Cotton Bowl Days : Growing up with Dallas and the Cowboys in the 1960s: Eisenberg, John: 9780684831206: Books

The author describes growing up in the 1960’s as part of a large extended family that owned season tickets to Dallas Cowboy games in the Cotton Bowl. He brings alive the atmosphere in the old stadium, including parking, walking through the nearby fairgrounds and watching a losing team struggle through its early years.

The author describes his own childhood and how so much of it related to his love for the old Cowboys. He relives his own heartbreak at every loss, his absorption in the local sports pages and his eventual excitement at the teams’ late 60’s success. He attended the now famous games from that era (the 66 championship against the Packers, the 69 playoff loss to the Browns, etc.) and helps us to relive them through his own eyes as a spectator with his family.

Along the way, he includes much history of his own family and how it intertwined with the growth of Dallas in the 20th century.

He also inserts recent interviews with many Cowboy stars from that era, through which the reader can learn of those players’ histories and life after football.

What makes the book more interesting is that it covers the period before the Cowboys became “America’s Team.” In the 1970’s, we saw media saturation of such stories as the “Hail Mary,” “Captain Comeback,” “Hollywood,” the cheerleaders, the Cowboy-Steeler rivalry, the Cowboy-Redskin rivalry, etc. Those stories are well-known. But the stories of the 1960’s are still fresh, having occurred before the media frenzy really began.

The story winds down as the Cowboys move into their new home in Texas Stadium in 1971. We learn how the culture changed with the changing economics of the new stadium, and, (years later) especially, with the coming of the Jerry Jones era. Through it all, the Eisenberg family kept their season tickets and remained loyal to the team and the town. Eisenberg, himself, grew up to be a journalist and author.

The story is well told and absorbing. The book is similar to William Gildea’s “When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore.” The book is about more than football. It is about an era, a town and a childhood. The main difference between Cotton Bowl Days and the Colts book is that the Cowboys never left town. The fans lost only the stadium, not the team. There is no sense of the Dallas fans being victimized as the fans were in Baltimore. There is a sadness that pervades the Colts book that does not exist in this book.

Notwithstanding that difference, Cotton Bowl Days is a touching story that will entertain any reader that ever grew up following a sports team.

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