How Terribly Strange to Be 70

by Bob Sparrow

“How terribly strange to be 70”  Old FriendsSimon & Garfunkel

Steve, Terry, Ken, Kent & Ed using ‘aiming fluid’ at Top Golf

We came in the mid-1960s as young men, boys really, to Westminster College, a Christian college that sits at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains on the East Bench of Salt Lake City, for only one reason . . . football. We just wanted to play the game.  While our destination was the same, our paths were quite diverse.  Some came right out of high school, some came after a year or two of junior college, some came from a Division 1 school where they were never going to play and some came because they knew they were never going to play anywhere else.  And while we all came for the game of football, we left with great friendships, great memories and a college degree that positioned us for success later in life.

The ‘we’ is a group of 11 Westminster graduates, all 70-something, who gathered in Las Vegas two weeks ago for an informal reunion put together by my old college roommate and running back on the football team, Ken Poulsen.  You may think that 11 isn’t very many people to gather for a reunion, well, actually only 9 were football players, but that still represented nearly half of our team!  The non-football players, but still successful graduates of Westminster were Dave Chally, who was a fan and a friends to us all, and John Soltis, our ‘spokesman’ who played basketball for Westminster.

Chally & Hall awaiting instructions from Ken

While Ken had planned a number of activities for us – Top Golf, bowling and attending a comedy club show, most of the entertainment came from the recalling of stories and antics from our college days.  Listening to them would make one wonder if or how this group ever made it through college, much less enjoy any success after it, but indeed this was actually a very accomplished group:

Ken ‘Little Poison’ Poulsen – running back; after graduation joined the Marines, was a Bombardier/Navigator in a A-6 jet during the Viet Nam war.  Earned Master Degree in Education and ultimately became Superintendent of Schools in the Sacramento area, now retired with two homes in Arizona, one in the desert, one in the mountains.

Terry ‘TC’ Callahan – tight end; after graduation he was drafted into the Army and became a combat medic seeing lots of action in Viet Nam.  After the service he earned a Masters Degree and worked as a Probation Officer and did background investigations for the Department of Defense. Retired, he now has two homes in Utah, one just south of Salt Lake City, the other in St. George.

John Soltis addressing us at our ‘Awards Banquet’

Joel ‘Herbie’ Hall – running back; joined the Marines after graduation and flew helicopters  (Huey gun ships) in Viet Nam receiving 28 air medals.  He then had a 32-year career with the 3M company.  Now retired in the Atlanta area and has a second home in Jensen Beach, Florida.

(Editors note: I wrote a previous blog on the above three guy after we all met in Vegas in 2017 – here’s the link in case you want to read more.  https://fromabirdeyeview/?p=6648)

John ‘Tiger’ Horan – wide receiver; after graduation became a Navy officer and was a Bombardier/Navigator in an A-6 jet and remained in the Navy retiring after 23 years as a Lieutenant Commander.  John is retired and living in Kanab, Utah and teaching a high school aviation technology class.

Mickey ‘Mick’ McBride – lineman; received Masters Degree in Educational Administration, was a teacher and coach and ultimately retired as high school principal

Steve ‘Hands’ Harmon – wide receiver; Steve transferred to Cal State Hayward where he earned a Ph D in Public Health and now teaches at the University of Utah and works for the Veterans Health Care Administration in Salt Lake City.

Ken, Duffy, Horan & Mick ‘telling lies’

Ed ‘Coop’ Cooper – running back; graduated with a business degree and went on to earn a Masters Degree from the University of Utah.  Ed  worked for Martin Marietta for 38 years, the last 25 has a Regional Sales Manager.  He is now retired in Salt Lake City.

Kent ‘Kicking Lawyer’ Holland – lineman; after graduation became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, then attended law school at the University of Pacific and continues to practice law in Salt Lake City.

Dave ‘Electric’ Chally – friend & fan; after graduation he worked for NECA (National Electric Contractors Association) in northern California, where he grew up, then moved with the company to Spokane where he became Executive Director for the Pacific Northwest for NECA; he is still working for them in Spokane.

John ‘Duffy’ Soltis – basketball player and orator; graduated with a degree in Sociology, which he didn’t know what to do with so ended up going to law school in San Diego and returned to Utah with his law degree and worked in various positions with the Salk Lake County District Attorney’s office.

A pretty impressive group if you ask me!  And that doesn’t include some Westminster ex-players who didn’t attend the reunion, like:

Parsons at the ‘First Supper’

Craig ‘Doc’ Wilkinson – receiver; graduated with mathematics major and minor in physics and chemistry, joined Army Reserves with the 328th General Hospital Unit, went on to earn medical doctor’s degree from University of Utah and has practiced general and vascular surgery in Salt Lake City for 35 years.

Steve ‘Sugar Bear’ Kazor – lineman; BS degree from Westminster and a Masters Degree from Kansas State.  Coach in the NFL for the  1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears and continues to work in the NFL in player personnel.

Scott ‘The I’ Iverson – basketball player; served in the Marine Corp prior to coming to Westminster, where he earned a BS degree and then a Masters Degree from BYU.  He taught and coached high school in Utah and Arizona.  He is now retired in Utah

I’m holding my Worst Bowler ‘Stay with Football’ Award’!

But the three nights in Vegas weren’t about accomplishments, it was about hilarious stories and the rekindling of old friendships that could never die.  I came away with pride of being a member of this group and with a big smile on my face thinking of the stories about our days as the fighting Westminster Parsons.

Not so terrible to be in your 70s!

 

 

It’s Vegas Baby!

by Bob Sparrow

Bruno Mars

We all know the city of Las Vegas by several names, ‘Vegas’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Lost Wages’, to name a few, and we know, or hope we know, that ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ – except what I write in my blog.  It is quite a city!  While this desert oasis loves its reputation as a ‘Gambling Mecca’, a few years back it tried to sell itself as a ‘family’ destination, but the only family it attracted was the mafia. Recently, in an effort to look like other large cities in the U.S., it acquired an NHL hockey team, the Knights, and next season will have the NFL’s Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders – an apt place for this team and their irreverent fans.

But the reality is, Las Vegas, which means ‘The Meadows’ is like no other city on the planet, which I just witnessed last weekend. We were there to enjoy our annual golf trip, some great meals (diet starts Monday . . . again), some great friends and a blockbuster Bruno Mars concert.

Although I’ve been there too many times to remember (as well as times I don’t remember), the city never ceases to amaze me, as it might you as you read through these little known, and even less cared about, fact of ‘Sin City’.

  • There are an estimated 1,000 homeless people living beneath Vegas in underground tunnels.
  • In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital had to suspend workers who were betting on when patients would die. One nurse was even accused of murdering a patient so she could

    Celine Dion

    win.

  • It would take 288 years for one person (and a lot of luggage) to spend one night in every hotel room in Las Vegas.
  • Contrary to popular belief (and practice) prostitution in Las Vegas is not legal.  Now you tell me!!!
  • The Las Vegas strip is the brightest place on Earth when looked at from outer space.
  • Biggest game in Vegas, in terms of money per table, not blackjack, not craps, not roulette . . . baccarat. While the average blackjack table brings in around $500,000 each year, a baccarat table brings in an average of $4,000,000 annually.
  • Vegas’ favorite food: Shrimp – over 60,000 pounds of it are consumed . . . every day! That’s higher than the rest of the country combined.
  • Slot machine payout record? A 25-year-old software engineer invested $100 to win a jackpot worth $39,000,000.
  • Top performers: Back in the 70s Liberace made $300,000 a week! Today record holder is Celine Dion, who makes $500,000 per show.
  • There are over 300 weddings per day in Las Vegas, making it the top wedding destination in the US, but second in the world to Istanbul. Istanbul?!!
  • For all its gambling, you can’t buy a Lottery ticket in Las Vegas – it’s illegal.
  • A stack of pancakes and a quickie wedding may both sound like great ideas after a night of partying in Vegas; luckily Denny’s offers this great combo. For $199 you get a wedding officiant, use of Denny’s exquisite marriage chapel, a pancake wedding

    Denny’s Pancake Wedding Cake

    cake along with a Grand Slam breakfast. The pessimist would say that both the wedding and the breakfast could turn to crap by morning.

Hope you learned a little something about Vegas that you can pass along to a friend at lunch today.

Our Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby trip is always fun, not so much because of Las Vegas, but because of the great people that go; I could tell you more about it, but you know, for the most part ‘What happens in Vegas . . .

 

Voting or Vegas

by Bob Sparrow

     Well of course you knew with Monday being the last day for voting, that this week’s blog from me just might mention ‘The Best Job Around the World’ competition being offered by travel company, Jauntaroo.  I’m actually sending this from the road as I’m on a ‘Boy’s Birthday Bash’ for a friend, which includes Las Vegas (I’ve been reminded several times about that ‘What goes on in Vegas . . .’ thing, so I’ve probably already said too much) and playing golf at two classic golf courses, Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV and Sand Hallow in Hurricane, UT.

On Monday, I’ll be an easy golfer to identify, I’ll be the one with my laptop in my golf cart and running off the green after each putt to see where the ‘Like’ count is.  For those who have been asking, and for those who haven’t, here’s what will happen with the Jauntaroo job thing after Monday . . .

A. Jauntaroo will select the Top 50 candidates based on (not necessarily in this order):

1) Qualification of the candidate

2. Quality of their video

3. Number of video ‘Likes’

B. The Top 50 candidates will be asked to make another video.  It has not been disclosed what the subject matter of the second video will be or whether it will be something that the public votes on again.

C. From the Top 50, a ‘Top 5’ will be selected and flown to a ‘secret’ location for face-to-face interviews

Although I don’t know the timeframes for these last two phases, I do know that it will progress rather quickly as Jauntaroo wants to make the announcement of the one person selected as their Chief World Explorer on or around October 26th – just 3 weeks away.

So if you’re reading this on Monday, Sept. 30 you can still vote, so please click on the link below and vote and then pass it along to a contact or two . . . or 5.

http://www.bestjobaroundtheworld.com/submissions/view/4459

I’m not sure when the Top 50 will be announced, I suspect by the end of the week, so you’ll soon be hearing from me one way other the other either about moving on to the next phase of this competition or a blurred recollection of my adventures at the Boy’s Birthday Bash, if I can remember any of it.

Thank you again to all those who have so faithfully supported me in this endeavor.