Don’t Mess with Texas isn’t just a slogan made popular by the Department of Highways and Public Transportation to keep trash off the highways, but it’s a way of life in Texas.
There are a few things you don’t mess with in Texas… our cattle, our man, our domain, our right to bear arms, and our big hair. I was raised with big hair, graduated high school with big hair, married and had my two baby girls all with big hair. By the way, although “big hair” fell to the wayside the last decade or two, it’s back in full force! And no, the hairdo’s on GCB aren’t true Texas big-dos. We’re more a cross between the ladies on the show and Dolly Parton.
Preparing for this year’s homecoming for my alma mater, and no it wasn’t for me but three of my granddaughters who attend the same high school as I did, I came across an interesting fact. Over the years many of their friends have moved out of the region and reported back that most parts of the country don’t celebrate their big game with the fanfare of homecoming corsages. What! No mums? So off I went to research.
In 1911, the first homecoming celebration took place. University of Missouri Athletic Director, Chester Brewer, afraid that fans and alumnus would not attend the “big game” due to a change in location, devised a plan to add some excitement to the game. He challenged the alumnus to return home for a great celebration with parades, parties, a pep rally, and of course the big game. Over 9,000 fans attended, which is recorded as the first official homecoming game. The rest is history. Now almost every high school and college in the country continues this annual tradition.
While the excitement of homecoming itself isn’t unique to Texas, the tradition of the homecoming mum is something for which we Texans can claim full responsibility. It’s a true southern tradition. Only one person can be a homecoming queen, but everyone can wear a mum fit for royalty.
In the early 1930’s, the first mums were given out at high school football games across the state of Texas, but in much smaller forms than those of today. Now days, most parents have to save up a month’s pay to buy the perfect chrysanthemum and all the trinkets and charms as jewelry for that “special” mum. And the guys aren’t left out either. The girl’s parents have to spend half as much for a garter made just for them.
So, I discovered that homecoming mums in all their glory is a southern custom and the more south you go the bigger they get; as tradition goes, most of them have bells and whistles, and usually a football or two. Charms are usually chosen to represent the wearer. A basketball may be added for a basketball player or a music note for a band student. Letters and numbers are applied on the ribbons with the wearers name, school year, and boy or girlfriend’s name. White and silver mums are sometimes worn by seniors to set them apart from underclassmen. Ribbons are also a part of the look. Braided ribbons or beaded garlands of stars, hearts, footballs, bears, or chains are added to personalize your mum. Of course the ribbon colors reflect those of your school.
Traditionally, a mum is hung on your bedroom wall after the big game and is one of the memoirs a girl puts in a box and leaves at her parents’ house until the young woman has daughters of her own. This picture is my youngest granddaughter wearing one of her mother’s mums from high school. The top picture is “other” mums hid away in the box in her mother’s old bedroom.
Do you have corsages and garters for your high school or collage homecoming? Tell us all about them.
The Fillies at Wildflower Junction are dang sure smittened with our new look. Hope you all are too. Better keep your eyes and ears open and keep checkin’ in with us’cause there’s gonna be some real fun happenings in the Junction over the next few weeks. Just don’t want any of you all to be slow on the draw.