Dear old Dad

Gosh I love my dad. He taught me everything I know about being a Penn State fan - All of my PSU memories have been shaped by him. It was Dad who taught me about loyalty and teamwork (which were the ideals that he valued in the Penn State football teams). Dad was the consummate Penn State Fan. He loved them through the good times and the bad. However, he did not follow them blindly; he was often critical and frustrated. Which, I believe, added to the credibility of his devotion. In 1965 my father started attending PSU home (and away) football games. He was not a PSU grad, in fact he’d never (at that point) taken a class at PSU. He came to State College as a field engineer for a local company. His work buddies got him hooked on the Lions. He became a steadfast fan, and, although the department he worked for was closed, and they each went their separate ways for employment, they remained football friends. They were there when Coach Paterno took over the head coach position and they witnessed the great teams of the late 1960s as Penn State emerged onto the national scene. They developed a system, a tradition of tailgating and football spectating. Unwavering loyalty mixed with malcontent and an undying love for the underdog. By the way, Penn State is always the underdog. In the early years they would go to nearly all the games, home, away and bowl. Pop later met Mom in State College; she was a waitress at what is now Cafe 210 West and Pop was, well, a regular.

Dad pared it down to home games after I came around, but he never missed one (without an extremely good reason, like surgery) and he tailgated with the same crew. Growing up in State College, Penn State was, of course, a huge part of my childhood - but regardless of where we lived, it was my dad's admiration and respect for the University that really influenced me. Pop eventually took classes in Business at PSU - and he excelled. Years later his former professor recruited Dad to teach Business Logistics - a class he taught at both the University Park and Altoona campuses. He loved teaching the "kids" - and he was so proud to be part of the "Penn State team" - when he got his first PSU paycheck - he staged a photo shoot with a bunch of his PSU items and his check right in the middle.

The crew with which Daddy tailgated had a block of seats in section EF - and, on occasion there would be an extra seat. Mr. Hoover (the keeper of the tickets) entertained a lot of business associates by taking them to State College for the weekend - they would stay at an A-frame out on Collier Lake and go to the tailgate and game on Saturday. Whenever someone didn't show up or they just had an extra seat - Mr. Hoover would call Dad to see if I wanted to go to the game. Friday night through Saturday morning, every time the phone would ring I would hold my breath and hope that I'd hear "let me ask. PSUgirl, do you want to go to the game?" - like he had to ask. I had established myself at very young age as a good "fan" (I didn't whine, or ask too many questions and I really appreciated the game) - I think I was their little novelty - a miniature penn state football trivia savant - Every so often Dad would bring home a program for me - and I would devour it - memorizing all of the players' stats and bios - the "moldy old men" would ask "hey PSUgirl, what number is so and so" and I loved every minute of it. I usually got to go to the "lesser" games - so I saw a lot of NC State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, etc. type games. But occasionally I'd get the chance to see a big game - I'll never forget going to see Alabama. It was a 3:00pm start time and ABC brought in portable lights. I was so excited about the game and I didn't think it would ever start. And then PSU won - I remember it all being so overwhelming - I had to sit down with everyone standing up around me cheering like crazy - I just sat there and watched their reactions - It was awesome.

I was extremely proud when I was able to buy my dad his "PSU Dad" hat - he wore it to every game - It was a thrill to be able to stop by the tailgate (if we weren't running late - cause they "broke it down" an hour before the game) on our way in - before the 2001 renovation, the tailgate was right outside the student gates (where they parked is now under the stadium) -

Pop missed some games my freshman year - he'd had surgery and was recovering - I remember being given the task to deliver the extra tickets to Mr. Hoover (I think it was 2) - Mr. Hoover took me aside, looked me straight in the eye, and asked, "are you sure he's okay?" - he was - but it was funny to think that missing a football game would be the one thing that would give his friends pause. Daddy surprised me one year when I went to see him after the game and was told that he had gone home right after a game to see my mother, as it was their anniversary. And yes, my parents did get married in the Fall - but it's okay, because they got married on a Friday and drove to Maryland that night to go to the Navy game the next day. But that's a whole different story...

So today I salute you, Dad - and thank you for everything you taught me about life (and football - "Daddy, why does the running back always run into the pile of people?" - "Daddy, why can't we cheer 'block that kick' during the kickoff?" - "Daddy, why do they play 'prevent defense' when all it does is prevent the defense from doing a good job?")

**some of the above content is taken (stolen) from 2theLion.com

1 comment:

Papa said...

I hope my kids one day will write a tribute to me liek this one to your dad. The story of group tailgating for years strikes a chord. For years in Tiger Stadium, people would have the same tickets for decades. You can find the names of current season ticket holders carve donto tombstones. Children squabble not over who gets the silver, or Dad's tools, or Mom's pearls: Who gets the tickets? I went to more than one wedding in Baton Rouge when I was still there where either the parents of the bride or groom would say "This is Mr. & Mrs. Smith; they sit beside us at the football games." THe last game I went to, I got tickets from an aunt. THe lady sitting beside us asked who the hell I was, and when I showed her my ticket, and tehn showed my ID, she then proceeded to ask me and my son about a lot of our own current events - was I going to move back anytime soon, had I gotten over my cold, etc. She knew details about me that scared me - did I say the aunt is real close?

Sounds like PSU & LSU have a lot in common.