Back in the Day: Is it possible to outgrow high school rivalries?


By Tony Wade
Originally published in the Fairfield Daily Republic on July 7, 2013

I am a proud alumnus of Armijo High School and don’t like Fairfield High. My brothers Orvis, Kenneth and Kelvin all went to Armijo. The only one of us who attended that “other” school was my youngest brother Scott. Four outta five ain’t bad.

I was on the basketball team at Armijo three years and don’t remember ever losing to Fairfield. I’m not saying we never lost; just that the memories were so painful I blocked them out.

Hogan High of Vallejo once obliterated us in a game on the same rainy day the dog my family had for 13 years was put down. A Hogan-ite busted a window on our bus with a brick as we left. Although my wife is currently a teacher at Hogan (now a middle school), I’m in no hurry to visit.

Other residents shared their memories of local rivalries.

“In the 1950s, Benicia High was Armijo’s big rival,” Keith Hayes said. “After a basketball game, their team and rooter’s bus drove down Texas Street and about 50 of us were waiting on the side of the theater, (now Pepperbellys), and they were hit with hundreds of eggs. A classmate driving in front of their bus forced them to travel at a crawl. Our student body president had to go to Benicia and apologize.”

According to Hayes, Benicia once mistook the Chief Solano statue for the Armijo Indian and painted it their school colors and later had to clean it off.

“I wasn’t involved but I believe it was my class (1985) that put red dye in the Armijo pool,” Carl Lamera said. “The thought was to make it into a big red Jell-O dessert, but science told us that it couldn’t be done so they settled on red dye.”

“I was in the Armijo Super Band in the 1970s and not only were we an awesome band, we were also good at toilet papering homes, cars and other things,” Kathleen Adams McIntyre said. “One night after winning Sweepstakes at a parade that Fairfield High was in (we beat them), we tee-peed their band room so you couldn’t recognize it. We waited to see on Monday morning if there was a response, but their janitors had cleaned it up! We had no cellphones to take pictures or post on Facebook back in the ’70s.”

Good-natured pranks sometimes turned darker and more . . . odoriferous.

“I was in the freshman class that spent a half day at Armijo and a half day at Fairfield (class of 1968),” Steve Gibson Sr. said. “In our sophomore year, someone hung a dead chicken over the entrance to the Fairfield High class wing. It made the papers.”

The retaliation?

“Fairfield returned the favor by dumping a load of chicken manure at Armijo,” William J. Dean said.

You just knew poop was going to enter this column at some point, didn’t you?

“My friends and I snuck onto the Fairfield High campus at night, dumped manure all over the quad, put peanut butter and Vaseline on the locks of the lockers, then the police came and sent us home,” Judy Anderson Engell said. “Except one of the cops lived on my block so he offered to drive me home and chat with my parents.”

But wait there’s more.

“During spirit week in the ’70s my friends and I went to the Dixon stock yards and got buckets of pig poo. In the dark of night we dumped loads of it on the front lawn of Armijo and put up a sign that said ‘Armijo Eats This’ with an arrow pointing down,” current Fairfield City Councilwoman Catherine Moy said. “I’m praying the statute of limitations is up.”

Do you ever outgrow the rivalry thing? According to 1984 FHS grad Sharon Kastens Lopez, the answer is no.

“I was in Fairfield recently and when we drove past Armijo I sucked my teeth and turned up my nose,” Lopez said. “Old habits die hard. It was those band years for me. In the 1980s the so-called Super Band was no competition for the mighty Scarlet Brigade. Is that enough bitter trash talk from an old broad?”