October 18th, 2016

So far this season, Carbon High School’s football team hasn’t won a single game. Another is coming up shortly, but confidence is high that the result will be the same. Carbon fans—what’s left of them—will come away wondering how is it that their team can’t score even a single touchdown. All will be disappointed; none will be surprised. For as far back as anyone can remember, the Carbon Dinos have been losers.

“Dinos” is short for dinosaurs, which many eons ago roamed the area. In the local coal seams, miners often come upon their fossilized footprints, and that’s how my school came to be associated with extinct reptiles. Originally, our team mascot was the mild-mannered, vegetarian diplodocus. We had two, one male and one female. Dino, the male diplodocus, had a tail. Dina did not. Neither could turn a convincing cartwheel, which was just as well since losers generally don’t turn cartwheels.


Awhile back it was decided that the meat-eating tyrannosaurus might be a more suitable mascot; however, to date no one has managed to come up something scary. Five years ago, my graduating class donated this one, and every time I look at it, all I can think about is how much I’d like to get a refund on my contribution.


It’s also been suggested that Carbon High School could use a new fight song. I mean, seriously…”Sixteen Tons?”

Some have suggested “Big Bad John,” after the 1961 hit by country singer turned sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. I think this is a bad idea for two reasons. One, the last thing our high school football team needs is to be associated with pork sausage. Second, Big Bad John also was a loser. Why? Because he was too damn big! Fact is, the ceilings of coal mines are quite low, so any miner taller than, say, five foot five, will soon to be eliminated from the gene pool. Those who survive will spawn short, wiry offspring well-suited for burrowing underground but ill-equipped to do battle on the gridiron with upstate Nordic giants with long reaches. Anyway, that’s what I think about whenever I’m in Helper, gazing upward at the statue they call Big John. Poor doomed fellow, he should never have traded in that Midas muffler for a carbide headlamp and pick.

-Richard Menzies