Thursday, July 31, 2014

D.M. Man Wonders How the Paper Can 'Get Away With Printing Nothing On the Junior Olympics.' He Says 15,000 to 20,000 People Are In Town for the Event, And Will Have a $41 Million Impact On the Economy, But Paper Ignores It

I received the following email today from a Des Moines man who has a thorough knowledge of sports and the newspaper business:

"Ron -- How does the Register get away with nothing on the Junior Olympics? TV shows big crowds at Drake Stadium. Supposed to be 15,000 or 20,000 in town and said it will have $41 million impact on the economy. Nobody expects them to run all the results but they could at least run a few features -- it's a big deal even if they don't want to acknowledge it."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I agree with you about the Register's lousy treatment of the Junior Olympics. Just when you think things can't get any worse down there, another unbelievable development occurs. I guess the paper should bring in Pat Harty or someone else from the Iowa City Press Citizen to cover the Junior Olympics.  Harty and others from the Press Citizen are doing more and more work for for the paper here. By the way, this is  the fourth time Des Moines has hosted the Junior Olympics, and the event will be held here again in 2018 and 2023. The fact that the Junior Olympics event is being ignored by the Register now is horrendous. ]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Al Checks In


My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut called me on the phone last night, wondering if I'd be around this morning for a cup of Italian Dark Roast. 
Amalie C. Nash, courtesy of Twitter

"I have no plans to be elsewhere," I told Al. "I'm glad you called and I'm glad we'll be having coffee. There's just one rule. I don't want to talk about the bicycle ride across the state. Not one word." 

"I'm disappointed," Al said. "The bike ride is exactly what I want to talk about." 

"Why?" I asked. 

"Because I just heard that another old guy died on the trip. They found him dead in his tent. That makes two riders who have bitten the dust on this bike ride. When's it going to end?" 

"Well, the damn thing is supposed to be over Saturday, isn't it?" I said. "Hopefully, no other 60- or 70-something guys will croak by that time."

"One other thing about that bike ride," Al commented. "The other day, when I was reading the paper at Hy-Vee, I saw that the the editor, Emily-something, was planning to do the trip."

"Al, the editor's name isn't Emily, even though it sounds something like Emily. It's Amalie, and I don't think she's doing the whole trip," I said.  "Just one segment. She wrote that's she's got a new bike. New shoes, too, I guess. Probably put 'em on her expense account. But she doesn't want to overdo her mileage on this trip. Evidently, she doesn't want to be found dead in her tent."

"Well, I'm just glad Emily or Amalie C. Nash wrote that she'd be on the trip,"Al said. "I was starting to wonder if she was still working at the paper. She's been anonymous to the state ever since she wrote during the winter that she could be found running the trails of Des Moines and watching ballgames."

"Don't believe that bullshit," I told Al. "It's all part of her public relations act. Don't forget, Amalie's full title at the paper is editor and vice president of audience engagement."

"I don't know what that means," Al said.

"Neither does Amalie," I said. 

"I'll see you at coffee."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nicky Nelsen's 2-Hit Pitching, Ottumwa Errors Send Valley, With a 24-16 Record, Into Class 4-A State Baseball Tournament At Sec Taylor Stadium With 2-0 Victory In Substate Title Game. Tigers Play Dubuque Hempstead [36-5] at 6 p.m. Wednesday

Because of the typical [and ongoing] lousy newspaper coverage in Des Moines of the athletic programs at Valley High School in West Des Moines, I am calling in Andy Heintz of the Ottumwa Courier for the summary of the Tigers' 2-0 victory over Ottumwa in a class 4A high school substate baseball game last night:

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa baseball team ended an adversity-defying season with a disappointing 2-0 loss to West Des Moines Valley in the Class 4-A, District 6 Substate finals Wednesday at Legion Memorial Field.

The victory sent Valley, which has a 24-16 record, into the state tournament next week at Sec Taylor Stadium in Des Moines. The Tigers play Dubuque Hempstead [36-5] at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A few crucial errors and a dominant pitching performance by the Tigers’ Nicky Nelsen proved to be too much for the Bulldogs to overcome. Ottumwa pitching ace Steven Wilson threw a whale of a game in defeat. Wilson, a paragon of composure on the mound, gave up no earned runs and struck out four in seven innings of work.

“We battled tough tonight,” Ottumwa coach John Jaeger said after the game. “We pitched it well. Just a couple of critical plays at crucial times that gave them their runs. We very easily could have been playing right now.”

Valley’s first run came on a combination of a line-drive single by Jay Hrdlicka and an error by Ottumwa in the top of the first inning and Drew Denkinger drove in the Tigers’ second run with a line-drive single to right field that drove in Hrdlicka, who had reached on an error after his scorching line drive to right field had been dropped earlier in the inning.

Wilson and Curtis Schneckloth, both seniors, accounted for the Bulldogs two hits. Nelsen, who finished with six strikeouts, managed to keep Ottumwa’s batters off-balance for most of the night.

Ottumwa ended its season with a record of 25-16. Despite the somewhat bitter finale, the Bulldogs deserve ample praise for turning their season around. After a 1-6 start, Ottumwa bounced back in a way that distilled the essence of the team’s character. Because of a combination of heart and resiliency, The Bulldogs successfully brought their season back from the abyss, finished with a respectable record, and gave Ottumwa’s returning players a lot to build on for next year.

“Starting out 1-6, we fought hard all year and came back and just came up two runs short to a pretty good team,” Schneckloth said.

West Des Moines Valley 2, Ottumwa 0

Valley 100 100 0 — 1 4 2
Ottumwa 000 000 0 — 0 2 3

West Des Valley battery— Nicky Nelsen (W, 7-2) (7IP, 2H, 7K), Mason Whitham catching.
Hits — Connor Sorge 1-for-3, Jay Hrdlicka 1-for-3, Nicky Nelsen 1-for-2, Drew Denkinger 1-for-3.
RBI — Denkinger. Runs — Sorge, Hrdlicka.

Ottumwa team battery —Steven Wilson (L, 4-3) (7IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 4K, Brok Hopwood catching.
Hits — Wilson 1-for-2, Curtis Schneckloth 1-for-3.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I knew there was another reason why I have absolutely no interest in taking that bicycle trip across the state. I remembered it when I heard that a 63-year-old guy died of a heart attack on the second day of the trip. Tim Tresdale of West Branch, the man who died, wasn't just some Iowan who decided one day to put oil on the chain of some rusty old bike that was sitting in his garage, and decided he'd go on the ride in another week of hot, humid July weather in Iowa. The paper said he was "known in the international biking community for his custom frame designs, especially for mountain bikes." Obviously, the guy knew all about bikes. Hopefully, he also knew his body. I mean, I hope he knew the importance of visiting a doctor who realized the stress a 50-to-70-mile bike ride can have on a person's heart, lungs and other organs. My guess is that a hell of a lot of people on that bike trip don't know the importance of that stuff. I'm guessing there are more than a few people 63 years of age [some older, some younger] who are not physically fit to negotiate that type of bike ride. People from the paper started the bike ride. Can you imagine a grossly overweight team like Daniel P. Finney and his stabIemate Roland H. Thompson of the present newsroom at the paper saddling up on a tandem bike for a ride across the state? That's a horror picture I would not want to see. A pool of sweat 6 feet deep. A couple of massive heart attacks during the first mile of the ride, if you know what I mean. Getting back to reality, I feel very bad for Tim Tresdale and his family. He was the 29th person to die on that bike trip. I'm glad I stayed home again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bernie Bennett Dies At 82. He Was a 3-Sport Standout At Mason City High School, Then Lettered 3 Times In Football As a Halfback and Fullback At Iowa--Leading the Big Ten In Punt Returns As a Senior

I heard from my friend Jay Cookman again this morning. 

He had some sad news in his email.

"I was just checking the obituaries from the Mason City Globe Gazette, my hometown newspaper, and saw that Bernard Bennett, 82, passed away," Cookman wrote. "I believe he was a star football player at Mason City High School, as well as an all-around great athlete. I also believe that he played at the University of Iowa. Just wanted to let you know, so that you can scoop the Register again."
Bernie Bennett, courtesy Globe Gazette
Indeed, following an outstanding athletic career at Mason City, Bernie Bennett earned three football letters and one baseball letter as a Hawkeye athlete in the 1950s.

He is to be installed into Mason City's first athletic Hall of Fame class on Aug. 29. 

Here's the obituary that was published in today's Mason City Globe Gazette:

Bernie Bennett, 82, who enjoyed an incredible high school career as a multi-sport star in Mason City, died Monday in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Bennett, who graduated in 1949, was listed as one of Chuck Offenburger’s top 25 male prep athletes in Iowa history in his book, “Bernie Saggau & the Iowa Boys: The Centennial History of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.” 

He will be inducted into the first Mason City Athletic Hall of Fame on Aug. 29 for his achievements as a prep athlete.

Bennett was a three-sport star in Mason City – baseball, football and basketball.

“It just came natural to me, and I played all the time,” Bennett told the Globe Gazette of his athletic ability when he was in Mason City in 209 for the 60-year reunion of the class of 1949.

In baseball, Bennett was a star catcher on Mason City’s American Legion Junior team that won the 1948 state title under legendary coach Elmer Starr.

On the football field, Bennett earned all-state honors twice as a halfback.

In basketball, Bennett was a guard for the Mohawks. He also went on to play on a team that won the Iowa AAU basketball title.

“He was a good athlete, very well-coordinated, and he was just a nice fella, all the way around,” Bill Moore, who coached Bennett in football and basketball at Mason City, said in a 1999 interview with the Globe Gazette. “Easy to coach. He had a lot of ability.”

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Bennett are incomplete with Fullerton Funeral Home, 123 Second St. S.E., Mason City, 641-423-8676,

Jeremy Koenigs wrote this very nice story about Bennett in the June 14 edition of the Mason City Globe Gazette:

The summer of 1949 was when the National Basketball Association formed.
In Major League Baseball, 1949 marked the first time the All-Star Game had African-Americans in the lineup.

Jackie Robinson, who broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947, started for the National League at second base. His Brooklyn Dodgers teammates, catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe, also played for the NL.

Meanwhile, Larry Doby played in the game for the American League.
In December 1949, a merger agreement between the National Football League and the All-America Football Conference was announced, with three AAFC teams – the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts – set to join the NFL for the 1950 season.

While there were many changes going on in professional sports, a local star named Bernie Bennett had just ended his brilliant high school career for Mason City.

“He was a good athlete, very well-coordinated, and he was just a nice fella, all the way around,” Bill Moore, who coached Bennett in football and basketball at Mason City, said in a 1999 interview with the Globe Gazette. “Easy to coach. He had a lot of ability.”

Now, as 65 years have passed since Bennett last sported a Mohawk uniform, his athletic achievements as a multi-sport star will forever be remembered on Friday, Aug. 29, when he will be inducted into Mason City’s first athletic Hall of Fame class.

“He was the best athlete I ever saw play and I idolized him,” said 81-year-old Eddie Kline, a 1953 graduate of Mason City who won three state wrestling titles and will also be inducted into the Mason City athletic Hall of Fame. “Bernie could do anything on the football field, on the basketball court or on the baseball field. He was a heck of an athlete in all three sports.”

Kline certainly isn’t the only one who shares that opinion.

Bennett was listed as one of Chuck Offenburger’s top 25 male prep athletes in Iowa history in his book, “Bernie Saggau & the Iowa Boys: The Centennial History of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.”

So what made Bennett such a great athlete?

“It just came natural to me, and I played all the time,” Bennett told the Globe Gazette of his athletic ability when he was in Mason City at The Music Man Square for the 60-year reunion for the class of 1949 in 2009.

Bennett’s natural athletic ability showed up on the football field as a Mohawk, where he earned all-state honors twice in football as a halfback.

“He was so elusive,” Kline said. “He was so quick, could cut and change directions at any time.”

Bennett’s talents led him to the University of Iowa, where he lettered in 1950, ’51 and ’52 for the Hawkeyes, who were 7-17-3 during his three seasons.

He played halfback and fullback for Iowa – helping desegregate football and society as a member of the Hawkeye football team. 

Bennett also led the Big Ten Conference in punt returns as a senior.

Bennett went on to play semi-pro football and later coached Iowa’s freshman football team.

In basketball, Bennett was a guard for the Mohawks. He also went on to play on a team that won the Iowa AAU basketball title.

Kline had several memories of watching Bennett on the basketball court, from a game against Fort Dodge that he helped lead Mohawks to a two-point victory over the Dodgers, to his ability to glide through the air.

“He was just fantastic to watch on the basketball court,” Kline said. “It seemed like he could just stay in the air.”

While he excelled in football and basketball, baseball may have been Bennett’s best sport.

He was a star catcher on Mason City’s American Legion Junior team that won the 1948 state title under legendary coach Elmer Starr.

Bennett later helped Starr coach American Legion teams and worked with youngsters in playground programs in Mason City.

Also after graduating from high school, Bennett earned a letter at Iowa and played semi-pro baseball for Mason City.

It was said he was good enough, but Bennett never received a professional baseball contract in an era where very few African-American baseball players earned that distinction.

“They weren’t signing too many black ballplayers at that time,” Bennett said in a 1999 interview with the Globe Gazette.”

Sixty-five years after graduating, Bennett is still remembered as one of Mason City's finest athletes.

“He had a great arm and to get him out at the plate was something,” Kline said. “He could hit the ball so hard. I remember playing in a softball game with him after high school. I was playing third base and he hit a ball that I caught. The ball was hit so hard that it spun me all the way around. I don’t know why I even tried to catch it.”


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jim Myers Dies At 92. He Was Iowa State's Football Coach for Only One Season In 1957, and Drake's Sun Bowl-Bound Team Kept Him from Having a .500 Record By Crushing the Cyclones, 20-0, At Drake Stadium On Nov. 2, 1957. Myers Later Coached At Texas A&M [Where He Replaced Bear Bryant] and Was On the Staff Of the Dallas Cowboys from 1962-1986

I received an email today from Jay Cookman of West Des Moines, a former Drake football player who remains a fan of all of the Bulldogs' athletic endeavors.
Jim Myers at Texas A&M. Photo courtesy of Google

"Ron, I thought you might like to see this article about Jim Myers, who coached at Iowa State University in the late 1950s," Cookman wrote.  "Our Drake Sun Bowl football team defeated Iowa State in 1957, when he was the head coach for the Cyclones. He later went to Texas A&M and then to the Dallas Cowboys."

Indeed, Drake kept Myers and his Cyclones from having a .500 record in his only season as the coach in Ames.

Drake crushed Iowa State, 20-0, on Nov. 2, 1957 at Drake Stadium. It was the only time all season that the Cyclones were held scoreless. They went on to finish with a 4-5-1 overall record, and were 2-4 in a conference that then was known as the Big Seven.

The Dallas Morning News wrote this about Myers:

"Jim Myers, the former longtime Cowboys assistant and the Texas A&M coach who replaced Paul 'Bear' Bryant, died Thursday at 92.

"Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at Restland Memorial Chapel in Dallas with the service at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church.

"Myers took over A&M in 1958, following Bryant’s departure for Alabama and a season after John David Crow won the Heisman Trophy. Myers went 12-24-4 in four seasons with the Aggies.

"But Myers is best remembered for his tenure with the Cowboys from 1962 to 1986 and his work with superior offensive lines.

"He coached for the Cowboys longer than anyone but Tom Landry, who hired Myers.

"Myers was a part of the staff during Dallas’ wins in Super Bowl VI after the 1971 season and Super Bowl XII after the 1977 season.

"As recounted in a 2011 SportsDay column, Myers almost didn’t take the A&M job.

"The then-Iowa State coach withdrew from consideration once he learned another Aggie group had made a run at Navy’s Eddie Erdelatz, who turned down the job. Finally a pair of cadets put together a petition signed by 2,292 students and sent it to Ames, IA, by Western Union. The cadets finally flew to Iowa to make a personal plea."

Pigs & Going Wireless


My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut was over for a cup of Italian Dark Roast early this morning, and wanted to talk about Fred Hoiberg. "The
Pig, courtesy of Google
temperature is going to be in the 80s today," I told Al. "Why do you want to talk about a basketball coach in July?" Al said he wanted to talk about Hoiberg because Fred just had his pacemaker replaced with a new one at the Mayo Clinic. "I was reading the Internet," Al said, "and noticed that doctors and scientists are working on a new grow-your-own type of pacemaker. They've been experimenting on pigs, injecting a gene that turns heart cells into pacemaker cells. So maybe one of these days Hoiberg and others who need pacemakers will be able to go wireless." "Sounds like a great deal for Fred and the gang," I said. "The world is going wireless in all kinds of ways these days. It's nice to know pigs are helping everybody out. That's one of the reasons I quit eating pork chops 28 years ago."

Friday, July 18, 2014



There was a letter to the editor printed on the paper's opinion pages this week that was attributed to Carl Voss of  Des Moines. When I worked at that place a long time ago, there was a photographer in the newsroom named Carl Voss.  He accompanied me on several news assignments for the paper. At the time, he was married to Melinda Voss, then a reporter at the paper. The marriage didn't last. Maybe the Carl Voss who wrote the letter to the editor isn't the Carl Voss who used to take pictures for the paper and who used to be married to Melinda Voss. Maybe it's someone else named Carl Voss. Maybe someone wrote the letter, and signed Carl Voss's name to it. But until I hear otherwise, I'll assume it's the same Carl Voss who took pictures at the paper, and later did some editing in the newsroom. Anyway, it was a good letter. Here it is:

Hello? Any thinking, responsible Register editors out there? Many Iowans have a difficult time separating The Des Moines Register and RAGBRAI. So when you publish a trailer load of sophomoric drivel like "RAGBRAI Primer: 33 Useful Tips for Newbies on the Ride," your readership could only conclude that RAGBRAI has degenerated into some sort of alcohol-fueled party across Iowa.

Among the tips from so-called pros:

12. Training your liver before is just as important as training your legs.
24. Always carry roadies: one bottle of water and one bottle of booze.

Really? Nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, alcohol attracts some riders and non-riders among the more than 10,000 RAGBRAI participants. It happens. But trust me, that isn't the way most participants enjoy RAGBRAI, Iowa and our communities.

Now, flip to the RAGBRAI website, where RAGBRAI (and therefore the Register) includes among the "Top 10 Recommendations for Rider Safety": Do NOT drink alcohol and ride.

So, which is it for responsible journalists, a responsible newspaper and a responsible ride organizer?

Publishing crap like this in your news columns will turn me off to RAGBRAI and the Register.

— Carl Voss, 36 RAGBRAIs, Des Moines

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I don't spend much time thinking about that bicycle ride. Indeed, the last time I thought about it was a very long time ago when some ridiculous little jackoff wrote a series of stories for the Des Moines Tribune, which then was an afternoon paper, that told about all the screwing and drinking that was taking place after the bicycle riders got off their bikes.  The bicycle riders didn't like that series of stories, and neither did the bicycle riders' families, who were back home in places like Strawberry Point,  Cresco and Blairstown.  Maybe that type of writing was what helped kill the Tribune. I like to ride bicycles, but I've never been on that across-the-state ride, and I'm certain I will never want to be on it.  However, I'm glad Carl Voss wrote his letter. For many years, people both inside and outside this state have regarded the bicycle ride as nothing more than a drunken sex movie.  When I worked at the paper, I recall a story making the rounds just before the bicycle ride began. A woman reporter from the paper, who was planning to go on the bicycle ride,  supposedly told it. I heard it second- or third-hand.  The story went something like this: The woman's husband, who was not a bicycle rider, gave the woman seven condoms and a tent, and said to her, "Now go have a good time." One more thing about Carl Voss's letter. It was such a good one that I'm wondering why he didn't write more stories and take fewer pictures when he worked at the paper. That's not saying there was anything bad about his pictures. They were good, and so is his letter-writing today.]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Iowa-Iowa State Game Starts At 2:30 p.m. Sept. 13. More Proof That Bicycles and City Streets Are Not a Good Combination. The Paper Didn't Know What Team Valley Beat To Reach the State Softball Tournament. Cardinals Pitcher Wainwright and St. Louis Sports Columnist Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves After All-Star Game 'Grooving' Incident


I was told by people at the University of Iowa today that the Hawkeyes' Sept. 13 football game against Iowa State will start at 2:30 p.m. in Kinnick Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Iowa's Aug. 30 season opener against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium starts at 11 a.m., and will be on the Big Ten Network. The Hawkeyes' Sept. 6 home game against Ball State starts at 2:30 p.m. and will be on ESPN2.


You know by now how I feel about bicycles and streets.

They don't get along with one another.

Especially when there are cars, trucks and vans being driven in the streets where the bikes are being ridden.

It's never a good sign when there's a bicycle lying in the middle of the street, and a group of adult women and a kid who appeared to be a teen-ager are standing 15 feet away.

That's what I saw late this morning after leaving a medical office in Clive.

The good thing was that the people all were standing.

No one was lying in the street or on the parking.

All I could do was guess what had happened.

I'm presuming there was a collision between the van and the bike.  

I'm also guessing that kid was riding the bike and one of the adult women was the driver of the van.

But I suppose the kid could have been driving the van, and one of the adult women was on the bike.

All I know for sure is that bad things--sometimes very bad things--happen when people ride bicycles on city streets.

I rode my bike a lot on the streets when I was younger.

I do it no more. 

Bike trails are safer.

Back to today's incident...

After driving for about another half-minute, a fast-moving police car, with its siren and flashing lights on, was coming from the east on the same street on which I was driving.

It obviously was headed to the accident scene.

I hope everyone was all right.


It said in today's paper--at least the paper here--that Valley's softball team beat Lincoln, 12-2, last night to earn a spot in the state class 5-A high school tournament.

Obviously, all the paper had on the game was the final score.

No other facts about the game were in the story.

And it wasn't Des Moines Lincoln that Valley defeated.

It was Abraham Lincoln of Council Bluffs.

The knucklehead who wrote the story obviously didn't know what team Valley played.

But, don't forget, Valley is the superb athletic program the paper loves to hate.


St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright admitted he purposely grooved a couple of straight-ball pitches 40-year-old Derek Jeter  of the New York Yankees could handle in the first inning of last night's All-Star game, otherwise known as The Derek Jeter Retirement Love-In.

Well, at first Wainwright admitted he grooved the pitches.

Then he backtracked and tried to lie his way out of it when he was attacked verbally by baseball fans on Twitter during the game.

Jeter's double helped the American League take a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-3 victory in a game that decided which league would have the home-field advantage in the World Series.

The fact that Wainwright's actions cost the eventual National League winner [perhaps Wainwright's Cardinals] the home-field advantage in October didn't bother Bernie Miklasz, the less-than-mediocre sports columnist at the St.Louis Post-Dispatch.

Miklasz gave Wainwright a pass on making sure Jeter got some easy pitches to hit.

Miklasz is a clown who is afraid of being fired by his paper. If it had been a pitcher from the Reds, Brewers, Cubs or Pirates who grooved pitches to Jeter, he'd have been all over the story.

Miklasz should be ashamed of himself, and so should Wainwright.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

These Kids Sure Know How To Throw a Party

Roosevelt's ''54 graduates had their cake and ate it, too, at their 60-year reunion


Cedar Rapids, IA --Members of the 1954 Roosevelt High School graduating class are in their late 70s now, but they proved again over the weekend that they still know how to throw a heck of a party.

Actually, it was a three-day party--Friday night, all day and night Saturday, plus a Sunday morning finale--throughout most of the west side and some of the southeast side of Cedar Rapids that was put on by the '54 Roughriders to celebrate their 60-year reunion.

Roosevelt's 1954 graduating class numbered 164 students. Sixty was a significant number in July, 2014. Sixty class members and their spouses and friends attended the reunion. And 60 members of the class have already departed for the big classroom in the sky.

Casual was the uniform of the weekend as a bunch of fun-loving folks gathered to re-live the old days and talk about their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids at the all-you-cared-to-eat pizza bash Friday night in the Parlor City Restaurant on Third Street Southeast, on the 2-hour bus trip Saturday afternoon through the northwest, southwest and southeast sections of the city, at the buffet dinner Saturday night on the second level of the Cedar Rapids History Center on First Avenue, and the buffet breakfast at a Hy-Vee on Sunday.

Cedar Rapids has done a wonderful job of revitalizing itself following the horrible flood of 2008, and it was a pleasure for me--a native of the city and a 1953 graduate of Wilson, the other public high school on the west side at that point in time--to see and hear about the progress that's been made.

Cedar Rapids had four public high schools when Maxine and I were kids. The east side schools were McKinley and Franklin, and the buildings are still intact and are being used for elementary and middle school classes.

Maxine got better grades in the classroom at Roosevelt than I got at Wilson. I know she worked a lot harder on the books than I did.


There's a photo [a favorite of mine] in the 1954 Roosevelt Roundup yearbook showing homecoming queen Judy Thomas and attendants Daisy Burgess, Beverly Clarke, Maxine Koehn, Kathy Miller, Carolee Williams and Louise Ahlgren riding in a convertible at halftime of the Roughriders' most important football game of the season in Kingston Stadium.

It made me the proudest and happiest guy in the world when Maxine Koehn became Maxine Maly on May 4, 1958 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids.

Roosevelt's 1954 graduating class has had tremendous leadership since the 164 seniors left school.

Rae Jean Guthrie Kilberger and the other eight members of her reunion committee haven't missed a beat.

For a while, Roosevelt's '54 class held reunions every 10 years. No they're held every 5 years. Indeed, the next reunion has already been scheduled. It'll be held in the second week of July, 2019. It says so in the book containing biographic material and as-they-look-now photos of the graduates that was handed out Saturday night to class members.

We hadn't been to a Roosevelt reunion since the 20-year  event was held in 1974, so it was a pleasure for me to see Maxine recognize friends from high school she hadn't seen or talked with in 40 years.

I wanted to talk with Dave Wessel, a '54 Roosevelt grad who played basketball at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, then coached some outstanding high school teams in Davenport. 

Wessel and his wife, '54 Roosevelt grad Kathy Miller, got there for the Saturday night banquet. Dave told me he's still coaching basketball at Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf

Remind me sometime to tell you more about Dave and Kathy.

Remind me, too, to tell you about Dave and Sandy Snyder of Deland, Fla. Sandy wrote that she and Dave "were planning to be at the reunion, but his death in August, 2013 changed that."

Remind me to tell you about Janet Rosdail Schambacher of Newhall and Joanne Hays Hennessey of Marion, who were among Maxine's good friends at Roosevelt, and spent lots of time catching up with old times during the weekend.

Remind me to tell you  more about the Saturday night banquet, when Mary Ann Kucera [originally from Davenport] asked if the two seats next to me at the table were reserved.

"I saved them for you," I told her. 

She asked if I was a Roosevelt graduate, and I told her I was a Wilson kid.

"Wilson is a great school. It was the newest school in the old four-school system in Cedar Rapids," Mary Ann told me. "It was built in 1928."

"How do you know so much about Wilson," I asked her.

"Because I was a member of the Cedar Rapids School Board for 23 years," she answered. 

Mary Ann was there because her husband, Howard Kucera, was a '54 Roosevelt graduate.

Fellow 1953 Wilson graduate John Tessman was at all of the activities with his wife, 1954 Roosevelt graduate Jean.

The Tessmans are in the process of moving from Iowa to Lenexa, KS. Also present was Richard Morningstar, a 1954 Wilson graduate whose wife is the former Judy Thomas.

It was fun for me to touch base with both couples, and to talk with the two guys about their years at Wilson.

But the weekend wasn't about Wilson.

It was about Roosevelt, and the 1954 Roughriders did  things up in their usual bigtime way.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Fifty-Four Gang Hits the Big Six-Oh


It's been a while since I've written something about high school reunions.
Cedar Rapids Roosevelt

Indeed, it was 11 years ago that I wrote a column about the 50-year reunion of my Wilson of Cedar Rapids graduating class.

I wasn't able to attend the reunion, but I heard so much about it that I wrote about it anyway.

The reason I couldn't be there was because the reunion was held on the same Saturday that my son, Mark, was among four F-16 pilots from the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Air Force National Guard in Des Moines who flew over Jack Trice Stadium in Ames prior to the Iowa-Iowa State football game.

I certainly wasn't about to miss that.

My 1953 Wilson class has held irregular reunions, and I've been able to make it to just one of them. 

That was the 40th.

It's a good thing they furnished name-tags because I sure had a tough time recognizing my classmates after all of those years.

The '53 gang didn't even bother having a 60-year reunion because of a lack of interest, and I'll write more about that later in this column.

Now I want to say a few things about the class reunion we'll be attending this weekend in Cedar Rapids.

It's the 60-year reunion of Maxine's 1954 Roosevelt High School class, and the committee members are doing things up right.

The reunion will be held from Friday night through Sunday morning, and there's enough stuff scheduled to please any bigtime party-goer in that age group.

Let me back up just a minute.

Wilson and Roosevelt were high schools in Cedar Rapids in the old four-school public school system there. 

Wilson is on the southwest side of town, Roosevelt is on the northwest side. The other public high schools in that time period were Franklin on the northeast side of town and McKinley on the southeast side.

All four schools are still in operation today, but kids younger than high school-age attend classes there.

Roosevelt's students from the 1954 graduating class have always done an outstanding job of scheduling and planning their reunions.

The planning committee for this reunion is made up of Rae Jeanne Guthrie Kilberger, Emily Hanzlik Norden, Joanne Hays Hennessey, Jean Henderson White, Bob Kent, Howard Kucera, Ron Olson, Judy Thomas Morningstar and Nancy Thompson Reed.

The literature sent to us by the committee says things will get started at 6 p.m. Friday.

"Come early and visit the new Bo Market and revitalized flood-damaged areas," it says. "Eating places are available. There will be a  6-10 p.m. social gathering, with a cash bar,  Pizza and snacks will be provided at Parlor City, 1125 Third Street SE."

The group tells us that a 2-hour bus tour, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, will be led by longtime Cedar Rapids historian Mark Hunter. 

Visits will be made to sites including downtown Cedar Rapids, the New Bohemia area south of downtown, Czech Village on 16th Avenue Southwest, the "old Kingston" area off Third Avenue Southwest, west side neighborhoods including Time Check, Ellis Boulevard, Roosevelt School and the neighborhood around the school, areas around Harrison, Fillmore and Cleveland Schools, plus the St. Patrick's Catholic Church neighborhood.

"See and learn," the literature says, "about the history of Cedar Rapids and unique architecture; changes and improvements in the six years since the flood of 2008; updates on new developments in the historic neighborhoods; the many historic preservation projects currently under way, and revisits to the old neighborhoods and areas where you grew up."

The bus tour starts at the History Center, 615 First Avenue SE, and to me it sounds like a very good idea.

A buffet meal at the History Center starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, and a breakfast will be held Sunday morning for people who are still in the party and eating mood.

I called Bob Kent to find out more about the 1954 graduating class.

He told me there were 164 students in the class, and 60 members of the class and their spouses are scheduled to attend the reunion.

Sadly, 60 members of the class are deceased.

Among the deceased is Wilbur Lagerquist, a man I got in touch with several years ago when I was told that he put 40 years of Roosevelt yearbooks on a website.

Lagerquist, who had been in the printing business, told me the yearbook project had become a hobby.

When I told Lagerquist that I didn't find his photo and name in the 1954 Roosevelt yearbook, he said, "Well, I didn't graduate. But, had I stayed in school, I would have gotten my diploma in 1954. The class invites me to all of the reunions anyway."

Sorry he won't be at this one.

"Actually, we had two or three other students who weren't able to finish school at Roosevelt and get their diplomas," Bob Kent told me. "But we invite them back to the reunions, too."

I wrote about my 1953 class from Wilson High School earlier in this column. I mentioned that a 60-year reunion wasn't held last year because of a lack of interest.

Now, however, there appears to be some movement on perhaps holding a--get this--61-year reunion.

In an e-mail sent to members of the 1953 class, Lyle Matthews wrote, "Duane Rinderknecht just called me about a 61-year class reunion...I just want to know if there is any interest in getting together for a simple meal and conversation. I am very open to suggestions."

Whereupon, Janet Dyal Bostwick wrote, "Wow!  Great to hear from you.  Our class is just the best ever. Who else has an eleven-year reunion and now a 61st reunion?!?!?  I would absolutely love to see everyone. Right now we're staying at home in Arizona.  Bob doesn't like to travel.  However, if something gets put together, I might be able to make it. Please keep me posted.  If I can do anything from here, would be happy to help."   

Philippe "Phil" Faure, who spent some time at Wilson as a foreign exchange student from France, wrote that he and his wife probably won't be able to attend the reunion if one is held.

"It's just a pity," he wrote. "I have some problems of mobility because of my knees, and I am a bit [nervous] to travel [that distance]."

You're right, Phil. Nobody's knees are like they were when we were 17.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Al's On a Roll


My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut tries hard to live up to his nickname.

The Health Nut stuff, I mean. 

Al swallows lots of tablets from the vitamin B, C and E bottles he buys at Walmart, and he attempts  to exercise as much as possible. 

Indeed, during our conversation today while we were drinking some Italian Dark Roast coffee, Al mentioned that he's been riding his reconditioned bicycle more than normal lately.

"By the way, where did you get that bicycle?" I asked Al.

"Monkey Wards, before they went out of business," he said.

Then I wondered why Al was riding his bike more often these days.

 "Are you thinking about going on RAGBRAI or something?" I asked.

"Hell, no. I wouldn't be caught dead on RAGBRAI," Al answered. "I'm biking more because I heard on the car radio that exercise is good for helping prevent Alzheimer's Disease."

"I think you're doing the right thing," I told Al. "Just stay on the bike trails and stay off the streets. Bicycle riders always come out second-best when they tangle with cars. You talked about not being caught dead on RAGBRAI, but dead is what you'd be if you get hit by a car while riding your bike on the street."


I try to not discuss the paper with My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut, any more than I have to.

Bryce Miller

But Al briefly got on the subject of the paper's sports department again near the end of today's conversation. 

"It still bothers me that Bryce Miller, one of the sportswriters, uses the late Maury White's line, a little bit about a lot of things," Al said. "I'll bet Maury is rolling over in his grave about that one."

Maury White

"Listen, Al," I said, "I sat in the same newsroom with Maury White for nearly 40 years, and my desk was right next to his during most of those 40 years. I knew more about Maury than most people at that place. I certainly knew his strengths and his weaknesses.

"If someone wants to use Maury's 'a little bit about a lot of things' line, or even 'a little bit about a lot,' I'm sure Maury wouldn't be pissed about it, and he wouldn't notify the journalism police.  Besides, Maury borrowed a few ideas in his writing days, too. But White might laugh a lot, and wonder why the other guy doesn't have some originality.

"So forget it already and have another cup of Italian Dark Roast."


Photos courtesy of Google.