Rockin Robin


The bus was on the threshold of exploding with happiness as the team began yet another triumphant trip home.

This hard-fought, come from behind football game over a more talented team, captured the championship. Underdogs since the start of the year, the young men proved the pundits wrong. Now, they were the undisputed best team of the conference, to the chagrin of eight other teams. Thirty-three scrappy players, three dedicated managers, three savvy coaches and one proud driver left their victim’s battleground. Unbeknownst to them, this district winning Senior High football team began their surprising journey four years earlier.

He rocks in the tree tops all day long

Against their mutual wills, they became integrated in the eighth grade. It was a troubling year; one of turmoil and strife. At school, determination to stay segregated on mandated integrated territory was prevalent. They tolerated each other in class, where they had the freedom to sit segregated. At recess, segregation stayed the unofficial rule. Over time, they begrudgingly discovered they had several things in common.

Sports became the common denominator for the guys. Football was a sport where a coach could slot a player into a position based on the players profile of weight, speed, and smarts. This small town desperately needed players to fill key skilled positions. Their integrated friends filled those positions nicely.

Eight personal hair pics came out of the fros. Twenty-five others watched with wide-eyed amusement as these foreign grooming devices transformed into drumsticks. On cue, the tune instantly formed, supplying much needed rhythm for the majority. White boys, despite their natural stiffness, could not contain themselves. Bus seat dancing broke out. Initially, a remarkable sight. Over time the dancing improved, such as it was.

Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song.

It was the fall of 1972. The mighty Lions had been far from mighty the last ten years. On paper, the so-called experts projected them to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors; mediocre at best.

They won the first game of the year playing in their brand-new stadium. The team beaten was a higher ranked team, picked to win the conference. The boys defended their turf; ironically, one most helped plant by hand, crawling on their hands and knees, proudly placing sod one sprig at a time. They built this field. Now the field was building them.

The next week, they traveled to the new team picked to win their conference. Everyone, except silly them, expected to lose. Yep, you guessed it. They won!

Ah… the sweet sound of victory. No worries. No frets. No regrets.

All the little birdies on Jaybird Street

An interesting thing began to happen on the football field in grades nine through twelve. They slowly became friends with their teammates from the other side of the tracks. They shared stories. They played jokes on each other. They did things kids do. Respect sneaked into the mix. Before they knew it, they became color blind on the field. Color didn’t matter. They had each other’s back.

And it felt good! It felt right. It was right. They were equals on the field.

This was a good team, yet something was lacking. What magical potion existed to make them great? The team had heart. It had courage. It had determination. It had talent. It lacked one missing ingredient to the award-winning mix. Their integrated friends brought the final ingredient to the recipe. 

Spirit.

Oh, they thought they had spirit. But they were wrong. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.

On the bus rides home, their integrated friends introduced them to a new way of celebrating. It began with singing. But not just any ole song. Oh no. It had to be a rockin song. The perfect song? Rockin Robin.

Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Just try singing this song without smiling and feelin good about yourself.

The hair picks of their brothers came out and began to play rhythm on the bars of their bus seat backs. They taught them the lyrics of the Michael Jackson iconic song. But not just the lyrics. They taught them the spirit and soul of the song. It was impossible to sing this song without laughter, dancing, and comradery.

As they began to become one with the song, even their stoic coaches could not resist singing along with them. The managers joined in the festivities. The bus driver never sang, except on their victory rides. At the peak of the song, one could sense even the stiffness of the bus loosen and sway to the rhythm. It was all good. It was a beautiful remarkable sight. They were becoming a complete team.

By the time they turned the curve and rolled into downtown, one could close their eyes and swear Michael Jackson himself was performing. They wanted everyone in the town to know they had arrived. And they had; in more ways than one.

Rockin’ robin, rock rock

Rockin’ Robin

They won six away games that year. They sang their hearts out the entire way home after each victory. Each time, they became closer as team mates and friends. They gained even more spirit and soul. During those priceless moments, no black or white world existed. They were one. They had no worries. They were a true team. They were champions.

As they left that happy bus for the last time, unfortunately, they returned to their segregated world. But the lessons learned made them better people and closer to a world where everyone is equal.

Blow rockin’ robin

Cause we’re really gonna rock tonight

Forty-eight words

I believe the world would be a better place if we would all just learn to sing and play together.

Sing along with me.

He rocks in the tree tops all day long

Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song All the little birdies on Jaybird Street Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin’ robin, rock rock

Rockin’ robin

Blow rockin’ robin

Cause we’re really gonna rock tonight

Now, don’t you just feel better?

6 thoughts on “Rockin Robin

  1. And… there were some great tunes coming from the showers at the old field house. A long time memory that sneaks into the forefront often. As I remember it, the sweetest duet was a young hyper quick white man and a strong,fast, forever smiling black man. Both moved out of this world when far too young. I will be toasting them tonight… All the boys from that team are invited to sit down tonight and join me in spirit.

    Cheers and thanks again Ron for a great memory.

    Liked by 1 person

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