A Herd Birthday Event
Brooks turns 101 - April 23rd
There comes a point in time where we have to look at our set of beliefs, and go to the bottom of our souls to possibly reevaluate our perspective on the world, and once we do that we open our eyes to a new outlook, and we get a spring to our step, a sparkle in our eye. As the famous Bible passage John IX, 24-26 says, "All I know is this, Once I was blind and now I can see." So…I was completely prepared to go through this psychological transformation, but…
Well, I digress…Let me start at the beginning. I emailed some Herders about Brooks’ upcoming birthday, and I was prepared for a few perfunctory responses, “Tell him, Happy Birthday.” “Yeah, whatever, Happy BDAy.” Or mainly, “Who’s Brooks?”
Instead I started getting various responses like this one from Trojan Belle, “Happy Birthday, Brooksie!!! Are you older than dirt yet? You are really the heart and soul of the Herd board and I enjoy immensely your quick and quirky wit. As well as your thoughtful (and sometimes even informed) insight into Trojan Football. Have a great birthday and many, many more. With lots of love, Belle.” And this one from ValleyTrojan, “To an excellent Herder and even better Friend, All the best to you on your Birthday Brooks. God has blessed you and all who have come to know you. Your Friend Jaime.” And even a nice email from Slybooha who wrote, “I'd like to thank Brooks for the numerous times he saved my arse with last ticket needs, helped me locate the tailgates, and made a quiet person like myself feel welcome. Though usually inconvenienced and at times more than a little, he's continued to offer assistance... that shows character of a true friend. Of course I've only experienced my own personal encounters with this great guy that I've met X amount of times over the last 4 years... I can only try to magine the things he's done for the rest of the Herd since it was started, the things he's done for the Trojan family, and of course the rest of the people he's known in his lifetime. Happy Birthday, Brooks!”
And when responses like this started trickling in, I had to rethink my position. Maybe Brooks wasn’t evil incarnate? Maybe Brooks wasn’t such a bad guy? Maybe Brooks was liked and even respected? No, I couldn’t quite convince myself yet, but I kept receiving more emails.
This email came from Shorty, “Too many stories to just pick one so I'd rather just thank Brooks for all he does. The Herd would possibly not exist without Brooks. It was Brooks and Ron Fletcher who really pushed Darrel to contact HH in the first place. was Brooks who took over the (photo left: Why does Brooks have his arm around Mojack?) It bank account. It's Brooks who keeps track of all the Herd gear including payments and shipping. Brooks was involved in every step of Cart#1 and is the bookkeeper on Cart #2. He even carries the heavy stuff for the tailgates. We ask Brooks to do everything except cook. OK, maybe one story. We were holding Herd Bash maybe number 3 at McCormick & Scmidts in downtown LA. 25 people who had never been there, found it and joined the Bash. The ex cop, a person who gave and followed directions his entire career, a person trained to respond to emergencies city wide, a person with a map, couldn't find the restaurant and after an hour of driving around, went back home. It was possibly our finest Bash! Here's wishing Brooks a most Happy Birthday and hoping we're all here to enjoy many, many more. With the highest respect. Shorty. P.S. UP YERS!
And Grover followed Shorty’s treatise up with one of his own, “It seems like I've known Brooks forever, rather, since Brooks has been around since forever, it might be more appropriate to say that we've known each other for some time (relatively speaking). Brooks' kids went to Anaheim HS with Veronique and her brother and their families lived in the same neighborhood. We met one another on the old football message board back in '97 or '98. Brooks lived in Fallbrook at the time and Veronique's brother, Patrick, owned and operated a very nice Fallbrook restaurant that the family had originally opened in the '70's, later sold, and Patrick subsequently re-opened in the late '90's. Brooks was even known to frequent the Packing House occasionally, when someone else was picking up the check, of course (this place was no Denny's).
When the Herd formed and we started doing the Herd tailgates I asked Brooks if he'd like to ride up to the games with Marc and me. (Before you go thinking that it was a kind gesture on my part, I must confess that it was more of a public safety issue. The 5 and 405 freeways are just not safe with Brooks driving 50 mph in the fast lane.) Brooks said that'd be great and for a couple of seasons before he moved to Rancho Cucamonga (why Brooks, why?!!) he would meet us at Oceanside Harbor. We tried to take him on a tour of the jetty during heavy surf episodes, but he wasn't going for it. We tried. Once underway to the Coliseum we would listen to Big 10 games on the radio and Brooks would simultaneously entertain me and put Marc to sleep in the backseat with his stories of 5 cent trolley rides from Downey to the Coliseum to attend Trojan games for which he had no ticket (nor the money to buy one). Good times. If you happened to be driving on the 5/405 on those Saturday mornings, no need to thank me--public safety, remember?
In those days Brooks only had two jobs; one was to pay for our parking (it was way cheaper then), the other was to carry all the heavy stuff from my vehicle to the tailgate site. I must say, he performed both tasks well. I have to admit it, I miss those Saturdays driving Brooks to the Coliseum. Marc still sleeps during the drive, but all I have are those boring Big 10 games on the radio--although Mary has subsequently joined us and she is a lot of fun, I'm just worried about all those motorists on the 10/110. Seriously, my entire family loves you Brooks. Happy Birthday! From Grover.”
So now I was starting to feel uncomfortable. My whole belief system was being challenged. Here people actually seemed to genuinely care for Brooks. Could that be possible?
I opened more emails. Trojan Odyssey wrote, “Brooks: with all the kidding and sarcasm aside, just wanted to let you know you ARE the Herd and it would be a lonely place without you. Happy (21st) Birthday!!” natlchamps followed that up with, “The great thing about Brooks is that he always keeps the faith….Especially during that Fresno State and ASU games. Never gave up (well, almost). Best birthday wishes to a great guy with a young heart.” And even the Bruins got into it, UCLA 73 sent an email, “Happy Birthday, Brooks! Best wishes from the Dark Side.” At least Cardinal Blood got it back to Trojan town when he wrote, “Dear Brooks, You know how much I like you you old GEEZER! YOU SUCK! I hope you have a very happy birthday dude! FIGHT ON!”
Man, I was about to go bipolar, almost turning into a BPMF, but I figured somebody would stop this onslaught of well wishes, someone could pull the drapes on this late April Fools joke and really start blasting Brooks as was the norm. (photo left: Traitor Brooks wants to be a Texas Fan) And then I was slammed in the face with a nicety-nice novel by Altadena Trojan:
The Mayor of Herdsville by Altadena Trojan:
When I first came around the Herd back in 2001, I was a newbie to various Trojan football web boards and I had no idea such a group as the Thundering Herd existed. When I came to my first Herd tailgate for a home game, Brooks was the first person to stick out his hand and welcome me. Over the past 5 years, I have now met Brooks at the Goux Gate to go watch special practices, Huddles and Salute To Troy’s, walking onto the Coliseum Field during Herd Walks, at tailgates in more than a dozen cities for Trojan away games, and even at Geno’s East in Chicago to watch the Trojan Band go crazy with pitchers, plates and flatware.
Over the past six years I have worked with Brooks and others to help set up exclusive Tailgates at the Rose Bowl Games, arrange tickets and parking to bowl games for others and been part of Herd efforts to support the USC Trojan football Team. Brooks is always there to share the experience of the Herd at USC football games both home and away, coordinating dozens of Herders meeting at away games across the country. The newcomer is both welcomed and made to feel at home. Brooks, a former Police officer, was there to help set the tone for appropriate behavior in the Herd and to interface with USC and LAPD to make sure that the Herd got of to such a great success as a seating area for Trojan home games.
Brooks has also helped out with Herd fundraising efforts to help the Football Team with the construction costs of the Goux Gate, to buy needed video equipment, and two golf carts. Brooks is also quick to offer support to all USC sports including basketball, baseball and even hockey. Simply, put if there’s an extra ticket or an opportunity for an USC event, Herd members can count on Brooks to know about and get help making sure that extra tailgate or game ticket always finds the right hand of a fellow Herder. There have been numerous occasions when someone in the Herd needs a pick-me-up, including myself. Brooks can be relied on to make sure the timely note, flowers, tasteful contribution or thought is passed along. If these sound like Herd success, that is true, for it’s hard to talk about the Thundering Herd without Brooks, they are one in the same.
The Thundering Herd is indebted to Mr. Brooks Wilson for his energy, enthusiasm, good nature and most of all his undying love and support of USC Football and the Thundering Herd, yes, even MoJack. He’s always there with the Herd Board quip and a steady, lively banter of mostly nonsensical ramblings about his doings in Upland, Fontana and the Inland Empire not-metropolis. No, he didn’t die! It’s just his birthday!! Happy Birthday to the Mayor of Herdsville, Mr. Brooks Wilson!”
Would this parade of glad tidings and praise and “He’s a jolly ol’ fellow” ever stop? Why was I apparently so wrong about Brooks? Why did I feel so differently than all these other seemingly normal, upstanding Herders? I had to find out what was wrong with me? I had to continue to open more emails.
GAB wrote, “Happy Birthday Brooks. Thanks for the " I was there " information re: the roaring 20's. BTW I'm not doing anymore Lobby Duty on the USC road trips.” And NamedAfterMcKay followed that with, “Brooks Happpy Birthday to you. You are the true Godfather of the Herd and I am honored to have met you. What you do for USC football is appreciated. You have always made my friends and myself feel welcome. I am sure looking forward to this season and if there is anything I can do to help the HERD please let me know.” Even Missing Herder Yucca sent an email, “After I was attacked by the Stanford tree, it was Brooks who came to my rescue by convincing the LAPD not to arrest me. (photo right: Brooks lost on a football field) Where was Brooks when I needed him January 1, 2007? Other than the keg guy, he is the most indispensable and lovable member of the Thundering Herd.” If that wasn’t bad enough, my Dad, Trojan Chuck even dropped a note, “Happy Birthday Brooks! Thank God that there is one soul older than me. We’re both in the fourth quarter with fourth and two with Lord Kiffin making the call.”
But the emails just wouldn’t stop. Dr. Z sent one which said, “I want to wish Brooks a happy birthday because he’s a just great guy. He shows it in a lot of ways, by taking care of the Herd’s finances, moderating the board and usually being the first to arrive with reinforcements at the tailgate site. His posts about Trojan history fill in some spaces about tradition, too. He’s led a life filled with challenges, and I hope we can all help him celebrate his overcoming of them with a great birthday and then another great season. One of the best things about being a Herd member is getting to know people like Brooks. Fight on, Brooks!” And Fresno Trojan wrote, “A few thoughts from Marlene and Bob. Thinking young and being ornery must help your longevity. A couple of Brooks quotes. On ND fans: "They're like cancer, they're everywhere" On drinking: "You don't live longer after you stop drinking, it just seems like it" Best wishes to Brooks and his very tolerant wife.” mpron continued, "Happy Birthday Brooks. Seems like it was only yesterday when I went to my first game with the Herd in DC for the Va Tech game and we were all worrying about the old coot that nearly passed out from the heat after the game!! Thanks for helping me get tickets the rest of that year. Here's to you and I hope many more chances to stand with you along with the Herd. Fight on." HOTW Gugs sent his well wishes, "Brooks, I would like to wish you a very Happy Birthday and thank you for always being so nice to me. You are a great Trojan and an asset to USC Football. Today and only today, you don’t suck!" The Goyan family wrote, "Brooks, Happy Birthday from the Goyan Family. We look forward to "Standing and being Herd" with you for many more years. Fight On!" And finally Maverick 6 wrote, “I hope that when I’m your age I can do half as much for others as you do and have half the energy to do what you’re able to accomplish. Happy birthday and hope you have a great day.”
I finally gave up. Brooks actually does have friends and is liked and respected, all ideas that I couldn’t accept in my former way of thinking. Would I have to change my perception? Go through a complete overhaul of my psychology so that I could look on Brooks with a new light…?