Growing up, Sundays meant getting everyone up for Mass, getting out the St. Joseph missals, and putting on our chapel veils. Then the Manthei clan would pile in the car and drive the 4 blocks to the church, where we would file into our usual pew in the front of the church. In the summer we sweat in the hot, stuffy unair-conditioned building (and I often walked out feeling faint), or freezing in the below zero winter months.
When we got home, Mom would be fixing a rotisserie chicken or pot roast for our half-time dinner, and we would all put in a dime to draw a number between 0-9 for the game. Then we would cheer and groan as our beloved Vikings would play. Sometimes it was in the rain, sometimes in below zero snow. We watch the expressionless Bud Grant on the sidelines and the shivering players who were not allowed heaters, as the coach felt they would be thinking of getting back to them instead of fighting for a win.
The winner of the game would gleefully gather the pot of dimes and we would dream of going to the Super Bowl. Sometimes our hopes would be high as we won the playoffs.....the again, once more were dashed as the Vikes lost yet another Super Bowl. But there was always the hopes of next year as the Tarkingtons, Foremans, Studwell's and Kramers hung up the helmets for another year.
And now I live in Arizona, where I am not always able to see the Vikings play unless I go to a sports bar and beg them to put on the men in purple. BUT then there is THIS year! The rival quarterback, Brett Farve is now a Viking! And they are playing undefeated! And today I came home from church to discover the Vikings were playing on the local channel! And it was 4th quarter with 10 minutes to play and they led by 3 touchdowns!!!!! Then I called my daughter-in-law as as I was talking, watched Baltimore score and tie up the game. I then called my daughter in Ohio as the score was one point apart with two seconds to play. Baltimore attempted a field goal to win the game.....and missed. VIKES WIN!!! UNDEFEATED IN THE FIRST 6 GAMES OF THE SEASON!!!!!!
I thought of how the excitement would have all the Manthei family rolling and pounding on the floor, screaming, praying, yelling and grabbing for the bowl of dimes. Dinner would have to wait until after the game was done. We would be exhausted from our cheering as we went to sit at the big dining room table. Dad would go downstairs to throw some logs in the furnace, and the warm air would start coming up through the grate in the middle of the room.
After dinner and dishes, we would take our skates to the skating rink 3 blocks from the house, crunching on the frozen snow and blowing steam clouds above us with our breath. At the rink we would join our friends and talk about the game, the weekend, and the coming week at school.
We returned home in the dark as the cold air chilled us and made our lungs ache from breathing it. And we would dream again of a Viking Super Bowl victory.
It was a simpler life then. Dad worked as a Game Warden, Mom was at home with warm cookies when we returned from school (later she was busy selling Avon and Electrolux vacuums and writing for the Bemidji paper), and the youngest sister was born as the oldest one was graduating from high school. Life has changed considerable since then, and no one would have guessed where we would all be these years later, and what we would be doing. But some things remain intact....the dreams of watching a Viking win on a Sunday with the family....even if it now means sharing the plays by phone or Internet. Many things change in life, and now those same sisters have children and grandchildren of their own and new family traditions have been started. Some things remain the same, such as the Manthei's sharing the good and bad plays on the phone or Internet, and now yet another generation has joined in. Jen sent this picture of her son Daniel dressed Minnesotan for today's game. He is learning to cheer and working on making the Viking horn sound. Someday, the Vikings MAY win....and hope springs eternal that THIS year THESE Vikings will finally win the big one. Yes, Hell may freeze over, but it will be a hot day on the frozen northern tundra if the Super Bowl trophy finally comes to Minnesota. And there will be an old retired game warden dancing on the clouds.....literally! GO VIKES!