Fifty years ago this month I had a wonderful time as Indiana University made its first – and only – Rose Bowl appearance.
My sister, Kathy, attended IU at the time and was enrolled in a year-round program that allowed her to earn a teachers licence with a master’s degree in four years.
IU’s football team had enjoyed a good season – a rarity in those times – and I was fortunate to attend several games that season, including the Old Oaken Bucket battle against Purdue.
By defeating the Boilermakers and having the best overall record of the three schools that tied for the Big Ten title, IU was going to its first bowl.
Kathy and her roommate, Sandy Byrne, and I wanted to go to Pasadena, Calif., for the game. We purchased packaged deals that included airfare and accommodations. The girls were able to buy student tickets, but I was on my own and figured I could buy one out there, which I did.
We flew to Los Angeles on a plane loaded with Hoosier fans, and our hotel was packed with supporters. Our packages allowed us four days to sight see before the game, plus tickets to the amazing Tournament of Roses Parade.
We rented a car so we could see as many sights as possible, including Disneyland, which was filled with about 75 percent of the IU fans who ventured to Southern California for the game. Chancellor Herman B Wells was among the backers. It was a blast to walk through the park and be part of the crowd wearing cream and crimson.
We were sightseeing during the day and partying at night.
John Pont coached the Hoosiers, and Jade Butcher, John Isenbarger and Harry Gonzo were a few of his prominent players who would be tested against USC, which featured Heismann Trophy winner O.J. Simpson, who led the Trojans to a 14-3 win.
We were scheduled to fly back the following day. We had been going full blast for several days and were tired. I can’t imagine going at that pace for that long now.
We arrived at the airport, checked in and walked to our boarding area, where we were reconnected with the group that we flew out with. I spotted Marilyn Nierman, who was sitting on the floor and had graduated from Southport with Kathy.
Marilyn looked like she hadn’t slept for days. I was about to ask her if she was OK when she proclaimed, “You guys look like s---!”
We all laughed and soon were asleep on the plane heading back to Indy.
Over the years I have run across Marilyn several times. We always laugh about running into each other that morning at the airport.
It’s difficult to come to grips with it being 50 years ago.