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Old friends, hoops and Andy Griffith

The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.

If I hear the word drought this summer, I’ll scream.

You’re only young once and I feel terrible for the youth, high school and college kids whose last two seasons of fun and games have been cut short due to Mother Nature. Being involved in team sports as a kid gives adults many fond memories that can fill hours of conversation during the latter stages of life.

Speaking of memories and latter stages of life, on three occasions during the past six months I have had the great pleasure and enjoyment of renewing old friendships with former Telegram sports columnist Carlo Kumpula, who currently resides in Spooner; Dick Pufall, former sports writer for the Milwaukee Journal from Ashland; and Superior’s Walt Tafelski.

Kumpula and Tafelski graduated high school from Mellen, Pufall from Ashland All of us are graduates from the 1960s when playing team sports, during all seasons, occupied about 103 percent of our time.

Carlo and I played basketball for Northland College during the late 1960s and Pufall was my catcher who had the honor of catching my “sinker” at Northland during the spring of 1970. He, along with his cousin, Jim Pufall, and Bill Foris all lived in Ashland and played for Hugo Rajanen and the Superior Legion baseball team in 1969 where we were teammates.

Walt has lived in Superior for years and during his high school years as a Granite Digger he was one of the best pitchers in the state. Without the benefit of today’s radar gun, it is thought by many that his fastball was in the low to mid 90s. He never gave up a home run to an opposing hitter which gives credence to this claim.

We have met three times at Grizzly’s for three-hour lunches while sharing facts and lies about how good we were. Having played with Carlo and Dick, I can vouch for their incredible athletic abilities. Having read a three inch thick scrap book of Ashland Daily Press, Telegram and News Tribune articles kept by Carlo’s mother, I believe the stories told of Walt’s dominance from the mound. A probable professional career was derailed by an injured arm. Since Tommy John Surgery wasn’t around back then, Walt’s potential was not realized.

Carlo got us all together and we have regular gatherings to talk sports. I must contact Dave Williams and Craig Morrissey to talk contract for a sports talk show on The iFan Sports Network.

Those of our generation would have great enjoyment listening to the conversation. Our next meeting will be in Spooner during mid-May.

When I reminded Pufall of my devastating sinker, he responded thusly, “That was your fastball; gravity made it sink.” I never liked Dick. There will be more stories of these who bend the truth in upcoming stories. Thanks to Carlo for getting us all together.

Again, speaking of team sports, Dave Johnson, crack camera man of iFan and I had the honor of attending the SHS girls basketball banquet last Sunday at Barker’s Island. The food was superb.

I wonder how many hours hotel manager Charlie Johnson spent in the prep kitchen. Great job.

Back to basketball and this history making team. Back-to-back state tournament appearances, a second-place finish this past season and memories that will last a lifetime are the rewards for hard work and dedication.

Because of the significance of this event, it’s too bad that not all players were able to attend. They missed something really special. Thank-you coaches, players, managers, parents and fans for creating memories that will never be forgotten. Now, players get ready for next year. Remember, teams and players are not made during the regular season but during the off-season.

Dave Johnson, is the “useless facts” provider to Lance Boyle Enterprises, and has researched this not so “useless” fact. One of the all-time, if not THE all-time greatest television show is the Andy Griffith Show that detailed life in Mayberry, NC and the escapades of Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Otis, Floyd the Barber, Ernest T. Bass and Gomer among others.

Airing on CBS from Oct. 3, 1960 through April 1, 1968, 249 episodes taught us about small town America, life lessons and personal relationships. This show will never die, and that is a good thing. It should be a Federal requirement that all are required to watch and learn.

Check out the website, for a destination back in time.

Dave Scheuemann has created six acres outside the village limits of Clear Lake, Wis., with memories that will engulf you as I when I visit my beloved Lake Nebagamon, aka, Shangri La.

In his bed and breakfast, Dave has recreated Andy’s, Aunt Bee’s and Opie’s rooms along with the courthouse and jail. These are available for rent.

The living room, dining room, kitchen and porch are all recreated as accurately as possible from the show. Wally’s Service Station was completed in 2007. For more information call them at 715-263-2639 (ANDY). What an experience this would be. Check it out.

The Boyle’s will be making a road trip this summer. At Wally’s I will have a soda. Make mine Orange Nehi. I have a dime. Ah, that’s good.

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