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A Husky Halloween
By Mike Archbold, Posted 27 October 2004

The same questions kept going through my head.  How could Washington 
overcome its youth and injuries enough to win a couple of games before the 
season ends?  Who would be the best quarterback?  How can the team stop 
the turnovers? How could Washington possibly beat California?  How can the 
defense stop the big play?  How can life be pumped back into Husky Stadium?

It was with these nagging questions and others in mind that I drove down 
to Lake City for a visit with the gypsy lady.  She had helped me a couple 
of years ago to communicate with the late, inimitable Washington coach Gil 
Dobie, whose incredible achievement of 58-0-3 still stands as an NCAA 
record.  Perhaps it was possible that the gypsy lady, with a crystal ball, 
could provide answers to some of these problems?

Fall was definite.  There was now an unmistakable chill in the air in the 
evenings which necessitated a sweater or jacket. Fall is my favorite 
season, and it pleased me to see leaves on the ground as I eased my car 
into the gypsy lady's gravel parking lot.  It was late afternoon.

The gypsy lady's dilapidated business, "Dogmatic Metaphysical Infinity 
Advice Center,"  is a precarious paint chipped structure.  I walked up the 
creaking wooden staircase and made my way through the screen door.  The 
bright light of day gave way to the darkened incense of the gypsy lady's 
single room.

As my eyes adjusted to the soft light, I was greeted by the gypsy lady.  
She was standing behind the front counter tallying some numbers.  Her dark 
hair, dark eyes, brown skin, hoop earrings, and bright clothing had placed 
her forever in my memory.

"Ah, Mr. Archbold," said the gypsy lady in her indeterminate accent, 
looking up from a ledger.  "The fan of the Washington Husky.  I 
have watched the Husky play several times now.  What is wrong with the 
offense?"

"That is one thing that has been bothering me," I replied.  "Perhaps you 
have time for a crystal ball session that would yield answers to the 
team's problems?"

The gypsy lady looked back down at the ledger upon her desk.  "Yes, I have 
time for a session now.  Actually, I suspected you would pay me a visit and 
I have been waiting for you.  I have something about the Huskies even more 
interesting than can be found with the crystal ball.  If you have 
insurance I can accept your co-payment."

"Co-payment?" I asked, as I wondering what news she had of the team.

"Since your last visit I have become a Spiritualized Naturopathic Provider 
under the Regence High Deductible Low Claim Health Plan as well as 
others,"  replied the gypsy lady.

"But I don't need medical treatment, I need answers like everyone else 
does about the football team."

"Well, actually I have had a lot of fans in here the last couple of years 
as the team has been struggling," the gypsy lady said.  "Fans come in with 
the same symptoms.  Let me ask you some questions.  Do you often spend 
time analyzing football statistics while you should be doing something 
productive?"

"Yes, you could say that."

"Do you read messages on the Dawgman messageboard more than once a day?"

"Yes, I suppose I do."

"Do you spend a lot of time obsessing over and attempting to troubleshoot 
Washington's football problems when you really ought to be engaged in 
something a bit more gainful?"

"Yes... I suppose that is true," I replied sheepishly.

"It is just as I suspected.  You probably need medical attention," said 
the gypsy lady, frowning.

I shrugged as I handed the gypsy lady my co-payment.  She accepted my 
payment officiously and made an entry in her ledger.  We then seated 
ourselves at the card table situated in the center of the room, the 
crystal ball illuminated by a single soft light bulb dangling from the 
ceiling.  The gypsy lady made a dramatic motion with her hand, moving one 
of her bright scarves away from her eyes.  She looked at me thoughtfully.

"Are you familiar with the Washington running back named George Wilson?"  
The gypsy lady asked.

"He was one of the best running backs Washington ever had," I replied.  
"An amazing runner and athlete."

"Wilson was a halfback.  Some considered him better than the player Red 
Grange. A star of the 1926 Rose Bowl, which Washington lost because 
Alabama scored all of its points when Wilson was out of the game for seven 
minutes in the third quarter.  He is one of the few Washington players to 
have his number retired.  He had a serious weakness, however, alcohol, and 
he died alone in the early '60s," said the gypsy lady somberly.

"What very few people know, and what I can now tell you, is that George 
Wilson left behind a letter.  The letter was only to be opened in the 
event of a catastrophe affecting the football team.  Contained within are 
instructions on how to save the football team."

A silence followed in which the gypsy lady regarded me with a serious look.

"The letter has been rumored to exist for many years.  It was thought to a 
been lost forever.  Only due to the most scrupulous research and 
painstaking inquiry was I able to finally locate it.  Since I have been 
watching the team I have become a fan and will provide the letter to you 
now.  You understand that this letter would command a considerable price 
on the open market."

I nodded in understanding and leaned forward with some considerable 
interest.

She then removed from her shirt pocket a tattered and dirty envelope.  She 
placed the envelope on the table and slid it over to me.

The letter had a sharp crease on it and a small rip on one side but had 
not been opened.  I looked at the gypsy lady and she nodded her head, 
giving me the go-ahead to open the letter.

I quickly tore open the envelope.  Inside was a small piece of paper, 
remarkably clean and neatly folded.  The writing was bold, in all capital 
letters.  It read:

HEAVEN HELP THE FOES OF WASHINGTON

WHEN YOU HAVE FALLEN UPON THE DARKEST DESPAIR
WHEN EVERYTHING SEEMS HOPELESS BEYOND REPAIR
SUMMON US FORTH FROM OUR GHOSTLY LAIR.

STAND OUTSIDE THE TUNNEL AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT
THE ANCIENTS WILL ASSIST IN THE FIGHT
REPEAT THIS PHRASE TO SUMMON OUR MIGHT:

MIGHTY ARE THE MEN WHO WEAR THE PURPLE AND THE GOLD

I could hardly contain my excitement and curiosity. A letter passed down 
from George Wilson himself!   I studied the letter for a few moments.  
Evidently Wilson or whoever had written the letter had intended the 
instructions to be followed only in the event of a severe problem with 
Husky football.  Well, if this wasn't the hour of "darkest despair" in 
Husky football then what would be?

The gypsy lady studied me for a few moments.

I stumbled as I was mentally visualizing my plans for the night. "I think 
I will go down there tonight... down to Husky Stadium... and follow the 
instructions in the letter."  I was willing to go to nearly any lengths to 
help the team.

The gypsy lady folded her hands, nodding.  "Good luck.  I wish the best 
for the Husky team.  Remember to treat the departed with the utmost 
respect.  Avoid eye contact.  Do not trouble them with unnecessary 
questions.  Keep your talk to a minimum."

As I was driving home I started to feel uneasy, like the feelings I used 
to get in high school before playing football.  I was getting the 
"butterflies."  First of all I didn't like the idea of breaking into Husky 
Stadium.  I rationalized this by saying to myself that I wasn't going to 
actually break into anything; it was more a case of scaling a fence.  The 
whole idea of prodding forth some type of spirit without assistance of the 
gypsy lady also made me significantly uneasy.

The evening passed by quickly giving way to the night, which was clear and 
very cold for late October, feeling more like December.  At about 11:00 pm 
I waded through some leaves as I got into my car and made my way down to 
Montlake.  Traffic was very light and the trip was fast.

I soon arrived in the deserted parking lot north of Husky Stadium. An 
occasional car went past, but no one was venturing into the area of the 
athletic complexes.  I made my way past Heck Ed.  Everything was 
deserted.  I walked past the statue of Jim Owens as I made my way to the 
south side of the stadium.  I looked about constantly, glancing nervously 
behind to see if anyone was onto me.  The coast was clear.

When I got to the south side of the stadium I began to take extra 
precautions, crouching down behind pillars, walking quickly.  I soon found 
an area of the fence to scale.

It felt very strange to be inside Husky Stadium, deserted, at night.  I 
suppose what affected me most was the unaccustomed silence.  The light of 
the full moon and a smattering of lone lights provided the scant 
illumination.

I walked through the lower corridors of the south side of Husky Stadium.  
The structure seemed to be older in the dark, and getting older as I 
walked.  The concrete stared at me and I at it.    My eyes were adjusting 
to the dimness as I made my way into the open end of the horseshoe and 
onto the playing field.

The sounds of Seattle seemed to disappear.  The stars in the sky seemed to 
have gone out and only the moon shown brightly; the goal posts cast a 
shadow.

I seemed to be at one with the stadium and the gridiron in peace.  The 
darkness and the moon cast a certain finality and permanence as I made my 
way toward the Tunnel.

I stopped several paces before the Tunnel entrance.  I peered inside but 
could see nothing but  blackness.  For some time I waited in the cold and 
dark.  It approached midnight.

Everything was dark, lifeless, and silent.  I checked my watch as all 
hands hit twelve.

I peered into the Tunnel again.  It was time.

Feeling a bit silly, I said, timidly:  "Mighty are the men who wear the 
purple and gold."

Nothing but silence ensued.  I considered at this point how silly this 
was, yet my curiosity was intense.

I waited a few more moments, but still nothing.

"Mighty are the men who wear the purple and gold," I repeated, trying to 
be solemn, still feeling ridiculous, directing my voice into the empty 
Tunnel.

I waited a few more moments in the surrounding silence.  Still nothing.  I 
looked around.

Then it occurred to me.  I had forgotten.  The Tunnel that the George 
Wilson's letter referred to was not this Tunnel at all.

It was the old, original Tunnel.

When Husky Stadium was constructed in the 1920s, the players used a tunnel 
that emerged around the end zone on the south side of the stadium.  This 
old tunnel had since been sealed and covered with wooden stands near field 
level when the new tunnel was opened years later.

I swiveled my head in the direction of the south end zone.  Quickly, I 
located the group of wooden stands that covered the old sealed Tunnel.  I 
walked through the end zone and stood in front of the original Tunnel in 
the darkness and silence.

Still feeling a bit weird, but now emboldened, my voice pierced the 
silence as I shouted: "Mighty are the men who wear the purple and gold!"

I held my breath.  I stared at the wooden seats that covered the old 
Tunnel.  Nothing happened, but I gradually noticed that it seemed as if 
the weather began to get even colder.  In a few moments I thought the 
light of the moon began to dim somehow.  The silence became even deeper.  
I zipped my jacket tightly as I studied the entrance of the sealed tunnel.

The hair stood up on my spine as I noticed a low murmur gradually coming 
from the stadium.  It was as if the jaws of the mighty stadium were trying 
to speak -- as if coaches were trying to call out plays from the 
sidelines, but the sound was spoken by concrete.  Could this be 
some kind of soul of the stadium?

A mist began to settle around me.  Very, very faintly, an image began to 
appear on the HuskyTron.  Slowly, coming into focus, the enormous visage 
of Gilmore Dobie stared lifelessly at the field before disappearing in an 
instant.

I noticed a faint light emanating from the overhead press box.  Shadows of 
men could be seen walking back and forth.

Then, I heard the unmistakable notes of our national anthem.  My hair 
stood straight up.  The rumbling noise began anew.  Louder and louder the 
rumbling grew, seeming to emanate from the depths of the stadium.  The 
HuskyTron began to flicker quickly.   A gigantic image of a young Gilmore 
Dobie looked out of the HuskyTron with his steely eyes under a low brim 
fedora hat, his dissatisfied expression frozen.  The scoreboard started 
flashing scores wildly, repeatedly starting at zero and ascending to 
ninety-nine, and the twenty five second clocks began to tick.

It was then that the wooden seats covering the sealed Tunnel began to 
shift and sway, the old wooden beams beginning to bend.  I was frightened 
out of my wits.  In the next moments the wood began to splinter into the 
air in a violent commotion.  I fought the urge to flee.  The overhead 
stadium lights burst on in a blinding light, drenching everything in 
glorious daylight. Outlines of fans began to appear in the stands.  Hot 
dog vendors walked the aisles.  I was shaking violently.

In the next instant, all lights in the stadium flashed in unison, the 
rumbling emanating from the stands reached a crescendo, thousands of feet 
pounded, and the concrete seal covering the original tunnel burst asunder 
with a loud bang.

I took a step back in my fright is I gasped in the bright thunder of Husky 
Stadium.

Apparitions, outlines, ghosts of players long gone, yet proud and 
victorious, walked slowly from the original Tunnel to the deafening roar 
of the crowd.  Dressed in purple, shimmering with gold, their helmets were 
raised in victory, heads held high, the team gesturing toward the crowd.  
Their look was defiant and purposeful.

I stood in awe at the spectacle.

The team stood in front of the crowd.  Arms were raised as Husky Stadium 
boomed with light and noise.  The touchdown horn sounded.  One player 
detached himself from the crowd.  I recognized his image as that of George 
Wilson.  I approached the apparition.

--Bow down to Washington--  the apparition said to me through the din.

I lowered my head in a bow.  The apparition looked at me confidently and 
sternly.  I remembered the gypsy lady's instructions not to make eye 
contact or talk too much with the departed.

--Heaven help the foes of Washington-- shouted the apparition at the 
crowd.  The ghostly crowd screamed anew.  The scoreboard flashed again.

--Long we have waited for our game.  We are ready to play.   Why have you 
summoned forth the ancient team? -- the apparition addressed me.

"Sir, the Washington football team is facing disaster, despair, and 
injury, our coach called the team 'Midgets,' and is cowering in loss," I 
stated, my head bowed in solemn respect.

The apparition's face bore a look of enraged pride.  He looked back at the 
rest of the team.  They looked at one another and nodded their heads in 
unison.

The apparition threw down his helmet in disgust.  The crowd booed.

--Midgets!?  We are fighters!  We are proud!  Champions!-- the apparition 
raised his fist in fury.   The team and crowd shouted in rage.   The 
overhead lights flashed.

In moments he had calmed down, but it was a look of suppressed rage.  The 
apparition continued.

--We will help the Washington Huskies.  The team will not be able to see 
us but we will be alongside the team at all times.  We will not let them 
down.  We will guide Washington again to pride and victory.   We will be 
confident champions anew.  We will help guide the team back to supremacy.  
The ancient fans will be by your side in the stands too.  Sing the glory 
of Washington forever. Heaven help the foes of Washington!  --

The apparition gestured toward stands.  A roar went up from the ghost 
crowd and the jaws of the stadium rumbled.  To the roar of the crowd the 
team ran out onto the field.

--Heaven help the foes of Washington!--  screamed the apparition.

The captains of the ghost team walked toward midfield as the team raised 
their arms in determination and victory.  The crowd stomped its feet and 
raised their hats to the team.

I stood in amazement and disbelief as I took all this in.

Gradually, the images began to recede, and Husky Stadium returned to its 
tranquility.  Quickly recovering my wits, I hurriedly made my way out of the 
stadium and into the night, my confidence renewed.

Heaven help the foes of Washington!

Mike Archbold
jazzbox@w-link.net
 

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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