This past weekend, I went with a small group of friends (six of us) to the Penn State-Illinois football game.
We flew into Pittsburgh, rented a car and drove to Happy Valley with the intention of having a fun weekend filled with many enjoyable experiences. We knew that Illinois was a 15-point underdog to Penn State and as a result, we were excited just to have the opportunity to see a new stadium (to us) and to visit Penn State. (One of our goals is to visit every Big Ten football and basketball stadium to see a game. So far we have been to several).
We began our adventure by leaving Pittsburgh around noon for Happy Valley. We stopped in the Altoona area for a late lunch, and we got to Penn State about four hours before the game, hoping to do some tailgating. While waiting in line to park we were given a parking pass from a Penn State fan for free. We were delighted with the friendliness and kindness that we had received at that point from Penn State fans.
Unfortunately, most of that all but disappeared when we got to the parking/tailgating area. We decided that we would head towards the stadium to meet with another group of Illini fans. We were in the Yellow Lot, which was probably a 30-minute walk to Beaver Stadium. We received directions to the Pink Lot where the other Illinois fans were, from some very nice Penn State fans and then began our journey towards the stadium.
After about 30 seconds into the walk, we realized that we were not in Champaign anymore as we were surrounded by ''white'' everywhere. On the walk to Beaver Stadium we encountered some of the poorest behavior any of us had ever seen. As a superintendent of a school district, I have disciplined and encountered many students, but I have never been sworn at, had beer sprayed at or touched in inappropriate ways. Unfortunately during our walk to Beaver Stadium all this occurred. Specifically, we were profanely taunted by countless fans.
Several Penn State fans gave us the one-fingered salute. In addition, at least twice our paths were block by several Penn State fans who told us we had to walk a different way. Of course, being surrounded by ''white cladded'' fans, we turned and went a different way.
Now most of this poor behavior can be attributed to drunk students who were filled with testosterone but not all. We also were accosted by adult Penn State fans.
Fortunately, it seemed after every incident, there was a Penn State fan that would apologize for the behavior and would welcome us to Happy Valley. Prior to going to the game, we had considered bringing our two daughters (ages seven and two) with us to the game, and we are now glad we did not.
We hated to leave Pennsylvania with this feeling that fans are OK to demonstrate this behavior without repercussions.
So we have decided to write this letter in the hope that future fans will not have to go through the negative experiences that we had. We are also planning on writing a letter to the Champaign News-Gazette, urging our fans never to treat opposing teams in the manner described.
Overall, we are glad to have the experiences we had, but plan to never go to another game at Penn State.
Rich and Jill Decman
Young's comments disturbing
It's that time again. Many of us are well under way in our preparations for the upcoming hunting seasons.
We have been hanging and checking trail cameras, shooting bows, scouring hunting magazines and utilizing any useful piece of information that any outdoor enthusiast can give us.
If other people are like me, I just enjoy being out, and I especially enjoy seeing young people getting outside and taking part in outdoor activities.
I can imagine just how excited Eli Borger was when he landed that 13-pound, eight-ounce golden rainbow. What an accomplishment for a 12-year-old, and I'm proud of him! Who I am not proud of is the editor of the Outdoor Times, Walt Young.
After he declared that Eli had caught a whopper of a fish, he chose to finish the article in a manner that was distasteful and disrespectful.
In a time when just getting a young person interested in the outdoors is becoming more difficult, Young used poor judgment when he decided to inject another of his sour opinions into one of his articles.
I recall earlier this year when Young sounded off about a gentleman who had kept a stringer full of smallies and how the man should go to the store to buy fish. Well, fish is expensive, and maybe he can't afford to pay at the least five bucks a pound. And as long as he is abiding by the rules and regulations, his buying of a license gives him the right to keep those fish.
Everyone has an opinion about everything, but there is a time and place for it.
Seeing how Young is an editor, I feel he should be more able to provide articles that are informative, positive and interesting to everyone, especially the youngsters.
Just because someone has an opinion on something doesn't mean it needs to be heard. I think that if young Eli saw Young's article, he probably asked his dad why someone thought his big 'ole fish was disgusting.
Hopefully his dad told him it wasn't his fish that was disgusting: It was the article.
William E. Ritchey
Pittman leaves a big void
We have lost a teammate and dear friend with the passing of Milford Pittman.
I first met Milford on the gridiron in 1958 at Altoona High School. Now, some 50 years later, it can be stated without hesitation that he lived his life true to his convictions.
Others will offer a chronology of his accomplishments the past many years. If age and life experiences afford one the moral authority to evaluate, I wish to offer a philosophical approach to remember my friend.
His first love was for his immediate family - son Maurice and grandson Amirh, closely followed by a strong affection for his many friends. I can unequivocally state that I have never met a person more willing to go the extra mile toward the establishment of a friendship.
I recall attending an Altoona Altoona High School home football game with him and was astonished at the numerous people passing by that greeted him with such warm enthusiasm.
I spoke with him by telephone at least weekly over the past several years. Our discussions usually covered a family update, the latest AAHS football news, lengthy conversations in respect to his many physical problems and always ended to some degree about his friends. He thrived on personal relationships and deeply cherished his many friendships.
Milford was a man of modest means placing little value on extravagant material possessions. He used the nickname, ''The Phantom,'' implying a sense of mystery. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If ever the adage rang true, ''what you see is what you get," applies in spades to Milford. His roadway to life was a simple two-way street. Traffic flowed in opposite directions with few side roads.
Absent any affectations, he was opinionated but not overbearing, mild mannered yet steadfast in personal conviction, sensitive and thoughtful, yet emotionally strong, sentimental but not maudlin.
Milford had a special ability to make you like him the moment you first met him. He viewed friendships in terms of a lifelong commitment.
He relentlessly planted the seeds for these relationships, nurtured them and watched them blossom.
Ray P. Caracciolo