Concord Observer: Thanksgiving 2023 — A time to reconnect with old friends 

November 30, 2023

By Ken Anderson 

I was all set with my column, save a few final edits, when my reverie was interrupted by long-time physical education teacher Bonnie Kennedy, Concord High School class of 1953. She gave me a potholder with a turkey on one side and footballs on the other side, explaining that Thanksgiving is all about the football game and the turkey! So it was back to the writing board. 

With that in mind, I drove to Memorial Field to watch the game and help with the 50-50 raffle for the benefit of the Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle and, specifically, the Robichaud-named fund in honor of Al Robichaud. 

The Thanksgiving Day game is a special time to connect with old friends, bask in the camaraderie of teammates and enjoy a game of importance to all the players past and present. 

Shortly after the opening kickoff, a booming kick by Sam Griswold, I had a conversation with his mother, who is the daughter of a fraternity brother, Tom Mleczko. Tom was stuck on Nantucket and not at the game, which prompted his daughter, A J, to take a “selfie” of us which she sent to Tom. 

Traditionally, seniors started the game and, depending on the circumstances of the game, got to do special things. I remember Joe Mancuso, a tough lineman (he went through police academy in his 40s) and captain of the 1959 team, carrying the ball and diving for a pass. That memory came back to me in the second half when Addison McIntyre, lineman and captain, scored a touchdown on a 12-yard run …with a cadre of players from earlier teams cheering him on! Concord-Carlisle High School won the game, 33-6. 

As we were cleaning up the scholarship material, Jess Reid, wife of Coach Josh Reid, approached with several kids in tow to turn in the winning ticket. Eschewing the personal benefit of her share of the raffle, she donated it back to the scholarship fund! 

Ken Olsen, also of the CHS class of 1953, was at the game. He was an exceptional three-sport (football, basketball and baseball) athlete back in his day. I had the pleasure of playing first base to his shortstop on a softball team in the 1980s. He had such great hands that the ball was almost on its way to me before it got into his glove. Not once did he make a hurried throw — in fact most of the time, he just lobbed the ball to me! 

As I left the field, I bumped into Rick Loughlin, a fellow 1964 classmate. It wouldn’t have been right not to discuss a couple of our games. 

We were on the team that played CCHS’s first high school game at Memorial Field. It was in 1962 and we played Wakefield. We were juniors and we lost 34-0, although the record book shows a 1-0 victory for us since they had one ineligible player. Our “running game” accounted for -14 yards, while our passing game produced about 50 yards. 

Our final game, Thanksgiving 1963, like this year, was against Lexington. It was the last football game for many of us (high school, anyway, as some of us played in college) and certainly as teammates. John Boynton, Van Doty and I had played sports together from early elementary school. 

Other senior teammates included Mike Frantz (co-captain), Rick Loughlin, John Gralton, Steve Oleson, Jimmy Smith, Jack Kelliher, Bruce Vidito, Harold Goranson, Tony Garcia and Kenny Temple as well as John Bailey, Joe Tiano, Earl Davis, Bob Woodin, Karl Spilhaus, Dick Gormely, John Nickerson and Doug Bethke. 

The score was 0-0 with about a minute to go in the game. At that point, I caught a pass and ran it down to the four-yard line, covering over 50 yards. John Boynton, a co-captain, cracked the tough Lexington line on his third try. I caught the point after touchdown for two points and we won our final game, 8-0. Seth (now Emmanuel) Aronie won the MVP award for his defensive play.