MARBLEHEAD — Robert Jauron said he began his book “Big Blue Days” as a trip down memory lane, celebrating a small town and the wonderfully successful football that made it famous.
Along the way, however, he grew to understand the real value of playing for Stan Bondelevitch and the Swampscott Big Blue.
“If you go to a reunion, what does everybody talk about?” he asked. “They talk about all the wins, and all the glory, right?
“But when I talked to people about the book, and about this period, it came to me that I heard a lot of people say things like, ‘Stan changed my life,’ or ‘Dick Lynch was the best thing that ever happened to me.'”
The focus of the book began to change, he said.
“I figured out that the reason that period was so special was not because of the winning,” he said, “it was because of the learning.”
Jauron, his two brothers, and at least 100 hundred other Swampscott fans gathered at the function room at Tedesco Country Club Sunday for a book signing.
All three Jauron brothers — Bob, Dick and Mike — played football for Stan Bondelevitch, with Dick as a particular standout. The middle Jauron, who graduated in 1969 from Swampscott High, went on to star at Yale University, become a Pro Bowl safety for the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, and become the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2001 while with the Chicago Bears.
Bob became a lawyer, and when he retired, he thought that perhaps he’d write about the Swampscott glory days. And along the way, he came to realize some important truths about education — truths he said he hopes he imparted in his book.
“Swampscott never offered high school sports as a business to make money,” said Jauron during a brief address to the people assembled to celebrate the book’s publication. “Swampscott offered high school sports to educate.
“I’ve heard from numerous adolescents that the most memorable teachers they ever had were the men and women who were dedicated to coaching young people.”
The golden era of Swampscott football began with Bondelevitch’s arrival in 1953 and lasted until 1976. Along the way, the Big Blue had eight undefeated seasons, a 32-game unbeaten streak that lasted from the first week of the 1967 season through Halloween 1970. The 1967 season, he recalled, had three future National Football League players on it — his brother, Tom Toner (Packers) and Bill Adams (Buffalo Bills, where he was a teammate of O.J. Simpson’s).
“Not only did they make the NFL,” said Jauron, “they played multiple seasons.”
Bondelevitch’s 1972 team won the first Division 2 state Super Bowl, a 28-21 victory over Catholic Memorial.
When Jauron first undertook the project of writing “Big Blue Days” he had a list of people he wanted to talk to. The hardest part, he said, was that several of those people died before he could ever interview them.
“That was pretty difficult,” he said.
But he did have the distinct pleasure of getting a tremendous amount of information out of Lynch, who died last month, and was an assistant for Bondelevitch from the early days until he became Danvers’ athletic director.
“He was such a help,” said Jauron. “He had so many stories, and scrapbooks, and pictures. Talking to him was a real pleasure.
“Dick is an icon,” said Jauron. “He is a precious link, not only to Swampscott’s athletic past, but its overall past. He regaled me with countless anecdotes about the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.”
It’s obvious that the Jaurons had a tremendous amount of affection for Bondelevitch, who died in 2002. One of the coach’s favorite expressions was “cut the mustard.”
“Bondy instilled in us the magic of teamwork,” Dick Jauron said in introducing his brother. “This story is the stuff of character, because if you demonstrate character, you will truly ‘cut the mustard’ all the time, as coach always liked to say.”