Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1960-61 Viking boys basketball squad

From "The Northwood Anchor" 50 years ago, November 24, 1960

The 1960-61 Viking boys basketball squad is one of the smallest in numbers in recent history but have already served notice that they are out to win. Members of the team include Larry Holstad, Gerald Pike, David Randall, John Roberts, Phil Johnson, John Lee, James Trainer, Albert Adams, Mike Lien, David Skellenger and Charles Hendrickson. Head coach is Maynard Midtgaard.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Never Humiliate Your Opponent

It probably doesn't happen anymore, but when we were in school we always got a ride home after football practice from the local businessmen. I don't think it happened for basketball or the spring sports, but there were 5 or 6 business owners who would swing by after practice, then deliver the farm boys without their own transportation to their homes. Apparently it was a good business decision to keep the farmers happy.

It was also a business decision not to humiliate an opponent, specifically the good folks from Glenville. As I recall we only played Glenville in our freshman year, when Glen Jensen was one of them, in fact their star running back. It was about the last game of the year, and had been talked about early on when the upperclassmen told us that we'd all play that game, and Coach LaVerne Rohlfson would stress the importance of not running up the score.

Glenville was a smaller school and may have been in the formative stages of their football program. With a number of their community coming across the border to shop in Northwood (and that probably doesn't happen much anymore since the community doesn't appear to be the humming business center it once was) the businessmen didn't want to offend anyone.

Sure enough, we all dressed for the varsity game - for the only time that year - and in the pre-game talk aboard the school bus, Rohlfson pointed out the importance of good community relations so we would all play. And the score would be managed. My recollection is that we scored about 45 points or so and I don't recall what Glenville scored but it wasn't much. Glen was a tough runner but without a team to support him there was only so much he could do.

Last weekend Wisconsin whomped Indiana 83-20, clearly indicating the business owners from Madison are not expecting much business out of Bloomington. A different environment, I guess.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Football Practice - the Summer of '61

We thought - at least I did - that we could have a pretty good football team that fall, our senior year, and jumped at the chance to have a little backyard workout and practice. Official athletic association rules would prevent having any coaches around but that's no problem, we only need a location.

True to his nature, Bill Roberts offered their back yard, although it was realistically just an access to a cow pasture next door. The only problem, a small one for those of us in our athletic prime, was a 3-strand barbed wire fence that marked the lot line.

We all met at Bill's at the appointed hour, but first Bill pulled out his tape recorder, which was no doubt much newer than the one on which he played back the Eisenhower State of the Union address, and we got some taped instruction from Coach Mounts. I don't recall the exact nature of the speech but I'm sure it had a rah-rah nature to it, so we were all primed at the conclusion.

The first step, of course, was to clear the afore-mentioned barbed wire fence, and that turned out to be the LAST step. Some had already gone through the fence by the traditional method of slipping between the strands, when somebody let out a yell. Doug Fallgatter, later to become our starting fullback, had chosen to hurdle the fence - and failed.

It was ugly. Somehow Doug had twisted in mid-air, stuck his foot back under the top wire, and was essentially tangled up in the top two strands. The blood was flowing and the rah-rah attitude was gone. I retain a vivid mental picture of his dancing on one foot, trying to keep his balance while he extracted himself. And it wasn't easy.

I don't recall any further summer practices, and Doug confirmed to me last February that he still bears the scars today. In today's world Mounts probably would have been sued, and certainly there would have been a big uproar about it. For most of us we just felt it best to keep our mouths shut, which we did, and the practice sessions just became a good idea in theory.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Got an email this morning from a friend who served, although not overseas, and it brought me to reflect on some of what I knew - but never really did.

Like me, you probably recall pictures of your uncles in uniform. Lonna had an uncle who died at Pearl Harbor. Her middle name, LaRae, was in his honor. My uncles, and I had many of them, all came home. And only a couple of years ago I found out one of my uncles had served at Iwo Jima, where he was in the "second wave" to hit the island. Recently I read With the Old Breed: at Pelelieu and Okinawa and discovered the horror that he must have faced.

Apparently he's been suffering from flashbacks and nightmares, and I can understand why. The onslaught was hideous at best, and to watch your brothers being slaughtered would have been emotionally overwhelming. I speak about WW II in particular, but it certainly applies to any war. Reading a biography about Truman told me much about Korea; another uncle served there, and I recall him working on his car on our farm when he returned, changing oil or whatever he was doing. In his case I recall a hush-hush that he didn't really want to talk about what he had gone through. He brought my mother a silk table cloth from Korea and it graced our dining table for years even though it was not the best of interior design, and it represents the memory I have of a good man.

I never heard of our classmates being called to Viet Nam but like all of you was painfully aware of the conflict that raged across our great land as that war developed - and finally ended. The early 70's have memories for me of student protesters at UNI holding a protest in the Student Union the night classes were canceled for the spring after the Kent State shootings. I was there for a night class and on break.

A few years later when I was in grad school many of my fellow students were vets from Nam; a neighbor who had lost both legs below the knee was working on his undergraduate degree. One day he invited me to watch movies he had taken from his helicopter gunner position. I could see tracers going down to the ground and coming back at him. It was a surreal experience to watch with him, especially because he was laughing during his commentary. Perhaps his memories were being suppressed, I don't know.

You have your own memories as well. Whatever they may be, I can only say that today, as one who did not serve, I salute the veterans.