When last I left off, we were arriving on campus. I got out of the cab and walked straight into a wall of humidity. My Uncle calls these types of days “steamers” and thats for sure what it was. He proudly showed me around campus, and shared some stories of dorm life and college in the early 1960’s. You’re probably thinking “Animal House” but this was and is a Catholic University- so thats a big negatory. We grabbed hot dogs and soda from the student “tailgater” booths on the quad. Each dorm building had its own booth.
After lunch we decided to head over to the bookstore so I could get some souvenirs and all that fun stuff. The bookstore was huge, I almost got lost several times. In addition to academic tomes, the store had a TON of Fighting Irish Everything. However, my day – already spectacular – was about to ping off the charts. One of the things the University does at home games is set up for its athletic alumni to have tables in the bookstore for “meet and greets”. These guys (because Notre Dame used to be a men’s only campus) have their books for sale and will chat you up and sign their books very happily. My Uncle and Aunt happen to be good friends with several of them, so we stopped at that table. Thats when I met Mr Neil Worden, ND Class of ’53. Here’s his stats:
“Worden went to play for Notre Dame from 1950 to 1953. At Notre Dame he played under head coach Frank Leahy, who was the former line coach for the Seven Blocks of Granite. Here, Neal played Fullback behind an all pro line of Tackle Art Hunter, Center Jim Schrader, and Guard Menil Mavraides as the main blockers for Heisman Trophy winning Halfback Johnny Lattner. His Senior year, the 1953 Fighting Irish finished the season 9-0-1 and was runner up to the National Championship, and had an unprecedented 12 players drafted to ’54 NFL. Neil Worden finished his Notre Dame rushing carrier with 476 attempts for 2039 yards and 29 Touch Downs. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1954 NFL Draft and played in the 1954 and 1957 seasons”. (source: Wikipedia)
Neil (and I’ll call him Neil because he said I could) is one of “The Forgotten Four” – whose exploits I read about when I purchased the book of the same name. (link: http://magazine.nd.edu/news/13708-forgotten-four/) I managed to get Mark Hubbard who wrote the forward; as well as Neil to autograph it for me. I also got the opportunity to use my newfangled iPhone and take a picture of us. (reminder: I need to email this to him). He and his wife are absolute sweethearts by the way.
I just love this picture 🙂
While the schmoozing was going on, there was lots of other activity happening at the booth next to us. It was some football “great”from the mid-1970’s (I forget who they said it was). He was “meeting and greeting” and getting his picture taken with fans every few seconds – for a fee. This guy was raking in the bucks for personal profit. Neil and his compatriots were quick to inform me that this was NOT “the Notre Dame Way” . A true hearted “Domer” would never do that. IF they charge a fee for a picture or autograph then the money should go to charity. Otherwise, autographs and pictures should be supplied for free upon purchase of their book or other item. Neil and his friends were not too happy at this violation of the unwritten code of conduct. Needless to say, I steered clear.
We then strolled over to the other side of campus to see some of the other sights:
We hadn’t even been close to the stadium yet, but the day was still young. More to come next post.