Tim may be my farthest flung Vicksburg friend. After high school, he spent some time in Tulsa at aircraft mechanics school, took a job in Shreveport, briefly came back to Michigan to ponder his options, then on the day after Christmas ’74 pointed his pickup west for the 3500 mile journey to Alaska to make his fortune on the pipeline. He stuck around and became a bush pilot, settling in little Healy (pop’n 1,021), near Denali National Park. Here see him by his Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, on Otto Lake, holding dinner.
We were pretty good buds back in high school, hanging with the same crowd and also golf teammates.
That’s Tim to my immediate left. We were the only two seniors on that ’70 team.
We didn’t really keep in touch after high school. Tim still owns his dad’s old property near the abandoned Simpson Lee paper mill that once was the lifeblood of the village and now is being transformed into a huge entertainment complex by Chris Moore https://issuu.com/issuuencore/docs/encore_october19 (front cover and pp 24-33), son of much missed Sue https://wordpress.com/post/theviewfromharbal.com/561. Chris wants to buy Tim’s place, and I told him to squeeze, as Chris’ outfit seems to have deep pockets. So clearly we’re interacting these days, and have been ever since I sent Tim a post card to get his e-mail address to add to my Zoom list. Tim became a regular at the Zooms I’ve been holding for our class periodically since last July, starting them when I saw our 50th reunion would be COVID-cancelled. We’re having another Zoom next Tuesday, and Tim’s worried he’ll miss it as he has a dental procedure that day.
In his latest e-mail, he made some comments about Michigan sports. I’d sent him a picture of me and our classmate and mutual love Darai standing by Bo’s statue outside Schembechler Hall October before last.
Like my late dad, Tim didn’t go to U of M but is an avid fan of all Wolverines’ sports, even in Alaska having to deal those of the Buckeye stripe. Probably some Spartoons, too.
When I read Tim’s e-mail, I’d just finished watching a recording of Michigan’s comeback trouncing Friday of Maryland in the Big 10 tourney quarterfinals, so I was even more fired up about Michigan sports than usual. Tim says he doesn’t mind when I go on and on, so I went all Zell Miller about my Wolverines, throwing in a Buckeye-loving classmate of ours at the end:
My dad thought Bo was God ever since he beat Woody in ’69. Was great when Kathy in ’02 invited them both down to a space shuttle launch and they got to pass a little time together.
I got to hang with Bo some too, as together we admired the Saturn V.
Bo and I have a lot in common. We both are Michigan Men all the way, my nickname just adds one letter to his, and we both are lucky to have married a pretty woman named Kathy (his is the blonde).
Yet I still remember sitting in the end zone of MI stadium as a freshman, back before they always filled it, sucking back Boone’s Farm, and cursing Bo for playing such boring football. Run, run, run. Oooh, boy. You remember Woody’s dictum, who of course was Bo’s mentor, “There are three things that can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad”. I later got to meet Billy Taylor, who was by then Dr. Billy Taylor https://www.touchdownbillytaylor.com/, who was the guy poundin’ the pigskin forward on all those runs (1297 yards on 249 attempts for a 5.2 per carry average, 3 time All-American, finishing second to Tom Harmon in career touchdowns with 32 and in points with 194), and winning as a consequence, on that great ’71 team, undefeated in the regular season, outscoring opponents 421-83. Damn that future orthopod Don Bunce and his Stanford Indians. Our QB was future dentist Tom Slade. Field goal with 16 seconds left, 13-12. Rod Garcia kicked it. Wouldn’t have won NC anyway, as #1 Nebraska was playing #2 Alabama in the Orange Bowl that night. Huskers won. Two seasons earlier it was a Wolverine Conference guy – South Haven’s Don Morehead – QBing that ’69 team that beat Woody. I don’t know if Vicksburg ever beat him. We seldom beat SH in anything those days. Anyway, Bo eventually discovered the forward pass, and things got more interesting, especially when Harbaugh was flinging it. Of course, you can open things up too much. Look what happened with Rich Rod. He did have some fun players. See us here with his two best QBs a couple years ago at Wolverine State Brewing. Devin did a show Monday after each game, breaking down game film. He pulled no punches. Sometimes his friend Denard would join him. Yes, Kathy’s at least as tall as Denard, just not quite as fast.
Many great moments in MI Stadium. See some familiar faces in formation for a Penn State game a few years back.
Left to right: Sue Layne, Jim Northam, Barb Northam (died two years ago), Kathy behind her in the M hat, Forrest (Steve Layne), me, Rod Taft, and Chris Taft. Of course we won.
Our season tickets are from Kathy’s family, earned by her Akron orthopedist dad in ’64 for his efforts in recruiting Ohio boys to come play for Michigan. We always do well with those types. Remember one Charles Woodson, of Fremont? We drink his wine these days. It’s pretty good. Like our tickets, as you might imagine. For the longest time we had 4 on the 50 yard line, 80 rows up. Two years ago we swapped down to two on the other side of the stadium, in the comfy old folks’ seats. We also have some pretty good season tickets for basketball, got on our own efforts, which didn’t help much this season. Kathy gets to center court by winning teaching awards.
I offered Juwan my 6’8″ services to the team 2 Novembers ago (I think I had some eligibility left), but he never got back to me.
Later meeting members of his ’19-20 team’s frontcourt, I figure I just didn’t measure up.
That’s starting center 7’3” Jon Teske, who spent his early years in Grandville (just like me) till his Dad moved the family to Lima OH, little 5’9” Kathy (starting center for College of Wooster ’74-6), 6’8” me (mostly rode the bench, but did start for my University of Chicago intramural team), and backup center 6’11” Austin Davis.
The shorter of the two big guys, Austin, is Kathy’s teaching assistant this term. He’s from nearby Onstead – less than half the size of our ‘burg, even smaller than Healy – and just a great guy. A future physical therapist, after he gets done tearing up Europe. It’s been so fun to see him blossom under Juwan’s tutelage. He has a “little” brother in 10th grade, an inch shorter but 20 pounds heavier and still growing. We’re hoping he comes to Michigan.
But Juwan, once the dominant big man in the Big Ten, is a shrimp by those standards also. Helluva coach, though. Coolest in basketball, by far. Another of the many sad consequences of COVID is he doesn’t get to wear his $5000 Tom Ford suits on the sideline. Sure looks good in them.
It’s a pivot from Michigan sports to Jerry Mayes, inveterate Buckeye that he is. But I’ve always loved the guy. He was part of the quartet that hopped into one of our cars every Friday (w/Shutes & Shorty), went to find the case stashed by the side of the road somewhere, then downed it as we aimlessly wandered the back roads, spinning tales of our designs on various girls in the school. Fortunately, they didn’t troll for DUIs on the back roads then, and traffic was light, more deer than cars. Johnny Mac called me into his office once and asked what I was doing going out and getting drunk every weekend. I told him I liked it. I kept getting all As and he left me alone, me drinking all the way to missing being valedictorian by seven ten thousandths of a point. But regarding Jerry, he’s kind of a tragic figure. All that athletic talent. He’ll still tell you of the Cubs tryout he blew. Don’t know how Sillaman beat him out as QB. Jerry’s much tougher for sure. One of his knee replacements got screwed up, so he’s dealing with that now. He’s a regular at Hummel’s get togethers and I always enjoy talking to him. Communicating with him otherwise is difficult. Judy says Jerry is still stuck in the 70s, so he doesn’t pay much attention to e-mail, Facebook, and the like. Whenever I want to get something to Jerry, I e-mail Judy.
Just before I sat down to my laptop, I’d watched a recording of the Michigan Maryland game, in which we smashed ’em after being down as much as 12 the first half. They even threw Juwan out of the game. That only fired ’em up more. Special team this year. So fun to watch. I look for ’em to go far.
That’s probably enough news from Lake Wobegon for one posting. I’m happy you seem to be enjoying. Good luck with your session next Tuesday. Just pop the pills and tune in. It’ll be entertaining. Try not to think of Dustin Hoffman’s scene in Marathon Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xBJERznOgA. “Is it safe?”
That’s how the e-mail ended. I neglected to ask him if he’s seen any real wolverines up there. Apparently, there’s plenty of Gulo gulo about https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wolverine.main
I’ve got one right in my living room, but he (Fritz) is stuffed.