The past weekend was a game weekend in Green Bay, and so is the next one. I wish I could be there to see the whole town dressed up in green and gold.
I got to thinking about the differences between today’s Packer game crowds and the ones in my youth. People actually used to dress up for football games, and I don’t mean in costumes.
- From Hugh Morton Collection, University of North Carolina. Taken at UNC game, 1952. Note the men’s ties and the ladies’ skirts and hats.
I started attending Packer games in 1959, when people could still recall raccoon coats and chrysanthemums. In those unenlightened times, fur coats were considered appropriate cold-weather wear. Vince Lombardi even gave mink coats to the players’ wives after one championship season.
I never wore high heels to a game, but I generally put on a nice sweater and tailored wool trousers. I remember one game when I was about fourteen. I wore a new cable-knit sweater and matching slacks in a soft gold color, and I had finally mastered curling my hair in a pageboy. My parents’ friend Marcia Deutsch pulled me aside and told me someone had asked her who that pretty little girl was. That was the first time anyone outside of my immediate family had ever told me I was pretty. I’ll always be grateful to Marcia for passing on the compliment.
My friends and I got a gift in the mid-sixties when the Dr. Zhivago movie came out. The film featured Julie Christie as Lara, traipsing around Russia in fur-trimmed coats and big fur hats. Copies of her costumes soon appeared on store racks. We could wear them to games, look trendy, and stay warm.
Perhaps taking their cue from the dress code, the crowds of the ‘50s and ‘60s seemed more sedate than the crowds of today. Sure, there were drunks, and occasionally fights broke out, with the perpetrators soon escorted away by police. But we never did The Wave, and I never saw a whole crowd standing, yelling, “Bu@#sh*t,” the way they did at the game I attended earlier this year. (I must confess, I was yelling, too. The refs made an atrocious call.) You could smoke in the stadium then, and sure enough, there was always some guy with a cigar nearby. By the fourth quarter, the whole stadium would be under a little pall of smoke, tinged with cigar and a hint of popcorn.
Today at Lambeau Field, you’re unlikely to see high heels and cigarettes and more likely to see something like this:
Costumed characters are popular. We see Mean Gene and Christopher the Fence Painter year after year.
Fur coats are out. Some fans don’t bother with clothes at all.
But why should I be surprised? The players don’t look the same anymore, either.
Example: This is a linebacker.
See what I mean?