August 31, 2013: Growing up Red

Zach and a neighbor buddy on Game Day ~ 1995
When you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do, right?  In my personal experience, this has proven to be a very good choice. I flipped from the gold and black of the Hawkeyes to Husker Red many years ago.

A Nebraska resident of 25 years, I have raised three very Husker boys. Red flows deeply through their veins as Nebraska football has been a pivotal part of our fall days over the last twenty years.

Warm memories filled with red and black are abound. Through the baby and toddler years, we would spend our game days with tow-head boys dressed head-to-toe in Husker attire. There was no Memorial Stadium for this mom during these years. My busy Saturdays entailed running errands and naps. Grocery stores, gas stations, and pretty much every public place in Omaha would be blaring the game on overhead radios. Employees dressed in red would buzz about with the current score and game status.
All ready to cheer on the Huskers

There really was no need to be physically in Lincoln to feel a part of Nebraska Game Day. Tailgates with TV's in garages and basement parties filled with cheese dip and tortilla roll-ups would perfectly suffice. As long as there was a TV showcasing the Huskers, fans would congregate. And these were in the days before big screens.

Accommodating naps and crawling children was a priority then. Although not part of the 80,000 fans in Lincoln, we made up the other million watching from televisions across Nebraska.

I was introduced to my current vice, drive-through coffee, in the mid-nineties. This was pre-Starbucks. The closest drive-thru was in Regency. With two sleeping boys strapped in car seats, we listened to the Nebraska game on my radio.

I would drive around town listening to the game while sipping a honey latte. This was my window of peace and quiet as a very colicky Baby Ben Lane was soothed to sleep by the Husker announcers.

As the boys grew in size and age, we graduated from enjoying the games via TV and radio to driving to Lincoln. Memorial Stadium on Game Day; an experience like no other. We would tailgate, visit the University Bookstore, and then 2 hours prior to kick off...Husker Nation.

For anyone who hasn't experienced Husker Nation, let me explain. In the track field adjacent to Memorial Stadium, UNL provided family fun amenities prior to the game. This included bouncy houses, face painting, vendor food and drink stands. All while the game was televised live on the big screen.

That's an "N" spray painted on Grant's head
A typical day would include a sleeping Ben with a warm "NU" painted cheek and drooling mouth passed out on my leg while Zach and I played catch with a Nerf football. All this with the game playing live just past the big screen with the roar of Husker Nation in the foreground. True bliss.

By halftime we were packing up and beating the crowds and traffic. The drive back to Omaha would include listening to the rest of the game on the radio. Boring by some standards, picture perfect day by mine.

As we are now officially graduated from sippy cups and car seats, we have moved up to enjoying the game inside of Memorial Stadium. My boys look forward to Game Day and the the pre-games festivities as much as their adult counterparts. They are seasoned fans.

We did leave the game after 3rd quarter last night. Some might say this was a bad move based on the games close outcome. It was all good by us. Listening to the play-by-play action on the radio while seamlessly maneuvering Highway 6 back home felt like a good plan. At least for last night. We'll see what next week's home game brings...

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