History of the
There are a few stories and myths about the Turkey Tussle.
Here's one more...
The cross town
rivalry between two high schools in Pasadena began
(officially) in 1947. World War II had ended and the campus
of John Muir Junior College had been returned to the city of
Pasadena after having been converted to an Army military
base during that war.
The campus of
Muir was once again a place of learning, but was now a high
school (then only grades 11 and 12).
Muir was the
"other school" and Pasadena High School (PHS) was the
"Pasadena school." On every level, financially, academically
and athletically, comparisons of the two schools were
continually made. The Turkey Tussle was about athletics -
football, to be exact.
As the story
goes, Muir and Pasadena, as do most schools that have a
cross town rival, played their homecoming football games against one
another. It's the last game of the season and it's played
just before Thanksgiving - thus the name "Turkey Tussle." The
father of a PHS student, as usual, brags as to how much PHS
is going to beat Muir in the football game. A Muir dad takes
offense and fires back that Muir will be victorious. After
much discussion a friendly wager is made between the two
excited men. Not for money, but for pride. Something that
would be sorely missed if lost. The PHS dad was a retired
Santa Fe railroad man and as a retirement gift from the railroad he
was awarded the bell from his locomotive train. He then bet that
PHS would defeat Muir and was willing to put his most sacred
possession, his bell up as the prize.
PHS did win that
game and the bell was heard rigging loud and clear after the
game. The following year, he once again put the bell up as a
symbol for the victor - but Muir won the game and "The Bell"
was silenced. Muir demanded that the bell be sent to their
campus until they played again next year.
And so it began...
For over 60 years the "Bell" has been the symbol
of Victory for the Turkey Tussle and it has been
passed back and forth between PHS and Muir all
The "Bell" is a
During the game, the bell sits quietly in the
south end zone of
the Rose Bowl waiting for the victorious team to claim it and ring it
to the cheering crowds; and to the dismay of the losing school. The bell is then taken to
the victors campus for all to see during the
Of course the
irony is that the bell has graced the campus of Muir more
than at PHS. In fact for the past 30 years PHS has only seen the
bell once. Muir has won the game 42 times (with two ties) and
has won the past 16 years in-a-row. The complete record is to the right.
Many students and teachers stand a little
taller when the bell is rung. Muir players and coaches have
given their all to win the prestigious symbol.
have gone onto college and professional football and
still remember vividly playing for the "bell." But, of all
the players and coaches that fought on the grid iron, the one name that might stand out more than all the
rest is Charles White.
In June of 2005, Muir had failed in it's
duties to properly protect the bell - it was stolen. For the
first time the symbol was missing during that game.
Charles White will always be remembered
for that game. But he did not play on the Mustangs squad. He
didn't play for the Pasadena Bulldogs either. He wasn't a
student at either school, nor a staff member. In fact he had
never stepped foot onto either campus. But, still, his name
will be forever linked to the history of the "Bell" because
he found it sitting in a gully in the forest. Whomever had
taken it had dumped it there. Mr. White was a real hero that
wonderful day in February.
Upon its return, the bell was
professionally cleaned and polished and promptly placed into
a secure locked area (not to be revealed).
A documentary about the Turkey Tussle was
produced and featured on Fox Sports West cable
channel during the month of November, 2007. Although it
didn't encompass the entire history of the Turkey Tussle, it
did shine a light on the two schools and the cross town
battle that has been going on for over 60 years.