Football Comes To Fonda, Fall 1966

by John Tischer on October 19, 2010 · 0 comments

It’s 1966 and the school year is about to begin again. A great summer has passed, and now back to the books and being around your friends. As juniors you now knew the lay of the land, while you were not the king of the study hall yet, you were moving in that direction.

Our class consisted this year of Nick Baskerville, Vicki Burditt, Carlotta Delano, Joyce Echher, Beckie Gottschalk, Jane Hatteberg, Myron Hatteberg, Darlene Hunter, Steve Meister, Dick Murphy, Pat Murphy, Karen Nieland, Charles Orr, Joleen Reis, Linda Seagren, Dennis Smith, Don Smith, Dennis Stafford, and myself. We lost Philip Kelly and Steve Schossow. We gained Steve Meister midway through our sophomore year, and also gained Charles Orr and Dennis Smith. There were 19 of us now.

The senior class was a really good class with many talented people in it. Roger Hatteberg was one of the most musically gifted people I have been associated with. He was a terrific singer, piano and organ player, and he set very high standards. Some of the other more talented people in the class were Jeanne Hatteberg and Sheral Adams. I also enjoyed Alan Goetschius and Darwin Samuelson very much.

As I mentioned in my last post, football was now coming back to Fonda. A very little known fact about Fonda football is that Fonda was the “mythical” state champions in football in Iowa in 1921 with Cedar Rapids. Fonda was coached by the legendary Jim Kelly who would go on to become the US Olympic track coach in 1956. Football was discontinued in Fonda in 1943, due to the war, and was not played again until 1966.

Tom Adams who was the principal now not only had to get it all set up, but his most important decision would be who would be his coach. In my opinion he made an excellent choice in hiring Wally Parman right out of college. Parman himself had been a very good athlete and was very good in relating to all of us. His assistant head coaches were Tom Adams and Mike O’Brien, who were both excellent communicators and motivators.

My first encounter with Coach Parman was not the best for me. We had been playing golf and were at McCartan’s Standard Station on the highway. I was in there with Terry Smith getting a bottle of pop. Coach Parman walked in, introduced himself and asked me if I was coming out for the football team. I told him yes, I wanted to be the quarterback. Smith then chirped in that I would have to give up the cigarettes and drinking to help get in shape. I about dropped to the floor, as those were not things I did. I got this very quizzical look from Coach Parman as he left. Fortunately for me Coach would see that those were things that I did not do. Coach Parman would also coach the other male sports to include basketball, track, and baseball, so we were his all year round.

We had 20 out for the team from freshmen to juniors. We only had one senior out for the team, as the coaches thought that only having the player for one year would not be helpful to the program. Those who were on the first team in 1966 were, Gerald Johnson, Pat Murphy, Denny Stafford, Nick Baskerville, Elmer Smith, Denny Smith, Dick Murphy, Bob Cole, Tim Stauter, Don Smith, Don Darling, Allan Goetchius, Tim Bramble, Doug Kruchten, Chuck Orr, Marshall Enderlin, Carl Hatteberg, Rex Jackson, Steve Meister, and myself.

Since Fonda OLGC played fall baseball, we really didn’t have a place to practice till their season was over. Our first practices were way down at the south end of Fonda in a hay field that was very uncomfortable to practice on. Very hard and quite painful. Eventually we would get to the baseball park and practice there, but the first several weeks we practiced down south of town or outside of the ball park.

Since none of us had really played any organized football, there were alot of drills, fundamentals, and terminology that had to be learned. The coaches had to determine who could play what positions and then also have to coach individual skills to those players. They had a good plan and again, both were excellent communicators and motivators.

Also in those days, coaches did not hydrate their players like they do today, the thought process being that by denying you fluids you got in shape faster and you could stand the heat better. We never had a player go down or get sick, however, I am sure that would not be acceptable under today’s guidelines.

I always was in pretty good shape, but I never ached as much in my life as I did after we actually started hitting and being hit. Incredible how much that could hurt and how you would bruise. After a while you did toughen up but I think we never knew how many aches and pains you could really have until you went through the total process.

I remember the first time we padded up. No one knew how to put on the pads, the thigh pads, it was incredible how naive we really were. Fitting your mouth piece was interesting as well. They were made out of a rubber component. You would put them in boiling water till they were very soft, then put them in your mouth to make the indentation of the rubber and hold them there till they cooled off. Yikes, that hurt.

Coach Parman and Coach O’Brien also played the good cop/bad cop at times. Coach Parman could really get after you at times, and then Coach O’Brien would come over and put his arm around your shoulders and build you back up. There was nothing better to me in my life though than winning the praise of both of those coaches, they meant alot to me and I wanted to do my best to make sure I did not let them down.

Since we did not have alot of players, some of the teachers and people in town would come out and scrimmage with us. Lee Hurlburt who played football in college would play, Verlyn Myers, Coach O’Brien, Jim Tjaden who played football in military school, Herb Delano, Ray Morgan and Doug Evans from OLGC scrimmaged with us a couple of times. I believe OLGC baseball coach Tony Sebben put the stop to that once he found out Doug was out there with us. These were mature men who would just beat the tar out of you; however, it did make us better and stronger as players.

I worked for Jim Tjaden at the grocery store, he was the owner. I do remember one time Jim was playing running back and he came around the corner on a sweep and I came up and hit him really hard. It was the best feeling to hit him, I saw him the next day at work and he was still limping. It made the day go much better as he spent alot of time in the office and not out telling me what to do.

Chuck Orr joined us about two weeks into practice. Chuck and his family moved to Fonda in the middle of September. His father Bill was the elevator manager. Bill had been an outstanding basketball player at Ware, Iowa, and had earned a scholarship to the University of Iowa. The war broke out and Bill went to war serving in the Army in the South Pacific. It was a much higher calling for those young men, and we are so thankful for what they did. Yet I always thought there was a part of Bill who really wondered about playing at Iowa. A great man was Bill Orr.

Chuck Orr tells the story about registering for school and meeting Tom Adams. Chuck got all of his books and the last thing that was put on top of the books was a football helmet. Chuck asked Mr. Adams what that was, Tom told him it was a football helmet. Chuck informed Tom that he was a basketball player not a football player. Tom told him he was a football player now, practice was at 3:30. So here comes Mr. Orr all 6’2″ 145 pounds of him to join the football team.

Since we had no real idea of how to play the game, the coaches decided to make our offense very simple and rely on playing great defense. We ran the straight T formation offense. I did win the quarterback position and now had to learn the plays and call the plays. In those days the coaches did not send the plays, the quarterback called the plays. Our backfield consisted on Doug Krutchen at running back, Pat Murphy at fullback, and Don Darling at the other running back. Our offensive line was Denny Stafford and Alan Goetchius or Chuck Orr at end. Nick Baskerville and Denny Smith at tackle, Don Smith and Dick Murphy at guard, and Gerald Johnson at center.

The football field had to be drawn out inside of the baseball park and the goal posts set. I remember that there was a problem in setting out the field, I don’t remember if the hash marks were off, but the field was not what I would call square. However, both sides were the same, and soon the goal posts would be set and the games would begin. The stage is set and anticipation is high for the first game in Fonda in 23 years.

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