My Late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s


When Lori Lyn was one year old, we experienced a very traumatic event with her. We were at my in-laws for the weekend and had just enjoyed a home-cooked meal of roast beef, potatoes and gravy. Palmer, my father-in-law, and I were cleaning up in the kitchen when we heard the women screaming. We ran into the living room to find little Lori laying on the floor not breathing. She had grabbed a piece of meat from a plate in the kitchen and walked into the living room and then apparently fell backward on her butt. The piece of roast beef became lodged in her throat.

I felt a cold wave of fear that is difficult to describe but I knew I had to do something to save her. The women were paralyzed with fear and Uncle Bobby who was 12 at the time just paced the living room floor yelling “Shit! Shit! Shit!” It was panic city – the scariest scene imaginable. I grabbed Lori by the foot and held her upside down striking her back. Still she was not breathing and was turning blue. The God-awful thought went through my head about a film in a First Aid Class in college that demonstrated how to do a tracheotomy on a live animal using a razor blade and a pen to allow breathing through the throat. God – could I possible do that?? My next thought was to try to get a hold of the piece with my finger. Fear was over coming me as I tried to think what to do next. (The Heimlich Maneuver wasn’t known to us back then!) The thought came to me to try to push the meat down her throat. So I put my finger in her small mouth and pushed on what I thought was the piece of meat. Suddenly she cried – the sweetest, most precious sound I had ever heard! She was breathing! We all hoped the meat passed to her stomach and not her lung, but she seemed to be okay. We called a nurse who said we should take her to the hospital in Sioux Falls to check her out. We did and they determined what we had hoped – that the meat had passed to her stomach.

I had never been so afraid in my life that my little girl might die. And I had to somehow save her. Thank God – I was able to do that. I felt a tremendous sense of gratefulness and when it was all over; it was the happiest day of my life!!



Shep – The Great Referee

Back on the reservation in 1972 where Shep and I were teachers, we decided to referee football. Our partners were Marlyn Goldhammer and Wayne Trousdale. Trousdale was about 6’ 7” and Goldhammer was 6’ 2”. Shep was maybe 5’ 5” and me – a giant at 5’ 7”. What a fine-looking crew!

That was the start of Shep and I refereeing together for a total of 16 years. Shep was an umpire and I was the referee. We both ended up living in Norfolk, Nebraska where we continued to form a crew to works games in the northeast part of the State.

One game stands out in my memory. A running back was running through a big hole in the defensive line. The only one in the way was Shep. He moved to his left and the runner cut to his right, colliding into Shep. Instead of Shep getting knocked on his butt, the big running back fell backwards to the ground. Little Shep was just standing there when the coach yelled “nice tackle, ref”! It was hilarious.

Shep was always in the middle of the action. Even after I moved to California, the crew kept refereeing. One night they were doing a game in Sioux City. There was a run up the middle and Shep was once again right in the way. He got rolled with elbows, hands and feet going every which way. He just laid on the ground and they finally brought a stretcher to take him to the hospital. He was soon released but the whole incident was caught on tape. Years later – when Shep formally retired from officiating, all of us former referees watched the tape about a dozen times – laughing at poor Shep getting rolled. He took it quite well. He was a damn good umpire over the years who was totally in charge on the field.


My Most Embarrassing Moment

Our crew received a contract to referee a game in Sioux City between Sioux City East and Sioux City Heelan – big rivals! There were 15,000 people in the stands and prior to the game, I was wired up for sound to announce penalties to the crowd. That was a first for me and we really felt like big time officials. Of course I was a little nervous: I had to remember to turn on the mike and then turn it back off. But this was big time football for these boys from Norfolk, NE.

The game was going okay with the two very competitive teams. At one point, I was feeling kind of cocky announcing penalties to the crowd – just like the NFL officials! But that didn’t last long. There was a long run down the middle of the field and Shep was downfield about 20 yards when I saw him throw his flag. Naturally I yelled at him “Hey Shep”! The I heard it repeated and echoing very loudly on the speakers. And I immediately said “Whatcha got?” and that of course was repeated nice and loud, too! I had forgotten to shut the microphone off! The fans laughed too when they heard me. What an embarrassing moment that we laughed about for weeks! So our first big time game in front of 15,000 people was pretty humorous…thanks to me!



Around the age of 30, I decided that I was getting out of shape.  In my opinion, just looking in the mirror told the story.  Thus began a number of years of running road races.  I partnered with Shep and we ran our first race – a big 2 miler in O’Neill, NE.  I wish I would have logged all of our races after that.  We participated mostly in 5 K’s, 10 K’s and longer races up to and including a marathon in 1985.  After moving to California and then to Kansas City, I continued my running but with new and different partners.

Some of the highlights included:

  • My best 10K time of 45:21. Shep and I tied, as we often did!
  • I ran in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia 3 different years; always on July 4th. It was a well-attended race, attracting 45,000 runners.
  • My best finish was a 10 K in Decatur, NE where I tied for 2nd place (with Shep). There were only 3 runners in our age group.
  • I participated many times in a run called ‘Andy’s Road Race’, named after my dad. He started the race prior to his passing and the race has been held every year since – always in Huron during the South Dakota State Fair.  My dad was an avid track fan and coach and he promoted running in Huron.  I never won but ran as strong as I could.  Even Kevin competed, along with Shep and my cousin, John Sweet.  My mother was invited to start the race.  She shot off the gun and really loved doing it!
  • The funniest run was a training run outside of Norfolk on a country road. About 8 of us were putting in an 8-mile run when a cattle truck passed us and a cow urinated on Ron Bruening.  He was just soaked with urine!  God, we laughed!!
  • Kevin, his mother and I ran a 7-mile race in San Francisco called the Bay to Breakers. I believe there were about 70,000 runners in this event – with several hundred running naked!  After all – it was in San Francisco!
  • During the 6 years that I lived in Kansas City, I ran in many races. Most had thousands of participants where the route took us on some beautiful areas of the city.
  • The highlight of my running was a marathon in Omaha called the Omaha Riverfront Marathon – 26.2 miles! Shep and I trained for months getting ready.  We did quite well – meeting our goal of under 4 hours.  We finished together in 3 hours and 55 minutes – averaging just under a 9 minute-mile.  

When I moved to Wisconsin, my running slowed down to walking.  Spending time with Sue seemed more important. 🙂 



When Kevin was a senior in high school, we moved to California and Kevin chose to stay in Norfolk.  We sold our house and the new buyer had been living there for a while.  We had a gas grill that was hooked up to a natural gas line on the patio in the back yard. It stayed with the house when it was sold.  Many a good steak and burger had been cooked on that grill.

One night in late spring, Phil, Rob, Brad and Kevin had a few beers and decided to have one last grill-out at the old house.  So, they bought steaks at the local grocery store and late at night headed there.  As quiet as possible, they started the grill and began cooking the steaks.  The smell of the grill woke up the new homeowner and upon investigating, he saw what was happening!  Kevin and his buddies grabbed the steaks, turned off the grill and took off running.  The cops were called and somehow, they were caught and arrested for trespassing. With the help of our attorney friend, Dave Copple, Kevin got off rather easy, but it cost me some serious money!! And I don’t remember Kevin paying me back!  Seriously – how many people do you know that have gotten in trouble by grilling steaks on someone else’s grill?  I guess it was a serious case of trespassing and a lesson learned.


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