What was Super before the Super Bowl?

By Cindy Phillips updated Wed, Jan 25, 2012 12:07 PM

The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 in Los Angeles. Anyone remember who won? Anyone remember who played? Well Green Bay romped Kansas City in a 35-10 win. I was 12 years old.

The Super Bowl has become not just another football game; it is an event. The hype begins long before we know which two teams will survive the playoffs and meet head on for the title of Super Bowl Champion. Bars and Pubs advertise game-day drink specials and buffets. Appliance and electronics stores run sales that slash prices on televisions with gargantuan-sized screens.

Supermarkets print circulars offering ready-made platters, pre-cooked chicken wings and family-sized bags of chips. Football lovers plan home-based Super Bowl parties and the true die-hards put in for a Monday vacation-day from work. It’s serious business. And let’s not forget the commercials… it’s all about the premiere of the commercials.

I grew up in a female-only home. I honestly don’t remember when I viewed my first professional football game though I am certain it was not until after I starting dating. That was when I learned about the relationship between men and sports. Prior to that, I barely knew football existed.

Super Bowl Sunday my mother’s house was treated like any other Sunday. There was a steadfast routine and we grew up knowing that no one veered from the timeline, not for any reason. Dinner was on the table at six o’clock. There were times my mother threatened that dinner would be late because she was hurriedly trying to get a half dozen different items to be fully-cooked at the same time. She always managed to make it happen and at six o’clock promptly, we were beckoned to the kitchen. If you had been outside playing, you darn well better be inside with enough time to wash your hands before coming to the table.

Sometimes we would eat at the kitchen table. There was no dining room in our modest home. My mother fancied simple contemporary furniture. She traded in the plain, square kitchen table and chairs for a round, white model that was accompanied by four bright orange over-sized chairs. It was too big for the room and you had to squeeze yourself between the chairs and the wall to be seated.

More often, mom would allow us to set up the metal TV tray stands in the living room so we could eat in front of the television. As much as we viewed this as a treat, it was often outweighed by the stress of fearing you might spill your soda on the rug. The tables were not the sturdiest invention of the era and the fallout of said spill could be felt for days along with a moratorium on living-room dining for weeks to come.

Like the Super Bowl, Sunday dinner was an event in our hoouse. Mom had a handful of Sunday meals that were her staples, and most required all-day slow-cooking which meant the house had wafting aromas that teased us all day long. There was no taste-testing except by mom, and it was pointless to even ask. I can’t say if I had a favorite, each meal to me was a delicacy on its own. Though mom’s heritage was German-Irish, she could make a mean pot of sauce and meatballs. Her pot roast was the most tender I ever tasted and it was always served with mashed potatoes that she whipped with plenty of butter.

Roast beef was a rare treat. We had a table-top rotisserie oven that took longer to clean than it did to roast the beef. Mom could be heard cursing during the dish-washing process, vowing to get rid of the monstrosity once and for all. It typically took not one, but two Brillo pads to complete.

Post-dinner was bath time, but they had to be spaced properly in order to allow enough time for the clanky oil burner to reheat the water in the tank. If you tried to fill the tub too soon, you were in for a lukewarm bath which was no fun, especially in the winter.

Sunday night television viewing never included football. The games aired during the afternoon while we were busy with kickball, bike riding or last-minute homework assignments. But Sunday nights were sacred. I have vivid memories of Jackie Gleason’s June Taylor dancers performing synchronized numbers that were filmed from above. It was like watching a human kalaidascope. Sunday’s bore plenty of episodes of Lassie barking incessantly to alert someone that Timmy had fallen in the well or was backed into a corner by a venomous snake.

We also went through the Sunday night Western phase with The Rifleman, Gunsmoke and The Rebel (ah, Nick Adams). For many years, it was a black and white extravaganza, but I will never forget my first experience seeing the NBC peacock spread its wings in Technicolor. It was at the home of a friend of my mother’s and was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It was followed by a similarly colorful Bonanza which made Little Joe even cuter.

Times have changed and I actually do watch the Super Bowl now, along with millions of others. The other stations choose to run previously viewed shows realizing there’s no contest. We gather our snacks, we chill the beer and we grab seats in front of the big screen. I typically do not have a vested interest in the game, though somehow my daughters grew up to be huge football fans. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that their father donned the house with New York Giants paraphernalia every Sunday while they were growing up. But for me, I just want to see the commercials. Oh, and maybe the June Taylor Dancers performing the half-time show.

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