Emile Rimington worked the bacon press at Wilson packinghouse for 32 years. Enough to put food on his table. Not enough to send his son to college.
When his son became an all state offensive lineman at Omaha South in the late 1970s, Emile didn't mince words.
"I hope this football thing works out for you, because I got nothing." Dave Rimington received a Nebraska scholarship and eventually the Outland Trophy in 1981 and '82. He may be the greatest college center ever. He's also a testament to South Omaha's punch-the-clock culture.
Packinghouse jobs formed the backbone of the black community, but white families needed them, too.
Rimington's mom and dad both worked at Wilson, where they met in the early '50s. Dave grew up at 41st and Drexel Streets, less than 2 miles from the stockyards, surrounded by tough laborers often living paycheck to paycheck.
"There was no calling in sick," Rimington said.
Work ethic filtered down to kids. South Omaha produced Golden Gloves champions, professional wrestlers and football standouts, most notably Husker legend Tom "Trainwreck" Novak. Like Rimington, they grew up in the shadow of the packinghouses.
"Everybody around you did an honest day's work," said Rimington, now president of the Boomer Esiason Foundation in New York. "You hang around guys like that and it becomes what you expect.
"There's no excuses."