Sunday, October 31, 2010

Early Christmas shopping

When Oct. 31 rolls around, everybody thinks of which holiday?

That's right: Christmas.

Actually, it was just coincidental that Halloween was the day we picked out and reserved our Christmas tree. Over the last few years, we learned that an extra trip to the tree farm saves time and frostbitten digits. Sure, we miss out on slogging through snow to try to select a tree, but we are willing to forgo that experience.

Madame X and I were accompanied by our two oldest granddaughters (and their parents).

Now, all we have to do is return whenever we choose and claim the tree we tagged. It usually still involves a walk on the snow-covered grounds, but the process moves along much more quickly when you can go directly to "your" tree. Plus, the selection is better at this time of year.

Psi Upsilon honors Berwanger

On Saturday, the Omega chapter of Psi Upsilon, of which Jay Berwanger was a brother, commemorated the 75th anniversary of Berwanger's selection for the first Heisman Trophy.

The fraternity was kind enough to invite me to the brunch and ceremony, which was attended by about 20 members of the Berwanger family, including two of his three children. The alumni members marked the occasion by presenting a plaque for display in the fraternity house that Berwanger called home for three years.

It was at the fraternity house that a telegram arrived for Berwanger. It was early December 1935. The message was from the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City inviting Berwanger to New York, all expenses paid, to receive the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, honoring him as the best college football player east of the Mississippi.

The award was renamed the John Heisman Memorial Trophy the next year, and the sponsors eventually dropped the geographic limits on nominees.

The Heisman did not always enjoy the status it does today. Berwanger's biggest thrill in winning the award involved taking his first-ever airplane ride. He didn't have a place for the trophy, and for years it resided in the home of an aunt, who used what is today the most recognized of U.S. sports awards as a doorstop.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quoted in article about Berwanger

University of Chicago alum Martin Northway had an article about Jay Berwanger, subject of my next book, published in the latest Newcity Magazine.

Northway was nice enough to contact me for an e-mail "interview" for the article. As it turned out, I got the last word.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Congratulations, Ellen and Adam

Saturday marked my second and final opportunity to be the Father of the Bride. Ellen and Adam tied the knot in a beautiful Mass at Resurrection Church.

The reception at Loras College, largely planned by Ellen (and Adam), was a great time. (Early in the evening, there was a medical situation involving one of Adam's relatives, but that turned out well, too.) Through it all, my role was to write checks and stay out of the way.

IMHO, they are an intelligent, mature couple. They have their feet on the ground. The only deficiency in my new son-in-law is that he is a Packers fan. However, he is also a Cubs fan -- thus I gave my consent to the nuptials.

(Photo credit: Cousin Jamie)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Schalk honored by Litchfield

While researching my Ray Schalk biography, I observed to Litchfield civic leader Bill Dees that Litchfield is the boyhood home of a major league Hall of Famer but has nothing to inform visitors of this.

As local awareness of Schalk increased with release of my book, Dees was able to raise money to have a sign erected at the Litchfield city limits.

Dees today sent me this photo and this caption information:

Almost 95 years to the day after the first Ray Schalk Day in Litchfield (October 15, 1915) City of Litchfield Street Department workers Curt Evans, Jerry Hull and J.R. Beckham put the finishing touches on the installation of a sign recognizing the impact Ray Shalk had on future baseball players in Litchfield.

On May 8th 2010 a rededication plaque was unveiled at Ray Schalk Field. During this event a number of people indicated that the City needed a sign at the West edge of the City marking Mr. Schalk's entrance into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Volunteer funds were received from the BRS Baseball Museum in Nokomis with the assistance of Steve Johnson, Litchfield Baseball, Litchfield Rotary, Litchfield Park District, Contemporary Service, Ben Schwab, Mike and Paula Hall, the Todd Neuhaus family, other anonymous donors along with the Author of the Ray Schalk biography, Brian Cooper.

Litchfield tourism director Carol Burke reviewed the graphic and local sign artist Jerry Dever produced the paint on aluminum sign with the assistance of the George Press Inc. and MD Designs by Metal D├ęcor.

It was nice of Dees to mention me, and to credit others involved, but this would not have happened without former Mayor Dees taking the lead.