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 Post subject: A Tribute by long green
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2004 10:49 am
Posts: 7183
Location: Georgia
I knew Howie Farrell Sr (known as Observer on YOGWF) off and on for over 30 years. I was raised a Tulane fan, but before I ran into Howie I had never seen a fan like him. Fans are boisterous and mercurial; ecstatic one moment, despondent the next. But Howie could seem detached, almost clinical, in the way he talked about his team. Nevertheless, his love for the Green Wave was bone deep.

Fans of a certain generation will remember Howie’s debates on local TV with LSU fan and all-around pill Augie Cross. A Tulane booster club actually ran a transcript of their debates in their newsletters. This was in the wild days when charges and countercharges flew between both camps over the recruitment of players like Garry James, Toby Caston, and Tyrone Vaughns (the shadowy details of those episodes provided the content of much of the debates) . It was also during those great days when Tulane beat LSU three years out of four, the last great days of the rivalry before LSU started forcing their way out over money.

Howie had a moment in those debates that I’ve never forgotten. Augie Cross was the sort of fan who couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t a huge LSU fan like him. Well, he was going on and on about how everyone just had to be deeply impressed, even touched, by LSU’s valiant losing effort vs. Nebraska in the 1983 Orange Bowl. When he was finished he turned to Howie, hoping he’d made his point. Howie responded, no doubt after a pause to drive home his words, “I was totally unmoved.” Even through a transcript you could see Howie toying with his counterpart.

Speaking of those booster clubs, it was there that I first saw Howie in the flesh. Back then, they would hold those booster club meetings in a second floor meeting room in the old Monk Simons building. If Howie was there the highlight for the serious fan came before the official meeting started. That was when we tried to pump Howie for information because in those pre-internet days Howie was the go-to guy for inside information. He never disappointed. Even if the news wasn’t good, he had the dope and he gave it straight. He was so objective and so authoritative that it could be intimidating to approach him. You felt that you needed to come in prepared.

Howie could be less intimidating if you ran into him at a practice. It was at a practice that one could see Howie as more of a regular fan. To be a Tulane fan requires patience and hope and it seems that watching practices and scrimmages and fall baseball games is what Tulane fans did to get that sustaining hope. Too much of that hope didn’t result in wins when the season started but when you caught a practice with him and his son Howie Jr (known to us all as Green Menace) you never failed to walk away with a bounce in your step. Of course, a big part of recharging the fan battery of hope was being around one’s fellow Green Wave fans and there was no better power source than Howie.

At football games (way too few) I watched with Howie and his son, Howie’s manner again stood out from the other members of his beloved Greenbackers Booster Club, a rowdy crew in the best sense. A part of him always seemed to be an Observer but his love for his teams shone through. I can’t picture Howie in the Superdome without his green Tulane hardhat. The hardhat wasn’t a mere accessory, it said something about its owner. It said “I am of the people and proud of it and I am serious about rooting for my guys every play of every game.”

There is one memory I associate with Howie that may not in fact involve him. Back in those great days of the early 1980’s the lead-in to one of our football coach’s shows began with a group of Tulane fans - of the sort we used to have in droves but don’t really have anymore - standing in front of a bar (of course) in their Tulane gear and shouting out The Hullabaloo. From the first time I watched that lead-in I knew THAT was how you did The Hullabaloo.

Since then, I always wanted to ask Howie if he was one of those fans. He could have been, he certainly had to know them. And what bar was that, anyway? All those years later it seems like Brigadoon, a blue (and green)-collar bar where everyone is a Tulane fan. It was (and is) a connection to a time when Tulane fans of all walks of life were everywhere in the New Orleans area; not a community but a nation of Green Wave faithful. And Howie Farrell was both the cool head and warm heart of that nation.

I always wanted to ask Howie about that but I never did. It is the only regret I have about knowing him. I never got the answer to a question I never asked, but my fan’s heart knows the answer: Howie was part of the greatest Hullabaloo we’ll ever see.

long green


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