The Way it Was – By Bill Boyd


Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
The snow bowl
Of all the football games, which have been played in Ohio Stadium, I think the game that has been written about the most is the 1950 Michigan game. That’s the one that was dubbed the “Snow Bowl.” I attended that game, and I’m not sure why it got so much ink. It was probably the dullest game I ever saw. Both teams just punted the ball back and forth. And much of the time I could barely see the field through the blizzard.
Nevertheless, the day itself proved to be pretty interesting, and I’d like to tell you about it. My girlfriend, Janet Hardman, and I had looked forward to that day for some time. We were going to attend the game, and then in the evening go to a party. It was one of those “toga parties” that were popular in the ‘50s.
My mother had made me a really great toga out of an old bed sheet. She trimmed it with some kind of gold braid and made a fantastic sash to fit around my waist. She even took some holly leaves and made a head wreath to go with it. I bet Nero himself never had a finer outfit.
I went to the pep rally the night before the game, in the parking lot just east of the stadium. They had built a huge bonfire. The OSU marching band was there, along with hundreds of students. Everyone was having a great time, and then the snow started. It wasn’t really heavy at first, just a few flurries.
By morning, however, the snow was piling up a great deal, and it was starting to snarl traffic. I met Janet at Charbert’s Restaurant, at the corner of 15th and High streets. We walked across the campus, through snow that was rapidly getting deeper, to the stadium. We tied our scarves to cover our faces, as the wind was fierce.
We could have selected almost any seats in the stadium, but we went to our regular seats, on the west side of the field, somewhere around the north 30-yardline. Crews of workers with snow shovels were trying to clear snow from the yard stripes, but their efforts were in vain.
As I mentioned earlier, the game itself was pretty dull … we punt the ball … then they punt the ball … then we punt the ball again. This continued over and over.
Meanwhile, we were freezing. There was a young couple, maybe eight or 10 rows in front of us, who were sitting with a large cardboard box over them. They had cut an opening, maybe two inches tall, all the way across the box so they could see the game. They were also sheltered from the cold wind.
That couple left the stadium during halftime, and before leaving they gave us their box. Oh boy, was that great. We were shielded from the wind, and our body temperature warmed the box a bit while we watched the rest of the game. Sadly, OSU lost 9-3.
When the game was over, we set out for my fraternity house. The party was obviously canceled, but I had to find a way to take Janet home. She lived in northeast Columbus, and the city buses had stopped running. When we got to the Kappa Sigma house, I talked with the Trippet brothers, Bill and Jim. We had been friends since high school, when we competed against each other at track meets.
They had their dad’s army surplus Jeep, which could cut through even that deep snow. We all jumped in the Jeep and headed for Janet’s house. We dodged in and out among stalled cars, trucks and city buses, until we finally made it.
Then we set out for the Trippet house in Worthington. It was like driving through a war zone. Vehicles, even city buses were abandoned at odd angles in the streets. Occasionally, however, there were people in the cars, so we stopped and used a log chain in the back of the Jeep to pull people to a safer place where they could leave their cars.
I don’t know how many people we towed, but this went on until around 11 p.m. Then we went to the Trippet house, where I stayed overnight. Bill, Jim and I were starving, so their mother fixed us some sandwiches and a piece of pecan pie. She had made three pies that afternoon, two for her family, and one for a neighbor. It was, I believe, the best pecan pie I have ever tasted.
The next morning, Bill probably could have taken me in his Jeep back to the house where I was living near the campus, but I wanted to stay as long as I could, to finish the pecan pies. So I had a piece for breakfast, and another one for dessert at lunch.
I stayed with the Trippets until Monday morning, when Bill and I split the last piece of pie and boarded his Jeep for the last time and headed for OSU.
Since that day, I have read a lot about that “Snow Bowl.” But everything I read talks about the game itself. When I think back to that day, however, I seldom think of what took place on the playing field. Instead, I think of that great toga that I never got a chance to wear. I also think of all those stranded people that we pulled out with the Jeep. But most of all, I think of Mrs. Trippet’s pecan pie. I can’t tell you how good that was.
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