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The Thanksgiving game of 1941
Long before the football field at Ceres Union High School was lighted, games were played in the daylight just behind the old main building. My father would take me to watch these early games in the warm autumn afternoons of 1931 and 1932. They we'd rush home to hand-milk the small family dairy herd.

Lighting of the gridiron came a bit later and night games could be played before the audience, contained faculty, rooting sections of both teams and many local enthusiasts. Night games drew a larger attendance and I was thrilled by all the merriment and feverish pace of these events by both the team players and the spectators.

I didn't go out to play football until my junior year at Ceres Union High School. It was 1941 just prior to our involvement in World War ll that December. I remember all the training during 7th period and after school. The exercises and practices were tiring to say the least! My teammates and I were all first-year players and as such were on the second or B team. This had its advantages for we got to play a lot of football and had a lot of fun in so doing.

The picture with this article was copied from the 1942 Ceres High School yearbook, the Cereal. It shows this bunch of innocents in dress uniforms ready for the teams of the surrounding high schools. We played Merced, Escalon, Manteca, Oakdale, Turlock (twice), Livingston, Modesto and Tracy. This team of Ceres High Bulldogs won four games but lost five - not an outstanding record or anything to brag about. However we learned the value of teamwork.

The game that stands out in my memory was an afternoon game on Thanksgiving Day in 1941 when we motored to Tracy. Since it was Thanksgiving Day, we were in high pitch and eager for a win over the Tracy team of cowboys and Indians! It was attended by a small group of Tracy rooters and students and we lost 13-0.

We went home by way of Maze Boulevard, (Highway 132), on the old yellow high school bus thankful for the opportunity to play for old Ceres High - and to return home for a late Thanksgiving Day dinner. I remember seeing Viola Johnson, our English teacher, in her car on that road and waving to her.

This game was our last of the 1941 season and our time playing football had ran out. However completely unknown to us on that particular day late in 1941 was the fact that very soon our isolation from the war in Europe and our way of life would be soon interrupted! The Japanese attacked a place that many of us had never heard of called Pearl Harbor, a naval base on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.

Members of this faultless group went onto many things. In less than three weeks we were engaged in a war with Japan, Germany and Italy and eventually went on to serve our country over the globe to rid ourselves of ruthless enemies. Most returned home to prosper and build. A few became successful farmers and business people. Orville Young, (not pictured but who played varsity), studied to become a school teacher, married a local girl and became the football coach for Livingston High School, one of the very teams we played against in 1941.

The late Clare Berryhill, who was our quarterback, became well known in agriculture and California politics. A Ceres school is named after his family.

The others have gone on to their eternal reward while a few remain to write stories!

If you please, when you are watching football and enjoying the festive Thanksgiving Day afternoon think of us as just boys, the ones that huddled, toiled and fought together! In so doing we "carried the ball" for Ceres Union High School and our great nation so long ago!

Bill Noble may be reached via email at