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I Fell in Love at Lambeau Field (Home of the Green Bay Packers)

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
February 12, 2024 3:01 am

I Fell in Love at Lambeau Field (Home of the Green Bay Packers)

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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February 12, 2024 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, in the 1980s, the Packers stadium had a kid’s-only section for kids between the 5th and 8th grades. During Jon Elfner’s 8th grade year he not only saw every game—he also fell in love.

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Visit applevacations.com or call your local travel advisor to get started. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Americans have a love affair with their sports teams, their home sports teams, and not many cities love their home sports football team, like the people in Green Bay who actually own their football team, and the legendary field that Vince Lombardi made famous, the iconic coach, in talking about Lambeau Field. This next story comes to us from John Elfner, a frequent contributor. Here to tell his story, a Lambeau Field story, is John Elfner. I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and there are sports towns, but Green Bay is not a sports town. Green Bay is a Packers town. Seventies and eighties, when I was growing up, every Sunday that the Packers were playing at home, it was the biggest event of the year every time, which is a little surprising because the Packers weren't that good. There were the perennial eight and eight seventies and eighties Packers. Green Bay is not big, and if you'd just be going around town, you'd bump into Packers. I remember playing a game of pickup football at the gym with John Anderson and Rich Wingo, our star linebackers. Ken Bowman, who was the center for the Packers in all those Super Bowls in the sixties, he was my freshman football coach. So that's what I mean when I say this was a Packers town.

The Packers organization had a very interesting arrangement. The whole section of the stadium was a kids section, no parents in sight. It was just hundreds of kids between fifth and eighth grade. When you graduated from eighth grade, you had to give up your ticket, and the tickets were only $3.75. Going into the season in 1983, this is going to be my last year to have tickets in the students section.

I was going to be too old after this. So the day comes, they release the schedule for all the home games, the Packers, for the 83 season. And that third game, there it was. It was a Monday night game, and it wasn't just a Monday night game. It was a Monday night game at Lambeau Field against Joe Theismann's Washington Redskins. And we never got Monday night games. Nobody was interested in seeing us play nationally. And now we're playing the Washington Redskins, who won the Super Bowl the year before.

This is how it would work. All the kids would get dropped off at Lambeau Field, a little like getting dropped off at school. Our parents would let us out of the station wagon, and we'd all go marching in with tens of thousands of strangers around us. And that might sound odd, but you have to remember, this is Green Bay, and the Packers were the center of the community.

Nobody worried about it. On my way in, I'd always grab a hot dog and a soda, and I'd head to my seat. As I'm going into my new seat in Section 103, I stopped dead in my tracks. But it wasn't my seat that got me.

It was what was next to my seat. It was a beautiful girl, and she was just my age. She had a great smile, blonde hair, angular 80s haircut, and she was wearing a baggy packer sweatshirt. This was every eighth grade boy's dream, at least every eighth grade boy in Green Bay that year. And when she said, hi, my name's Jenny, I said something like, uh, John.

And then really quickly, I sat down and started eating my hot dog. Now, I don't remember much about that first game where I met Jenny. I'm not even sure if we won or lost, but I do remember Jenny. She went to a different school.

I'd never met her before, and I'd never see her between games. The only time I was going to get to see Jenny was at home football games. So that Monday night comes. We're kind of expecting we're going to get crushed by the Washington Redskins. After all, they'd won the Super Bowl the year before. But it didn't really matter. We had this beautiful night.

October 17th, it should have been cold and blustery, but it was about 60 degrees and clear. I was excited for the game, but I was a little bit more excited that I was going to get to see Jenny again. And I was going to get to see her at night. So I walk in. It's under the lights.

The field is this luscious green. So I walk to my seat, hot dog in hand, and this time I'm ready. There's Jenny, and she says, hi, John. And I said, hi, Jenny. I take my seat next to her, and we start talking and laughing.

It felt a little like playing hooky, and I'm 13 years old. This game doesn't even start until 8 o'clock. We're going to be out until midnight. The Redskins get the ball first, and on one of the early plays, there's a screen pass. And our linebacker, Mike Douglas, he hits the receiver.

The receiver fumbles, and Douglas picks up the football, and he runs into the end zone right in front of me and Jenny. The scoring didn't stop there. Every time each team got the ball, for the rest of the game, they scored.

It was like a boxing match. Packers would score. Redskins would answer. There'd be a field goal, another touchdown, just back and back and forth.

And every time the Packers would score, Jenny and I would high-five. With under a minute to go, the Packers are winning 48 to 47. But the Redskins get the ball in their own 26-yard line.

If they get a field goal, the Redskins will win. Five yards here, three yards there. They're running out of bounds.

They're stopping the clock. This was horrible for the Packers, but part of me didn't mind it because every time something bad would happen, Jenny would grab my hand. The Redskins get the ball to the Packers, 21-yard line. It's going to be a 39-yard field goal. Jenny and I both knew about Mark Mosley, the kicker for the Redskins.

He'd won the MVP in the Super Bowl the year before. There was no way this guy was going to miss a field goal. He's going to ruin my perfect night with Jenny. The ball is snapped. Jenny grabs my hand. Mosley kicks the ball.

It sails through the air. Time stops. Jenny grabs my hand even tighter, and we watch the ball sail towards the goal post and go wide right.

It's no good. The crowd went nuts, and I look at Jenny, and she jumps towards me and gives me the best hug I'd ever received. I hug her as tight as I can, and in that moment I realized I love the Packers. And you just heard a story from Jon Elfner, one of our regular contributors. He teaches history in Illinois, and you can tell he is a diehard Packers fan. We all have stories like this from some sporting event, a concert that brings us all together.

What does it tell you about the city of Green Bay? That they let fifth to eighth graders go out unsupervised and have an entire section to themselves. Boy, I would have been so depressed aging out of that. Jon teaches history, and this is a little bit of his own history. In a day he'll never forget, hopefully we all have childhood memories like this, at least a few. By the way, our own Greg Hengler was at that game, too, as a fifth grader. Jon never saw Jenny again, but he still loves the Packers. And by the way, Jenny, if you're out there and you hear this story, we'd love to hear from you. Jon Elfner's story of falling in love at Lambeau Field, here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns, but we truly can't do this show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-12 04:42:44 / 2024-02-12 04:47:30 / 5

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