The Way It Was – Football Saturdays


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.

During the fall of 1944 when I was 12 years old, Saturday was my favorite day of the week. That’s because, as a Boy Scout, I served as an usher at all the Ohio State home football games. But it was more than the games themselves. My entire day revolved around those games. I was busy from sun-up to sundown, and my routine was the same every week.
I could have ridden to the games with our scoutmaster, Elwood Sawyer, but I wanted to be on the campus well before game time. You see, I had other fun things in mind. So I had an early breakfast and then hitchhiked to Columbus. There were no freeways, and getting a ride on those two lane roads was easy, especially when I was wearing my Boy Scout uniform.
When I arrived on campus, I didn’t go to the stadium. Instead, I went to the historical museum at the corner of High Street and 15th Ave. I loved that place. It was full of really great things. There was a collection of all kinds of stuffed birds from all over the world. Then there were life-size models of prehistoric Indian villages and things like that.
But my favorite thing in the museum was an Egyptian mummy. It was the mummy of a young boy, about the same age that I was. I was fascinated with that thing. It was displayed with its hand-carved wooden sarcophagus. I spent so much time with the mummy that we could have been on a first name basis.
Occasionally, I also made a short trip to Orton Hall to visit the geological displays there. I wish you could have seen the fossils, especially the fish fossils. They were incredible. And right in the middle of the display room, surrounded by fossils, was a standing skeleton of a mastodon. It was huge, and I could just imagine it walking around, maybe 30 million years ago. What kid wouldn’t be impressed by that?
It was only a short walk to the stadium, and as soon as I entered, I bought a couple of hot dogs and a soft drink … every Saturday, just like clockwork. Then I headed to my usher station near the top of “C” deck. That was a perfect spot to view it all – the game, the crowd and the band. It was a wonderful experience. And to make it even more special, the Buckeyes went undefeated that year. And one of their players, Les Horvath, became the first Ohio State player to win the Heisman award.
When the game was over, I squirreled my way through the thousands of people exiting the stadium and headed north, across Lane Avenue, to the Big Bear store. I believe it was their very first store, and it was housed in a building that was previously a roller skating rink. Just inside the door, there was a display case that held their freshly baked cinnamon donuts.
I would buy a few of the donuts, and then start hitchhiking with the bag in hand. Getting a ride after the game was even easier than in the morning, and it didn’t take long until I was back in Marysville. Sometimes the driver let me out right in front of our house on West Fifth Street, just in time for dinner. I would replay the game for my parents as we ate and then I was off to Elwood Sawyer’s house for a little touch football. Or maybe we would just shoot some hoops at the basket he installed at one end of his tennis court.
We would continue until it got too dark to play. Then I would head for home. I usually listened to a college sports wrap-up program on the radio, then maybe the “Hit Parade” to catch up on the latest popular music before going to bed.
All in all, I think I was a pretty lucky kid. It was an ideal time and an ideal place to be a 12-year-old boy.
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