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THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED

There are some things that you have a right to believe will never happen to you, particularly if you are a Pop Warner mother.

Pop Warner mothers are selfless creatures who chauffeur their kids around to endless football and cheerleading practices. Who sit in the stands of too many games that drag. Who preside over bake sales that don't really interest them.

At a recent Pop Warner party, a few of these mothers found that their involvement with Pop Warner football had become far less predictable than this, however.

At the party, they heard that the president of their board of directors had repeatedly denounced the musical entertainment as "nigger-loving music." Alarmed that a man who occupied a position of wide influence with young children would be openly racist, they confronted him about his behavior.

He told one of them to "go suck [a black man's] dick."
When the mothers filed a complaint with the board of their Pop Warner league, a closed meeting was held at the home of one of the president's personal friends. Not surprisingly, the president was not asked to step down from the board.

When the mothers contacted the press about the incident, either the press was stonewalled by the officers of Pop Warner or else the officers quickly rushed to the president's defense.

When a reporter and photographer attended an open Pop Warner board meeting, hoping to take the board president aside for the interview he had been avoiding, Pop Warner officers called the police.

This is how difficult it can be to pursue the matter of prejudice in Arizona. ON THE NIGHT of September 22, Pat Miller, Cathy Quintero, and Mary Hinski were partying at the Mesa Holiday Inn on behalf of the kids of the Mesa American chapter of Pop Warner Football. Miller, a pre-kindergarten teacher whose children have been going out for Pop Warner for four years, is a volunteer team mother who attends the games and provides treats for the kids and supervises bake sales.

Quintero, an executive secretary for a general manager, has three children in Pop Warner. Hinski is a divorced dance instructor who had gone to the Pop Warner party with a friend; her own children do not play in Pop Warner.

All of these women did not get to know each other that night. Hinski did not meet the other two, in fact, until she discovered that they had all written to the board of directors of the Mesa Pop Warner to protest the behavior they witnessed that night. Before things turned ugly, they all had a marvelous time at the party, which was held to give the parents of Pop Warner players a chance to celebrate. They danced all night, primarily to the sounds of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and other Top 40 performers whose tunes were provided by Chris Galvin, a deejay who'd been hired by the Pop Warner group. Sometime after midnight, Miller found herself still out on the dance floor partnered with Quintero, with whom she had struck up a friendship that evening and whose husband, like Miller's own, had reached the point of exhaustion and begun to prefer the sidelines. "We said, `Forget them!'" Miller says of the women's attitude toward their faltering husbands. "The music was so good and we were having so much fun that we could not sit still."

They didn't want to stop dancing, but as things turned out, they had to stop. In the middle of a dance number, the room that had been filled with music went abruptly silent. It was a little odd but, reasoning that it must be time for the party to end, Miller and Quintero approached deejay Galvin for his card, in case they wanted to get in touch with him when planning a party of their own.

They say that Galvin explained to them that the program had ended suddenly on orders from Jack Polchow, the president of the board of directors of Mesa American Pop Warner. Galvin said Polchow had approached him several times during the evening and demanded that he quit playing that "nigger-loving music" and switch to country-western. Galvin had played some honky-tonk, then, but apparently not enough to satisfy Polchow. By the time things came to a head, Polchow was threatening not to pay Galvin his full fee, according to Miller and Quintero.

This is the same story that Galvin later told Hinski, when she approached him separately and asked why the music had stopped. The next day, he told a similar but apparently more graphic story to his supervisor at Windy City DJ's in Tempe, a woman who would identify herself to New Times only as Juanita.

"The president was really tipsy and he made racist comments and he threatened to punch the deejay," is the way that Juanita describes Galvin's account of the argument that evening. "He was not going to pay us or anything." (Galvin himself did not return repeated calls from New Times.)

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Deborah Laake