By Cindy Wiggins Tapia

I once sat on North Gwinnett’s side at a football game on the old Buford ball field and lived to write about it…

My brother, Eli—class of 1996—and his family are the stuff Wolves are made of. Me? Meh. My parents raised me on Hollywood epics, not touchdowns. I was never a player, band member, majorette, cheerleader, or even a water boy.

Attending football games was the last thing on my mind during my tour of the Buford School System. I had better things to do—like chasing David Williams down the Yellow Brick Road. Then Susan Dollar invited me to a game. And I was hooked. Admission was somewhere around 50 cents, and Mama coughed up a coin for refreshments. We usually went to the occasional after-game sock hop. No one ever asked me to dance. Who would want to be caught doing the mashed potato with a preteen gal wearing a 1950s hand-me-down dress with a pin-pleat skirt and helmet hair with a tight flip roll that was almost eyebrow level? (Now, it was a different story with the boys at South Hall. Ooops.)

Immediately after Friday night lights, the pep was on for the one coming up, especially if it was against North Gwinnett. It wasn’t just the game. It was the whanging tension of what might happen during the days leading up to it.

“What’s your favorite Wolf cheer?” I asked a group of people.

“Boo!” replied a Bulldog.

I’ll never forget the day North Gwinnett vandalized our gym facade. I was livid. I mean, I was ready to kick me some Bulldog butt. But being as I was about the size of Mrs. Tom Thumb, I decided instead to sic Bug Tuck on them. Believe me, he was big enough. I was working at Teen’s Diner on Hill St. Bug lumbered in and pulled out a chair at the table where Danny Anglin and Curtis Watson sat. I gave Bug the lowdown, expecting his rage. Instead, he laughed at me. It is a sad thing to mature.

To be fair—though I hate to admit—some of the best people I’ve known were Bulldogs. I even dated one. We’d been childhood playmates and reconnected at a little country Baptist church out Harmony way. When he asked me to a Buford home game, Mama was shocked.

“I’m surprised his mother would let him date you after what you did.” RE: hitchhike to Atlanta in search of the joys of starving while dodging the law.

It was a Wolves vs Bulldogs game night. Naturally. Mama insisted I sit on North Gwinnett’s side. She was afraid Buford would beat him up. Apparently, it didn’t occur to her that North Gwinnett might beat me up—or Buford for that matter. I sat there in the bleachers, a silent shifty-eyed traitor with a Bulldog front leg slung around my shoulders.

The Wolves were elite even when they were ordinary, just as Buford was big when it was small.

Today, Our Town is an outstanding paradigm of excellent teachers, coaches, excelling students, shining alumni, and state of the art facilities for both education and athletics.

Bonaparte Allen’s dream of providing every child from Leather Street to Sawnee Avenue with an education and a ball field has come true.

Leave a Comment