It’s been 25 years since Iowa last played in a Rose Bowl (in case you hadn’t heard). I was just 6 at the time and have maybe seen a Christmas ornament that celebrated the game, but that’s it for my memory of Iowa in a Rose Bowl.
But for as long as I can remember, my dad has told his story of the time he went to the 1982 Rose Bowl. It’s part of our family lore. And even though I could tell the story, I emailed my dad to get it from the horse’s mouth.
1982 Rose Bowl
The game was one to forget. 28-0 does that. The experiences getting to the game and coming home will never be forgotten.
A high school friend, my brother Jim, and I drove to California and stayed with his wife’s aunt and uncle in Anaheim. That fall I had bought a new Toyota Starlet, a tiny little 2 door 5 speed, which was barely big enough for the 3 of us, but it got good gas mileage.
The morning of the Rose Bowl we went to the parade. This was back in the day when California actually had rain. I was carrying a small rain suit for the game but it started to drizzle a little at the parade. I put on the rain suit. As I was the only one with rain pants, my brother, who was carrying the tickets, gave them to me to put in my pocket to keep them safe and dry. Well, he should have thought more about the safe part.
After the parade we walked about a mile to a shuttle stop to catch a ride to the game. When we got to the shuttle stop, Jim asked about the tickets. They were no longer in my pocket. [PANIC ATTACK!] I think that they must have fallen out of my pocket earlier when I got out my wallet to check on money for bus fare. But Jim thinks that when I had originally put them in my pocket, I had missed the pocket and tickets were just there between my rain pants and my jeans, later to jiggle out my rain pants leg while we were walking (no, I was not doing the Stanky Leg). (FFI Note: The Stanky Leg? Really Dad?)
We decided that we needed to turn around, go back, and hopefully find the tickets on the sidewalk. They were in a white envelope. That may sound easy, as they had to be someplace along that mile-long route. The problem was that the sidewalk was covered with litter. Lots of litter. Big litter like abandoned couches. Little litter like cigarette butts (yes, that was back in the day when people freely smoked everywhere) and gum wrappers. And medium sized litter like newspapers and maps (yes, that was back in the day before smartphones). (FFI Note: That’s three "back in the day" references…I think my dad is getting old.) And we had no idea in which block they may have fallen.
Well, we walked and walked and believe it or not, laying with a bunch of paper and wrappers in the middle of the sidewalk, we (my brother says he) saw a white envelope with a muddy foot print on it. Could it be? YES, the tickets! [JOY AND RELIEF!] Though it was Jan. 1st, it was still a Christmas miracle!
Jan 1st was a Friday that year, as it is this year. I needed to get back to work on Monday, as I do this year. That meant we had to drive all night Saturday night to get back to Iowa on Sunday with enough time to drop my friend off at home in northern Iowa, my brother in Iowa City, and me back to New London in southeast Iowa.
We hit snow near Flagstaff, Arizona. Major snow. It was so bad that the only vehicles who were allowed to go on along I-40 were those with chains. We found an auto parts store and I was able to buy some chains. It seems like they were $35. After a long struggle in a snowy parking lot, we got them on the wheels and continued on. This was a major snow storm traveling east, and we drove in it nearly all of the way home. In Kansas City there was about 7 inches of snow and they had not plowed the road. By the time we got to Des Moines, there was 11 inches. Remember I did not have an all-wheel drive SUV. I had a small, low clearance, Toyota Starlet. But it was the little engine that could. We made it back to Iowa… to find that school was cancelled for a couple of days due to the snow storm!
This year, there is no rain in the forecast, and we are flying home!
I am going out to Pasadena with my dad next week. I hope I’ll have a great story to pass on to my kids, but one that involves a Hawkeye victory and doesn’t include losing the tickets or a snowstorm.
I’m sure many of you -- or your family members -- have your own tales of your experience at the Rose Bowl and we’d love to hear them. So tell us your crazy stories and your wild adventures from Rose Bowls past in the comments.