Story #32: Just Follow The People In Red
I too was born and raised in Lincoln. My father taught at the university for 30 years. He lived and died husker football.
I have very early memories (age 4, 1972) watching my parents leaving for the game and being jealous. i would go out into my back yard and listen to Lyell Bremser’s play by play and act out the game. Dave Humm was my first hero. I asked my parents to measure out 6’0 so i could see how high I would need to grow to be his size.
When I was 5, I finally got my chance. I road the bus downtown from southeast Lincoln with my Dad. When we got off the bus, I asked him where the stadium was. He said, “Just follow the people in red.”
We walked across campus, past Love Library, Oldfather and into east stadium. I have very vivid memories of being crowded by people, who towered over me at the time. I squeezed my Dad’s hand tightly, as we snaked up the ramps and into the stadium. We exited the tunnel and there was the field and stadium. There was an amazing ‘wow’ factor. To see it person. You have to remember this was back before ESPN and all the games being televised. We would see the OU game and the bowl game on TV and that was it. For the entire year.
My dad bought some stale popcorn and a hotdog. I recall we won by a large margin. I was hooked.
Through the years I would have all sorts of experiences with Memorial Stadium. Selling coke when I was in junior high ($1.00 a coke, I’d make 14 cents profit per coke). The summer I was 16 I got a job helping out putting the astro turf on the field. This was the year after the scoring explosion and the 1983 Orange Bowl heartbreak. I remember Rozier and Fryar coming by one time to look at the progress of the new astro turf and telling us about how they had just had come back from seeing the Jacksons in Kansas City. I also remember having to use the restroom one day and ducking into the locker rooms that were then in the south stadium. There was an incredibly old, age spot old man weighing himself on the scale in there. Who was that guy? It was Bob Devaney.
Later, I would go to the games in college and sit with my friends. I once called a game while taking a sports broadcasting class.
My Dad died in 2000. A week after the great OU game where Crouch scored on the pass.
Now I am a Dad. My two boys hold my hand tightly as we walk into the stadium. I buy them the snacks and the balloon and I can’t help but think of him. I like to think I am carrying on the tradition. He would tell me about listening to the first Rose Bowl game on the radio; now when I am not at the game, my sons and I sit in our ‘man cave” and watch it on a 55″ HD screen. The technology has changed; but the passion is the same.