Choosing a high school in our town in 1978 was a big deal. Basically, you were choosing sides, claiming territory, and placing loyalties that would never be changed. It was either Bradshaw or Coffee. This rivalry was fierce. In our day, the rivalry between Bradshaw and Coffee was worse than that of Alabama Auburn.
Everything from vandalism to bad jokes were hurled back and forth. There were jokes about the school in the cow pasture (Bradshaw) and the school on goat hill (Coffee). One tradition that happened was the painting of various things on one another’s property. This happened so much that Bradshaw actually placed a large rock in front of the school that could be painted called the “graffiti rock.” During rival week, one could expect any number of “events” to take place.
In my junior high school, Weeden, the majority of people chose Coffee. It was actually closer to the people in our community is the biggest reason I’m guessing. However, my family leaned toward Bradshaw. My cousins went there and back then I did just about anything my cousin Donnie did. I had heard, too, that their band program was a bit stronger. Also there were important things like which school had the best colors. I did not like the colors black and gold together and there was something just not too appealing to me about being a “Yellowjacket.” Bradshaw had the colors orange and brown. They were unique. No one looked like that. They had a Bruin (large bear) as a mascot too–much stronger than bees a buzzin!
It was such a rare thing to choose Bradshaw over Coffee from our school that only one other student (my good friend Fonda Fletcher) and myself from our junior high school band chose that school. Both of us chose it because of the band.
Even though it was rare to choose this school, I’m so glad I did. I made friends that will always be in my heart and some with whom I still hang out. The class I graduated with in 1982 were very close. We had 292 students in that class and I certainly did not know them all, but many I did know and still have fond memories of most of them.
The rivalry between these schools no longer exists. The city decided a few years ago to combine the schools and make “Florence High School.” It was a decision that I have not liked since the day it came to pass. It seemed for many of us to take away a special tradition that will never be able to happen again.