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It was New Year’s Eve, 1967, and I’d driven up to Green Bay with my parents to celebrate the holiday. I was on leave from the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, where I was a young staff lieutenant. My grandfather, Ed Schweger, was one of the local businessmen who had the vision in the 1920’s of supporting a struggling new local football team named the Green Bay Packers. They needed money to keep going, so a local stock offering was mounted and my grandfather purchased 2% of the shares (which might have been worth more than $20 million today, if the team had not been created as a public trust). I’d been to many Packer games with my grandfather, when the team used to play at East High School. When Lambeau field was constructed in the 1950s, grandfather walked the new stands and picked out his two seats, around the 40 year line and just 8 rows up behind the home bench, so he could see over the heads on the sidelines for a perfect view of action on the field. As pharmacist to the team and an original stockholder, he had what Chicagoans called “clout.”
On that frigid day, we bundled up (grandfather was around 76 at the time, five years older than I am today), and my grandmother Sylvia drove us to a friend’s house a few blocks north of the field, where she would pick us up after the game. We walked to Lambeau and found our seats in the stands, which had been newly shoveled of snow. What a thrilling game; we were so enthralled that we barely felt the cold, though I think we both were numb. It was touch and go, with the temp around -15, but windchill somewhere between -30 and -50. The refs whistle froze to his lip, and the skin was ripped off when he pulled it away. They called the game verbally from then on.The field, where the heater had malfunctioned, was like an ice rink. It looked like the Packers might succumb. Then the final play:
“Radio calls of the Block
“Here are the Packers, third down, inches to go, to paydirt. 17-14, Cowboys out in front, Packers trying for the go-ahead score. Starr begins the count. Takes the snap…He’s going in for the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front! 20-17! And 13 seconds showing on the clock and the Green Bay Packers are going to be…World Champions, NFL Champions, for the third straight year!” – Ted Moore, Packers radio announcer
“About a half-yard to go, here come the Packers up again. Mercein sets his feet. Bart Starr’s all set…16 seconds left… Starr’s in, touchdown!” (About 12 seconds of crowd noise) “And the crowd has gone wild and ran onto the field with 16, 13 seconds left, the Packers are ahead.” – Bill Mercer, Cowboys radio announcer
“Don Chandler kicked the extra point to make the score 21–17. Dallas downed the kickoff in their end zone, and after two Dallas incompletions the game was over. At the conclusion of the game, jubilant Packer fans streamed onto the field knocking over Packer and Cowboy players alike.”
My grandfather Ed and I, exhausted and stiff from the cold, walked back to the friend’s house and we returned to his house to thaw out and celebrate the coming of 1968. I shall never forget that days frozen walk into football history. Thanks to my grandfather and that legendary game, my tickets (then his, same seats) to today’s game, being called Ice Bowl II, sold for a thousand dollars online, and Vicki and I will be cheering on the Packers on our new widescreen TV next to our roaring fire in the hearth of our cozy Lake Geneva home.
It was 89 years ago today that my grandfather, then a young druggist in Green Bay, Wisconsin, invested $100 for 20 shares (or 1.3% of capital stock) in a local football team called the Green Bay Packers. He framed his stock certificate out of civic and sporting pride and hung it in his den at home. Today, it hangs in my home office, along with my own stock certificate, which is equivalent to about 1,500 shares. while the market value of those shares has remained at zero through the years, the investment is worth millions in pride and tradition, for a little paper milling town that thought it could compete in the big leagues.
Like the legendary Ice Bowl 44 years ago (http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-americas-game/09000d5d821e1541/America-s-Game-The-Ice-Bowl), the Green Bay Packers squeaked by the Detroit Lions today, to make their season record 15-1.
I was at the Ice Bowl with my grandfather, in the same seats behind the home bench I hold today. He was in his late 60s, and I was a 24-year-old Army lieutenant on leave. During the game it hit 16 degrees below zero, or a wind chill of 57 below. My grandfather, a Green Bay pharmacist, had been one of the 200 local businessmen who originally financed the team in 1923, Thanks to him, I hold 1,000 voting shares of the Packer’s stock, and have his original 1923 stock certificate framed along with my own.
Go Pack, to the Super Bowl again!
Not that I’m a big sports fan, but tomorrow’s Packer/Bear NFC Championship game conjures up some memories: sitting in the rickety wooden stands of East High School in Green Bay watching the Packers play, before Lambeau Field was built, meeting Curly Lambeau himself on the bench at Soldier’s Field when he coached the All-Star games in the 50s, walking the stands in the new Lambeau Field with my grandfather helping him pick out his seats in the 8th row behind the home bench, freezing through the legendary 1967 Ice Bowl game there as an Army Lieutenant on leave before shipping out for Vietnam, inheriting those tickets when grandfather passed away, and attending games in the snow at Lambeau in recent years with my older brother John up from N. Carolina before his death last year. I wish tomorrow’s game had been held in Lambeau, either for the chance to attend and add another memory, or perhaps to have made $5 thou a ticket!