Legends of Lambeau
Lambeau Field ranks near the top of my list of all time favorite places and best memories - the Ride 4 Dray would be incomplete without a stop in Green Bay. The founders of the Johnny Blood's Packer fan club (named after the legendary Johnny Blood McNally) and the CoachClaraHanson Show, greeted me with a Champaign toast where legends of the NFL made their mark.
The "Ice Bowl" and the "Frozen Tundra" of Lambeau Field must sound mythical to those on the outside, looking in, to the world of the Green Bay Packers. I am one of the lucky few to have experienced both. The first Ice Bowl in 1967, from the warm confines of our little house in Port, huddled around the black & white TV. After the win, Dan and I headed outside to replay the game in t-shirts. Thirty years later, Seth and I made the trek north to witness Ice Bowl 2, Brett Favre's last game as a Packer. -1 ambient temps with windchill reaching -30. So cold the beer froze in the bottleneck after the first sip. Over the last 50 years I've made the 300+ mile trek to Green Bay more than a few times to take in a game with family and friends.
My first memory of visiting Lambeau Field was the summer of 1967, between 3rd and 4th grades. Dad took brother Dan and I to an intra-squad exhibition game. Earlier that year, the Packers had won the first Super Bowl. After the exhibition game all the fans were allowed on the field to mingle with the players and coaches. Most of us kids,grabbed footballs and ran up/down Lambeau Field pretending to be our favorite Packer - mine was, and still is #15, Bart Starr, one of the classiest professional athletes ever.
I was lucky to meet Bart twice. The first as a 4th grader when he and Ray Nitschke, #66, visited Port Washington. The second time was with my son, Seth, for a photo op that Bart's handlers were not too fond of - another story for another day.
G'ma C (Mom) always had an interesting outlook on the Packers. Even when they lost, for some crazy reason that she only understood, she claimed that on her TV - the Packers always won. Mom's uplifting spirit made it impossible to sulk too long after a bad game. Dan commemorated mom's love and passion for the Packers and our family with the granite plaque inscribed, "G'ma Clarahan says, Go Pack Go!" that now graces the walls of Lambeau Field.
Maybe a John Belushi look-a-like, but a true one-of-a-kind Green Bay native is none other than our legendary friend, PJ. Fantastic family friend and close buddy of brother Dan after he moved to Green Bay in 1979. During the last Lambeau Field expansion, PJ's season ticket seat, Section 31, Row 8, Seat 4, was removed to make room for the new home team locker room tunnel.
The final pit stop before was buddy Tom's new Man Cave - Packer Shrine! The authentic detailing here is simply top-shelf. The brick used for the fireplace and bar is the same brick used to build Lambeau Field. Another one-of-a-kind Green Bay native. Tom and his dad were really at the Ice Bowl in 1967. After the game, his dad led the crew that tore down the goal post, dragged behind their pickup truck to the machine shop, where it cut into souvenir pieces. Saving the crossbar where the upright was mounted for the Tom. Mounting the goal post with the picture of "the Sneak" is special on its own. What puts in rarefied air, is Tom was lucky to get members of the Ice Bowl team to autograph the picture. Priceless!
Day 6 in the tank. Final stop, Dan & Karla's country home in Greenleaf, WI