Fruity Football Team


     Kroger's grocery store in Salina ran special prices on two full pages to salute the 1955 SHS football team (when we were Juniors).  The ad was saved in Ginny's 11th-grade scrapbook -- I only copied a couple of portions of the pages.

     It was Clint Webber's second year as head coach, which was also his last year in Salina because he moved on to Arkansas City Junior College.

     In addition to Max Dye and Paul Zerger for the "A" team there were "Dutch" Goering, Keith Elder and Willis Lobell for the "B" team.

     Paul Zerger is one of my all-time favorite teachers, but on the football practice field he wasn't quite in his element.  He had a pet technique for handling a case where two blockers both take you on.  I could never make it work in practice and the need never arose in a game anyway.  But he never gave up on it.

     Keith Elder had played pro football with the St. Louis "Gunners" in 1938.  He never gave us any inside pro stuff to use.  Or was I just not listening?

     Special Kroger buys were assigned to pairs of players at each position.  Personally, I would have preferred pie cherries over mixed fruit, but nobody asked me. 


     Notice that there were two styles of helmets: a tight-fitting padded style (like mine) and a rounded model that stood away from the head thanks to a network of straps spanning the skull (see Jerry Gross).  I tried the rounded model one day at practice and immediately returned to the tight-fitting style.  When struck, the rounded model vibrated like a bell and I didn't enjoy having my bell rung.


     The next year every helmet had a face guard for the first time in school history.  It was a single clear plastic bar like those that were later seen in the NFL only on quarterbacks and kickers who didn't expect to get hit in the face anyway.  But it was the all-purpose high-tech thing in 1956. 

     Midway through the season my face guard actually broke off during a game and was never replaced.  I didn't miss it.

     Mouth guards?  What's that?  Yet I don't recall anyone ever losing a tooth.  I don't recall any serious injury to anyone at all, if you don't count cracked bones here and there.


    The team won 7 and lost 2 in 1955 (our junior year).  As always, we lost to Topeka (which finished first in the state) and Manhattan (fifth in the state and won the Central Kansas League).  The Salina Journal says we finished 11th in the state (out of how many?) although early in the season we were ranked 4th.  Oh, well.  It was a long time ago.







          Celebrity Encounters


     Last month Kate (Kay Miller) Forster asked the question "What celebrities have class members encountered through the years?"  I apply no rules here -- just about anything goes.  Here are the stories that were sent in. 

     There must be more!  Send 'em in -- never too late.


     Chuck DeLaney sent in these two encounters.

   In 1962 I was serving in the Navy at the US Naval and Marine Corps Training Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was an instructor along with many other active duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel. During that time , Don and Phil Everly were there either in training or on a promotional tour for the Marine Corps. Both of them had enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve sometime in 1961. They kept a very low profile, and wanted no special treatment. Both had military haircuts.  Phil passed away in 2014


The Everly brothers

well BEFORE a

military haircut.


Listen to "All I Have to Do is Dream" at


Herb Reed is front-left in this photo.


     Another celebrity encounter occurred while visiting Branson, Mo. many years ago. Donna and I were in the ticket line to purchase some show tickets. While standing in line, I saw someone that I thought I should know, but not sure who.  It finally hit me. I told Donna that the individual was the only living member of the original Platters, and told her that I was going to go over and talk to him.  I got an "yea sure, probably some guy waiting to buy tickets". I came back all exited a few minutes later and told her it was Herb Reed, the only original living member of the Platters. She laughingly said I would fall for anything. (She had reason to, as I have been fooled before at other concerts).  As we were leaving, the gentleman walked over and introduced himself to Donna. He then took us to the front of the ticket line and handed us a couple of tickets for the evening show. Yes, it was Herb Reed, the last living original Platter member.

     Listen to them singing "Only You" back in 1955:


     I got a story verbally from Betty (Harr) Baxter about her celebrity encounter with Kim You-Know-Who even before getting out of high school!

   When we were sophomores scenes for Picnic were filmed in Salina, bringing Kim Novak into encounters with many of us.  Some hid in bushes at the filming sites while most got a clear view while Kim ate lunch in our cafeteria near the "exit" door. 

   But Betty (and senior Uva Davis) got a more serious encounter on that cafeteria day by escorting Kim through the school and around Salina.  Kim was impressed by the fine quality of the auditorium's stage (practically new in 1955) and said she enjoyed seeing Salina. 

   In her next movie, Vertigo, her character said she was from Salina, KS and had a driver's license to prove it.  Must be a connection in there.

   We didn't carry cameras around with us in those days, but Betty got this "Best Wishes & Thanks" from Kim on a lined paper from a notebook.

   Sid Gibson (Class of '55) told me that Kim attended a drama class he was in (4th or 5th period).  She sat through the whole class to ask and answer questions in the blue dress she'd worn during lunch.


     Phil Rinard took advantage of the loose definition of celebrity encounters to send in these notes.


    In the summer of 1963 I worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and encountered several famous physicists.  The only one with a household name was Robert Oppenheimer.  He gave lectures three evenings in a row that were well attended by physicists and their wives; the talks were given outdoors because no auditorium would hold the crowd.  The lectures were oddly on basic quantum mechanics that even a student like me already knew.  So half the audience had to have been bored because the subject was already so well known, while for the other unprepared half it must have been bewildering.  But we all knew he had throat cancer (it killed him in 1967) and the lectures were a swan-song by a man highly revered.



   While working at Los Alamos National Laboratory some more famous physicists were encountered. 

The only one known widely to the public was Edward Teller.  He had not supported Oppenheimer in 1954 when "Oppie's" security clearance was under scrutiny (and soon removed) so Teller had not been popular in Los Alamos for quite some time, but by the 1990s much was forgiven.  He came in from California and gave lectures of no lasting value to large groups now and then, but I had a much closer encounter.

     In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union disintegrated, former intelligence people for the US & Russia became buddies and toured the US giving joint talks about their good old Cold War days.  (This was long before the Putin days that have taken us back to the past.)  When the touring gang came to Los Alamos, a note sent out in the first week of our having e-mail capability gave the details of a joint discussion that would be joined by Edward Teller.  I went and was surprised to find it happening in a normal-sized conference room and there wasn't a crowd; I still don't understand it, unless that e-mail notice didn't get widely read.

     The meeting started without Teller.  When he came in about 10 min. late the Russians stood up to show their great respect for their former nemesis (the Father of Reagan's "Star Wars" defense, for example).  I thought they were going to salute him, but no.  As the meeting restarted, Teller gave some comments ("Nothing should be classified for more than six months.") and then promptly fell asleep.  He must have been close to 90 at the time and died in 2003 at 95.



   I encountered a man even more famous than all the physicists except Einstein, namely Neil Armstrong.  In 1973 we joined 2600 others on an astronomy-oriented cruise liner from New York City to the west coast of Africa to view a total eclipse of the sun.  It lasted two weeks with nearly total confinement on the ship. 

   To help bide the time the organizers had special speakers on board:  Neil Armstrong, astronaut Scott Carpenter (who was into undersea studies), prolific author Isaac Asimov (who was such an egotist he joked about himself being such an egotist), and many others who were very interesting but not so well known. 

   One of the unknowns was J. Allen Hynek who said he was objectively studying the flying saucer phenomenon.  It was obvious to me that he wasn't neutral; he was a true believer (as he finally stated a few years later).  He became a technical advisor to the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and made a cameo appearance, with his goatee & pipe, in the final scene.

   Armstrong was trying to move on with his life after the extensive hoop-la following his 1969 lunar landing so he talked about something like space exploration in the distant future.  It was boring.  We'd see him and his family taking the quarter-mile walk around the promenade deck each sunset -- I didn't have the nerve to lie down in front him and have the first man to step on the moon, step on me.

   While approaching New York City I noticed him having a good time talking with regular passengers on the deck.  As he turned to leave I asked him to pose for my camera.  I took it quickly because he obviously was only politely tolerant of me.  Little did he realize he got off easy -- I could have asked him to step on me.



   I spent the summer of 1962 in Albuquerque, NM (see the "Personals" page) and went to some performances at the Santa Fe Opera that had opened in 1957.  A famous supporter of the opera was the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky who became a US citizen in 1945.  In return, the opera house promoted Stravinsky operas.

   So one evening the open-air opera presented two of Stravinsky's short operas that had been prepared under his personal supervision.  Furthermore, he conducted one of them.  This photo has the creator of the Santa Fe Opera, Robert Craft, and Stravinsky watching a rehearsal (with score open in front of them).  Those plastic lawn chairs were the up-front seats in 1962; behind them are long white picnic benches that the rest of us sat on.  (Things have greatly improved since then!  Stravinsky was 70 at the time and had another 9 years to live.  He seems to have used two overlapping pairs of glasses rather than bifocals.

   From my perspective deep in the audience, this very famous but very short composer was barely visible while he was inside the deep orchestra pit, but there was no doubt that I had an extended view of the back of his bald head.  He did not appear on the stage to take a bow so the back of his head was it for me.



   My physically closest encounter with a celebrity was with another Russian --

Vladimir Lenin!!  At least with what they claim to be his highly embalmed body.  Work had taken me to Moscow a dozen times and on the last day of the last visit in 1998 the body was on view for a couple of hours when I was free.  I was able to stroll past it only a few feet away inside the refrigerated mausoleum on Red Square.  I could have reached out and touched him/it -- if I didn't mind spending many more days in Russia than planned, under dismal conditions without air conditioning.

   There is no long line to see him these days, yet his statues remain standing all over the big cities while all signs of Stalin are long gone.  I put the details of the mausoleum tour on this web site a few years ago, so I'll only note here that although he was nicely posed for photos but no one could enter with a camera.  This photo of the thing is safely taken from the web.



     Almost all of us had a couple of encounters with a famous President:  Dwight David Eisenhower.  When he visited Abilene, the Presidential airplane "Columbine" (a four-prop Lockheed Constellation) would land at Smoky Hill Air Base where a motorcade started through town toward Abilene.  (It's still flying: .)  The cars with the President standing and waving went along Santa Fe, east Pacific Ave. and on to Abilene via US40.

     Eisenhower came through Salina on Oct. 16, 1953 (Friday) and on Nov. 10, 1954 (Tuesday).  The Journal headline on Nov. 11 said that 25,000 watched Ike speed through town.  That was just about the whole population.  I recall the high speed down Santa Fe where I got such a short glimpse.

     I drove along old two-lane US40 a few years ago and couldn't believe that a Presidential motorcade ever drove it.  By today's standards it seemed more like a narrow driveway than a highway.  The Secret Service wouldn't let any modern President ride on the thing today even if the limo would fit into both lanes.

   This photo of Ike on

Pacific Ave. was sent in by Jim Cox, so I assume he also took it in 1954.

   A companion photo shows a military man blocking traffic onto Pacific & 5th so the motorcade had the road to itself.


     Have you had a celebrity encounter stranger than with a the back of a composer's head, or with the body of a dead man?  If so, send it in!  I'm anxious to hear about it. 

     Of course, if you've had a conventional encounter, send it in too.


        Just for Fun


     These days a sports team is used to sell expensive shirts, caps, key rings, mugs, you name it.  Salina's Kroger grocery store in 1955 got the jump on this marketing idea by using the SHS football team to sell more foods off their shelves.  The football team got nothing (far as I know) for helping to sell Kroger's fruit!

     But then, how much would I have made from the sale of jerseys anyway?  Names weren't on jerseys (the same jerseys were worn every year by different players), but would that have made any difference?

     So I won't be suing anyone for the use of my name and photo.  Besides, Kroger just might be able to prove that sales of mixed fruits actually went down from this association and I owe them!