Sunday, January 22, 2012

Remembering JoePa

I grew up in a Penn State household. My dad went to Penn State. His older brother went to Penn State. I grew up with Penn State football on the TV every weekend. I was brought up with the lore of Joe Paterno. It was pretty much a fait acompli that I was gonna end up going to Penn State when my time for college came (and I did).

I never knew Joe Paterno, only what his football program stood for and what the associated University also (supposedly) stood for.

During my sophomore year at Penn State, I worked as a cashier at the Giant off of North Atherton (in State College, PA). I was working the express line, that day, and JoePa came through my line. I remember two things from that:

  1. how he didn't look nearly as short, standing there in front of me, as he did on the sidelines surrounded by truly big football players. I've seen estimates in the 5'7" to 5'8" range. That said, I'm a fraction of an inch shy of 6'0" and I don't remember the man standing across the register from me being 4+ inches shorter than me.
  2. how "normal" he was in just interacting with me. Seemed like a genuinely nice and grounded guy.
So, yeah - didn't know the guy and that was my only real exposure to the guy. I just know that he had a tremendously large impact on a lot of people - not just his players - even if just indirectly.

And, for me, with the death of my father in 2009 now being followed by the death of Paterno, it's like one more link to my father has been severed.

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