These things I remember |

These things I remember

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

Since Memorial Day is a time for remembering, I thought I would share some favorite sporting (and life) memories from my first 10 years on earth.

I remember Saturday nights in the mid-1960s. After watching the Lawrence Welk show on television and eating at the Eagles hall “Dime a Dip” dinner, we would turn on the old Philco radio and try to pick up the Colorado State University basketball broadcasts out of Denver. My brother played for the Rams at the time, and the entire family would gather around the radio to try and listen to bits and pieces of the game as the signal came in and faded out. Most times, I would fade out long before the game ended, and I would wake up just as my mom was tucking me into bed.

I remember my Sunday morning ritual during that same time period. I would get up early and have the TV tuned in to KWGN Channel 2 by 7:55 a.m. so that I could watch the end of the Oral Roberts Show. I really wasn’t much interested in what the evangelist Roberts had to say, other than when he signed off at the end of the show by looking into the camera and saying, “Expect a miracle.” I knew that miracle was on its way, because next up was the Notre Dame Football Replay Show hosted by Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung. In the span of the 30 minute show, the Fighting Irish, with those shiny golden helmets, always seemed to pull out an improbable, last minute victory against the likes of Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan State, or those rival Trojans from USC. Even though the game was played the previous day, I was convinced that my listening to Robert’s “Miracle” message was a big part of those Notre Dame victories. I became a fan for life.

I got to see the Irish, live and in person for the first time, in 1972. I hopped on the Greyhound bus to Boulder, where my sister was kind enough to take a day off from her studies at C.U. to drive me down to the Air Force Academy to watch Notre Dame. The feeling of entering Falcon Stadium and seeing those trademark blue and gold uniforms is still with me today. I spotted coach Ara Parseghian pacing the sidelines and quarterback Tom Clements warming up his arm for the day’s battle. The Irish won, and I thanked my sister for one of the best days a boy could possibly have.

In those early years, my sister was shackled with looking after me more times than she probably cares to remember. As a senior Glenwood Demon football cheerleader in 1969, she would tote me off to the games on Friday nights and make me sit under the bleachers where she could keep an eye on me while she cheered. From that vantage point, I never got to see much of the game, but I did get to check out the legs and behinds of five of the cutest cheerleaders Glenwood High has ever produced (Patty Alberts, Peggy Chandler, Colleen McBreen, Lauraine Samuelson, and my sis). I’ll tell you what, they’re still pretty darn cute today!

I have to take you back to my Sunday morning TV addiction for one last trip down Memory Lane.

Again, Channel 2 was the station, and the show was called All Star Wrestling. I never missed it. I couldn’t get enough of watching the Crusher, Mad Dog Vashon, and my favorite, a guy named Dr. “Quack Quack” X who would strut around like a duck when he entered the ring. Dr. X had a penchant for finishing off his opponents by leaping from the top turnbuckle and pouncing on his defenseless prey for the pin. I reveled in watching my wrestling heroes until one Sunday when my dad walked through the room and said something to the effect of, “Why do you watch that stuff? It’s all fake.” I was devastated. It was a time period when I was confronted with the unthinkable possibility that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Dr. “Quack Quack” X were all fake. This couldn’t be true.

I still believe in all of them.

I’ll sign off by thanking all the kids at the Garden School for helping me to feel like I was 10 years old again. As their PE teacher this year, they made me remember why my favorite subjects in school were gym class and recess. Have a good summer, my friends. You’re the real miracle in life.

And so long, Geno. You’ll be sorely missed by many. In life, there are some special folks that just can’t be replaced. You’re one of them.

Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.

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