USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Herder of the Week - June 16th, 2007

The Trojan FatherHOTW - TrojanChuck
by Mojack

I can hear the detractors now, “Ohh sure, pay for a few years of education at USC and you could be Herder of the Week also…” and hey since I’m not above bribes, if someone wants to start a USC college fund for my kids, I’ll certainly fast track your HOTW application. (photo right: TrojanChuck and Mojack at 39th and Menlo) But in the case of this week’s HOTW, though it is true that the recipient was the direct connection between my USC tuition bills and the money that needed to be paid, this person has sat with the Herd since the San Jose State game, so he is an Original Herder.
It’s not coincidental that tomorrow is Father’s Day. As the weekend approached, I thought to myself what would be more appropriate than to celebrate the person who got me excited about USC in the first place, and who was instrumental in sending me to USC, and who also endured the USC games with me through the ‘90s…so my father Trojan Chuck was an obvious pick, and someone who needs to be acknowledged for their contribution to the Herd. True, Trojan Chuck doesn’t post on our boards, he is a lurker though, and he has brought his family; wife Judy and second daughter, Laura, and her husband Kirk, and their kids, into the Herd since that first game in 2001.
I remember at 3 years old getting driven to LAX with my mom and dad. I was in my pajamas, and I vividly remember seeing bright lights in the sky and asking, “what’s that?” And my father saying, “That’s the airport.” Instead, I soon found out, it was Dodger Stadium, and my parents were taking me to my first baseball game between the Pirates and the Dodgers. Though my father grew up in California, he was always a Pirates fan, and I became a Pirates fan, and so I was in ecstasy that we were at this baseball game at 3 years old. My point is that I loved sports from an early age, and that I contribute to my father, who I watched baseball and the Lakers and USC football with.
I’ve shared before about watching the Notre Dame and USC game in 1974 with my father. I was 10, and was distraught that Notre Dame was beating USC so badly. And then Anthony Davis’ 2nd half kickoff return jump started the Trojans, and USC never looked back and I didn’t either, staying a USC fan for life. Or course, as I surmised, I was a USC fan far before that memory because why would I have been so distraught by USC losing to Notre Dame if not, but that is my really first vivid memory of being a USC fan, and I shared that with my father. He had always loved USC.
But my Dad was more than my USC mentor, he was an elementary school teacher who became an elementary school principal. He has three other daughters besides me, and 8 grandkids total. He coached my Little League teams, and then my Pony and Colt League teams, and was very successful as a coach. He even was asked to continue to coach after I was through that period in my life, and though he wore those black Paul Hackett glasses, he always had a very good rapport with his players, and they liked and respected him. Plus, he was the kind of father/coach who would go throw me a few hundred batting practice pitches on the weekend whenever I felt the need to work on my game. When I played baseball my freshman year at UCSD, he would drive to games in San Diego and/or Santa Barbara when he were on the road to support me. (photo left: A table of Herders: TrojanChuck, Nathaniel, Bella, Eden, Benjie, Laura and Judy) Those are the kinds of fatherly attributes I hope to exhibit to my son Eden as he grows up. I’ve already tried to share our love to USC with my son, he’s been attending USC games since he was 6 months old, so that is one tradition I am passing on from my father.
When I told Shorty and Brooks that TrojanChuck was going to be HOTW, they said they wanted to write a few things. Brooks wrote, “I asked Chuck how Mojack went so wrong when the rest of the family is normal. He didn't have an answer. He said that most people thought he was adopted but if that were true, they would have returned him after two days. Noticing Chuck's discomfiture at the demeanor of Mojack at one of the tailgates, I thought he might need a little encouragement. I mentioned that Mojack was like another son to me. Then thinking of the age, I said, well more like a nephew or grandson. Chuck looked at me and said, consider him anything you want, just get him out of my family. In spite of his son, for which we can't really hold him responsible, Chuck is one of the good guys. An Original Herder who attends all of the home games.”
 
And Shorty contributed some random Trojan Chuck thoughts:
"I just don't understand the Morris family. How Trojan Chuck puts up with Mojack is beyond me and how Judy puts up with either one is incomprehensible. Many times I've heard Mojack say "Trojan Chuck, he's been like a dad to me."
A few things Trojan Chuck has never said:

"I am proud that you decided to keep the family unibrow."
"Trojan Odyssey sure knows his stuff."
"Hey, kids! Sit down at the table and try my vichyssoise."
"Go ahead and take my Lexus. Here's 80 bucks for gas."
"Let's all sit down so the weenie lady behind me can see."
"I LOVE your tattoo. We should both get new ones."
"Leinart can't throw the long ball."

"Son, I signed us up for the pairs karaoke contest this Friday night."

Trojan Chuck was very supportive of Mojack's baseball career. In fact, once Mojack went to college, Chuck and his
buddies would go to games and spellout M-O-J-A-C-K on their bare chests. The rainbow colored wigs were a nice touch also. Seriously, Trojan Chuck has become a good friend and great Herder. I always look forward to seeing his smile and getting a high five. Congratulations Trojan Chuck for your wonderful family.”
Thanks for the words, Brooks and Shorty. Both SCNut and Altadena Trojan have told me how cool it is that I get to experience the Trojan games, the San Gabriel Trojan Club dinners, the Herd walks, etc., with my father, and I do really appreciate it. That’s another reason that for our Father’s Day Herder of the Week, I’m presenting my father, TrojanChuck as this week’s HOTW. Fight On, Dad.

How did you become a USC fan?
It was News Year’s Day, 1946, I turned on the radio and listened to the Rose Bowl Game – USC versus Alabama. Alabama won 34 – 14, but at that point in time I became a SC fan. I don’t remember much about the game or any highlights. I do remember some unforgettable names from that game – Ted Tannehill, Verle Lillywhite and Jim Hardy. I learned later that L.A. Councilman John Ferraro was also on that team at LT. In the following years, I continued to follow USC and whatever was written about any USC team or individual, such as, Paul Cleary (All American) or sprinter Mel Patton.
In January 1953, I had the pleasure to attend the Rose Bowl. What a great experience. The entire atmosphere was electric. I had never been to an event with so many people – over 100.000. The game was a tough fought “football game”. USC won 7 – 0 over Wisconsin. Al “Hoagy” Carmichael against All American Al “The Horse” Ameche. Carmichael caught a 22 yard pass from Rudy Bukich and Sam Tsagalaskis kicked the extra point.
At the Coaches Tour Dinner in Pasadena on June 5, 2007, I was walking to the Herd table when I saw a name tag ---- Sam Tsagalakis. He was directly in front of me. I said, “You are Sam Tsagalaskis the USC kicker in the 1953 RoseBowl.” (photo right: TrojanChuck in tux) He looked at me with a smile. “Yes, I am and how nice of you to remember.” I shook his hand as I told him that I was at the game and that it was a truly a great game. He agreed as I introduced him to Mojack and to Brooks. He looked back at me and said, “I was a kicker not one of these soccer players they call kickers today.”
You were born in Gallup, New Mexico. Then you moved as a young boy and grew up in Rialto, California and went to San Bernardino High School. Tell us what it was like to grow up in Southern California back in those days and have that connection to USC? What was it like to go to the Coliseum back in the 1950's? One of your high school friends went on to play football at Oregon with John Robinson. Can you tell us about all these seeming Trojan connections?
I graduated from San Bernardino High School with Lindsey Hubby who played for SC as an end. I had an acquaintance from Colton High, Wayne Kurlack QB. Our head football coach at SBHS was Paul Taylor a QB at SC. I had a very good friend, Leroy Phelps, who was the starting halfback at Oregan with teammates John Robinson and John Madden. Leroy’s parents did not like to drive in LA so they would ask me to drive and watch Leroy play in the Coliseum. After the game, we would wait at the top of the tunnel until Leroy came up to visit with us.
The tunnel was always this mystery – from watching so many teams over the years rush forth onto the floor of the Coliseum. The Herd has given me the opportunity on several occasions to walk through and enjoy entering the field and being on that playing field. A great experience - for a fan!

Tell us how it feels to grow up loving USC, not being able to attend USC yourself, and yet have one of your children attend USC? Did that make you feel more a part of the Trojan
family? Did that make going to the USC games more of a special experience?
I grew up thinking about attending USC, but financially I couldn’t afford the great educational opportunity I would have received. I was supportive when my son asked if he could apply to USC. I was overjoyed upon his acceptance and, of course, tremendously proud on his graduation – Class of ’88. A dream comes true ……. All in Cardinal and Gold.
Today, I encourage my grandchildren to invest themselves in the USC mystique. (photo left: Herd fathers; TrojanChuck, Mojack, Brooks, SCGary and Grover) They may be eleven years and younger, but they attend events – football, basketball, baseball and even hockey games. It is especially special to be on campus during “game day” seeing and listening to the TMB, the song girls, Traveler, the statue of Tommy Trojan, and being with the Herd. They wear their USC gear, have mementos/souvenirs in their rooms and can give the “Fight On “sign whenever an USC event is happening.
Tell us how you used to support USC, watch games, etc., before you discovered the Herd.
 
Growing up outside of Rialto on an orange grove did not lend itself to me personally attending any of the USC games. After graduating from high school I did get the opportunity to attend several games. I seldom missed any USC events on TV. But with my two years of military service, raising a family, coaching baseball for fifteen years, etc., I didn’t have the “open opportunity” to regularly attend games at the Coliseum.
 
When Mojack was attending USC, the family bought season tickets up up up in the nose bleed area. Yet we were there, and we have been there since! 

You have only discovered the internet in the last few years, and I know you lurk on the Herd Forum, but what was your opinion when your son came to you and said that the family needed to change their season tickets to go with
this new group, the Thundering Herd?
 
It sounded like a good idea to get near the field and the action, but my wife, daughter, and the grandkids couldn’t see. (photo right: TrojanChuck and Judy in Hawaii) My wife Judy and daughter Laura would watch the teleprompter at the Peristyle end. The grand kids were held or stood near the tunnel rail. A few years ago. I bought two seats in Row 21 in Section 11. My wife and daughter now sit with the younger grandkids and can see the action directly.
I know the San Jose State game was your first Herd game. What were your first impressions of the Herd? And those first impressions don't have to include your opinion of having your son thrown out of the Coliseum in the first Herd game.
The mindset of the police at that game was typically nearsighted. They thought the Herd were a bunch of thugs a.k.a. Raider fans. A dozen or more officers lined the stairway while USC videotaped our actions. The one officer who sent Mojack outside needed to justify his presence because of the number of officers that certainly could be used elsewhere in the city of LA to watch over the unsupervised populace instead of active contained football fans.
There certainly was pre-planning to their presence and actions. Mike Garrett? President Sample? But thanks to the Herd’s unending support and to Pete Carroll, the Herd is called upon to support USC needs requested by coaches, song girls, and equestrian team. The TMB, etc. All thanks to the enthusiastic support by the Herd membership. Oh, by the stairway, just one officer now stands near the Herd.

What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to you and your family? Your son and his children come to the games. Your daughter Laura, son-in-law Kirk and their kids have been season ticket holders also sin
ce the origination of the Herd. What has Trojan football meant to over the last two decades?
Being part of a winning experience like no other that I have personally been involved with and having my family beside me to enjoy the electric football atmosphere. My son and daughter and my grandchildren can stand with pride and say, “We were there.” The Pete Carroll years have been the greatest and can be the heart of many stories our children and grandchildren can share with the future generations at family gatherings. Believe me, our birthday celebrations (11 from August 26th to December 22nd) all have to be planned around the USC schedule which sometimes causes some questions about who comes first- the family birthdays or the USC games? You guessed it, the USC games always win out!

You used to tailgate with just the family outside the steps of the Los An
geles County Museum of History. And what has the move to the Herd tailgates, and getting to know lots of Herders, and the extended family of the Herd meant to you?
The family would park across at the Menlo lot (no problems in the Smith and Hackett years) we’d find a shady area, set up our table and indulge ourselves in our tailgate. We could throw the football to one another, listen to various USC groups spell out S-O-U-T-H-E-R-N C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A and have the openness now filled with parked cars.
We joined the Herd at 39th and Menlo and enjoined the corner atmosphere, the interaction with new friends, great hospitality, and the food was always superb, and there were TV’s broadcasting various key games from across the country that kept you up to date. The Herd made “game day” truly great...
There are a few seminal Herd moments; from "We Believe" to Thomas Williams jumping into the stands. And a few great Herd away games. Are there any special moments that you remember and feel a strong part of?
My oldest daughter lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Mojack and family plus my wife and I flew to Atlanta. My son-in-law drove my son and me to Auburn for the first game of Matt Leinart’s college career. Hot –hot – dark black night with lightning and thunder in the background and we’re at the top of the stadium standing like good Herd members. The Auburn people were hospitable and friendly. “Welcome to Auburn” was the general greeting. After the game, “Great game!’ “You played well!” “We’d like to play you again!”, but no derogatory remarks.
The Hawaii game was hot – full sun seating for the SC fans. The first half was a complete question mark. Where was the SC football team? Were they surfing or sunny in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel? Then in SC fashion - - - WHAM – BAM! A great win. What a wonderful week in Honolulu with Mojack and his family and my wife. A luau, tour of Pearl Harbor, the beach, Diamond Head, and the ghosts of Harry Owens and the Royal Hawaiians with Hilo Hattie coming from the great Pink Lady Hotel. Did I mention the Great Herd tailgate next to Pearl Harbor? And to top off the week, all five of us flew home (for some unknown reason) first class. GO USC!
 
What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward? And what are your final thoughts about your Herd experience
I can only say that I wish Brooks and I were twenty years younger. The true enjoyment of being at the games, experiencing the moment, the unity of spirit, the whole essence of USC. (photo right: Mojack and TrojanChuck at a luau in Hawaii) It can’t get any better than being with family and friends while beating the Bruins and ND and no home game losses. The experience is just that – an on-going Fight-On!

I know this is Father's Day, but do you ever get jealous about what a great and revered Trojan your son is?
Thanks for being the son of sons that continues to make an old man’s heart say, “God Bless every day I can spend with you”.

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