I’m not sure which is sweeter, this photograph or the fact that the little boy in it has held onto it for more than 50 years.
The dapper little guy in the picture grew up to be Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna, and the gentlemen standing with him is my dad.
I’d been hearing about this picture for years and last Saturday, when I ran into him at the Appleton Farmer’s Market, Mayor Hanna asked me to wait a minute, and then he ran up to his office to retrieve it.
Taken at the annual Father/Son Banquet at Trinity Lutheran Church, the picture captures a single night and a whole era in history all at the same time.
Little boys listened to football on the radio back then, while simultaneously playing pickup games in vacant lots and backyards. They memorized stats by combing the agate section of the newspaper, and ran plays they heard voices like Jim Irwin call out over the air. Against that backdrop, Tim Hanna became a super fan.
“I knew every stat of every player on that team,” he said.
In 1965, my dad, Ron Kostelnik, was 24-years old and just coming into his own in the NFL. Dave “Hawg” Hanner had just retired and my dad had taken over his starting position. The Packers won the first of three straight World Championships that season, including the first two Super Bowls.
That night, at the Trinity Lutheran Father/Son Banquet, my dad was the keynote speaker. Both he and his audience of dads and little boys dressed for the occasion.
“When they announced that the first person to correctly identify the player whose number they called out would get to have his picture taken with your dad, I knew I would win,” Mayor Hanna said. “I still remember the number – 81 – and I said Marv Fleming.”
The two posed there in the basement of the church and, later, my dad autographed the picture for him.
Of course, I love everything about this picture. I love how serious they both are looking into that old school lens. I love that they both wore their Sunday best. I love that my dad got all dressed up and drove from our house in Green Bay down to Appleton to speak at a church banquet. I love that he was probably a little nervous when he stepped up to the podium. I love that young Tim Hanna was not.
And I love that the mayor of my favorite city in all the world shared this story and this picture with me.