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The Big Lunch Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 November 2018

In the Bay area this week, fans of Cal and Stanford football are gathering at lunch to egg each other on. It's been a while since this Cal grad participated but we've come to appreciate being sidelined as Stanford racked up win after win. The loser had to buy lunch for the previous year's winner.

The Big Lunch Axe. Michelle's take on the Big Game Axe, given to the winner of the Big Game.

These days we only sit down to lunch on Wednesday and even then we dine alone. On our own cooking (which ain't half bad).

But this week we can't help but remember those old forays into the finer establishments downtown (increasingly Fior d'Italia, America's oldest Italian restaurant, when it was still off Washington Square). Rooms had to be reserved to accommodate everyone invited.

Past coaches and players might even make a cameo as they barhopped the neighborhood.

Gags were always part of the lunch.

The lunches all pre-date the invention of digital photography or our own adoption of it in 1998. And the venues were too dark to encourage much photography. So consider yourself spared.

Except for the one shot above.

We took it this week with our iPhone 6 Plus, propping the plaque up on a vase set in the grass. We had to angle the shot to avoid seeing our reflection in the brass but we undid that distortion with Camera Raw's Upright tool.

Art was Art Samuel, active in the insurance industry at the end of the last century. Roy was our father, who published a weekly insurance news publication. Both are rooting from their luxury celestial suites again this year.

Michelle, who graduated from Stanford, is our sister-in-law. She established the Big Lunch Axe award during a vicious Stanford winning streak, as we recall.

Gags were always part of the lunch. We would print fake menus listing certain Stanford players as dessert. And we would paint ties with bear footprints on them. But no one had ever gone as far as Michelle.

She spent more than $10 on that gag.

The plaque was engraved year after year for a while until it became obvious it was just another Stanford recruiting tool. The tree, in fact, has won the last eight games, setting a record for the longest winning streak.

And while records may have been meant to be broken, we're hoping this one gets the axe on Saturday in Berkeley.

Because we haven't had much of an appetite for eight years.

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