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Mike and I go way back – reportedly from age zero (1947) since our parents were friends (and our dads worked together) although I can’t remember back that far. We went to Durgan Elementary, Tecumseh Jr High School, Jefferson High School and Indiana University together. We both married Pi Phi sorority sisters (Crickette Bender and Nancy Heinsen) after our senior year of college. We were at his wedding and he was (sort of) at ours – he and Crickette got caught by a train and arrived as Nancy and I exited the ceremony!
We both grew up playing golf at the Lafayette Country Club ‘city course’ – the only course the Country Club had at the time. We took lessons from pro Jim Guinnup (whose son Bob was 2 years younger but played on our varsity golf team as a sophomore). Bob Guinnup was better than either of us, but the coach felt Bob would have plenty of time as a junior/senior to play #1, so Mike and I played as #1/#2. I started out our senior year as #1, but Mike played better, so he became #1 during the season. I cannot imagine how many rounds of golf we played together since age 8, Mike got a hole-in-one on #2 but I never did. In any case, we had a lifelong friendly rivalry playing golf. One round was particularly memorable. The Lafayette Country Club had a member-guest tournament and Mike asked me to be his guest (we lived in Columbus, IN at the time, but drove up to Lafayette). Mike claimed afterwards that I set a course record…for hitting my average drives the furthest off ‘fairway dead center’ than anyone who ever played the course (the event was held at the Battle Ground course). I was having a bit of control problem and most drives were in the next fairway or even further off line, either right or left, we never knew which it would be!
I remember playing football on the island out in front of his Crestview Court house with our high school group of friends. I remember when Mike got stuck in the snow right outside of that house driving his dad’s Chrysler which had push button gear selections. Mike’s solution to get out of the snow was to gun it while pushing D-R-D-R (Drive/Reverse)… until the transmission was destroyed. His dad (Gene) was not impressed! We also played a lot of cards and ping pong in high school. Playing ping pong in Mike’s family room (with a brand new acoustical ceiling just installed), Dave Lewis performed the first (of many) of his “pull a Lewis.” He saw the humor in jumping up and throwing his fist at the ceiling pretending as though he were going to punch a hole into the new ceiling…only he did punch a hole! Mike’s dad was not amused.
Our senior year high school intramural basketball team was pretty good (9-1) but not as good as the Chuggers (the team that beat us). Our intramural team was called the Chinese Bandits, named after our infamous arrest performing a Chinese Fire Drill at the base of the State Street hill in West Lafayette. Mike was driving 1 car with 5 while I was driving the other car with 5. The police hauled all 10 of us off to the police station requiring each to call their parents to come pick us up from the police station.
I remember visiting Mike/Crickette when they lived near Chicago and attempting to learn (without lessons) to ski for the first time. It did not go well for us, but Mike and Crickette knew how to ski.
I remember when Mike/Crickette came to visit us in Phoenix. We played golf (Memorial weekend) in 107 degree heat. We had a wedding the next day (Sunday), so Mike and Crickette took our car to drive to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. They dressed in shorts like they had on Saturday. The high in Phoenix on Sunday was 79, while it was snowing when they got to the Grand Canyon. We had provided towels so that they could dry off after a hike in Oak Creek Canyon and through the water of Oak Creek (outside Sedona). It was way too cold to hike but the towels came in handy. When they got to the Grand Canyon they just turned the heat on high and wrapped themselves in towels and jumped out of the car, ran to the rim of the canyon to look for a moment and then ran back to the car to warm up.
We stayed at their house and they stayed at our house for many family visits over the years with countless memories. Since Mike, I and both spouses went to Indiana University, we all enjoyed a lifelong following of IU football and basketball. Once Mike’s whole family visited us in Columbus to travel to Bloomington to see an IU football game. The kids were not very old, so we hired two babysitters to look after our 2 kids and Mike’s 3 kids. After the game, we returned to Columbus and wanted to see a movie that had just come out – Breaking Away, a quintessential Indiana University movie about the Little 500. The baby sitters refused to return for the evening (I think the kids had locked them out of the house!) so we had to find new sitters before we could go to the movie.
We will miss Mike.
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