As I sit in my easy chair watching the Vikings wrap up the season with the final game at the Metrodome, many memories come to mind of the stadium they’re ready to deflate and deconstruct. There’s Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Super Bowl XXVI between Buffalo and Washington, the 1985 All-Star Game, playoff games, season openers, countless Vikings and Twins games, NCAA basketball, Prep Bowls, a concert with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and the Grateful Dead. And those are just the things I was there for. Good memories from a simpler time.
Now, there’s no way I could have afforded to buy tickets for all of the above. The vast majority were attended via press passes.
As I watch the Vikings and Lions battle and think about the Dome, there’s a reflection on the TV screen from across the street. It’s the chimney from the Finseth home, chugging a continuous cloud of white as the temperature outside hovers around 1 degree with about a 20-below wind chill. For some reason, it’s comforting, nostalgic even. It reminds me of being a kid of about 3 or 4 on 5th Ave. SE in Waseca, watching the first snowfall in October and not seeing anything but white — huge piles of white — for what seemed like an eternity.
Spring arrived, as it always does, and many, many seasons have passed, but for some reason the billowing chimney smoke takes me back to the early 1960s and the first winter I can recall, and it’s a good feeling. Looking back — especially at the big picture — almost always is comforting. The past is a safe place. We know how things turn out. The present? The future? Not always so easy.
A week ago, I sat in this same spot to write a Christmas column, complete with memories of joyous Christmases past. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it bad as a kid, but I also didn’t have Leave it to Beaver life. My parents divorced when I was in elementary school, remarried and were separated when Dad died in 1970, a month after my 10th birthday. I remember that Christmas. Mom wanted to make it great, I’m sure, but she worked at Herter’s, and women were not paid as much as men for the same work back then. She was broke. A few days before Christmas, she walked in the door, bags filled with new clothes for my brother and I. “Scarf up, guys,” she said. I later learned she went to the office of a high-ranking Herter’s official and cried. He wrote her a check. It was a nice Christmas.
This Christmas was a good one at our house, bringing to an end a tumultuous year, and you won’t hear any complaints here. A lady stopped in the office a couple weeks ago to renew a subscription and was lamenting a rough 2013. I said I could tell her a few things that would probably make her feel better about her year — then I realized. There are millions, billions of people out there who could talk to me and make my year seem like a cakewalk. That’s the way it is for most of us.
As this column wraps up, the Vikings have defeated the Lions, and the Metrodome will soon be a memory. I’ll miss the Dome. I still miss Met Stadium and Met Center. Like those facilities, the Dome saw much jubilation and heartbreak. But, unless your name is Wrigley or Fenway, there’s a circle of life for stadiums — just as there is for people.
As in life, all we can do is savor the good times, relish the memories, count our blessings and continue to look ahead with hope. It’s what Minnesota people do.