend to prove for these purposes). Someone on a committee probably said, “Now we have our lovely new school in Moravia; he needs a mascot. A name. What should our mascot be? »

“And the Moravian muskrats?

“Nope.”

“The Monks of Moravia?

“Nope.”

“The Mudlords of Moravia?”

“NOPE!”

“The Mohawks of Moravia? »

“Yes! That sounds fierce.

This means that the mascot now and then means nothing, and never has meant anything EXCEPT as an insult ever intended, and there is no meaning behind it other than alliteration.

It also means that NO mascot anywhere means NOTHING!

If it’s racist, sexist or insensitive, get rid of it – times are changing.

Some will say: “It’s a tradition! So what? If your “tradition” is a racial slur, what kind of tradition is it? Certainly not one to be proud of. Get rid of it.

(Photo by Bob Leonard)

They also have the park basketball court.

(Photo by Bob Leonard)

And, of course, they got high school. I asked a school administrator if anyone had gotten into trouble because of this. “No,” he said.

Homecoming and TPing is a classic rite of passage for children and a rite of stepping up that builds community. People leave their everyday world, find themselves in a liminal state and emerge on the other side again.

Alas, Twin Cedars lost the game 0-71.

But of course, it is better to have played the game and lost than never to have played at all.

The community is stronger.

About Marion Alexander

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