Traveling north of 60 …
In Colfax, Washington, the county seat of Whitman County, we find an American treasure in the Codger Pole.
The Codger Pole, a 65-foot-tall chainsaw sculpture, commemorates a 1988 high school football rematch — played fifty years after the first game, by the same participants. Colfax lost to St. John in 1938, but won the rematch.
Billed as perhaps the largest chain saw art in the world, these five red cedar poles depict faces of some who might have played in the snowy 1938 football game pitting nearby St. John against Colfax. Scroll down past the image to read more.
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ARMISTICE DAY 1938. OUR COACH SAID. “WELL. MEN. IT’LL BE A
WHITE FIELD WITH BLACK LINES,” WHICH WAS HIS WAY OF TELLING US THE GAME WAS
STILL ON. WE SENIORS WERE ANXIOUS TO PLAY IN SPITE OF THE SNOW, WE’D HAD A POOR
SEASON AND IT WAS OUR LAST CHANCE TO NAB A LITTLE GLORY IF ANY WAS TO BE HAD. WE SCROUNGED HEAVY SOX AND LONG-JOHNS,
SLAPPED MUD-CLEATS ON OUR OLD WORN-OUT HIGH TOPS. GRABBED A LEATHER HELMET AND
WENT OUT THERE.
OUR TINY CHEERING SECTION SAT THERE IN THEIR HAND-ME-DOWN
DEPRESSION DUDS, TRYING TO IGNORE THE BITING COLD WHILE THEY WATCHED PETE
CHRISTENSEN, THE ST. JOHN FULLBACK, PILE-UP ALL THE POINTS THAT AFTERNOON. WE
HOBBLED OFF THAT FROZEN FIELD MUTTERING HOW WE’D LIKE TO GET ‘EM BACK OUT THERE
AGAIN SOME DAY. I GUESS THAT’S WHEN THE CODGER BOWL WAS CONCEIVED.
IT HATCHED FIFTY YEARS LATER WHEN I GOT THE BOYS OF 38 TO COME
BACK TO THE SAME FIELD AND REPLAY THAT GAME. AND THAT WEEK IN SEPTEMBER OF ’88,
THE BAND PLAYED “YOU’VE GOT TO BE A FOOTBALL HERO” AND SIXTY OLD BUCKS
WENT LIMPING BACK THROUGH A TUNNEL OF MEMORIES TO EMBRACE THE YEAR 1938.
MASTER CARVER, JONATHAN LABENNE’S SUPERB TALENT AND WHIMSY
CAPTURED THE WARMTH, FUN AND LOVE COLFAX AND ST. JOHN SHARED WHILE WE CODGERS
CAVORTED ABOUT THE FIELD IN SCHOOL COLORS WEARING OUR NUMBERS FROM A
THE GHOSTS OF OUR YOUTH REVEALED GLIMPSES OF GRIDIRON BRILLIANCE,
UNFORTUNATELY BRIEF AND FEW BUT EVEN SO, THAT GLORIOUS AFTERNOON OF FUN GAVE US
GUYS A CHANCE TO FULFILL THAT DREAM EVERY SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD KID SECRETLY HANGS
ONTO: PLAYING ONE MORE GAME.
AND HOW MANY OLD RASCALS EVER GET TO DO THAT?
JOHN CRAWFORD CODGER POLE DEDICATION
SEPTEMBER 15, 1991