Sports Fan

I always felt like a disappointment to my dad. He was a sports fan. I wasn’t. This letter nails it.

1946 Jamestown Blue Jays: Louie is # 84. Ernie Gates to the left. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND

1946 Jamestown Blue Jays: Louie is # 84. Ernie Gates to the left. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND. Click to see the large version.

Louie’s football coach in high school was Ernie Gates. As luck would have it Ernie was still the Phy Ed teacher and football coach when I came through high school. Ernie had high hopes for me. Then we tried push-ups and the rope climb. Louie describes both below. My record for the rope climb was I maybe made it to the top once. Maybe not. For push-ups, let’s just say that I didn’t make it to double digits. I probably still can’t, but I no longer try.

Ernie was disappointed. So was I. I didn’t tell Louie.

The one bright spot in my high school Phy Ed career was volleyball. One year we played volleyball every gym class for weeks. Somehow Ernie assigned me to a team that was incredibly good. Just being around the guys who could play made me better. Ernie even made up new rules to make it tougher for us to beat the other teams. I’ve loved volleyball ever since. We played church league, IBM leagues, and we’ve been to professional volleyball games and watched several matches at the Montreal Olympics.

The low point in Louie’s thoughts about me and football may have been when I was in college. NDSU had a good team for a couple of years. I went to a game or two. Louie was serving in Korea then, and the Bison made the news over there. He told his army buddies that I played on the team. Oh, well, everyone’s a disappointment to someone. I made up for it in other ways, but I don’t watch or play competitive sports.

Louie immediately to the right of front post, partially obscured. Louis to the left of the post, second in dark suit. 1946 Football banquet. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND

Louie immediately to the right of front post, partially obscured. Louis to the left of the post, second in dark suit. 1946 Football banquet. Click for larger version.

Louie writes:

This old man (fella) is a real sports fan – it goes way back to my high school days. I loved listening to football games on the radio and wishing that I was one of those stars.

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European Football

In this letter, Louie mentions an upcoming high school reunion. It turns out that we joined Louie at the reunion and met some of his high school buddies. All of us had a great time getting acquainted.

Louie in Holland c 1968

Louie in Holland c 1968

Years later, one of them also came to his funeral where we had another chance to share stories and laughs about Louie’s escapades. After the funeral, we brought out Louie’s football play book from their senior year as Jamestown High School Football Blue Jays. It had diagrams of their plays and a detailed record of every one of the games that led to the state championship, including who carried the ball on every play. Louie was quite proud of their record that year, his part on the team, and the book. Louie’s buddy had played on the same team and was very impressed that the book still existed. I gave him the book. I do wish I had taken pictures of the contents.

Louie and I had the same physical education teacher in high school. Ernie Gates taught PE and coached the football team. In the forties, Louie was a star athlete and football player. By the time I got to high school in the sixties, let’s just say that I wasn’t exactly a star. Had it been possible to flunk out of PE, maybe I should have. Climb a rope? Nope. Push-ups? One or three. Catch a ball. You’ve got to be kidding! Ernie was disappointed. Louie wasn’t.

Football was Louie’s ticket to college, and I didn’t even want to go watch a game. I was more interested in watching girls than whatever happened on the field. By the time I was a senior, I didn’t even go to the game, I’d just pick Cathy up after the band finished their half-time show.

When Louie wrote this letter in the nineties, our son Lon was active in a local soccer league, which caught Louie’s attention. Maybe he thought Lon would turn out the be the athlete I wasn’t?

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

The Rochester Havelick’s:

Glad you accepted the first three stories. I will keep them coming until CRS catches up.

My tulips finally bloomed and they are gorgeous. My next door neighbor and I are going to put in the slanting brick edges for a flower bed and load it up. Got to have something to tinker with.

My check up at the vets hospital in Sturgis, South Dakota ended up with me getting another check on 4 June. I may end up a “Lightning Bug” but gotta get it done. It is the Sigmoidoscopy. Hell of a long word for light up your butt. Will let you know what the results of the test are.

Lon, I tried European football while I was living in Rotterdam, Holland. We call it soccer. It was a little too rough for me and the Dutchmen almost lost the game laughing at me. So I stuck with going to the zoo and museums.

I will be in Jamestown on the 4th through 7th of July this year for the 45th reunion of our graduating class. It has been some time and water over the bridge since 1946. I have reservations at the Gladstone for those days.

Better get back to story time.

This old man loves you people.


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