ThE EARLY LEAD: A tantalizing year for the local history buff
By BRANDON HURLEY
If you haven’t caught on yet (where have you been, it’s cold out, you should be reading the paper, inside, of course), I’m a bit of a sports history buff, re-telling some of Greene County’s greatest moments right here in these very pages.
And let me tell you, 2018 absolutely is going to be a year for history aficinados. There’s quite a bit cooking for the next 12 months, especially if you enjoy relishing the golden years of Greene County.
Memorializing the many great local teams and athletes has become a project that several local businesses and volunteers have taken on through the Smithsonian HomeTown Teams - Museums on Main Street initiative.
The Jefferson and Greene County HomeTown teams project will shine light on the county’s athletic history through intricate and memory-triggering displays, guest speakers, events, contests and seminars.
Detailed information, along with pictures, updates and anecdotes from this project can be found on the project Facebook page: Jefferson and Greene County, Iowa HomeTown Teams - Museums on Main.
The project is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to showcase the impact of sports in rural communities. Greene County is one of only six communities in the state to be awarded the project. Pretty neat, I’d say.
And boy, does this county have a lot of history to celebrate.
Who recalls the great Paton-Churdan girls’ basketball teams of the 1960s who took Vet’s by storm or the improbable run of the 1967 Jefferson boys’ basketball team to state? How bout the three Division I girls that led Jefferson-Scranton to the basketball mecca or even the 2014 and 2015 Greene County softball team that claimed back to back third place trophies?
Or heck, Kris Curnyn and her track and field prowess? Let’s not forget, the great Pamela Slock and her famous two-handed “Slock Shot” in the late 50s and early 60s. Frank Linduska and his stout defenses ring a bell, or Bill Kibby and his Dome-qualifying units?
P-C football won back-to-back state titles in the 80s and ripped off an unbelievable winning-streak.
The legends of Greene County are plentiful, and I’m sure glad this project came along – these stories deserve to be told and immortalized, and I, for one, am giddy with excitement to learn even more.
The Greene County Historical Museum will showcase several guest speakers and events over the 2018 calendar year, and they’ve got a heck of a opener.
Dan Gable, former ISU wrestling legend and 15-time national champion as head coach at Iowa, is expected to speak at some point this year. What a treat that will be, as it’ll be interesting to hear what he’s been doing while trying to grow the sport of wrestling. A sports memorabilia talk with local collectors will be held March 25 while John Liepa will speak on the success of Iowans in Major League Baseball in April while a seminar from All Ability Cycles as well as round table of photographers (which yours truly will participate in) are scheduled for the summer.
What a cool opportunity and chance for residents to learn even more about our local history.
Window displays began rolling out this month at the Masonic building, bringing to light previous eras of athletic history.
January’s display will celebrates extracurriculars of sport and band throughout the month while individual sports will follow in the coming months. February will showcase the county’s prestigious roller hockey history while wrestling will be on display during the first half of March as the Relay for Life heroes closes out the month. Gymnastics and track take over in April as the special Olympics and Little League dominate the month of May. Swimming and football come calling in June while cycling and the history of Cooper and Franklin close out the displays in July.
An all-year coaches reunion that coincides with the Bell Tower Festival is also in the works along with a coloring contest for elementary students. The local theatre plans to show sports themed movies in the coming months as well, leading up to a grand, full-scale event in August.
The HomeTown Teams committee welcomes any and all anecdotes, pictures or memorabilia that residents or former supporters have held on to. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org as a jpeg file.
More spectacular stories are out there, as I’ve just begun uncovering the rich history of this county. I say, bring it on, let’s see if anyone can top the incredible story of “Red” Wilson and his journey to become a University of Michigan star.
Celebrating the magical teams of the past doesn’t stop at the business level either. A mission to preserve the sprawling records of the Greene County schools has crept its way into the Greene County High School as well.
Greene County activities director Mitch Moore hopes to embark on his own historical journey soon. The first-year administrator is hoping to resurrect the record books within the county, encompassing Jefferson, Scranton, East Greene and beyond. It’s a tall task, as there really isn’t a one-stop shop for these records.
There’s no nifty website established, no portion of the school or local libraries (at least that I’m aware of), that has locked the records away. Many of East Greene’s records prior to 1993, were lost in the floods that year.
I’ve found most of my references through the Jefferson Bee and Herald digital archives. I’m sure many other documents have been lost over the years, but it’s certainly a project I find interesting. If anyone out there has their hands on record books or anything of that nature, reach out to either one of us.
As a sports writer, records are incredibly important to what I do. And as local athletes continue to do great things, they deserve to know – and see – where they rank among the all-time greats.
Here’s to a year of memories as we look back on the tremendous history of Greene County. Get going, y’all.