This site is no longer accepting contributions.
THE SMOKERS' STUDY
As a doctoral student during the mid-80s, when tuition was not remitted, I was always on the prowl for extra cash.
For several years, I spent summer evenings on the phone deep in the bowls of the brickhouse. The department of epidemiology undertook a long term study of smokers; why they continued smoking, why they quit, etc. We called those enrolled in the study, asked a series of questions and made appointments to have saliva tests at various points in the metro.
The telephone banks were in a wondrous labyrinth snaking the stadium. (In my innocence I thought only locker rooms were under the turf.) It was like being in what I imagined a war time bunker to look like. One room contained a book shelf with volumes of disconcerting black and white pictures from WWII; conscientious objectors who volunteered to be part of a starvation study. Apparently they were starved to help the allies know what to do after they liberated prison campus. And the MN subjects did bear an eerie resemblance to pictures I've seen of German prison camps.
The conversations we had with the study's enrollees were equally fascinating.
The subject who answered with, "It's your dime, start talking" or the WWII vet who claimed the only time he stopped smoking was during the Battle of Bulge.
BOB MCNAMARA'S RUN
When he zigzagged east, west, north and south, and scored a touchdown on a long run, he must have run at least 200 yards. It seemed like every player on the Iowa team had at least two cracks at tackling him and never did.
RITE OF PASSAGE
Memorial Stadium had been there 50 years by the time I played. Old enough so that ghosts occupied the North Tower. These were the spirits of former ball players and track and field competitors that just hadn't gotten enough. I guess none of us ever really get enough of competing at the collegiate level. Come Thursday was when most of us began to put our game face on. The clear sign that you were ready to play was that in no uncertain terms were you able to conduct yourself in good form socially, and even participating in class was next to impossible. Thanks to a paint factory in the neighborhood it seemed like the smell of linseed oil on campus was most pungent on Thursday, the sign that it was time to begin preparing for battle. You can still smell it from time to time. I donâ€™t know that it ever rained in our Brickhouse. I donâ€™t remember that we ever lost. I do know that it was home to classic American Football with its very finest sportsmanship, pageantry and spirit and that I simply cannot express in words the joy of such a thing.
I worked in a popcorn stand and Bob Hope came in to watch the game. It was very exciting to see him with his entourage.
In the 70s I got a great campus job, sweeping out the stadium on Monday after a game. I finally figured out why the guys in the student section took so long. Every time they came across a bottle with booze left in it, they would polish it off. I remember the job paid $4.08 per hour, much more than the $2.50 I was earning at the Chicken Delight on Central by Hennepin.
SCOUTS AND USHERING
Early Saturday morning, earlier than any 11-18 year kid cared to be up, we met our ride to the stadium and found the right door to enter. Upon meetng the Scout Adult leaders in charge of the ushering we were trained, or paired up and assigned our area. Our charge was to help everyone find their seats. Obviously there were hundreds of us if that were to be accomplished. It seemed an overwhelming task for each of us assigned to one of the aisles leading into the stadium. But many allowed us to help them find the seats. So we felt most important at a young age for getting everyone in there in time for the game. During the game our job was to be watching for anyone needing emergency help. This occurred every so often in various sections. Of course we could watch the game to some degree as long as we didn't block anyone's view. After the game we would do a quick sweep for lost items from the top to bottom of all the seating areas. Memories of a long day, a great feeling of worth, and some tired feet by the time we got home. Of course there were a few games when the rain and snow just about did us in. Hopefully my memory is right in saying that the Gophers won those games.
TRYING TO GET TICKETS
My Grandpa stood outside in the freezing cold trying to get tickets to the Iowa-Minnesota Football game for my mom and my aunt. It was there first college game!
Last game, senior year, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin 1971. Somehow a fight erupts in the closed end zone. Fans are leaning out screaming and yelling. Mike Perfetti, our safety, had hold of a Badger and this old guy comes up behind him and starts trying to pull his helmet off. I go to the rescue, grab the old guy and sling him to the ground. He looks up at me and says, "You idiot, I'm the coach!" Sure enough, it was Wisconsin's head coach, John Jardine. I told him, "Who's the idiot? You're not supposed to be on the field!" We kicked their tails that day--won with a touchdown pass from Craig Curry to Mel Anderson with 13 seconds left! Ski-U-Mah!
LIT UP BEFORE AND DURING
I have great memories of Memorial Stadium and drinking before and after the game. We would party before at a friend's house, prepare our concoction of hot chocolate and schnapps and we'd put it in a wine skin. We'd put the wine skin in our jackets and we would make a lot of friends in our row! As we drank the more brave I got ... the next thing I knew I was being lifted above all the rows and taken to the top of the last row. Then I got up and walked back down to my seat to cheers from the student section. And the biggest surprise in our late teens and early 20s we did not have to go to the bathroom as much as we do now!
As chairman of Rochester Alumni.. I had the opportunity to bring a busload of Rochester Alumni to the old stadium.. will never forget the trip and the memories.
I SAW OJ PLAY AT THE BRICKHOUSE
When I was a Boy Scout usher, I sat in the end zone on the field and watched OJ Simpson score a touchdown right in front of me. I also have his autograph in a program--three times. I kept getting in line to meet him. I was about 13 years old. I loved that stadium.
DAYS WITH MY DAD
I have many happy memories of afternoons with my alumnus father at Memorial, and a few bad ones watching Anthony Carter and the Wolverines or USC beating up on the Gophers. A great stadium, a great University and most importantly, a great dad.
THOSE CRAZY COLLEGE STUDENTS
When I was a young girl, my dad brought me to Gopher Football games at Memorial Stadium. I remember all the excitement of the games, the crowd cheering, the exceptional players. But what I remember most was when the college students would pass one of the cheerleaders up the rows and rows of spectators. I thought that was the funniest thing.
FOOTBALL GAMES IN THE 60'S
Who didn't have season tickets as a student in the mid-late 60's!!!! I went with roommates from the dorm and h.s. friends who also attended the U. I remember sunny skies, fatanstic football games, lots of cheering. Those were THE days!!!! CLA alum '68.
--Marit Lee Kucera
My main memories of Memorial Stadium are:
Sunny fall afternoons, walking down University Avenue, Kent Kitzmann's 277 yards, Tony Dungy, Rick Upchurch, Minnesota beating Michigan 16 to 0 (?), Call Stoll, THE MARCHING BAND !!!
When they were dismantling the old Memorial Stadium, they sold each brick for $10. They each had a 1 x 3 metal plaque on them that said it was from the Memorial Stadium at the Univ. of MN. My brother bought one and now I use it for my doorstop, which has become quite a conversation piece!
In the mid-60's, the Gopher cheerleaders, mostly the guys, would throw little footballs up into the crowd. Several of the guys could throw the balls out of the stadium. Nobody dared to try and catch them, lest they be booed.
Also, the great Iowa-Gopher game in 1960 for the National Championship. Great game!!!
FOOTBALL AT MEMORIAL STADIUM
My father would take me to memorial stadium to watch the Gophers play. I was very young and remember the stands and all the people, which was very loud and exciting.
AN AFTERNOON WITH MY UNCLE
My Uncle used to take me to the Gopher Games at the Stadium, on sunny Saturday afternoons. What a grand old place. I'm glad it's back!!!
As a little tyke I went to Memorial stadium with my parents. I vividly recall a late season game occured during a snowstorm. Snowballs were flying everywhere. For me the stadium experience was at least as fun as watching the on-field action. I'm excited to have a stadium back on campus where it belongs.
I lived in the same dorm with the football team, so I had firsthand info on the players. Bobby Bell had one of the most awesome physiques I ever saw. We were walking distance to the stadium, and it was packed for every game. It was chaos on football Saturdays.
1969 ROOTER CLUB
I have lots of fond memories of Memorial Stadium in the late sixties. My favorite was watching the marching band come in and the halftime shows. Being a member of the Gopher Rooter Club was fun. I remember one particular game when I was even more tired than usual and was trying to sleep(!) during the game. I was kind of annoyed that all of the cheering kept waking me up...Go Gophers!
BLOOD TEST AT THE STADIUM
In 1957, my folks moved to the SE Minneapolis area, so going to Memorial Stadium was an easy walk on days other the game days. In fact, one memory is of raking leaves at home on Saturday afternoons and knowing when the Gophers scored by the roar of the crowd at the stadium.
I visited the stadium in 1965 when I volunteered to take part in a physiology test running on a tread mill where they monitored my breathing. The test included taking a blood sample. It took three tries to get the sample, and they had to call a doctor over to the stadium to get the actual sample. Hot packs were also required.
The last year in the Boneyard against Michigan, and the Michigan fans started getting upset. Our minister was a lineman, and he hated losing. The next day in church, we wore our gopher apparel to show him what was what.
I CAN DO BETTER
I would always go to the homecoming game every year with my grandparents, and the most enthusiastic fan I ever met was over 80 years old. The old woman would be covered in maroon and gold and would holler down to the coach that he was lousy. "I could do better with my eyes shut!"
I remember going to a game with my husband. I had never been to any Gopher games before. My husband graduated from the U of M, and when he got tickets from a friend, we couldn't pass up going. We had a great time. It was fun to watch the game. I understood it way more than watching a Vikings game at the dome. I wish it was still around for the memories. We are hoping our son goes to the U of M in 3 years when he graduates.
MY BABY STORY OF MEMORIAL STADIUM
When I was just a couple of months old my mom took me to one of the gopher games, and she told me that I had lots of fun laughing and giggling the whole time.
MEMORY OF MEMORIAL STADIUM
my mom and my bio-dad went to one of the games at the stadium and they got a gopher bear and when i was born they gave it to me and its been my favorite stuffed animal since then...
NANCY AND BOB FOOTBALL DATES
My husband, who is no longer alive, loved walking with me down University Avenue past the fraternities and watching the game and the band on beautiful fall days OUTDOORS!
HIGH SCHOOL BAND DAY
The Bloomington High School band was a part of a mass band group in the stadium in 1964. I was a member that year in the percussion section. I remember it seemed huge, the sound was huge, and Dr. Ben was grand. He stood on a ladder and waved his arms in huge arcs so that all of us could see. I love bands and marching bands particularly. Our band didn't march, but the experience was fun for a high schooler.
MN VS IOWA FOOTBALL
I do not remember the year, but all of my relatives from Iowa City came to see the Gopher-Iowa game and went back with their heads hanging while we celebrated the Gopher victory!
My parents met at the U. I grew up hearing about the outdoor football games. I was only able to attend one game at the old stadium on campus but have been bringing my own children to Gopher hockey and football games since before they could walk. I know Grandpa and Grandma are looking forward to bringing the third generation to the new outdoor stadium.
PLAYING IN MEMORIAL
In the late 80's we used to go to Memorial with groups of people and sneek in and play football at night. I think there was alcohol in the stadium at that time. Or at least there was for us.
I remember getting snowed on and rained on while watching the Gophers play in the open air! I had season tickets for all four years while I attended the U of M. I remember Tony Dungy as quarterback and beating Michigan! I will always have fond memories of the football games in Memorial Stadium. Now as a U of M parent I have and will continue to attend games in the Dome and in the new TCF stadium but things will never be quite the same as the times I spent in Memorial stadium. I have been in the new TCF stadium and I just would like to know one thing........Who paid for the "M" to be put on the soap dispensers in the shower rooms????????
I had season tickets the year they beat Michigan, 1976 or 1977. Michigan was number 1 and the Gophers beat them 16-0. I ran out on the field after the game and shook Cal Stoll's hand. Go Gophers!
The Iowa Game,
Iowa came up to play the Gophers. They were ranked 1 and 2 in the polls. Minnesota kicked off to Iowa. On the first play from scrimmage the Gopher middle guard, Tom Brown, hit the Iowa center so hard that he fell into the Iowa Quarterback and knocked him down for a loss of 5 yards. The Gophers held Iowa forcing an Iowa punt. The Iowa center, fearing another hit from Tom Brown, hiked the ball over the Iowa kicker's head. The Gophers recovered the ball and went on to score the first touchdown of the game and on to win the game 28-7 and the National Championship poll and on to the Rose Bowl.
10TH GRADE MEMORIES
I went to one game as a 10th grader, and once our high school marching band performed. It was an awesome experience!
HIGH SCHOOL BAND DAY
In 1964 at the high school band day, bands from all over the state would gather at memorial stadium and sit in the open end zone. Each band would have a chance to march around the stadium and then participate in a half time show. Quite a thrill for high school students. We got to see Sandi Stevens play - oh and freeze our ,,,, off. Ever put an ice cold mouth piece to your lips? kind of like sticking your tongue on a metal poll in winter.
LEGION BUS MEMORIES
We would take a bus every Saturday from the game, and stop at the Legion on the way. Had a great time! Great outdoor stadium, remember the brick walls.
DAD AND GOPHER FOOTBALL
I have some great memories of Memorial Stadium, beginning in the early 1970s and ending with my years in college in the late 1980s. My dad started me on the path to be a card carrying member of "Gopher Nation." Each year throughout the 1970s, near his birthday in September, my Dad would take me to a game at Memorial Stadium to watch the Gophers. I have great memories of watching Marion Barber, Garry White, Tony Dungy, and others playing under the sun for the maroon and gold. I particularly remember a few "band day" games, when high school bands from all over Minnesota would join the University's band for a halftime performance. Garry White's 200+ yard performance against Ohio State also stands out in my mind. The chance to share those memories with my Dad was a special bond and has made me a devoted Gopher fan ever since.
My Memorial Stadium experiences as a student were sadder, as the stadium was no longer used for football. However, the versatility of the old place continued, and it served as our facility for my racquetball class. I'm excited for the Gophers to be back where they belong, on campus! Go Gophers!
IT NEVER SNOWS IN SOCAL
The first game I ever attended in Memorial Stadium was against the Southern California Trojans in October 1955. Thus it was great fun to re-live that experience by seeing the game film footage more than 50 years later. I recall the snow as gentle but persistent - not all that miserable - but that might not be how Jaguar Jon Arnett, the All-American USC halfback would describe it. No one told him to bring snow tires. We were sitting in the end zone bleachers, and my most vivid memory is of Gopher QB Don Swanson slogging 60+ yards on a one-play eat-up-the-clock ball-possession sneak play, pretty much obscured by the snowflakes by the time he reached the far end zone, well after dusk. For the USC defenders it must have been like one of those bad dreams where the faster you try to run, the slower you go.
LPH AND THE STADIUM
The Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, founded by Ancel Keys in 1939 occupied Stadium Gate 27 under the South stands of Memorial Stadium until 1990.
It was the site of the first US government-sponsored researches during World War II on human responses to heat, cold, and stress, and is where the K-ration was developed, a US Army survival ration used throughout the war: 1942-45
It carried out the Minnesota Experiment, a unique study of responses to semi-starvation among volunteer conscientious objectors, which established optimal re-feeding diets for starving post-war Europe: 1943-46.
It initiated the Minnesota Business and Professional Men Study, the first prospective study during health of biological and behavioral traits associated with future risk of heart attack, based on the diet-heart hypothesis first proposed by Keys in 1947.
It performed controlled feeding experiments that produced the Keys Equation to predict change in blood cholesterol level from a given change in diet fats and cholesterol: 1957-65.
It carried out an international study of cultural differences in population rates of heart attack and their major sociocultural and dietary features, the Seven Countries Study, from 1957 to the present.
It was a partner in a generation of multicenter national clinical trials in prevention of heart and blood vessel diseases from 1972-1990.
It administered the Minnesota Heart Study for surveillance of heart attack and stroke rates and levels of risk factors and cardiac care in the Greater Twin Cities, from 1979 to the present.
It directed the Minnesota Heart Health Program that demonstrated feasibility of heart attack prevention programs in six upper Midwest communities, from 1980-1990.
The LPH left Memorial Stadium in 1990, having merged in 1983 into a new Division of Epidemiology of the School of Public Health. A separate unit retained the old identity and established a new laboratory in the School of Kinesiology.
--Henry Blackburn, M.D.
A WEEKLY DAY OF ANTICIPATION
Saturday was always a day of anticipation during the week as we prepared for the Gopher Game at Memorial Stadium each fall week in 1969. I was a freshman at the U and loved the game, and the atmosphere of the old brickyard. I had seats on the 40 yard line, and as a student I thought that was really a great location. Many a good memories remain from the glorious days of education and football at the University of Minnesota and Memorial Stadium.
THE BRICK HOUSE-RECOLLECTIONS OF THE PHYSIOLOGY LAB AND CREWING
I attended the U during the late 50's, graduating in 1961; the years of winning football, the Rose Bowl, etc. Those were great years to watch the games in the old Brick house along with all the pageantry on football Saturdays. I have another recollection of the stadium not related to football. I worked my way through school with summer jobs and after school jobs to keep studying. I was always checking the bulletin board for odd jobs and during my sophomore year the University Physiology Laboratory had an ad for a "subject" to help conduct an experiment for several weeks. I applied and got a job in the Physiology Labs under the stadium (Gate 27) where professor Ancel Keys had developed K rations in 1940 for WWII military troops.
In keeping with the Lab's experiments on the heart, circulation and fatigue, a Physiology graduate student was writing his doctors thesis on the relationship of the lungs' ability to absorb oxygen based on red blood cell count. I would go down there when I had free time and run on a treadmill and breathe into a big enclosed air tank through a tube. When he had standardized my ability to absorb oxygen under several stressful 20 minute uphill runs, he proceeded to lower my red cell count by taking a couple of liters of blood in several increments over the next couple of weeks. After each bloodletting I would run on the tread mill and he would re-measure how much oxygen I was absorbing.
I learned later that his assumptions about the ratio of oxygen absorption to red blood cells had been wrong. He checked my blood count records and found I had gone from 17.8 PPM to 12.4 PPM so I wasn't quite anemic at the end of the tests. He also thought that I had gotten in better shape by running on the treadmill thereby needing less oxygen. He tried to convince me to try out for the track team. I said I had t o get an education and didn't have time. I believe I was paid $40.00 for the experiment.
While I was doing the blood cell/oxygen experiments, I spotted an old crewing "shell"; an eight man racing hull hanging on a rack under the stadium that hadn't been used for years. I was taking weight lifting for easy credits that spring in Cooke Hall next to the stadium. The class had about a dozen guys; mostly football jocks bulking up for the next season. I asked the instructor one day about the rowing old shell. He checked and found out that if we wanted to we could put it in the Mississippi and try it out. There were enough guys in the class who were interested and the instructor said he would coach us.
We went out a dozen times and (we thought) were getting pretty good. We would carry the shell from the stadium down Washington Avenue to a place below Coffman Union and launch it in the Mississippi. After we learned the basics of rowing, feathering the oars on the return, etc. that old shell would just jump along when we were all pulling in unison. The coxswain was our smallest guy and he would sit perched at the rear facing the eight rowers tapping a cadence. The rowers face to rear in seats that would move back and forward on slides to allow the rower to use his legs to get the last of each stroke. The U resumed varsity crewing the next year or so with the Ivy League teams.
--Arlyn Solberg-Class of '61
I was about 7-8 years old when I went to a football game at Memorial Stadium. I don't remember much of the game but I remember how fascinated I was watching the marching band. I told my parents I want to do that when I grow up. I was in band from 1985-1990 and it was the best experience a college student could ask for. Unfortunately the years I was in band we were at the Dome, but I did take racquetball as a class during that time and got to play in the stadium. Sadly, I was also a part of the alumni band that was there when the stadium was torn down.
A SMALL-TOWN BOY'S SENSE OF WONDER
Four vivid memories of Memorial Stadium in the 1960s come to mind.
My first visit to that imposing structure was in the fall of 1960, as a wide-eyed junior high school student from small town Minnesota. The football Gophers, led by Sandy Stephens, were having a great season that eventually led to the Rose Bowl, and a school friend and his dad invited my dad and me to go with them to a home game. I remember being dazzled by the immenseness of the stadium, the electric buzz from the crowd, and the authority in the voice of announcer Julius Perlt.
Three years later, by then a sophisticated high school student, I came with my high school band to be part of a mass band conducted by Dr. Frank Bencriscutto. We high-school bandsmen from several schools around the state were in the bleachers while the U. of M. band was up front, with Dr. Ben conducting Borodin's "Prince Igor" and other works from atop a tall stepladder.
Two years later, I myself was a proud member of that U. of M. Marching Band. I recall the thrill of marching from Northrop Auditorium down University Avenue and its Fraternity Row to the bowl end of the stadium, then double-timing onto the field to a mesmerizing, snappy drum cadence before a cheering crowd. Believe me, that was aerobic marching!
I soon joined one of the houses on Fraternity Row, across the street from the stadium, which had an accessible, flat roof that afforded a view of half the field! I remember watching at least one game -- when I was not marching with the band -- from that vantage point, although when the action was on the hidden half of the field we rooftop spectators could only guess at what was provoking the cheers or groans that one could hear in the distance.
I WAS HOOKED
I was hooked in 9th grade with Gopher football. The hook was set with the first trip to see the Gophers play. Our football team travel down to see our former Proctor Rail Tom McLeod play in a maroon and golden uniform instead of a green and white one.
The atmosphere was tremendous. The band was outstanding and to see a person from your own high school play Big Ten college football--¦wow! Did I mention the voice of Julius Perlt? What an icon he was to hear.
From that point, I was able in all three years of high school, to travel down to see two Gopher games a year-(One for high school football day and for high school band day.) I treasured those trips greatly.
After high school, I attended the University of Superior Wisconsin, but as a freshmen, purchased my first Gopher season tickets-( via gate 16) and continued until the having season tickets through the first year in the dome.
The dome was a disaster to me and my friends. The march down University Ave was gone as was the thundering of the band through the tunnel just below my seats. The walks on campus were gone but to get to the dome. No longer getting a meal at the "Best Steak House" was gone as well. The acoustics made it nearly impossible to hear the band and the crowds during the first year. As a result I gave up the tickets. Over the following years, I tried to make a game each year but it was not the same. (I did touch "gate 16" before every game I attended in the dome, as a sign of respect.)
When we had our first child, at age 5, he came with me to a football game. From his first game, I would tell him about the great years in Memorial. To this day, we share the trips down to see the Gophers about once a year. We also listen to each game on the radio with WCCO as a fall ritual.
Both of us are so very exciting to have this up-coming season back on campus. We are hoping the band returns to marching down the University Ave to the stadium and thunders in with drums playing. Tailgating and walking on the campus before and after the game--just like college should be experienced.
On the down side my son and I are sadden that the "memorial" name with not be on the stadium, as a lasting tribute to those of the great state who gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve this state and country. In this day and age of corporate moneyâ€¦the name Memorial Stadium still hold the heart and soul of this state.
Best wishes for successful seasons of the nature of the Bierman years-- with shouts of Ski-U-Mah!
Caribou Lake, Minnesota
AN UNFORGETABLE GAME
My father, Louis Gross, played the entire 60 minutes of the Memorial Stadium dedication game in 1924. The game, of course, was one of the greatest Gopher upset victories of all time, as Illinois, with the famous Red Grange leading its team, was an extremely heavy favorite.
Now we move forward almost 70 years. In the early 1990's I was escorting my father to a memorial service for his brother, held at a St. Louis Park nursing home where his brother had lived for several years. As I helped my father through the entrance to the premises (he was now 90 years old and walked in a rather bent-over fashion), we encountered an elderly man in a wheel chair, covered with bandages that concealed most of his face. The man looked at us and shouted "Louie, I saw you play against Red Grange." Truly an unforgetable game.
TO THY COLORS TRUE I SHALL EVER BE
I came to the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1977 and purchased season football tickets. The Michigan game in October of 1977 will forever standout in my mind and heart and made me a Gopher fan for life. Even if someone in the stands that day was not particularly excited about football I do not know how you could have left Memorial Stadium without feeling your blood run maroon and gold. I have attended many Gopher football games since, in both Memorial Stadium and the dome and very much look forward to my season tickets to watch my Gophers play football back on campus, where they belong! I am a Gopher and proud of the University of Minnesota! RAH!
SPOON-FED MAROON & GOLD
My father was a season-ticket holder, so I grew up going to Gopher football games. I was around seven or eight years old when Sandy Stephens led the Gophers to two Rose Bowls in a row (and a national championship). He was my hero. One of my first recollections of Gopher football is a day that was cold and rainy. I didn't care. There was something about being at a Gopher game. Other Memorial Day highlights for me were seeing the Gophers shut out then-#1 ranked Michigan 16-0 in October 1977 and seeing the team come from behind to beat Ohio State 35-31 in 1981 (that was my last game at Memorial Stadium).
I was a staunch opponent of the move to the Metrodome. I predicted then that the Metrodome would be obsolete in 25 years or less. I was right. Gopher football never should have been taken off campus, but at least now it's coming back where it belongs.
INSIDE THE STADIUM
I never saw a game at Memorial Stadium. In the 1980s it was not JUST a stadium, it was also (along with Cooke Hall) the equivalent of the University Rec Center. I spent hours jogging in the corridor under the rafters in winter, running the stairs in a conditioning class, playing racquetball in those old racquetball courts (no ceiling, so your ball would occasionally end up in someone else's court, or stuck in the wires around the light bulbs), and learning weight lifting in a very small, smelly workout room with only free weights - no machines. I wish I had been to a game there, and am looking forward to the new stadium!
During the 1941 Gopher season I attended all the home football games with my father. My mother was resting at home because of a difficult pregnancy. I was eight years old, thrilled to be with my father, and awed and excited to witness the Triumphant Gophers.
I'll always remember entering the tunnels to the stadium and then climbing up and up to our seats. The game against the University of Indiana stands out in my memory as George Taliaferro, the Indiana back, running down the field for a touchdown on the first play of the game. Dad was so excited he began to cry and lifted me up so I could see this brilliant run from this powerful black athlete. It didn't matter that he was from the opposing team, it was his extraodinary speed that caught Dad. After that moment I realized the depth of emotion that this game could inspire and have held it ever since.
I am proud of our new stadium which will invoke so many wonderful memories of the Gopher games over my life. I am pleased to be back on campus and outside!
THE GOPHERS - A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Growing up in Minnesota, I heard people talk about the Golden Gophers and, in 1953 as a 7th grader, was thrilled when a school classmate invited me to attend a football game at Memorial Stadium. I remember being bundled in scarves, overshoes, and a heavy coat and was fascinated with the boy scouts who served as ushers and the cheerleaders. I barely noticed or understood the game itself-except that Paul Giel was a monumental figure. Little did I imagine that just over twenty years later we would become colleagues at the University.
As I was completing coursework for my history PH.D in the mid-1970s, I got a job at the University and was put in charge of a task force responsible for a report on gender equity required under the federal Title IX regulations. One of the main areas of concern was athletics and, as a result, our committee worked closely with Paul Giel--who had become director of Intercollegiate Athletics. It was a pleasure to come to know Paul Giel as a person, rather than as the distant figure once viewed through snow-flakes, from high-up in Memorial Stadium.
In the late 1990s, as co-author, with historian Stanford Lehmberg on a history of the University of Minnesota, through another University colleague, Barbara Foster of the General College, I was able to meet her brother, Gopher quarterback, Sanford â€œSandyâ€ Stephens-who played for the Gophers (1959-61) with his fellow Pennsylvanian, Judge Dickson. The two were recruited to come to Minnesota by coach Murray Warmathâ€”making Minnesota one of the first major universities to seek out African American players. The two accepted, Stephens recalled, â€œbecause we felt Minnesota was interested in us as men, not just as football players.â€ Among the highlights in their careers was participating in two post-season Rose Bowl games. Following their first appearance on January 2, 1961, the Gophers lost to Washington, with the score 17 to 7.
As the regular fall 1961 season approached, Coach Warmath was cautious, â€œFootballâ€™s a lot like farming. Fellow has a fine crop one year. The next he plants the same way, cares for his crops the same wayâ€”does everything he can to see that it comes up right. Maybe it does. Or maybe he gets hailed out or it gets too dry.â€ That season the team ended second in the Big Ten. In a piece of good fortune, Ohio State, turned down an invitation to go to the Rose Bowl and Minnesota was invited again. This time, on January 1, 1962, the team was victorious, beating U.C.L.A 17-3. (On May 22, 1997, Sandy Stephens was selected for the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame for his role in the 1961 and 1962 games.)
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting other Gopher players from the 1950s: brothers Bob and Richard "Pinky" McNamera as well as their coach, Murray Warmath. I am impressed with the degree to which each the former players I have met, has appreciated not only their experience as players, but also their education.
I continue to be struck by the symbolic role football and other sports play in American life. During the 1930s and in 1940 and 1941 Gopher national championship teams under coach Bernie Bierman, represented a positive focal point, a ray of hope for the entire state and the 1962 Rose Bowl victory was equally celebrated.
I wish the team the best in the TCF Stadium this fall and look forward to experiencing the excitement of a football Saturday enlivening University Avenue.
Quotes are from "The University of Minnesota 1945-2000" (Stanford Lehmberg and Ann Pflaum).
Contributions to "Memorial Stadium 1924-1992" are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved by the contributor, unless otherwise indicated.