Monday, June 6, 2016

Today Would Have Been My Father's 83rd Birthday!

June 6 is an important day in our history because 48 years ago today Robert Kennedy was taken from us all too soon. I often wonder what the world and our lives would be like had the 1960s been different on so many occasions.

The 1960s brought tremendous amount of change for me as a young boy moving from five different communities and learning to adapt to five very different environments. It was also a decade in which my relationship with my dad changed dramatically as I grew up under his tutelage.

I have written about his birthday on several occasions and other times I wrote how he affected me as my mentor, coach and friend. I was my father's shadow in many ways and as I grew older I came to realize just what a wonderful relationship we had.

There was an alternate side of my father I did not know much about until much later. I choose to focus on the positive side of our relationship. That is why I miss him tremendously since he has been gone almost ten years already. I have several pictures of him at various stages of his life on my Screensaver and see him for seven-second intervals every so often.

Attached is my first photograph of him playing with me and teaching me how to blow bubbles in 1957 when I was only two:

Click on the image to make it larger:

Recently, I wrote a blog post that has become one of my most read ever about him coaching me in the summer of 1968 in Sibley, Iowa. After that summer, he accepted the track and cross country coaching job as well as a counselor position at Worthington State Junior College (WSJC) where he stayed for eight years until my family moved again where he took a similar job at Rochester Community College (RCC). He retired after seventeen years in Rochester. 

Several years ago, I was in Worthington in mid-September for the annual King Turkey Days celebration. I took some time and went to visit and give a brief speech for my long time friend Joel Krekelberg who was teaching a class entitled "Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries." Krek as he is appropriately known in Worthington was teaching his students how to wrap ankles. Every time I get an opportunity to watch him deftly wrap an ankle is a treat because he is so good at!

After his class, I wanted to go over to the athletic building and see if any of my dad's track and cross country teams pictures were still there. We went over there and there were only a few photographs left. The athletic director was there and asked me if I wanted those photos because since track and cross country were eliminated from their sports options, eventually they would be thrown away when the football team pictures crowded them out. I gladly took them and want to share a couple with you now of my father's very successful track and cross country program in the eight years he ran the program that he took over when Bruce Traphagen turned over the program to Dad in the fall of 1968.

I am attaching a couple photographs and their yearly haul of trophies:

As always, click on the images to make them larger:

Some of you may recognize yourself or someone you know. One of the members of the track team, Jerry Schnyders, back row, second from right, I have known since we lived in Edgerton and played baseball together in the mid-1960s!

Roger Schipper who is on the far right in the second row lived with my family for a while when he first moved to Rochester to become the trainer at the Community College. Later, when he was finishing his student teaching, he stayed with Dave Bisbee and me in my first apartment in Minneapolis.

This is fun for me to look at old pictures of not only my dad but also friendships that have lasted many years. I wrote a lot about that in my book.

I look forward to your comments.




Jeanne Bullerman said...

Another good blog, Mike. My dad, Lyle Schlichte, just passed away last Friday. He was always an avid sportsman himself and a fan in the fanatic sense. He loved his days of playing football at Worthington! In his later years, and before he was too ill, he thoroughly enjoyed following his grandchildren in all their athletic endeavors.

Colleenmpatrick said...

You were indeed his shadow from day one--you had your first basketball before you could even sit up by yourself. From his place on the National Title Winning South Dakota Jackrabbits to the last track and basketball teams he coached at Rochester Community College He thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of the chase so to speak. The academics just had to be tolerated as I know only too well from his time as a student at SDS!! Not that he didn't like teaching but it was his path to the coaching end of his profession? In those very early years we didn't have television so it was natural you became his shadow I think? The fact you loved the entire situation made it that much more enjoyable for you both. Seems like only yesterday sometimes.

Frank said...

I love this. I never had that close a relationship with my father until I had the opportunity to care for him in his latter years, but there was always mutual love and respect. I am not jealous, but I hope I have played a more active role in the lives of my own children. Thanks to their Mom, they have all turned out to be stellar people!