Sunday in Green Bay

When I owned a construction company in the Chicago suburbs some years ago, I  made frequent trips to the Hines Lumber Yard in Downers Grove. This was a convenient location to pick up lumber, drywall, and other supplies for my various construction sites. Hines delivered any large orders on their trucks, but I tied down product for any small job on the top of my Toyota Highlander and off I went to meet up with a carpenter or two at a job.

I tell you this because I was not particularly adept at loading ten sheets of plywood on top of my Toyota or 48-72 pieces of lumber. Although I did the loading from time to time, Dave was a Hines employee who ran the “yard” and usually he drove his forklift, got the product and loaded me out.

David Plumburg was a six foot tall by six foot round, all meat, no fat, strong-as-an-ox Polish man of about twenty-five years. He had short-cropped red hair. He possessed an infectious smile and was always fun to visit with. Over not much time Dave and I developed a good working relationship and a good friendship.

One  Thursday morning, Dave seemed to be in a particularly jovial mood, so I asked him, “What’s going on? You seem to be in a better than normal mood today.”

“I am. This Saturday, my brother, two friends, and I are driving up to Green Bay to watch Sunday’s Bear-Packer game.”

“Why are you going to Green Bay? Isn’t the game in Chicago at Soldier Field?”

“Yes, but we have business to tend to in Green Bay and we’ll watch the game there.”

“That seems odd. What kind of business if you don’t mind my asking?”

“My family has lived in the Green Bay area for generations and we have been Packer fans since the team was formed. You remember that my dad, Rudy, died last year?”

“Yes, I do. He was a good man, though I only met him once or twice.”

“Well, Mike, his lifelong wish and his last wish on his deathbed was that he be cremated and his ashes spread on the field at Lambeau in Green Bay, the field where Bart Starr, Jimmy Taylor, Paul Horning, Ray Nitchski, Brett Favre, and all the other heros planted their spikes and that is what we are going to do.”

“Holy shit! How are you going to pull that off, Dave?”

“I checked, and since Green Bay is out of town, a tour of the stadium is offered on Sunday morning. They do this for all away games. I figure we can make something happen.”

“You’re too much, my red haired friend. I don’t care if I need anything or not, I’m coming by Monday to see how you did.”

That weekend, I thought about Dave and his group. I smiled to myself and hoped they could pull it off. Monday morning I went to Hines. After saying hello to the ladies in the office, something I always had to do, I drove around back to look for Dave. I found him working the drywall.

“Well, how’d it go?”

“Perfect. We checked in at the Holiday Inn on Saturday afternoon. That night we went to Prime Quarter Steakhouse on Oneida Street and had a great meal, drinks and a lot of laughs. Everyone knew my dad so we had lots of stories to tell. After dinner we bedded down for the night.

The next morning we had breakfast and after we finished we divided up Dad’s ashes into four plastic bags. We tied the plastic containers with the ashes around our waist, situated them on our backside where they weren’t conspicuous and off we went to Lambeau. The tour was great. There was about thirty of us. We walked the press box, got to visit the locker room, saw Lombardi’s office, and then we went out on the sidelines. The tour guide, a good looking Wisconsonite with a perfect north woods accent, pointed out exactly where Lombardi liked to stand. He showed us where our hero’s seats were on the bench. Then we walked across the field toward the visitors side.

Around midfield, we pulled the plastic bags out of our shirts, put our hands behind our backs, and the four of us dropped the contents onto the field. Dad was now a part of Lambeau field. The tour ended, we went back to the Holiday Inn and watched the game. The Pack won 38-34, capping off a great Sunday, one for the ages.”

I left Hines and I couldn’t get Dave’s weekend with his dad out of my mind. Dads deserve that kind of love from their sons. Still today, ten years later, when I see a Packer game on TV, I can’t help but think of Dave’s dad, Rudy, being part of the action on Lambeau field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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