I went to junior high at Jefferson Jr. High in Eugene, way back when. In those days, junior high was for kids who were in 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Later, Jefferson became a racism-free zone and then became an alternative school, changing its name to the Family School.
The first time I was at Jefferson school I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. We went there to watch my Dad play city league basketball. He was all of 30 something, and he was very good. I'm not just saying that either. My Dad has always been a jock. He was even better at football than basketball, back in his high school career.
Jefferson school seemed so big to me then, being a grade schooler. We didn't even live in that part of town yet, and I didn't know that Jefferson would someday be my school for three years. That for one whole year, I would walk across wet grass in moccasins, showing up to school with sopping wet feet. To be cool. (Though nobody else noticed or appreciated my efforts at coolness on that one.)
During spring break of 5th grade, we moved to West Eugene, and I attended Ida Patterson Elementary. That was a really nice place to land. I don't remember what the name of our mascot was at Patterson, but at Jefferson we were the Jefferson Jays. What kind of a name is that, I wondered? Blue jays? A bird? Kind of dumb, couldn't they have though up something better and tougher than that? Over the years, I let it go. I became a Churchill Lancer, an Oregon Duck and an Oregon State Beaver. (Not that those mascot names were much better, except for the Lancers. Who chooses those names anyway?)
Recently we started filling up our bird feeder with all kinds of goodies. It turns out that all kinds of goodies attract all kinds of creatures: deer, squirrels, chipmunks, doves, chickadees, some unidentified birdies and four or five Blue Jays. Those Blue Jays are tough. They are mean! The Blue Jays dominate everybody but the deer and the squirrels, and the squirrels even keep their distance for a while, making sure that the Jay on top of the pile of food has a chance to fill up a bit before venturing in.
The Blue Jays hog up most of the peanuts, eating them all if they get the chance. The chipmunks and squirrels love peanuts too, of course, but it takes them longer to pick them up and take them home since they can't fly and the Jays can.
So, am I proud to have once been a Fighting Jay? Not really. But at least I now understand how they got their reputation. They will steal your nuts, if given a chance.