Thomas Kelso

Profile Updated: October 13, 2018
Residing In: Alta Loma, CA USA
Children: Kelly
Comments:

Played college football in Utah and in 1971 was a member of the first ever USA Division One College team to play football games in Japan. The Silk Bowl was played in Tokyo's Yoyogi National Stadium the site of the 1964 Olympic Games, a week later, December 26th, played a final game, in Osaka's Kansai Koshein Ball Park.

In the 90's I started Professional Sports Management team that signed four NBA draft picks in three years.
Trained, coached and mentored Venus and Serena Williams' older half brother Charles Williams who basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian once told me was the greatest athlete he'd ever seen. Charles later became the starting point guard for Sports Illustrated Magazine's number one rated Univ of Cincinatti basketball team that was later mired in controvesy and suspension, Rob "Sic Wit It" Kennedy who is credited arguably with making the greatest trick shot ever in a nationally televised and internationally viewed basketball game and Venice Beach legend Reggie "Slam" Cotton, the Mike Jordan of Wayside and the only man I've ever seen complete a 360 slam dunk off a lob. Both after turning down multiple offers including the Harlem Globetrotters became star members for a few years on the popular nationally televised ESPN series "Street Ball" "The Original And One Team" sponsored by Mountain Dew. To name a few.
Sitting in the old UNLV basketball gym in the mid 90's with our Danny Orr watching my guy Atlanta Ga's finest "Give em Goose Bumps And Make Em Say Whoa" Jerran Cobb put up 48 in the D 2 College Vegas Tourney basketball finals. To name a few.

School Story:

How did this ever happen...
Hank, Fie, Pat, Mike, Bain, Liz and Joe. I know you are all gone, but I know what, you already know that again one day we will play sports and dance all night. together ...see you's.
WHS 1964-68. I was lost in darkness, and was touched by the light, young, anxious and always "fat" in a hurry untogether we brought virgin summers, winters, spring and fall.
Shooting pool with Chandler at the Buehlers'. "God" why isn't he here to tell the stories..
"Hearing whisphers" all mine and asking??? How dare they take my Pride and Joy, asking for her heart... and playing with mine.
My favorite teachers were Jerry Doggett and Chick Hearn. Vin Scully still is.
Yes! It's Halloween.
A funny memory. My El Rancho football buddies , Joey Cabrera, David Cervantes and Bill Kleine. Their senior year at the Ranch they did not have a first period and they would show up in the mornings before school at WHS. Some may remember them, they wore their lettermen jackets, and when school started they would hide in the library. The librarian never said a word, Kleine looked like Paul Newman, dark, silent, chiseled with windex blue eyes, Dave like Ray Danton, Joey, with that sense of humor and rare if ever seen before or since animal magnetism, I remember missing Joey, trying to tackle him a couple of times, we had been football rivals since 1961, Joe played for the Montebello Indians, I the Whittier Valiants, in our 1967 game our senior year, and not feeling to good about it. I had him dead to rights and he got away...Years later I would recover that 1967 game film, and relive missing him, again, and again and then getting him, again and again, and again. Watching the 1967 El Rancho vs Compton Centennial CIF first round playoff game film that I recovered along with ours, helped me. Centennial going into that game was ranked number one in the U S of A our senior year and after watching it I no longer felt so bad. Centenial's All American middle linebacker had a worse time with spinning Joe then I, he never got Joe...Once. Joe won that Friday night light game in Cerritos Colleges' Falcon Stadium, Joe scored both TD's on runs of 37 and 14 yards. The Ranch won 13-7... a huge upset...it wasn't to me or any of us that ever played the Ranch or knew Joe.
Back to the WHS library, Agahst? You know what? They made that librarians day, night and weekend...If she is still alive she still smiles when she recalls it. If you want to smile and ever run into Jerry Renfro, Greg Haserot, Brent Tucker, Pete Meiras, Guy Rebentisch, Guys dad Reb, my mom Kathleen, Fred Padilla, Chris Sherman, Chris McCluer, Ernie Santa Cruz or I, ask us about Joey. Joey can't speak for himself, Joey is the epitome of the adage "Only the good die young."

Our heart wrenching last seconds five point loss to Arcadia in the final game our Junior year. That loss cost us any chance of going to CIF as it was understood that if you win you're in and if you lose your out. In the last seconds of the game, Arcadia's final offensive possesion Lopez for defensive purposes put Bob Chandler at Safety a position Bob had not played all season. In desperation Arcadia threw a hail mary pass that really was a wounded duck, an easy play for Bob, so easy he was licking his chops. Some may remember that Bob was a trememdous leaper which proved his and our undoing, he misjudged the ball and jumped so high that he jumped over it, and helplessly watch the ball fall into the recievers hands and the guy run into the end zone. That was one dead silent bus ride back to school. In the locker room, long after everyone else had left, I stayed there with Bob trying with all my heart and soul to console him, he was distraught and over come with shame, he couldn't lift his head, and over, and over again he verbally blamed himself. I told him, over and over "Bob if not for you, we would not have won the games we did." After a long while he lifted his head and with a stealy glint in his eyes looked me dead in my eye's, then got up and left without saying a word. In those day's boys weren't supposed to cry... he didn't.
Robbie L how weird is this... the guy that you woke up out of his body and made in a most unorthodox way graduate high school, is alergic to plastic.
Thank you Dr Blanchard.

Thomas' Latest Interactions

Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Oct
13
Oct 13, 2018 at 11:01 AM

Football an civil disobedience at WHS.
Our senior year my dear friend at the time Chris Sherman who you may recall was an extraordinary potter and artist and very good football player sewed his Football letter on the back of his Levi's jacket and wore it, if not every day, nearly every day to school. Obviously what we thought was different, artistically cool and then hippie like didn't go over very well with teachers and other school administrators. I guess they viewed it as disrespectful to the point of near sacrilege and either permitted him from wearing it, or suspended him for it, but either way they punished him for it up until his very last day of school..

Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Oct 13, 2018 at 10:13 AM

In Joe Garagiola's 1960 book "Baseball's A Funny Game" he describes the feeling of ecstasy that came over him upon first receiving his hometown St Louis Cardinals baseball uniform jersey He compared the feeling to that of how a newly ordained Roman Catholic priest must feel when during ordination the Bishop hands them their first sacred vestment. That is exactly how I felt our Junior year (11th grade) when Vic Lopez called me up at practice and handed me my first red game Cardinal Varsity football uniform jersey. I remember when he reached out to hand it to me asking him "I made it?" and the look he gave me, as if to say with some surprise" Of Course you made it." I didn't think I was going to make Varsity I was injured with a sprained ankle and unable to practice for a few days, one of the days included the day Lopez handed out our red home jerseys which made it all that extra special to me.
It was a feeling of joy and accomplishment that I'm fortunate to have been able to experience, a positive emotion and rare if ever before feeling of euphoria and some relief, that I hope I will always be grateful for.

Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Sep
21
Sep 21, 2018 at 9:19 AM

I was told this by Bruce Jorgensen a number of years ago and believe the reason was that I wouldn't keep it a secret.

Of those that attended El Rancho, three during our school days received full athletic football scholarships to UCLA, of the three, including Bruce Jorgensen's younger brother by a year Jeff, Bruce was the only one to last four years in the football program and as a Defensive lineman earn the right to the title "Gritty Little Bruin". Bruce was in his final semester preparing to graduate carrying a full load of 12 units when one day he gets a telephone call from his mother, she called to inform him that he had mail at the house and one of particular interest to her was from The Selective Service Downey Draft Board. Bruce thinking he was fully deferred as up until then he had, asked her to open it, then moments later he hears a gasp at the other end of the line and his mother then say Oh My God no! Bruce you've been drafted, Bruce's immediate reaction was one of shocked disbelief and told her not to worry that it had to be some easily correctible mistake and that he would get it straightened out. Straighten it out he did all right but not until 9-10 months of heavy combat fighting in the jungles of Viet Nam.

Afterwards The Downey Draft Board was successfully sued for flagrantly ignoring deferments and illegally over drafting.and if not for the US Supreme Court suspending the draft in the early 1970's waiting to decide it's constitutionality the Downey Draft Board would have had me.
I got to know Bruce a bit as after he was discharged from the service he moved to Logan Utah where his younger brother by a year Jeff and I were attending, Bruce moved to Logan with fellow El Rancho Don Danny Scott. Danny after two years at Cerritos, some of you may remember then went to SC and was #38 in the same backfield as OJ for two years. Danny's 1966 Smokey Cates coached Cerritos Falcons team went 11-0 and won the California State JC title that year and were considered the number 1 JC team in America. Former Card Marty Babajian played a key role on that team and later ended up at the University of Utah.
Bruce's move to Northern Utah was an attempt to get his mind and life straight after the war figuring he was young enough and even though he thought he'd never be the same or completely escape the horror of the experience, still had a chance at a successful and productive life.
Bruce went into the construction business, married an RN and still resides in Logan.

Sep
20
Sep 20, 2018 at 11:21 AM
Thomas Kelso added a comment on Profile.
Sep
19
Sep 19, 2018 at 9:15 AM
Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Sep
16
Sep 16, 2018 at 6:03 PM

When I review my past athletic and other experiences much focuses on those involved.
One Fall Saturday evening in 1969 Freddie Padilla and I are dressed in our Rio Hondo Football game uniforms, together under the El Rancho Football stadium lights, our opponent that night was Myron Tarkanian and Harvey Hyde's Co Head Coached Pasadena City College Lancers. The Lancers through the first four games averaged over 40 points a game and were undefeated, untied and unscored upon. The #1 JC team in the nation was the only team I ever faced before the start of the game, I was intimidated by their appearance, size and maturity. Then on the sideline I glance to my left and Joey Cabrera El Rancho 1968 a running back on that 1969 Rio Hondo team is turned looking up into the stands and he's joking around with my Dad, Reb who's Guy Rebentisch's dad and Mel Kelly who was for two years 1962 & 63 my and Guy's Midget Division Pop Warner Football Coach in Whittier and Mel in 1961 was Joeys Pop Warner coach in Montebello with all 4 laughing together. The PCC front 7 on Defense played like their hair was on fire. Our Roadrunners were at best questionable? You never new which team would show for game time, a season lost for good when six players 5 from St Paul and Mike Haines La Serna HS who at the time was dating our 1968 WHS Homecoming Queen Sue Nowell, were expelled from the team, most of which were the best at their position, and couldn't be adequately replaced, including our QB Greg Lee. Greg's dad was WHS Counselor Pete Lee. Greg later played at Cal Poly SLO and went from QB to MLB and was named to the 1972-73 UP and AP Small College All America Teams at Middle Linebacker. We finished the season with a most disappointing 3 wins 5 loss 1 tie record. Back to that night game at the Ranch, a game that finished tied 13-13 and stunned both teams, and played at full strength, before the expulsion of our Swordsmen 5. + 1. The 13-13 tie shattered their perfect record, the only blemish on thier record finishing 9-0-1 . The reason that PCC squad looked and played different is because they were! The Lancers at regular seasons end ranked # 1 with the automatic right to represent the South against the North for the 1969 California State JC FB Title when almost Immediately after thinking they were in the Title Game were forced to forfeit the season and give way to second place Fullerton JC for the right they thought they earned to represent the South, a Championship game Fullerton lost to Fresno CC. The issues that caused the Lancers to forfeit the season were eligibility violations involving a number of players. A player or two had already played D1 and one who played two years of JC with no eligibility left on the books and several who played professionally in Honolulu with the Honolulu Bears and Cardinals.
The Honolulu Pro Football league had a lengthy relationship with PCC and as early as 1936 the Honolulu Bears Football Club signed Pasadena's Jackie Robinson to his first pro contract. Jackie never played. And the contrast of PCC Co Head coaches, Myron Tarkanian (Jerry's younger brother.) Myron early in his teaching and coaching career was Frank Zappa's teacher and coach at Antelope Valley HS and the other coach Harvey Hyde who later would Head Coach Shug Knight at UNLV and win a California Bowl or two with the Rebels. Shug is Rap Mogul "Death Row Records" Straight Out Of Compton founder and owner.. Contrast that with our head coach James "Red" Williams. Red was a LAUSD University HS Graduate a school in west LA . Red in 1951 took the Head Football Coaching position at LA Mt Carmel HS a Catholic all boys high school in South Central LA, located at Vermont Av near Florence Ave and now long gone. Red was a tremendous organizer and preached the importance of body building with weights, at a time when weight training was Taboo for most athletes, perfect position technique, blocking and tackling and preparation. At Mt Carmel. Red attracted some of Southern California' s top athletes,, including The McKeever twins Mike USC and NFL Draft and Marlin USC NFL Rams and Vikes, and UCLA and NFL's 49er and Rams Kermit Alexander and USC QB Al Prukop, Al was the last to Head Coach a Roadrunner team . Later Red would help coach the Diablos with legendary Head Coach Homer Beatty at Cal State LA to a couple of Camelia Bowl Games. At Cal State LA Red mentored Walter Johnson Cleveland Browns All Pro and Pro Bowl DT And what happened to Red's Diablos DE "Hell On Wheels". Don Davis's career? Davis was 6'6' 290 4.7 40 and In 1966 was destined for super stardom, the SD Chargers round 1 pick in the 1966 Draft and signed by the NY Giants. Was he Injured? Red's 1969 Rio Hondo team would be his first and last and a year later Red was back at Cal State LA as their Head coach. At the time water was considered dangerous, the popular myth sold to football coaches when I played was water would give you cramps and make you sick to your stomach and especially was to be avoided when overheated, the complete opposite of what's true. On the other hand the Cigarette industry through Commercial Advertisement promoted the heath benefits and other virtues of cigarette smoking with full page magazine and billboard ad's featuring famous Physicians. MD's, actors, actresses and sport stars telling of the wonders derived from cigarette smoking . Red was a three pack a day Pall Mall Red smoker and smoked at practices and on the sideline of games In the 1970's with Red back Coaching at LA State and making a fortune during the off season selling coaching clinics, collapsed from a massive coronary and died.
Red and I have another unknown connection when at age 8 or 9 years old, living on 59th St near Vermont/Slauson Av in South Central LA, I would on occasion ride my bike to Mt Carmel HS located on 69th St at Vermont Av and try to play basketball on their boys gym basketball court. At the time Red was their Football coach and obviously had no idea of who each other were and our move to Whittier Jan 1 1960 took me a to a completely different world. In 1965 during the Watts riots the shopping corridor on Vermont Ave from Florence Ave/70th St to Vermont Av at Slauson/ 58th st. suffered extensive store burning, lootings and shootings. The LA Times has many photos of the burning and looting of those properties, some of the worst damage and violence that occurred during the 1965 rioting. To think a decade later Red and I would be in Whittier a World away from South Central LA , made even stranger by the fact, both of us ended up at Rio Hondo as a fluke, a school where we spent a year together, because we had no place else to go.

Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Sep
15
Sep 15, 2018 at 11:07 PM

My first Utah State roommates Bain Brick and Steve Sutton were both CIF SS Record setting 5 Star athletes. Bain named 1967 CIF SS 3 A Football Player of the Year. Once after bringing up winning the Player of the Year award Bain replied "Yeah but shouldn't have, Steve, referring to our other roommate Steve Sutton should have". Bain to this day holds the CIF SS 3 A Playoff single game record for catches15 and TD's with 4. Steve Sutton Excelsior HS Norwalk, Ca, 1968, Excelsior is where Pat Nixon attended HS. Steve's leap competing in the 1968 CIF SS T&F Long Jump Finals at Cerritos JC 25'5.5" continues to this day to be the record Long Jump in a CIF Finals. I might add there's only a handful of 25' long jumpers in CIF Track and Field history with former Major League Baseball All Star and father of record HR slugger Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds being the first in CIF to leap 25' or better, Bobby's 25'.4" jump in the 1964 California State T&F Finals while at Riverside Poly High made him the first 25 footer in CIF History
Bain attended Mayfair HS in Lakewood, Ca where he played football for WHS Alum Don Ashton, Don lived in Whittier with son's that attended WHS and played football, with the added coincidence of Ashton coaching my cousins in high school football. Bain with La Serna's Dave Dalby were named to the 1968 North South All Star Shrine Football Game squad played in the summer of 1968 at night in the LA Coliseum. George Buehler in 1965 might be the last Card selected to a Shrine Team. Then "The Shrine Game" was the nations most prestigious High School All Star Football Game. Bain was tall dark and handsome 6'2" 190 Lbs. with a great sense of humor, smart. with circus freak flexibility, able to cross his legs behind his head. The summer before the1970 season, my redshirt sophomore year, LB State University was host to the NCAA Football player only 7 on 7 pick up game practice sessions, Bain and Bob Chandler were the Receivers, Dennis Dummitt UCLA was the Quarterback. The Running backs included Leon Burns,Terry Metcalf, Eddie Giles and Clarence Davis, Greg Slough USC and Raiders at LB with Wendell Brooks at one corner and me at Strong Safety. Wendell, Bain , Eddie Giles and I were Utah State Teammates. When asked how I would compare Bain and Bob Chandler as they played the same position, II would tell them, "One difference is after a hot sweaty workout, Bob would look for water and Bain a lighter." Bain lasted one game in 1970 our first, the game was played in Manhattan Kansas versus the Kansas State Wildcats. Bain had a great game scorching their All America and future NFL Cleveland Browns All Pro Cornerback Clarence Scott, Bain just as he did the season before at Cerritos in our Rio Hondo game when he lit up Dave Lawson who was a 1st Team All Southern California Conference JC Cornerback for 11 catches and two td's tossed to him by another tragic figure, QB Mike Ernst. Ernst attended St John Bosco HS 1968, Cerritos JC, CSU Fullerton 1972' then a Cup of Coffee with the Cincinatti Bengals and the WFL at QB. Mike was brutally murdered 30 or so years ago, a murder that remains a cold case unsolved . I have the Cerritos vs Rio Hondo football game film from that 1969 season. Dave Lawson would later find great success at Cal making PAC 8 All Conference at Cornerback at Berkeley. Bain's size, speed. quickness and flexibility with hands and moves to match made him unstoppable one on one. One day in practice four weeks after the start of the season Bain reinjures his back and shoulder and left Cache Valley for Dairy Valley and went back home to Lakewood,Ca and never played a single down of College football again. In 1971 Bain practicing with the LA Mustangs in the Continental Football League a Pro League, destroyed his ankle and never played football again. The Mustangs practiced at St Andrews Park in South Central LA on Manchester near Western Ave. I know, I worked out with them for a couple of weeks in 1973. St Andrews Park Rec Center is where NFL HOF'er, coach and broadcast announcer James Lofton's older brother Michael,some years back,was found dead. Michael was a tremendous athlete but suffered from mental illness and drug addiction and was homeless. The park Director allowed Michael to sleep at night on one of the Parks Ping Pong Tables where one morning found him brutally bludgeoned to death. Bain followed in his fathers footsteps and became a meat cutter and by the mid to late 1970's was Managing the Meat Dept at the Lucky's Market on 4h st, and Orizaba in Belmont Heights Long Beach, its now a Ralphs. Bain is no longer with us, some years ago he was found dead on the street homeless in Honolulu.
Steve after waiting two and a half years to play after first having played Frosh Football at USC and Long Jumping on the T&F Team where Trojans NCAA Title winning Head coach Verne Wolfe would scold him for jumping to high, telling him " Steve If only I could convince you to jump out and not up so high you will be a 26 plus Long Jumper. Some years later Steve from time to time would be poked kiddingly with comments like "Bruce Jenner has your Olympic Gold Medal." Who knows they might be right, as of the two Jenner or Steve, Steve was superior to Jenner in many events including the LJ, SP,100meters, and hurdles. Steve is the only athlete in CIF T&F History to win both a CIF SS T&F Championship in the B Shot Put in 1966 and in 1968 the Varsity Long Jump . Bob Chandler in 1965 won the CIF SS Final in the B Shotput but never won a Varsity T&F Final in any event including the Long Jump. Steve dropped out of USC after his freshman year for personal reasons, then in the fall of 1969 Steve found himself at Cerritos JC, and named the Falcons starter at Tailback when during a pre season Football Scrimmage game against Santa Barbara City College Bob "Big Boy" Pointer the heaviest player in CIF history at 460 LBS when he was in High School two years earlier at Santa Barbara HS, rolled up on Steve's ankle on a running play up the middle and even after losing over 100 lbs after High School for medical clearance to play at Santa Barbara CC "Big Boy" broke Steve's ankle and Steve was lost for the season . In the middle of the 1971 season Steve now at Utah State runs out patience waiting to play and in spite of having three years of eligibility left, Steve couldn't wait any longer after having the rug pulled out from under him, when told he had to serve a four game suspension at the start of the 1971 season but could practice with the team, then after serving the four game suspension was told during the week by coaches he would start at tailback in game 5 against BYU, a home game our biggest of the year, then minutes before going onto the field before the start of the game our Head Coach Chuck Mills breaks the sad news. tells Steve .That "I'm sorry but you aren't eligible, but you know you have another three years of Athletic eligibility left to play. Steve shortly after came close to falling into some potentially serious legal trouble and after finishing the 1971-72 regular school year was back in Norwalk, Ca where got caught up again. Steve with three years of NCAA DI athletic eligibility never played College Football again. Steve struggled at first, then in his mid 20's became a licensed plumbing contractor and died shortly after his wife's death about six years ago while still living in Norwalk.
Todays LA Times features a Front page article on USC's first black tailback CR Roberts who in 1956 became the first African American to play in Texas's Longhorns Stadium against the U of Texas is of historic interest . CR got me to thinking if things had been different and Steve hadn't suffered the tragic circumstance of injury and from his pregnant girl friend's father, living in Norwalk's poorest neighborhood" The One Way"s in a drunken rage after learning of her pregnancy, beat her nearly to death, causing her to miscarriage with Steve falling into a deep state of clinical depression over the incident, worsened by his parents reaction to the girlfriend and him dropping out of USC Who knows but like CR Roberts who was SC's first black tailback, Steve might have been the last Caucasian to play tailback for the Trojans and in 1970 Steve not Clarence Davis in the backfield that opening night rushing for 165 yards in Alabama against the Crimson Tide It would be another two years before his father would speak to him
Todays LA Times Sports section reports that former Long Beach Poly 4 Star recruit and Oregon wide receiver Jalen Hall got caught up and was prosecuted and charged with Burglary, Robbery and Kidnapping in connection with an alleged home invasion in Norwalk, Ca
"Of all the words of tongue or pen the saddest are "What might have been." John Greenleaf Whittier.

Thomas Kelso added a comment on Profile.
Sep
14
Sep 14, 2018 at 4:03 PM
Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Sep
12
Sep 12, 2018 at 12:18 PM

I had written on my profile page of playing two college football bowl games in Japan during the 1971 Christmas season, the first in Tokyo and a week later in Osaka. What I didn't mention in my profile is what happened the night before our first game in Tokyo. "The Silk Bowl".
Utah State University in 1971 was one of only two schools west of the Mississippi, New Mexico State being the other competing as Major Independents and were able to recruit players both academically ineligible and or without any remaining years of eligibility required at schools governed by Conference rules and regulations. As a result we had teams with older players, some having transferred after playing at other D1 schools, for example my roommates played freshman football, one at UCLA and the other USC. with others after serving military duty, LDS missions and a few Canadians.. Just prior to leaving the States for Japan and again shortly upon arriving in Tokyo our Head Coach warned of the "Ugly American" and the importance of good conduct. As we saw nearly six decades later with the trouble UCLA Freshman Hoopsters found themselves in while touring China on a goodwill tour promoting basketball that no matter the generation, all of the talk and importance of maintaining good conduct, for some continues to fall on deaf ears. Now we're in Tokyo and one teammate who was also from Southern California Ill call by his nickname "Big John." while in the Navy was stationed in Yokosuka Japan, so one night he gathers a group of us up and together by train we find ourselves in a naughty bar in Yokosuka, 30 or so miles away from our hotel in Tokyo. The night is fast approaching early morning when the bar keep kicks myself and another teammate out and closes the joint, and "Big John" is long gone. Here we find ourselves nearly all alone on the street when out of nowhere this guy about our age who was in the Navy stationed in Yokosuka approaches us and asked " What are you guys doing here, you can't be in the Navy. your hairs to long"? So we tell him and he says no worries you can spend the night at my place and in the morning I'll take you back to your hotel, not even sure now if we knew the name of the hotel, but anyway he figured it out Now safe and sound we find ourselves back in the hotel rushing like crazy to get ready to leave for the stadium as it was the same day of the game. The teammate I was with that night I'll call by his nickname " Cheech" played magnificently, scoring once on a 87 yard punt return and again on a 67 yard catch and run. I played ok and we won big by a large margin. What continues to fascinate me is the synchronicity of meeting the Navy guy who rescued us and the answer he gave when I asked "Where in the States he lived? He said "I'm from Whittier, Ca. and I went to Cal Hi class of 1967." "What about you guys?"

Thomas Kelso added a comment on Profile.
Sep
11
Sep 11, 2018 at 1:32 PM
Thomas Kelso posted a message.
Aug
29
Aug 29, 2018 at 5:41 PM

With the 2018 College Football season fast approaching I'll take you back to 1970 and my first Major D1 College football season, in 1970 playing at a Major Independent in the Rockies we played several WAC, SEC, Big 8, Big 10, Missouri Valley and Pacific Coast Conference schools etc. 1970 in the annuls of College Football or sports in general is one year the world would like to forget, a season of tragedy that hit close to home and me personally.
Early that season while preparing for our game against the U of Wyoming Cowboys played in Laramie we received word that the Cowboys starting Quarterback Ed Synakowski while out lake fishing in a boat with his brother, who was visiting from the families home in Utica New York drowned. The accident occurred when the lake became choppy and the boat capsized. The brother made it safely to shore while Ed's wife of just six weeks watched in horror from shore.
The article detailing the accident said she was treated for shock.
3 days later we arrive in Laramie Wyoming a school then well known for aggressive, rowdy drunken fan behavior, where debris and bottle throwing was not uncommon which our coaches going in emphasized and permitted us from removing our helmets at any time during the game.
This day was different the crowd if anything was somewhat subdued. The tragedy followed on the heels of a program still reeling from the dismissal of very successful Head Coach Lloyd Eaton, fired for his handling of the Wyoming 13 incident ( Google it) where he kicked 13 African American players off the team for their black arm band game demonstration against BYU and the LDS religion, We had two players on our USU squad that teamed together in High School with one of the 13 Cowboy players dismissed from the program and he showed up at the Holiday Inn we stayed in, hard to believe but true he stole the color TV from their room. The game was an NCAA record setting oddity, setting the record for most points scored in a Quarter 35. The score was 35 -7 Wyoming ahead going into the fourth quarter when we scored 35 4th Quarter unanswered points winning 42-35.

Two weeks later back in Utah preparing to play against Wichita State we were forced to watch their game films, which I was not a fan, I preferred spontaneity to film study especially against inferior opponents like this Wichita State Shockers team. As I watched the film's I became a bit disturbed as I noticed they employed a blocking technique then being phased out and eventually becoming a major infraction. The blocking technique required the wide receiver to blind side crack back block below the waist of the outside linebackers my position. The reason I was so sensitive to that style of blocking was the season before while playing at Rio Hondo I tore my LCL against Cypress College. It was on a play where their receiver took dead aim at my knee from directly behind me, I never saw him and it was just as I took on their 225 lb. blocking back from the front. In todays litigious world criminal charges could be brought as it was seemingly premediated deliberate assault. After I wondered if it wasn't related to a hit I made in our Golden West College game a week earlier, payback and Karma for the hit I made on the Golden West running back that knocked him unconscious swept off the field and rushed to the hospital in an ambulance? The Whittier Daily News sportswriter covering the game described the play in his article as a fight where I emerged victorious. It wasn't it was purely a tackle from behind as the back was stood up at the line of scrimmage. I have the article somewhere?
So now it's Friday the day before our game with Wichita State when we receive word that one of their planes crashed after stopping to refuel in Denver Co. 31 passengers including the Head Coach, AD, Team Physician and a Kansas State Senator and his wife were killed orphaning six children, the pilot of that 1950 Martin Airplane survived. The 1970 Wichita State game was the last in a series of home and away games that began in 1966. Call it cruel irony but Wichita Ka bills itself as "The Aircraft Capital of The World" then home to Cessna and other aircraft and parts manufacturers. In fact the year prior 1969 Utah State was the first team to play in Wichita's newly renovated stadium, the first ever corporate sponsored and named stadium, "Cessna Stadium". Cessna dedicated 350 K for the renovation and naming rights privilege of having the stadium carry the Cessna Aircraft name. The scheduled game now cancelled was replaced by a Memorial ceremony held in our Romney Football Stadium which I, my roommates Bain Brick Lakewood Mayfair High School 1967 CIF 3 A Player of the Year. setting single CIF playoff game records in both receptions with 15 and TD's 4 in their playoff game against eventual Champions LA Serna. and Ty Couey ditched, in favor of traveling to Salt Lake to watch the U of Utah play Iowa State. Bain had a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner and Ty had a personal interest as he with his best friend and Englewood New Jersey high school teammate were both recruited to Iowa State and this was a chance for them to reunite and together we could scout the U of Utah as we would play them later that season. My mother upon learning that I did not attend the memorial ceremony was none to pleased. Self preservation is everything and as I mentioned my fear of having to play against a team of inferior talent that blind side cracked back blocked below the waist selfishly ended upon learning the game was cancelled. Instead of sorrow or sadness I felt only relief, with fear for my safety and risk of injury now gone. Relief I don't think is what you are supposed to feel after learning of such tragedy, but that's what I felt. Was it Karma as it was in the week of preparation for our U Of Utah game that I broke and dislocated my left thumb which was surgically repaired and my season ended? In 1974 my career ended after being a penciled in starter for that Tom Fears Head Coached California Sun World Football League team that played it's home games in the Big A Anaheim Stadium. I was severely injured in practice while covering wide receiver Ike Harris, torn ACL. Ike was a member of that 1970 Iowa State Cyclone team, the injury occurred as not wanting to injure Ike I let up on him and as the saying goes "No good deed goes unpunished," Later Ike Harris would become a leading NFL receiver with the then St Louis Cardinals. So both schools in a somewhat obscure way that I skipped the Wichita State memorial services to go watch play would come back to haunt me. Was it punishment for not paying tribute to and honoring the dead that day? and for the selfish relief I felt when learning of the disaster? Three weeks later after playing against the U Of Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington Ky, a game we easily won 42-6 during the following week of preparation for our rival game with the U OF Utah I broke and dislocated my left thumb and was lost for the season. The injury to the thumb is similar to the injury suffered by Angels slugger Mike Trout last season. Two weeks later Marshall U Football team preparing to land from a flight back to Huntington West Virginia crashed killing all 75 passengers on board, morbid irony was it was not Marshalls original contracted carrier, that contract was voided after the NCAA now after Wichita State required all schools to review their flight agreements and cancel any contract with non scheduled carriers in favor of scheduled contact airlines which Marshall did, entering into a new agreement with Southern Airways. In 2006 Mathew McConaughey starred in the motion picture "We Are Marshall" a film that details this very tragic event.
10 years had passed 1960 since the last plane crash involved a college football team when Cal Poly SLO's team plane crashed after departing the Toledo OH. Airport in the fog after playing a game against Bowling Green. The difference in the three tragedies was that both the Cal Poly SLO and Marshall accidents occurred after their games were played, our game with Wichita State was not, that accident occurred before the game. I've written in the past elsewhere about the accident and when over the years attending team reunions and other team functions have with other players remarked that if there is a life after this one not to worry the Wichita Sate game will then be played.

The final 1970 season tragedy I'll recount as told to me by Rick Pope El Rancho HS 1967 occurred in Westwood, UCLA Bruin Head Coach Tommy Prothro incensed with Rick Pope who was in 1967 recruited to Westwood as the nations # 1 High School signal caller at QB ignored Protho's demand that he not play baseball instead focus on Football that Spring to learn the offense. Pope was a pitcher and Prothro was all to aware of the dangers to the arm caused by pitching a baseball as his father "Doc" Prothro was at one time a Major League Baseball Manager with the Philadelphia Phillies this all before Tommy John surgery. So when Pope reported for two a day practice in the fall of 1970 he found himself down the depth chart on defense playing defensive end a position he had never played before holding a bag. It was during a kickout blocking drill where Rick took on then pre season heavily favored Heisman Trophy candidate running back Mickey Cureton and broke Mickey's neck ending for good Mickey's football playing days. The LA Times and others at the time reported the accident as having occurred after Mickey, while working as a grip that summer at 21st Century Studios fell from a scaffold a broke his neck which was not at all the case.
Both Rick and Mickey never played a down of football again which is difficult to comprehend, it would be like Reggie Bush suffering a career ending injury while at SC at the hands of a SC Heisman Trophy quarterback like Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart with none of the three ever playing again.

If there is a silver lining to the 1970 season it is that my former Rio Hondo teammate OG Keith Wortman Cal Hi 1968 was a starter on the Nebraska Team that won both the 1970 and 1971 National Championships, Keith after going on to play 10 season in the NFL with the Packers, Cardinal and others. Also 1970 is the year credited with having the largest impact on integrating college sport in America and the Southeast Conference. The 1970 USC Trojans opened that season by defeating the U Of Alabama Crimson Tide in Legion Field in Birmingham Ala 42-21 in front of a nationally televised audience. The HBO Documentary "Against the Tide." details the game and how obvious it was becoming that if traditional racially segregated programs like those in the SEC were to continue to compete on a national level they were left with little choice but to speed up recruitment and increase the number of African Americans on their teams.

The USC Alabama game of 1970 is largely credited as the game that gave notice that a change in racial policy was essential if for no other reason than to stay athletically competitive but I think intersectional games played that year in 1970 like our fully integrated (Utah State squad with 20 or so African American players ) win 42-6 over an SEC opponent the U OF Kentucky Wildcats at night in Lexington Kentucky was a game that also highlighted this need and influenced this change. I'll never forget as we left the field that night the Kentucky faithful swarming the field and the look of awe on the young kids faces as they came up to us with a few of their parents making comments like "You guys look and play more like pros than college players.".1970 was also the year of the Kent State University shooting and as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang may we will never forget the 4 shot dead in Ohio that day,
The 2018 CFB season started under a cloud of nasty conditions and suspension of a couple of Head Coaches and weather, where More…the West Virginia Tennessee game played in Charlotte NC was delayed for nearly two hours with the Akron at Nebraska game in Lincoln Ne and South Dakota at Iowa State game played in Ames both cancelled. The Air Force Stony Brook game played in Colorado Springs was twice delayed for rain and fog.

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Page 80 of our WHS 1968 Senior Yearbook features a full page photo with Bio briefly detailing the life and career of educator Henry Bjorklund. In 1949 Bjorklund with Robert Bob "Amen" Morton were teaching together at LA Manual Arts High School, when in 1950 the year many of us were born both changed course and began teaching at Whittier HS. By the way, LA Manual Arts HS was both Morton's and my fathers Alma Mater. During the fall in 1965 Bjorklund's career and life changed dramatically it was our sophomore year. In 1965 Bjorklund was my first period Life Science teacher when sometime around that time he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The teacher pupil experience and classroom atmosphere became most unusual Kafkaesque really... largely a result of Bjorklund's condition and obsession with one thing, that each morning one by one we go up to the front of the class and loyally recite out loud "The Pledge of Allegiance", after giving the pledge I would return to my desk and instead of sitting through 30 or so other students individually recite the pledge, and with the warn morning sun coming through the open window hitting my face I would fall fast asleep at my desk until the end of the period.
It was soon obvious something was wrong, but zero idea what or what to do, and with mixed emotions the strongest being fear of being caught one day asleep and Bjorklund embarrassing me in front of the entire class with an added touch of guilt that I was taking advantage of the mans condition, ended when one day unannounced Wally Leonard showed up and traded placed with Bjorklund. Leonard's zest, spirit, enthusiasm, personality nd knowledge of the subject renewed my interest in science and made school enjoyable. More importantly Bjorklund was able to continue in a Counselor position.
Then came 2nd period, a period where instead of the teacher being removed from the classroom I was! I started the year in Algebra 1 Ms. Bowerman, if you recall she was the Algebra Teacher that kept me after school missing a JV Football game, the game in which Cheo Jacobo suffered permanent loss of the use of his left arm. Half the way through the year I was removed from her class and no kidding found myself confined alone together inside the Boys PE Dept. offices with Wayne Watson filing and grading Boys PE papers. Bored to death left to waste the 2nd period away, Wayne and I would kill time playing Dodge ball in limited space against the back wall in Gary Casella's office. It was a miracle we never broke anything! After a few days of Dodge ball Wayne began to pull his hair out, frustrated because s hard as he could he could never hit me. A note on Dodge ball I was the War ball champ at Dexter JR HS in both 7th and 8th grades, defeating Tom Hummel one year and Mark Fisher another. Do any of you recall War Ball? War Ball was a mass 40 0n 40 Dodge Ball tournament held annually in both the 7th and 8th grades.

10 Grade 5th Period English teacher Gaynell Buis looses it and sends me to the office and guidance counselor Bob Cooke. The first thing Cooke does is ask How my parents would react if they knew I was sent for disciplinary reasons to the office by a teacher? I replied "For talking?" He then pulls down a street map of the district and hands me a pointer and asks me where I lived? Then asked, Because your home may be outside the District? To which I reflexively replied " I hope so my dad and I both wat me to play for Ernie Johnson at the Ranch." After my WHS residency was determined in essence Cooke sternly told me to return to class and keep my mouth shut.
Two years later Cooke finds himself now at La Serna. In 1967 Cooke was La Serna's Activities and Yearbook advisor, it was the year, the first in school history LA Serna won the CIF SS 3 A Football Championship. As a reward for winning the title La Serna Lancer head coach Harry Robinson was honored and named Head Coach of the 605 North All Star Football Team. Robinson named our coach and his former high school mentor Vic Lopez his assistant and Rick Remple, Frank Hernandez, Guy Rebentisch and I selected to represent WHS, both Frank and Guy declined Frank enlisted in the service and Guy opted to work. One afternoon nearing the start of a 605 game team practice held at Rio Hondo with players and coaches assembled on the field that sits down below with the Gym and parking lots above, Lopez approaches me, knowing I guess a bit of my history with Cooke to tell me that "Cooke was there he was on the hill and suggested that it might be a good Idea if after practice I said Hi:." To which I remained silent, saying only to myself "If he wants to say Hi he knows where to find me"! Wishing now I hadn't I avoided Cooke and with Cooke watching our full contact scrimmage the scrimmage was abruptly ended and practice shortened and the closed. The scrimmage was prematurely ended after an off tackle running play resulted in St Paul HS All CIF 4 A running back Bill Goshen breaking a leg. The injury occurred as both Rick Remple and I hit Bill at the same time, Rick had Bill around the leg and me his upper torso when his leg broke beneath him! Needless to say the St Paul faithful gathered at practice that day were livid! Even then full contact drills were becoming obsolete as risk to benefit could no longer be justified especially in a meaningless All Star Game practice.
Another sad event occurred to that team, El Rancho had two Bobby Chavez's on that team. One a running back and the other known as "Partida" a Defensive Back. Bobby and I, with his older brother by a year Manny were in both 1961 and 1962 Whittier Pop Warner Football teammates and Partida and I would team together again this time in 1969 at Rio Hondo and be named All Southern California Conference JC in Football I myself with over 30 full ride Football scholarship offers to include, Oklahoma, USC, Cal Bears, Nebraska, Miami the U. After two weeks of 605 game practicing the day of the game arrives and on that very day disaster struck the Partida Chavez family. when officially notified by the War Department that his older brother was killed in Viet Nam. After some discussion Partida played and to this date his opening game tackle on a 605 South Squad receiver is the hardest hit I've ever seen and few that ended up with a player being removed from the field by ambulance, I thought he killed him he hit him that hard.
Back to WHS and the 11th grade I dislocate my ring finger, it occurred during a Varsity Football scrimmage and for my effort I go from a C to an F in typing at the hands of the then B Football coach and my freshman C football Coach Eric Nordquist. Nordquist may have thought I was faking and an F on the report that counted would be the perfect remedy but made no sense. Why would I or anyone want to go from typing successfully with a C average by his own measure and other standardized typing tests, to fingers taped together unable to type and receive an F? I was left to hide the report card from my parents, a matter that with understanding, attention and communication could have ended quite differently.
12 Grade Senior Year before Football practice Lopez pulls me aside and playing down his emotions says " You are USC and head football coach John McKay's invited guest to this Saturdays SC game. It is homecoming and you will be with the team on the field and in the locker room the whole time and meet the players and coaches, Lopez mentioning it was my size and speed that set me apart and caught SC's attention. The very next day Lopez pulls me aside this time with not such good news to tell me that "SC after reviewing my transcript determined my GPA prevented them from any longer recruiting me." and that was that. My dad was cool about it and not until 40 years later around 2004 I learned of what happened. It was stumbling upon and reading John McKay's biography first published in 1974 " A Coaches Story" To my surprise McKay talks candidly about the 1967 NCAA academic eligibility rule changes that ensnared me as one of it's first and earliest victims. The rule changes were an attempt by the NCAA to reduce or eliminate the "Dumb Jock" stigma. Up until 1967 it was possible to enroll and be eligible as a freshman with a below C Average GPA from High School. In 1967 the NCAA went from using a formula where the GPA and SAT score were combined to now strictly a C GPA. leading McKay to caustically remark 'That as a result he was able to get dumber players." In 1969 after playing a single season at Rio Hondo, again I was offered a football scholarships to USC and now Oklahoma and everyone else. The issue now was that the other part of the NCAA rule change was that if not eligible academically from High School one must graduate from JC to be eligible at Schools bound by Conference Membership the exceptions being schools that competed as Independents not bound by conference membership and that is what I did. My choices were limited as at the time there were only two Independents west of the Mississippi, New Mexico State and Utah State and I selected Utah. My other option was to wait and graduate and transfer the following school year to SC, Oklahoma or elsewhere which was much to long for me and the rest is history.
Thanks for the indulgence.

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Aug 19, 2018 at 8:38 PM
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Aug 19, 2018 at 11:58 AM

For some with baseball interest and now the heart of the baseball seasons coming together I have a baseball memory to share. It's June 30th 1962 and Guy Rebentisch and I were being angrily told by LA Dodgers coach Lefty Phillips to go to our seats, the game was about to start and the players had to get ready! Guy and I were behind the Dodgers dugout bugging Drysdale and Koufax for their autographs. We didn't have to go far, our seats were about three rows up directly behind the Dodgers dugout. Guy's dad Reb and mine were dear friends and Reb got the tix and invited my dad and I. June 30 1962 is a most memorable and historic date in Dodgers history, on that night against the Casey Stengel managed NY Mets Sandy Koufax pitched his first of 4 no hitters. I'll never forget the crowd with fingers crossed go from nervous pray full silence to pandemonium after the final out.

Thanks Reb for the memory.

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