On Reminiscing

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Sometime during the first half of my teaching career, I recall a conversation at the lunch table when another teacher asked about the best years of life. Some answered about having young children. I noticed a puzzled look of one lady (with 2 boys) who said, “You are crazy. The best years were in college.!” Then I (with no kids) turned for a high-five. Her answer didn’t surprise me because she was a huge college sports fan – a loyal follower of her Purdue Boilermakers.

My time at Bowling Green State University on the flatlands of northwest Ohio forged many of my best friendships. Those days began in September 1971, and I know if I need them today, my fellow Falcon friends would be there for me.

My first college roommate (Steve) and I now live 850 miles (1368 km) apart. We were friends throughout our college days, best man at the other’s wedding, and even collaborate on this blog (using his photos).

One day this past December, Steve sent me several texts with images. He said he was going through his files (deleting and filing) and wondered if I wanted them. It stirred memories that made me smile, which established the reason for a blog post.

 

First all, look at that hair!

This had to be fall of our sophomore year (1972, 19 years old). Steve was either still a journalism major at the time or was taking a photography class (an important hobby to him then and now). He asked me if I could be the subject of a collage he had to do for a class, so sure – that’s what friends are for – and the image above was the final product.

Bill, another friend throughout college, is my chess opponent. After graduation, he returned to his hometown near Buffalo, New York. We stayed in touch, then I discovered that he died in a car accident. He was very active and respected in his community – such a deep lose for them. Bill was also one heck of an athlete!

Yes, I was a member of the Falcon Marching Band for 5 years. (The sun always shines on the Falcon Marching Band.) I served as a squad leader for 2 years, plus I ended up meeting my future wife through band.

Two years before she came along, I had a crush on Diane – (who I think is) the curly haired lady, who was a twirler in band. We never dated, and her time at BG was very short – and I don’t think I ever saw her again. I loved my time in marching band, and wrote about one of my unexpected band moments on this past post (2011).

 

Sandy is another long-time friend and one of the best I’ve ever known. We met through Dwain, (her cousin) a fellow band member who happened to live beside Steve and I our first year. Sandy and I are sitting in a basement food area in my quad. She was in the group of us who hung around together all the time in college, and have stayed in touch ever since. Steve actually married a friend of hers who is from the same hometown. Sandy lives about an hour from me, while Dwain and I are about 300 miles (483 km) apart.

This post was about reminiscing back to a wonderful time – all stimulated from a collection of photographs from the distant past. For me, college was about being away from home with a degree of independence – life on my own while still having a home for the holidays, breaks, and the summer. Yes, a good transition toward the next step in life. Cheers to long-term friendships.

Special thanks to Steve for initiating this post by simply sending me the image. Now it’s time to enjoy a fitting song by Queen.

On a Special Cap

I was still on summer break after my first year in college and working at a power plant during the 1972 Olympics. My sophomore year would not start until well into September, but an event of 40 years ago is etched into my memory with pride.

Many recall the Summer Olympics in Munich regarding an act of terror on Israeli athletics, but for me, it also was a golf cap worn by an upper classman who shared chemistry lecture time with me. I can’t recall ever speaking to him, but he is on the cover of our recent alumni magazine – and the accompanying article shows the cap.

Some readers around my age may remember this Olympic 800-meter race involving two sprints around the track; meanwhile others may appreciate the thrill. As a result, during a halftime show at home and away, we formed the Olympic torch and played the Olympic theme in his honor. This less-than-two-minute race is simply a wonderful memory. Does anyone remember this?

On an Unexpected Day

October 2, 1971 was a beautiful fall day on the Bowling Green State University campus. It was my freshman year and classes were probably in their third week, plus I had arrived early to audition for the Falcon Marching Band (which I made).

The football team was off to a surprising 2-0 start and the first league home game was on this day as the Broncos of Western Michigan came to the flatlands of northwest Ohio. The home Falcons dominated the Broncos that day (23-7), so expectations we sky-high near the end of the game because arch-rival, the “school up north” (Toledo) and their well-over 20 game winning streak would be coming to town soon.

As the game was nearing its end, we band members are readying ourselves to take the field for the traditional post-game concert. As I was racing onto the field, a student photographer unexpectedly approached me and asked me to raise my hands and horn in victory. He took a few pictures and that was the end of it.

My roommate was an avid photographer, thus told me that the BG News (the campus newspaper) archives all the pictures taken, and then sells them for a reasonable fee. Eventually, I found the picture and purchased it, along with a few others.

Move ahead about 18 months to spring 1973 (my sophomore year). It was a pleasant spring evening, so I decided to attend an outdoor concert performed by the symphonic band. Once there, I learned that the marching band’s recorded album of this season (1972) arrived. A friend showed me a copy and there it was – an artist had transformed the picture taken of me on that day into a drawing serving as the album cover.

Of course, some said “no way” as my glasses were removed, but I had the original as evidence – And to this day, that photograph resides inside that album cover.

On Inside a Trophy Case

I’ve been in Anderson Arena, on the Bowling Green State University campus, many times. Whether passing through its lobby to avoid cold, wind, and/or rain, attend a basketball game, concert, or hear a US President; it is a place dear to my past.

I was there the day President Ford made a campaign stop. Unfortunately, he had gone through several recent assassination attempts, yet those of us who can remember Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, may also recall the night when a popping of a camera flashbulb created temporary havoc. Yep, that was in Anderson Arena and I was there.

Anderson Arena is the place I attended concerts and saw acts as Yes (with Rick Wakeman), Jefferson Starship, Doobie Brothers (early in their career), and Bachmann-Turner Overdrive.

Who knows how many sporting events I attended at Anderson Arena, but as a sports venue, it’s far from luxurious … actually sparse … but a good place for fans. With fans near the court, The House that Roars was a tough place for opponents.

Earlier this month, Anderson Arena hosted its last Falcon basketball game as next season brings a new venue. Little did I know at the time, one of my lasting memories is seeing a partially deflated basketball in the lobby’s trophy case that is connected my life-after college in Cincinnati.

The date on the basketball was February 16, 1963, with the following score inscribed: Bowling Green 92, Loyola Chicago 75. Those Ramblers had come to town undefeated (21-0) and ranked #2 in the country – actually behind the two-time defending champion Cincinnati Bearcats, (where I earned my Masters and now attend sporting events).  At the end of the year, Loyola would have a late-game rally to defeat the Bearcats in the national championship game – which is also one of the earliest college basketball games from my childhood memory.

On that night in February of 1963 though, the night belonged to the Falcons, who were very good. They eventually won the MAC championship, and were part of the 26-team March Madness. They beat good teams, and lost to other good teams in close games. On that night, the Falcons never trailed, and were comfortable ahead most of the game … and the basketball from that night is in the trophy case.

Two Falcon legends gave this team an inside-outside threat. Howard Komives, the pure shooter, went on to a 10-year NBA career. Nate Thurmond, the inside rebounder and scorer, was not only an All-American, but had a long, outstanding NBA career, and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Coach Harold Anderson is also in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Although Anderson Arena will now be quiet, yet the memories of the roars will live on. I will always remember that basketball in the trophy case, and know that I would have loved to be there on that night.

Outside picture courtesy of sharing through Flicker

Inside color picture courtesy of the Toledo Blade

Inside black and white picture used with permission from PepperGuy, Grant Cummings.

On the Glory of 25 and 50 Years Ago

I earned by undergrad degree at Bowling Green State University, thus a proud Falcon. The end of 2009 marks the end of celebrating two monumental sports moments from years gone by: the 1984 NCAA Hockey Championship and the 1959 NCAA Football Championship.

I imagine someone is scratching their head about the 1959 gridiron feat because references list Jim Brown-led Syracuse as national champions, but the Falcons were the NCAA College Division (Small College) champions. The team numbers are impressive: 9-0-0 and outscoring opponents 274-83 … and to think that rival Toledo scored 21 points while the defense held 6 opponents to single digits. Here are some notes about the personnel.

  • Coach Doyt Perry led the BG for 10 years with a .855 winning percentage (77-11-5) and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • Bernie Casey (RB) was an All-American, the ninth pick of the NFL draft, and had a successful career with the 49ers and Rams
  • Jack Harbaugh (QB/DB), had a successful college coaching career and father to John and Jim
  • Ron Blackledge (TE/DE) had a successful coaching career and father of Todd
  • Larry Smith (WR), served as head coach at Tulane, Arizona, USC, and Missouri
  • Jim Young, assistant coach, served as head coach at Arizona, Purdue, and Army; member of College Football Hall of Fame
  • Dick Young, assistant coach, served as AD at BG, Oklahoma State, and Washington State
  • Dave McClain (QB) coached at Ball State

Here’s a short article about the team. By the way, the players above and below with hyperlinks are enshrined in the BGSU Hall of Fame.

Twenty-five years later (1984) the Falcon icers won the national championship. Although BG had a stellar record (31-7-2) and ranked #2 in the final poll, an OT loss to Michigan State in the league championship game sent BG to Boston to face the Terriers in two-game total-goal series. Having lost by 3 the first night, BG roared back to win by 4.

A rematch semi-final win over MSU then vaulted the Falcons into the finals. Trailing by 3 to Minnesota-Diluth in the final period, the Falcons roared back to tie with 1:47 left, and then eventually winning in the fourth overtime!

Here are some of the roster notables.

  • Garry Galley (D) – 18 years in the NHL
  • Dave Ellett (D) – 16 years in the NHL
  • Gino Cavallini (W) – 8 years in the NHL
  • Iain Duncan (W) – 4 years in the NHL
  • Todd Flichel (D) – 3 years in the NHL
  • John Samanski (C) – 11 years playing in Europe
  • George Roll (W) – Head coach at Clarkson
  • Jerry York (Head Coach) – Currently head coach at Boston College where he has also won a national championship

See the full roster
Read about the season

On Two Bowling Greens

One has a GM Corvette plant and accompanying museum, the other has the National Tractor Pull Championships. One has a population of about 30K (in a rural area) and the other 54K (yet more of a metro area). One became a town in 1798, the other in 1855. Both have similar elevations above sea level (547 & 696) and each located along an interstate highway. Both have public universities.

One is on plains flattened by the glaciers, and the other has a gentle roll. One is the Central time zone, the other is Eastern. One occupies about 10 square miles, the other 35. Probably because of early history, there’s a slight difference in their pronunciation: BOWL-ing GREEN and BO-lin grin. One is in Ohio and the other Kentucky.

One is home to the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and the other the Western Kentucky University (WKU). One has the Falcons and the other the Hilltoppers. One has a college on the hill, and the other’s college created a hill from the removed soil when building a large pond.

I’ve lived in Ohio all but the first 3 months of my life. For some reason people confuse these two universities. I first discovered this in my youth after telling people I was attending Bowling Green, I would get comments like “The one in Kentucky or Ohio?” “Have you gone to the Corvette Museum?” Even after moving to Cincinnati for my adult years, I’ve occasionally encountered similar confusion.

Last week I posted thoughts about the potential disbanding of a known college hockey program. Hmmm … BGSU or WKU? The very next day I was looking at the brackets for the women’s basketball tournament. This bracket, undoubtedly from a major news source, listed Bowling Green, Ohio as one of the first round tournament sites – of which I wondered, “In that outdated, dumpy college gym?”

Well, Bowling Green is also found in Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, and Virginia, but none of these are college towns. Bowling Green is also in New York City as the city’s oldest public park, but it’s not a town in itself. Although nobody has ever confused my Bowling Green with these places, at least nobody has ever related me to Fruit of the Loom Underwear that has a  manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. After all, I prefer Hanes.

On a Dying Team

During my years on the campus, I was an avid Bowling Green Falcon hockey fan.

  • bglogoI stood outside the arena doors for an hour in the cold BG wind waiting for the doors to open to get my preferred seat.
  • I didn’t miss many home games as a student, and sat (most of the time) in the same general admission seat – along a rail above a stairway at center ice on the east side for most of the games over five years. (Observable below).
  • After seated, I played crazy 8s with friends since gametime was still an hour away.
  • I saw the early wave of the 34 Falcons who played in the NHL, and others made the U.S. Olympic team.
  • I saw coach Ron Mason on his way to becoming the most-winning coach in NCAA hockey history.
  • I saw many great games, including numerous exciting moments that shook the arena. (The close aluminum ceiling had the place roar.)

hockeywinAlthough I wasn’t a student when the Falcons won the 1984 National Championship on Gino Cavallini’s fourth-overtime goal, my heart was there and tuned into ESPN. I wasn’t there to see two Hobey Baker Award (hockey’s Heisman) winner, George McPhee and Brian Holzinger, but they increased my pride.

Today, the BG Ice Arena faces the threat of becoming nothing more than a physical education facility. While surfing this part Friday I discovered the university is considering disbanding its hockey program.

ice_arenaThe facility and finances are at the heart of the issue. After years of neglect, the 40 year-old arena is antiquated – in need of both repair and renovation. Updating has been delayed – funding decreased and eventually cut. Surely the facility hasn’t made recruiting easy, thus it’s been a tough last 10 years for Falcon faithful.

Past neglect (by choice) and tough economic times have put the university’s administration between a rock and a hard place. Part of investing in a team is investing in the facilities, and I hope this is not a search-for-financing plea as clearly used by pro franchises.

As avid of a fan I was and as much as I still bleed orange, I say pull the plug. Instead of continuing as a bottom dweller and having one of the worst facilities in the CCHA, I’ll settle for no more embarassment and living in my memories – the kind I’ll get when I return to campus, sit in the seat, and remember when the building shook.

Support Articles: Toledo Blade and NHL FanHouse

Images from the Associated Press and Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune

PS: It’s 4:15 pm (same day of the post) and the BGSU Athletic Director posted an open letter today stating all sports are safe for next year – but also emphasizes the budget constraints.