Move over, Romeo and Juliet: Gary Griffith and Jackie Griffith overcame much more impressive star-crossed odds—they fell in love and later married, despite going to rival high schools.
It was the ‘60s, and Gary was a Woodrow Wilson football player; Jackie was a Bryan Adams cheerleader. The schools, which are less than six miles from each other, were in the midst of a heated rivalry, each boasting a powerhouse, state-ranked varsity football team. But after seeing Jackie at a cheerleading camp held at SMU, Gary, who had dated several other girls from Bryan Adams, walked over to her and asked her out.
“My friends always joked with me that I dated girls from Bryan Adams because I couldn’t get a date at Woodrow,” he said. “I’d never hear the end of it.”
Gary and Jackie were on opposite sides of the field when the two football teams met in 1965. The football rivalry packed the stadium, with standing room only in the stands and people watching from the grass in the end zones. The Woodrow coach named Gary the captain of the game, which, he suspects, was because he was dating someone from Bryan Adams.
Looking back, Gary, who later in life became a Dallas City Councilman, can still recall the details of that game, which Woodrow won after Bryan Adams missed the extra point.
“I still remember the bus ride to the stadium and walking out on the field with more than 15,000 cheering fans packing the stadium,” Gary said. “That game is one of those things I’ll never forget.”
The rivalry between Bryan Adams and Woodrow went well beyond the football field. Kyle Rains, who graduated Woodrow in 1976 and has remained active with the school ever since, said the rivalry in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s extended to everything from the spring musicals to drill teams and school bands.
The rivalry was bolstered by the fact that East Dallas at the time was more like its own small town, with students from both schools often hanging out at the Casa Linda Movie Theater, Lakewood Theater, Kip’s Big Boy Restaurant, or, for a classy night on the town, taking a trip downtown to The Palace or Majestic Theater.
“The places where students hang out has changed, but the rivalry between the schools is still very much alive,” Rains said. “I think the rivalry has really helped both schools over the years, since it keeps spirits high and traditions alive.”
Rains and the Griffiths will be in the stands on Friday when Woodrow plays Bryan Adams at Kincaide Stadium. While the football teams didn’t play each other for the late ‘90s and early ‘00s because they were put in different classifications, the football rivalry roared back starting in 2008. Now the winner of their annual game gets to keep the “Lady of the Lake” trophy for the year.
The Griffiths and Rains said that, of course, the rivalry among grads weakens as the years go on, with Bryan Adams grads being invited to Woodrow alumni events and vice versa.
“It’s become much more good natured as you get older,” Rains said. “But that sure doesn’t mean I don’t really want my team to win on Friday night.”