» The death this week of former actor and football star Alex Karras brought back a locker room memory — beer and cigarettes at halftime.
Santo “Sandy” Buda, former head coach at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was a high school student in 1962 when the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Cardinals played an exhibition game at Rosenblatt Stadium. He normally sold popcorn and worked on the grounds crew, but that night he was assigned to hold Karras' glasses and fetch him hot dogs.
The glasses-and-hot-dogs part of the story is told in my World-Herald colleague Steve Pivovar's book, “Rosenblatt Stadium: Diamond on the Hill” ($24.95, plus tax and shipping, at www.owhstore.com).
Buda adds a postscript: It was a hot and humid night, and he was shocked to see what went on in the locker room.
“These were my idols,” he said with a chuckle, “and they were smoking and drinking beer. That's just what went on in those days. Beer was what they used before Gatorade. They weren't paying any attention to the coach and his chalkboard.”
Sandy, 67, is retiring Nov. 1 after 13 years as Nebraska representative for the football helmet-maker Riddell. Especially with greater focus in recent years on concussions, he said, helmet companies have spent millions on research to provide greater protection.
“The technology has skyrocketed the past seven or eight years,” he said. “The problem is that players keep getting bigger, faster and stronger.”
Playing both ways for the University of Kansas in the 1960s, Buda caught four passes in the second half at Colorado — or so he learned. He had been “dinged” and has no memory of it. “They tell me I didn't know where to line up in the huddle.”
Other than normal aches, he said, he feels good and plans to stay busy.
Karras, who was 77, suffered from dementia and was one of many plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit charging that the National Football League hadn't done enough to protect players.
» Douglas County Board member Pam Tusa, co-chairing next Saturday's 100-year celebration of the downtown Courthouse, got a kick out of a World-Herald story I came across from the opening in 1912.
“Court House Lockers Too Small for Women's Hats,” the headline read.
The lockers were only about a foot wide, the article said, while some of the “stenographers” wore hats that were wider, with “no chance to forecast what the next style will be.”
The only hat that fit in the locker was owned by “Miss Myrtle Cloud of the district clerk's office.”
The story said the common wail was, “If only there had been a woman on the county board, this thing would never have happened.”
Tusa invites citizens to tour the French Renaissance Revival-style structure and enjoy programs starting with a flag raising and gun salute at 9:30 a.m. Hats are optional, but the lockers are long gone.
» Although Omaha was selected as the site for the 1988 vice presidential debate less than a month before it occurred, Mayor Bernie Simon had penned a note to his staff more than a year ahead of time saying Omaha should “go for it.”
The popular Simon lobbied for it in Washington, D.C., and formed a 14-member committee. But he died of cancer six months before the debate, which Omaha dedicated to him.
His son, Curt Simon, now executive director of Metro, the bus system, remembers pitching in to prepare for the event along with many others.
“For me, it was a bittersweet labor of love and tribute to my dad that I always remember when these debates come around,” he said.
“Those memories certainly help dampen the otherwise harsh political rhetoric that floods our airwaves.”
» The Chicago Tribune says that during halftime of the game against Nebraska, the Ohio State marching band “scored a viral video touchdown.”
By Friday, the band's tribute to video games — with elaborate formations — had racked up more than 9.3 million views on YouTube.
» Halloween is drawing near, and self-styled Omaha historian Howard Hamilton is preparing for his annual ghostly bus tours of an Omaha cemetery.
He will lead three tours each on Oct. 30 and 31, at 5:45 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. The cost is $20, and he encourages people to bring flashlights. Call 402-341-6983 for details.
Hamilton also is planning a Veterans Day citywide bus tour of military monuments from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 11. The cost is $25.
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