Fall brings back memories of football, pheasants and cowboys

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

This is the time of year when I start feeling guilty about not taking advantage of the still open water on the area lakes. I always think that I am going to take that one more cast but it usually doesn’t happen so I have to settle for remembering the one I did take a few weeks previous.

When I was growing up the idea of fishing was usually gone once school started; it would be replaced by football and as I grew a little older it was cars along with some pheasant hunting in the fall. After I returned from the service the fall fishing thing really appealed to me, and it’s been in my plans each year since.

There were a few of us kids in the old neighborhood that would play football right up to and including the winter months. Football in late fall was fun but once the ground froze the chance of hurting yourself escalated. There were many football games played in my Aunt Ruby’s front yard because it was open and you only had one tree to contend with. If the ground was hard and the weather was dry she left us alone but if it was wet and rainy she would come out and shoo us off so we wouldn’t tear up her yard. I always thought that the muddier you were the more you looked like a real football player; although my mother probably didn’t see it quite that way. Looking back I’d have to say that any kid who ever played a backyard football game was a real player.

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Playing football in a snow storm was the best. I can remember playing in the mud and snow and pretending that I was one of the big time running backs of the time. One year we were invited to some family friend’s house for pheasant dinner and to watch football. I will always remember that game because Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns ran over and through folks showing the world that he was the absolute best running back of the time and maybe of all time.

I’m not so sure that the kids of today have heroes like we did in those days. When we played a neighborhood football game we’d all claim to be some great football player of the times. I had a Tobin Rote football that I was really proud of, and I doubt that there are too many folks around today that even know who he was. Some of my favorite football players were Harlan Hill, a tight end, Rick Caseras, a fullback and Bill George a middle linebacker, who all played for the Chicago Bears. The Bears were my favorite team growing up, and I can still hear the unmistakable voice of Lindsay Nelson calling those Bear’s games on TV. It was kind of the same with the Chicago Blackhawks; they were my favorite hockey team until the North Stars came along.

Heroes weren’t just sports stars. There were also the cowboys that you’d get to see at the Saturday matinee in the old Rivoli Theater. I always liked Roy Rogers and Gene Autry but another of my favorites was Randolph Scott and I can’t forget Hoppy. I had a few of the Red Ryder comic books and went to see most of the movies at the matinees that played at the old Rivoli. Red Ryder’s sidekick was named Little Beaver, who was played by Robert Blake, and the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun was actually named after the Red Ryder character. I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons at the movies, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg back then. Twenty cents would get you in and sometimes that was for a double feature. I can still remember the excitement I’d feel when one of my favorite heroes would be featured on the posters in the theater lobby. Yes, we had our heroes back then whether it was on the football field or on the screen we loved ’em.

Over the years I have listened to many Gopher football games on the radio on a Saturday afternoon, and I can’t really remember anything that I enjoyed more. Although I was pretty young I can remember listening to “Gunsmoke” on Saturday nights with my grandpa sitting in his chair by the radio. Roy Rogers was another Saturday radio favorite and there was “Gangbusters” which would come roaring into the living room later at night with the machine guns blasting away. It was all good and it’s funny how a kid’s imagination could be fueled just by the sounds that came out of a radio.

Until next time, take a little time to enjoy the outdoors experience and the world of nature that surrounds us.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune every Sunday.