Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Photographs of Brent Royuk

A few days ago I received this e-mail.
Hi Mike,

I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog many times over the years. I’m a physics prof and dean of Arts and Sciences at Concordia.

I thought you might enjoy my archive of old Seward postcard scans. Some are mine and some belong to Mark Kolterman. ...

I live in the old house at 142 Seward St and this Wednesday the 4th I’ll be giving a presentation at the Civic Center on the history of my house, which was originally built as the parsonage for First Congregational Church ...

Brent Royuk
Dean of Arts and Sciences
Concordia University
Seward, NE
He provided a link to a wonderful collection of photographs. I am showing a few of the photographs below.

Click on any photograph to enlarge it.

Today I am leaving on a two-week trip, so I will not be posting here until after July 25.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Finding Playboy Magazines in a Dormitory's Dumpster

In this blog I have written a couple of articles about finding things on campus:

1) Concordia College Freshman Beanie Caps, about finding beanies under the football stadium's bleachers. This is by far the most popular article in this blog -- it has received more than a quarter-million hits.

2) Finding and Redeeming Empty Bottles of Husker Pop, about finding empty pop bottles under the campus's bushes. I published this article yesterday.

Today -- prompted by yesterday's death of Hugh Hefner -- I am publishing this article about finding Playboy magazines on the campus of Concordia College, an educational institution that taught future Lutheran pastors and parochial-school teachers.

This event happened in about June 1964, the last year when my family lived on Faculty Lane. Later that summer, we moved out to North Columbia Avenue, farther from the campus. I was 11 years old.

Here is the cover of the issue dated February 1964.

Here is the cover of the issue dated May 1964.

Eleven-year-old Lutheran faculty-kid boys at Concordia College had few opportunities to look inside Playboy magazines in 1964. I never saw the magazine for sale in Seward, but I saw it in book stores in Lincoln. My family shopped in Lincoln for school clothes and for Christmas presents, so I saw the magazine in a book store there once or twice a year. I saw only the magazine covers, because each magazine was wrapped in plastic.

Playboy magazine was famous and rather unique in 1964. The first real competitor was Penthouse, which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1965 but did not go on sale in the USA until 1969.

A few Playboy magazines did occasionally get into the Lutheran schoolboy hands. Seward had a public school that was attended by immoral families, and those families had immoral fathers and immoral older brothers who occasionally bought Playboy magazines in Lincoln. Eventually some of those magazines were given to or stolen by immoral younger brothers. Because Seward was a small town where public-school and parochial-school boys knew each other, some of those Playboy magazines eventually fell into the hands of Lutheran schoolboys. That's how I imagine that much of the circulation of Playboy magazine among boys happened in Seward.

I was a close friend of John Garmatz, and I happened to meet him often when we were delivering newspapers in the mornings. On a few such occasions, he had a Playboy magazine and showed it to me. John and I were most interested in looking at, however, the magazine's Little Annie Fanny cartoons than at the naked women.

John and I shared a passion for Mad Magazine because it was full of funny cartoons. We both subscribed to Mad and bought and shared many of its cartoon books.

We were interested in looking at Playboy's naked women, but we were only around 11-13 years old, and those women were around 20 years old. I could not really imagine a plausible sexual fantasy with such old and large women. Whenever I ever enjoyed sexual fantasies, they were about more age-appropriate girls -- who likewise were about 11-13 years old.


One day in about 1964, one of my classmates invited me to go with him to look in the dumpsters behind the men's dormitory northeast of the football field. I don't remember the dormitory's name. I do remember my classmate's name, but I will keep it secret here.

This was a good day to look in the dumpsters, because the college's school year had just ended and practically all the students had just departed. Even before we looked in the dumpster, my schoolmate knew what we would find, because he had looked in previous years.

We found some Playboy magazines! My classmate and I divvied them up. I don't remember exactly how many were in my share, but maybe about four. I took them home and studied them during the following days. Then I threw them away, because I was terrified that my Mom would find them.

It was exciting to be able to study such forbidden material, but my sexual arousal was limited. For an eleven-year-old boy, the sight of a 20-year-old naked woman was monstrous. It was difficult for me to fantasize what I might do with such a large naked woman even if I had the opportunity.

I promised myself to return to the dumpster in the following years. However, since we had moved out to North Columbia, doing so was no longer so convenient. Keep in mind that there was only a few days when I could have found the Playboy magazines -- after the departing men cleaned out their dormitory rooms and before the dumpsters were emptied into the garbage trucks.


I don't have any memory of seeing Playboy or any other pornography during my Seward years. In those days and in that place, we grew up without seeing pornographic pictures.

There was a period, when I was in about seventh grade, when I would go to the college library's children section and read the books about puberty. Those books -- maybe three books -- would describe sexual intercourse briefly in a straight-forward manner, without illustrations. Reading those passages aroused me, and so I went back to the library and read those passages many times.

Also, St. John Elementary School had a subscription to National Geographic, which sometimes had articles illustrated with photographs of primitive tribes where the women went topless. When our class went down to the library for a period, we boys always would look at the current National Geographic, and on a few, rare  occasions we did find such photographs. I don't count that as pornography, however.


I have one other, small memory about Playboy during my Seward years. When I attended Concordia High School, one building's basement had a small cafeteria for the campus. There were some small tables there, and students from both the high school and the college would sit there and talk. This was before the campus had a student center.

Anyway, one day I came into this cafeteria, and I heard a college guy sitting at a table with a couple of college girls, and he was telling them about Playboy magazine. I was astonished to hear him tell them without any embarrassment that he read Playboy all the time. He explained that the magazine had a lot of interesting articles. Of course, these two Concordia College were outraged and scoffed at his interesting-articles justification. They accused him of getting the magazine just so he could look at pictures of naked women.

I understood the girls' reaction, but since I myself had been able to study a few Playboy magazines, I knew that he was right about the magazine having interesting articles too.

The Solar Eclipse on July 20, 1963

I wish I could have been in Seward during the eclipse on August 21, 2017.

When I was living in Seward, I experienced an eclipse that happened on July 20, 1963. At that time, I was ten years old and living on Faculty Lane.

The total eclipse passed through Canada, but some of the effect was seen in Nebraska. The following screen-shot, from the Time and Date website, shows the full eclipse passing through Ontario (upper-right) but effecting Lincoln (lower-left).

Eclipse on July 20, 1963, passing through Ontario
Below is another screen-shot from the same map.

We kids were warned that if we looked directly at the sun, then we would be blinded immediately. Therefore we were instructed to make pin-hole boxes to use to see merely an image of the eclipse.


We spent the time and effort to make such boxes, but they were useless for seeing the slight eclipse in Seward. Even before the eclipse began, we could not see the sun at all.

My memory of that day is rather vague. The eclipse effect was not much more that the effect of the sun passing behind clouds. I got bored and went inside to watch television or something like that, and so I missed the eclipse's culmination.

During the eclipse of August 2017, I was living in New Jersey, where the distance and effect was similar to the effect in Seward in 1963. Again, the effect was slight, and I got bored after about 15 minutes and went in side and missed the darkest moment.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Virtual Tour of Concordia's Campus

You can take a virtual tour of the campus on this webpage.

One of the videos shows the Music Center. That building now covers the space where our Sylwester family home stood on Faculty Lane.

One of the videos shows Weller Hall, and much of that video shows the theater. My Dad's office was in the basement, right under that theater.

Finding and Redeeming Empty Bottles of Husker Pop

Now I am an old man living in New Jersey. I often walk in a nearby park, and every time I am dismayed to see so many empty soda bottles discarded onto the park grass. Often the bottles are lying very close to the park's garbage receptacles. I become angry that people litter bottles onto our neighborhood park.

A few weeks ago I was walking and getting mad about this bottle litter, and I thought to myself that people in Seward, Nebraska, during my time there always had the good sense to throw their empty pop bottles into garbage cans.

When I lived in Seward, we called such bottles "pop bottles", because we caused the inside, fizzy drink "pop".

Anyway, as I was walking in my park and getting mad about this bottle litter, I suddenly remembered that we too in Seward had bottle litter. In fact, I used to find and pick up discarded bottles from the ground all the time, because I could redeem them for money at local stores.

As I remember -- maybe incorrectly -- I could redeem a bottle for two cents. Since I earned only 30¢ a day for delivering newspapers, I enjoyed a windfall if I found a couple of empty bottles and thus earned an extra 4¢.

The place where I found most of my bottles was on the Concordia campus. The bottles almost never were lying on the open ground. Rather, they were thrown under bushes. I learned to look under the bushes as I drive through the campus on my way home from my paper route to my home on Faculty Lane.

Yes, some of our nice Lutheran college students were litter bugs, but at least they had the minimal couth to try to hide their litter under bushes. In that regard, those students were better than the jerks in my local park.


While living in Seward, I practically never drank Pepsi or Coca Cola. When I had to stay home sick, my Mom would buy a bottle of 7-Up to serve me as a treat. The only dark-brown pop I remember drinking was root beer.

Mostly we drank fruit-flavored pop. My favorite was cherry-flavored pop. That is what I always would drink if ever I had a choice. I probably never bought a bottle. I would drink it only if it was available for free at a picnic or baseball-team party other such special event.


Seward had its own pop-bottling company, which was named Husker, in honor of the mascot of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The company's bottling building was located near the start of my paper route, on Jackson Street, across the street from the water tower. I rode my bicycle past the building every morning, but it was closed at that early hour.

When I went to collect money from my customers, I rode past the building during the daytime, and the big front door was open and so then I could see inside. I have a vague memory that I walked a short distance inside the building a couple of times -- just out of curiosity. I had no business being inside there.

I did not redeem my found empty bottles at that building, because the workers there did not want to be bothered. I redeemed them at a grocery store.


I searched  the Internet looking for an old photograph of that Husker building, but did not find any. I did find the following article, which was published on November 23, 1982, and was titled Husker pop fizzles out.
SEWARD, Neb. -- A nearly century-long tradition of making Husker soda pop has fizzled out.

Dr. Paul Hoff, the Seward physician who owns Husker Beverage Works, said competition from national soft drink firms made it impossible to keep the one-man operation going.

He shut down Monday.

'Business wasn't too bad, but it wasn't good enough for the business to be viable,' Hoff said.

Husker soda pop, with a picture of a Nebraska Cornhusker football player on each bottle, had been bottled and sold in some form since the late 1800s.

With 12 flavors ranging from black cherry to cream soda, Husker Beverage eked out a small share of the local market over the years, selling nearly 1,000 cases of pop per week in its heyday and 200 to 250 cases most recently.

The market area included 32 towns within a 50-mile radius of Seward.

A case sold for $4.66 plus deposit. Tom Stewart, the plant's manager and only full-time worker, said the remaining stock will be sold for $5 per case.

Husker Beverage sold pop to stores and directly to the customers, mostly children who hankered for a thirst quencher on hot summer days.

Until the end, youngsters still paid a discount rate of 15 cents per bottle.
I left Seward in 1968, so this closing of the company happened about 14 years after I left.

On a discussion forum for people who collect antique bottles, I found also the following comment.
I finally ran across some information I had regarding Husker Beverages. Here goes!

The origins of Husker can be traced to the 1890's and a company named Seward Bottling Works founded by Fred Bick.

Around 1908 the business was sold to Jake Imig who bottled soda pop for many years in Seward. In 1940 Francis "Pop" Imig and Hook Miers took over the business and moved it to 629 Jackson Street and adopted the name Husker Beverage. In 1946, Pop Imig's younger brother, Henry, returned from the war and purchased Mr. Mier's interest.

About this time, Lloyd Cardwell of Seward was on his way to becoming an inductee in the Cornhusker Hall Of Fame. Lloyd wore jersey #24 when he played for the Huskers. He later went on to a successful pro career, playing for the Detroit Lions. Lloyd was the first player to be portrayed on the Husker label, which was designed by Percy Ost.

In future years, Husker Beverages would similarly honor #12 Bobby Reynolds, a 1950 All-American halfback from Grand Island; and #14 Jerry Tagge, the star quarterback from the 1970-71 national championship teams.
It's a good thing that some people collect antique bottles and expend much effort to gather and preserve such memorabilia and information.


On the Internet I found also some photographs of vintage Husker items. The first photograph is of a bottle of strawberry pop.

A bottle of Husker strawberry pop.
Next is a picture of my favorite cherry pop. What a beautiful color!
A bottle of Husker cherry pop.
The pop is still in this very old bottle, so it's like a vintage wine. I would open the bottle and drink the all the cherry pop out if it right now if I could!

Now it seems obvious that the company name Husker was related to the university football team, but I never made that connection when I was a boy in Seward -- even though the bottles were illustrated with a picture of a football player. I thought that the name "husker" came more directly from the mundane activity of husking corn cobs -- a common activity in southeast Nebraska. The word "Husker" was an old slang word for "Nebraskan".

I was so used to seeing Husker pop bottles that the picture of the football player did not register meaningfully in my brain. The relationship did not register until very recently, when I was doing the research for this article.

Three empty Husker pop bottles
For people who collect antique bottles, the above set of three empty Husker bottles is worth about $15.


My second-favorite flavor was lemon-lime, which was called B-1. I remember that name, but I have no idea of the name's origin. Here is a photo.
A bottle of Husker lemon-lime ("B-1") pop.
Below is a photo of a B-1 bottle's front and back sides. You can see on the photograph's caption that the bottle comes from Seward.
A bottle of Husker lemon-lime ("B-1") pop -- front and back.

When I rode my bicycle past the Husker building, I always saw stacks of bottle crates that looked like this ...

A wood crate for Husker pop bottles
...  and like this.
A wood crate for Husker pop bottles
People who collect antique bottles also collect such crates.


The first picture of a cherry pop bottle above was from a webpage about an auction of antique bottles. That webpage includes the following information (words capitalized as in the original):

Cripple Creek Auctions, Inc.


International Buyers – Please Note:

Import duties, taxes and charges are not included in the item price or shipping charges. These charges are the buyer's responsibility.

Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to bidding/buying.

International Buyers, please read our shipping policies carefully before bidding/buying.

I am a Trading Assistant - I can sell items for you!


This lot contains a great looking FULL BOTTLE OF STRAWBERRY SODA that was put out by the HUSKER BEVERAGE CO.

This company started in the 1940's by a gentleman who lived in Seward, Nebraska. The owner of this company was an avid Nebraska Husker Fan and when he decided to start this company he decided he would put out a Strawberry flavored Pop and he would call it the HUSKER BEVERAGE COMPANY.

And, one of his favorite players was a player by the name of LLOYD CARDWELL. Lloyd Cardwell was an outstanding player for the Nebraska Cornhusekrs from 1934 - 1936. He shared the backfield with Nebraska All-American Sam Francis. Lloyd Cardwells Nickname was "Wild Hoss" and he is the only Nebraska Football Player who scored a touchdown the first time he touch the ball as a Cornhusker and the last time he touch the ball as a Cornhusker.

He was a fabulous player - but - Cardwell was often overshadowed by Sam Francis who came in second in the Heisman Ballot in 1936 - the first year that the Heisman Trophy was given out. He was edged out by Jay Berwanger of Chicago, the first Heisman Trophy Winner. Sam Francis was then the #1 player picked in the 1937 NFL Draft and Cardwell was a 4th round pick of the Detroit Lions and he had a very productive NFL Career.

Lloyd Cardwell wore jersey #24 and thus, on the first bottles that was made by the HUSKER BEVERAGE COMPANY, the owner of the company honored Cardwell by illustrating a picture of a Nebraska player wearing jersey number #24

The front of the bottle said, HUSKER - A CHAMPION IN FLAVOR.

It then had the football player and then a football in the background.

Later on, in the early 1950's the owner paid tribute to Bobby Reynolds by putting out a second bottle with the same player, but this time, the player was wearing a jersey with a number 12 - in honor of Bobby Reynolds.

Then again in the 1970's a third bottle was put out with the same graphics - except a player with a jersey number with #14 appeared on bottles - and this bottle was put out in honor of Jerry Tagge.

So, in the early 1970's the owner of Husker Beverage paid tribute to Jerry Tagge by putting out this third bottle.
That is a brief history of the three bottles that was put out by Husker Beverage.

And, the Full Pop Bottle of Strawberry Soda that is featured in this lot is the bottle with #12 in honor of BOBBY REYNOLDS.

These bottles were made until the company went out of business in the 1980's. The early bottles were dated on the bottom, and thus, you can tell how old the bottles were by looking on the bottom of the bottles.

This particular bottle was made in 1960.

Also, the pop bottle itself evolved over the years - and in the end the bottles were 10 oz. bottles that offered a refund for returning the bottle.

The early bottles were 7 oz. bottles. The bottle in this lot is the early bottle that was the 7 oz. Bottle with early Pop Cap.

The older bottles are still the most valuable.

In the 1990's a company took over the operation of Seward Bottle Company and started to put out bottles, but they were in the plastic bottles and newer glass bottles. The new items are not overly attractive to collectors, but the old items are fabulous items to collect.

The value of such antique bottles seems to have a range mostly of about $7 to $9. Unfortunately, I redeemed many dozens of such bottles for about 2¢ apiece.

Cold hands while delivering newspapers

One of my Seward acquaintances, Mark Stadsklev, recently posted on Facebook a photograph of a Jon-e Warmer that he won while working as a paperboy.

A Jon-E Warmer
Mark wrote:
About forty or fifty years ago I won this as a newspaper delivery boy.

Yup. The one speed bicycle, the 40# white bags over the shoulders and darn well better put that paper inside the screen door! No plastic bag thrown somewhere agin the cabin in the olden days. Ben Franklin had rules against us doin' dat.
I delivered the Lincoln Star newspaper, which gave prizes for selling new subscriptions. I remember winning only one prize, which was a pocket knife. The blade was very sharp, and I cut my finger by merely touching it.

I never had one of those warmers that Mark won. Seeing this picture recalled only a very vague memory of them. It's my understanding that you filled such a warmer with a special fluid, lit it briefly like a cigarette lighter, and then put the into your coat pocket. The warmer kept the pocket's inside warm for a long time, and so you could warm your hand by inserting it into the warm pocket.

I should have bought a couple of these warmers, because my hands got very cold when I delivered newspapers on winter mornings. The cold wind always seemed to blow against me, no matter which direction I was riding my bicycle. My only defense against the cold was to wear two pairs of mittens.

On some mornings I returned from my route crying because my fingers were so cold. I would come into the house and hold my hands under warm water from the bathroom sink's faucet. And then I would lie down on the floor next to a heat register for about 15 minutes. I think I must have been almost frostbitten.

In those circumstances, a couple of those warmers probably would have been worth the money I would have spent on them. I just never thought about buying them.

I suppose I should have chosen a warmer as a subscription-selling prize instead of a pocket knife. I don't remember using my pocket knife for anything at all. In that regard, Mark Stadsklev had more good sense than I did.

Fortunately, my Mom or Dad usually would get up and drive my on my delivery route when the weather was extremely cold. I still remember and am grateful for their doing that for me.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Watching the World Series During School

The recent World Series, which was decided on the seventh game, reminded me of two such World Series games that happened while I attended St John Elementary School. When both those games were being broadcast, our teacher turned on the television so that we could watch the final innings.

In those days, ordinary people could not record television shows, and so we male teachers and students had to watch the game when it was broadcast. The girls in the class were not interested in the game, but they had to watch anyway.


When I was in seventh grade, the 1964 World Series was played between the New York Yankees and the Saint Louis Cardinals. The Series was decided on the seventh game, which the Cardinals won by a score of 7 to 5. The final game took place on Thursday, October 15, 1964, in Saint Louis, Missouri. It was a day game (not a night game), as can be seen in these photographs of the game's ending.


The teacher who let us watch this game was either Rupert Giesselmann or Harold Zimbrick. I remember this occasion vividly because we students were not given a break from watching the game and eventually I had to pee so badly that I worried I might wet my pants.


When I was in fifth grade, the 1962 World Series was played between the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants. The final game took place on Tuesday, October 16, 1962, in San Francisco, California, and New York won by a score of 1 to 0.

That game must not have been the game that we watched, because Nebraska was two time zones ahead of Nebraska, and so we could have watched the final innings after school.

I think that we must have watched the fourth game, which took place in New York on Monday, October 8, 1962. (The fifth game was delayed because of a rain storm, and so we could have watched it after school.) The teacher who let us watch was Herbert Peter.

This video shows highlights of the 1962 World Series, and the fourth-game highlights begin at 18:04. You can see that it was a day game.

I don't remember much about those two baseball years. The year that I remember most was the 1961 season, because of the competition between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to hit the most home runs. However, that year we had a female teacher, and there was no way she would have let her class watch any baseball game on television.

Anyway, I am rather sure that we did not have televisions in our classrooms in 1961. They were installed a few years later. (By the way, we eventually got televisions in our classrooms because of my father, Robert Sylwester, put them there for the student-teacher program that he managed.)


I write another blog about the movie Dirty Dancing, and there I have published an article about the Jewish baseball player Sandy Koufax, who was a role-model for us at St. John.