“My Story” by Hazel Gallupe

“My Story” by Hazel Gallupe:

In 1961 the Chargers football team moved to San Diego.  It was the beginning of a new league, the American Football League.  Amos loved sports, especially football, so each week he would purchase seats for us through the Special Services on the base.  He got his whole family going to the games, Lolita and Jesse Madden, Sally and Fred, Phyllis and Johnny Ives, Joyce and Dan Allen, Judie and date.   They sat down lower on the curve, he purchased 50 yard line seats for us right behind the home team bench! Then in 1962, we purchased season tickets and were assured of good seats each time!  The first few years we went to old Balboa Stadium, which had been built for the football team at San Diego High School.  Old hard bleacher seats, no backs, cushions, just a cement slab, but we didn’t care.  We never missed a game.

Sid Gillman was the first coach, and we never had a more brilliant, dedicated one.  He knew how to put it all together and make things work.  John Hadl throwing that ball to Lance Allworth was a beauty to see! For those first two years it was difficult for me to understand football, but in 1963 Sid had a seminar one night each week for eight weeks for women only.  He started with the basics (really!), and showed us so we would understand.  He used a big screen which he projected all his X’s and O’s and explained how football works.  I learned the game and from then on it was very exciting to me!

We joined the Charger Backers (and Amos would take off at noon on the Friday before a home game to attend the luncheon, and my boss was so great, he would allow me to leave to go also).  The Backers were a large group of dedicated Charger fans.  Each time they had a luncheon the coach would come in from practice with a couple of players, and the fans could ask questions.  They had a radio announcer as MC.  They raffled off gifts and made the meeting interesting to attend. Each year they decided to draw a name of a member to attend an away game, all expenses paid, to fly on the plane with the coaches and players, and were given some cash as well.  Well, in 1963 my name was drawn so Amos and I flew to a game in Houston with the Oilers. The Chargers won and it was a fun ride home listening to the laughing and the things the Charger players said about things that went on during the game.  That was a great thrill for us.

We got to know a lot of the players personally, like Emil Karas, Chuck Allen, Ernie Ladd, Dave Koucerick, Ron Mix, etc. We would see them at day-at-camp, or any place like that, and they would stop, remember our name and ask us how we were, etc. It made us feel good for them to remember like that. No doubt to tell all that we definitely are CHARGER fans!  I worked as a volunteer for many years in the Charger office at ticket mailing time, and during that time I became well acquainted with Sid Gillman.

Lots of times after a Charger backer luncheon I would leave a little early to get back to work and Sid would walk out about the same time.  Many times he would grab a hold of my arm and we would discuss football on our way back to our cars. One time I remember seeing another team on TV using markers for the ten yards needed and told him we needed those, too.  He said “you think that is a good idea?” and you know what we got them.  Maybe my mentioning them had nothing to do with it but it is nice to think, well, maybe!!  During those years Amos and I went to a lot of out of town games as well as every home game!

We became good friends with Walt and Jenny Low, her sister Mary and Al Cook, Ed and Adelaide Karson, and with maybe another couple or two we would get together before or after a game to eat at someone’s home.  We would rotate, and have a good time.  We went to Backer parties when the Raiders fans would come to San Diego and make lots of noise.  At one of these parties we ran into Bob and Vivian Huguley (old school chums) so they were from then on, included with our little group.  They were good Charger fans, also. Many times we went to Oakland games, Seattle, and San Francisco – all away games.   We stayed in hotels with a lot of other Charger backers and lots of good, enthusiastic, parties … Raw! Raw! Raw! One time the cannon that is used at the Charger home games when we score was dismantled and taken to San Francisco on the plane, reassembled and placed in the lobby of the hotel where we Charger fans were staying.  People walking by just couldn’t understand or believe what they were seeing.

As I said before, we had become Charger Fans and when my name was drawn from the hat to fly with the team to Houston for that weekend all expense free trip, we couldn’t turn it down although Joyce and Dan were expecting a new baby.  Daniel Carl, born on December 16, 1963, waited until we returned and what a pretty little boy he was.  Dark brown hair and fair skin, with blue eyes.  He was a man’s boy.  He sort of tolerated me as long as I didn’t get in his way as he crawled across the floor following his Grandpa to the bathroom or wherever he was headed.  H would get about half way there when he (Grandpa) returned, and I was not to stand in his way!  He would always go around me and be perturbed that I was blocking his route! But he did love to be cuddled.  Joyce was such a good caring mother, it showed in her children.  Those two little  boys, close in age were always together playing games, competing and busy, busy, loud little boys, very active and normal! I loved them dearly!

In 1963 we extended our living room size to twelve by sixteen feet with walnut bookcases on each side of a large fireplace.  And we had a china cabinet built in the dining room.  I loved it. We had paid off our mortgage in eleven years and saved enough money to pay cash for the remodeling and it felt good!

November 4, 1964, was our 25th wedding anniversary, and Amos was retiring from the Navy then also, after over 30 years of military service.  The Navy gave him a very nice retirement ceremony, and our girls surprised us with a very nice anniversary party at our home with many close friends invited.

The Charger Backers decided it would be great to go to the Buffalo game one weekend and the Jets game in New York City the next weekend and that all happened at our anniversary time!  Good timing! Baron Hilton owned the Chargers at that time so we really got a terrific deal! Planes were chartered and over two hundred Charger Backers fans left San Diego on a Friday morning.  When we got to Buffalo it was raining, so Buffalo fans took us in their own cars from the airport to the hotel.  We thought that was very generous of them, and they had a welcome party for us.

The next day we rode chartered buses on a tour of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, into Canada and had a wonderful day of sightseeing!  Saturday night we had our bags packed and we went to the game leaving the bags on the secured bus. It was cold and the back streets were frozen mud where we walked to the stadium, but we had a good time anyway! After the game we went directly to the airport and flew into New Jersey then to the hotel (Hilton hotels, of course), right downtown.

The next week we went day and night and tried to see and do everything we could.  Saw the Rockettes at Rockefeller Center, saw the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Greenwich Village, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, saw Sophie Tucker, went through St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, went to the top of the Empire State Building, shopped or pretended to in very exclusive stores, on a boat ride around Manhattan Island, an all day bus ride (tour) narrated which was very informative and interesting. Oh, we had so many memories of that time in New York. It was such a wonderful experience, and there are weird memories, too.  One time in a men’s restroom Amos washed his hands and reached for a towel, which was handed to him by an attendant, which he could have done without, then the man stuck out his hand for a tip, but Amos with a straight face put the wet towel in his hand and walked out! One time in front of the hotel the doorman nearly slammed the door on Amos foot because he didn’t tip him enough as we got into the cab … and he didn’t even hail it for us. We had a lot of laughs and kept our sense of humor.

On Saturday night before we were to leave for home, Barron Hilton, the Charger owner, gave a huge spread of a party for us.  And you should have seen the hotel staffs’ mouths drop open when he appeared and joined us.  THEN they realized the connection.  We kept saying to ourselves, why didn’t he do this at the first of the week? What service we would have received!!!

On Sunday evening we had our bags packed and on the bus as we went to the Jets game in NY. The escalators were not working and we hiked to the very top of the top of the stadium!!  That was the game where Chuck Allen broke his leg, but hobbled off the field on his own so we wouldn’t be charged with a time out. Immediately after the game we went to the airport and flew home.  What a wonderful, interesting trip it was.  I really enjoyed seeing and doing all the things we did in that city, I wouldn’t want to live there, but it was a trip to remember!!

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