May 17, 2005
Hot Shins, Cold Behind

Note: Today's guest columnist is Daren Bloomquist of Las Cruces, NM. Today is his birthday...and is also Norwegian Independence Day! Daren provides us a story of one of his fondest memories growing up and listening to the Vikings at the lake.

I grew up in Minnesota but have spent most of my adult life in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 40 miles from the Mexican border. Thanks to the “Sunday Ticket,” I can watch all the Viking games I want, and thanks to Tivo, I can view them…again…and again…and again at my convenience, if I so choose.

We didn’t have all that fancy technology when I was growing up. A black and white television set is what kept us in tune with the Viking’s play by play. On those winter days when we were “Up North,” a transistor radio picked up the Park Rapids station and gave us kids our fill of Sir Francis and the Purple People Eaters.

I think I will forever remember asking what time it was. “How soon is the game, Dad?” “If we go to Mass in Pequot Lakes would we be back in time for the game or should we go to Mass in Pine River?” It always seemed to work out. We’d finish going to church and get back to the cabin in plenty of time.

Needless to say, our cabin was like many others in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We did not have a telephone or television. The only “tele” anything was the “telecommute” from northeast Minneapolis to the west side of Whitefish Lake most every weekend.

Dad would get the fire started, and my brother Brian and I would be ready to listen to the Purple win another one. We kept the wood under a tarp so it would stay dry. Just before kick-off, we would run outside to the fire pit.

That’s right…the fire pit. Unlike many cabins of the time, ours didn’t have a wood burning stove or fireplace. We went outside in our Levis, long underwear and jackets. “Hey, Brian, don’t forget the transistor radio!”

Hunkered down by the fire, we turned on our link to the outside world and listened to our heroes of the Old Met: Boom Boom Brown, Alan Page, Ron Yary, Jim Marshall, Bench Warmer Bob, Ed White, Gary Larsen, John Gilliam and Sir Francis.

Before the end of the first quarter, our shins were hot and our behinds were cold. “Hey, watch out, the wind is about to shift…smoke’s coming your way!” my brother and I would alert each other periodically.

“I bet the Rams (LA) have frozen feet and want to go home to Mommy,” I’d say as I stood up with my back to the fire to warm it up a bit. My toes were a little cold by this time, too, so I’d do the requisite toe-up dnace until circulation started again. No Thinsulate boots or socks in the “good old days.”

By this time the hoar frost was starting to melt from the tree limbs surrounding the fire pit. Mom usually brought out hot chocolate just before half-time. “Come on in, boys! Hot cocoa’s ready,” she’d call.

“Just bring it out, Mom,” we’d shout back. We didn’t want to go in at half-time. No way! We’d get out our toboggans and slide down the 60-degree bank onto the frozen lake whose windswept surface made sliding on the ice a 100-yard experience. Awesome! “Is this ice going crack Brian?” I’d ask. “Nope, got to be 18 inches thick.” he’d respond. “Then why’s it creakin’?”

“It’s creakin’ ‘cause it’s ticked that it can’t come up to the fire and hear the Vikings kick butt on the Rams!” After a half-dozen trips down the bank, we’d race back to the fire with our jackets off and sweat beading our brows.

We assumed our positions up-wind of the fire and sat our cold butts on seats cut from thick Jack Pine logs that we set on end. Our cheers could be heard all the way to Driftwood Resort to the south and Red Cedar Lodge to the north. An occasional eagle would swoop nearer to see what all the commotion was about.

“Bill Brown just ran it in from the one-yard line.” Needless to say, our team went on to win that cold Sunday in December and the memories of that day and many others like it will remain in our hearts as long as we live.

Our parents finally sold our 40 acres of memories this past year because all the kids had moved away to other parts of the country. My brother and sister live in Connecticut with their families, and I reside in New Mexico with mine.

Some day hopefully Mom and Dad, with the help of us kids, can all pitch in together and get another smaller place on a lake, because I’d like my boy to have the same experience I did “Up North.”

Posted by maasx003 at May 17, 2005 7:22 AM