Welcome to the class notes serving the Notre Dame class of 1968.

Classmates and friends of the Notre Dame Class of 1968,

Timeliness was the original appeal of a blog for our class notes, photos and messages: instead of waiting three months or so for news, we modern fellows and our friends could avail ourselves of the Internet for timely communication.  Since then, a second reason for the blog has come along: the notes submitted to the print magazine undergo a scrubbing for length and, apparently, for consistency with the “Notre Dame brand.”  But, as far as we are concerned, we are the Great ’68 and we are the Notre Dame brand.  So here we have a place for the kinds of interests and opinions we share freely when we are together.

Using the file directory at the right, you can navigate to pages set aside for various kinds of news: chances to get together (Rendezvous notes), game discusssions, how to find other Notre Dame alumni, several recent columns written about our class for Notre Dame magazine, photos and so on.  Perhaps some of you who are good at the technique will prepare a Podcast or a short video at one of the tailgate parties: let people give their names and their messages.  We can post the Podcasts and videos on our blog.

We can use the blog to leave comments, too.  In order to add your comment, you will have to register.  If you want to post photographs or new articles, send me your username at tfigel@lake-effect.com and I will take care of the blog administration needed.  You can also email me the note or the photo with instructions and I will post the material for you.

If you attend a game, look for the Class of 1968 flag.  There, between the stadium and Legends (once the Senior Bar), you will find many of your friends.


Class notes submitted August 1, 2014

The Streams of Our Lives
These notes have two streams converging. One is a rising current of notes announcing classmates’ deaths. The other is a frothing white water of news mostly supplied by Mike Helmer in California, Brian Schanning from the high seas of Massachusetts, and President Tom Weyer from his Oak Brook residence, the ND68 Class Center in the Chicago area.
Thanks to Mike, Brian and Tom, there’s nothing to do but get out of their way. Let’s start with Mike Helmer: “Beth and I just got back from dear old New London CT where we (in the august company of reunion emcee Tom Condon and his lovely wife, Anne) celebrated our 50 year reunion of St. Bernard’s HS class. We had planned a side trip to Gloucester to see Dana Hart and Mary Ellen only to learn that they are done with Cape Ann and are now living full time in the Tucson area. You English majors might appreciate this tale. Beth has always been a very active person and road trips are a trial for her. Try to imagine a day on the road with a 110 lb hummingbird riding shotgun. So on the advice of a literary friend, we tried the classic books on disc. The road trip to Nashville and back featured “Jane Eyre” the climax to which coincided with our return trip via US 50, the”loneliest road in America.” There we were, tooling along with Beth yelling, “Damnit Jane! Don’t marry that @$$hole!” I’m guessing that’s the only time those words have ever been spoken on that road, at least in connection with Bronte’s novel. The road trip Death March also included a July clockwise circling of Lake Michigan, Beth to visit her old nursing supervisor in Lake Geneva, me to have a beer in Sault Ste. Marie. The back story on the beer: the summer job in 1965 and 1966 was respective employment as a deck hand and a coal-passer on the ore boats where I committed the deadly sin of envy every time we passed through the locks. The sight of peopIe enjoying themselves on a restaurant deck overlooking the locks turned me green with jealousy back then and I made a promise to myself that I would go back to the Soo and return the favor. I’m sleeping much better for having kept the promise.”
And Brian Schanning’s late July note: “Susan and I have just started sailing to Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. Hoping to connect with Bob Brady in Maine who will be coming back from a visit with Margaret to Nova Scotia in early August. Will be attending my 50th high school reunion (Archbishop Stepinac HS in White Plains, NY) with fellow class members Bill Holahan and John Longhi on October 10.”
President Tom Weyer wrote: “In June I attended the Mt. Carmel HS 50th re union…even though I did not go to school there. But if the cocktail party was a half hour longer I might have been elected to something. I went to support Dr. Rick McPartlin: you have to be nice to your doctor at our age. I caught up with 68 classmates Mike Terrill, Tom McCann and the rarely seen Chris Wilcox in from Connecticut. Rick was being honored for his Mt Carmel hockey history from being a founding player to team physician for many years. That combined with his recent military service – as an AARP member – garnered him Hall of Fame honors. Tom Gibbs, and sisters, were in attendance as well, to honor their Mom , the lovely and lively Mary Jane Gibbs. Mary Jane was given honorary Alumni status for her half Century plus of support to Our Lady’s Caravan.”
Unfortunately, our news also includes the deaths of Steven G. Rothmeier, John Siverd, Jorge Mas, Al Mansour and, from 69, Bill Luking. Sweet, beautiful Mary Disser McCrea, often with Bryan Dunigan at class gatherings, died at the end of May after four years of struggle. Our class blog, www.ndclass1968.com, has obituaries and remembrances of these good, highly accomplished friends. Steven G. Rothmeier held high station as a CEO but this is how Bryan Dunigan remembers him: “Steve Rothmeier aka “Sparty Spartan” because of his haircut in the mid-60’s was a great guy. May his soul rest in peace—he had little peace in Stanford Hall!! His roommate was Terry Quinn and he lived next door to Bob Ptak and Billy “The Big Cheese” Balsis. Steve was always trying to study and the Fenwick guys were usually screwing around and occasionally trying to wrestle him to the ground. I laugh when I picture Steve waving Terry Quinn like a flag as Terry tried to grab a leg. Pretty sure Joe Kernan lived down the hall, too.” Ron Kurtz remembers John Siverd as a freshman roommate and wonders how John put up with it. Ned Buchbinder, who roomed with Jorge Mas one year, recalls the lifelong friendship that Jorge and Ned’s mother developed one Thanksgiving holiday. Al Mansour was very active in his native Georgia community while heading the retail business begun by his grandfather.
Please visit the class blog, www.ndclass1968.com, for additional details and for news from or about Forrest Hainline, Monk Forness, artist Tom Fitzharris, Jim O’Rourke, Dan Harshman, Fred Ferlic and many others. Thanks. – Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3-E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. (office) 312-223-9536.

John Siverd death May, 2014

On June 4, 2014, Ron Kurtz wrote to tell all of us:


Sadly, this is to inform you of the death on May 17 of my freshman year roommate, John Siverd.  An incomparably good man, mature beyond his years, even as a freshman.  How he ever tolerated me, I’ll never understand.  We’ve lost another good one.


His  obituary, sent to me by his lovely wife, Nancy, is attached.

(Click here to view obituary published in Idaho area where John lived with his family:


Jorge Mas death in Puerto Rico May, 2014

Ned Buchbinder called and then wrote with sad news of his friend and former roommate Jorge Mas’ death in his native Puerto Rico:

Jorge Mas who had a gift of enthusiasm (en theos=filled with the gods) for life and friendship and family passed away in his home in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico the last week of May, 2014.  Ned Buchbinder, Jorge’s roommate sophomore year shared that he and Jorge became hermanos, brothers/true friends for life.Condolences to his family and our deepest prayers.  All of Jorge’s children graduated from Notre Dame.
Jorge, who became a favorite of Ned’s mother, kept in lifetime touch with Ned, and with Mrs. Buchbinder.

Death of Steven G. Rothmeier May 14, 2014

In Memoriam: Steven G. Rothmeier

Steven G. Rothmeier, Member of the Board of Directors

Among the notes that originated with Tom Durkin was a remembrance distributed by Bryan Dunigan:

Steve Rothmeier aka “Sparty Spartan” because of his haircut in the mid-60’s was a great guy.  We lived in Stanford Hall and he was in a few of my classes Freshman year.  His room mate was Terry Quinn and he lived next door to Bob Ptak and Billy “The Big Cheese” Balsis.  Steve was always trying to study and the Fenwick guys were usually screwing around and occasionally trying to wrestle him to the ground.  I laugh when I picture Steve waving Terry Quinn like a flag as Terry tried to grab a leg.  Pretty sure Joe Kernan lived down the hall too.Steve’s high school principal in Fairbault, MN . , Sister Regina Kelly, was a classmate of John Walsh’s Mom and my Mom at Rosary College.  And Steve always would keep me updated on Sister Regina which was a delight for my Mom to hear of her dear friend.

  I always knew Steve to be a great Gentleman in every sense of that word.  I will always remember him as a great guy and I am sorry to hear of his passing.   May his soul rest in peace—he had little peace in Stanford Hall!!

Long-Serving Lumen Christi Institute Board Chair, Former Northwest Airlines CEO, and University of Chicago Trustee

Steven G. Rothmeier—a successful businessman who rose to CEO at Northwest Airlines and later founded Great Northern Capital, a private investment management firm in St. Paul, MN—died May 14th, 2014 after suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He was 67.

Born in Mankato, Minnesota in 1946, Rothmeier received a BA in Business Administration from the University of Notre, where he also played varsity football.

Following his undergraduate studies, he put aside his professional aspirations to serve his country and was decorated for his service as an infantry officer in Vietnam.

Upon his return to civilian life, Rothmeier earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1973. After working briefly at General Mills, he joined Northwest Airlines. Twelve years later—at the age of 38—he became CEO. His discipline and strong work ethic helped streamline the company and make it more competitive. Under his watch, Northwest added new routes and expanded hubs to cities such as Detroit and Memphis.

Through all his accomplishments, Rothmeier was devoted to the Catholic Church. He participated actively in St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul, MN—acclaimed for the beauty of its liturgy and sacred music. He erected a private chapel in his Bavarian-style home outside St. Paul, in Eagan, MN. Patterned after chapels in Europe, it featured traditional Bavarian leaded-glass windows, as well as a little bell tower.

Fr. George Rutler—who first met him about twenty years ago through visits to St. Agnes—was touched by his friend’s humble and profound faith: “He was a man of so many varied talents which he exercised as effortlessly as he was modest about them. Since Our Lord knows what is in the heart of man, and far better than we do, He knows the number of the numberless good things Steven did for the good of the Church.”

He was also deeply committed to his alma mater, the University of Chicago. He served as Trustee of the College and was a member of the Council on the Graduate School of Business.

It was while he was a U of C Trustee that came to know of the work of the Lumen Christi Institute. Thrilled about a place that could unite his love for the Church as well as the U of C, he joined the board in December of 1998, only a year after the Institute was founded. He was elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors soon after and served faithfully from 1999-2009.

Under his guidance, Lumen Christi experienced tremendous growth. Noel Moore, who succeeded Rothmeier as Chairman of the Board, underscored his vital contribution to the Institute’s development: “Steve’s faith, leadership, and generosity nurtured Lumen Christi’s growth and stature when we needed it most; at the Institute’s founding and early days.”

Moore further added: “All that Lumen Christi has accomplished over the past 17 years, would not have been possible but for Steve’s early and sustained commitment.”

Thomas Levergood, Executive Director of the Lumen Christi Institute, remarked: “As a University of Chicago alumnus and trustee, Steve Rothmeier understood the culture of excellence of the University and the need for an articulate Catholic presence within its culture. He was especially pleased as the Institute developed its national Program in Economics and Catholic Social Thought.”

Rothmeier’s deep faith made a lasting impression on all who met him: “I am better for having known him, and take consolation in the fervent belief that we can be closer now in the prayers of the Mass than ever we were privileged to be in this passing world,” said Rutler.

Alfred (Fred) Mansour died May 28, 2014

July 12, 2014

Fred Mansour’s brother-in-law sent news of our classmate’s death on May 28, 2014.  If you wish to post your own comments and remembrances of Fred on this blog, use the Comments instructions here or let Tom Figel know you are having trouble: tfigel@lake-effect.com:


Alfred “Fred” Mansour Jr.

|   Visit Guest Book


Mr. Alfred “Fred” Mansour Jr., 68, of West Point, GA, passed away Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at West Georgia Medical Center.

Mr. Mansour was born February 13, 1946, in LaGrange, GA. He was the son of the late Alfred Mansour, Sr. and Selema Azar “Nini” Mansour. Fred was a graduate of LaGrange High School and the University of Notre Dame. He also attended Executive Training at New York UniversitySchool of Retailing. He grew up in the family clothing retail business that was started by his grandparents in 1917. He was the former CEO of Mansour’s Department Store and owner of Plato’s Closet in Montgomery, AL. He was a very active member of the community, a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, and served in the Army National Guard.

Survivors include his wife, Laura Mansour; daughter and son-in-law, Destiny and Richard Stumhofer; grandchildren, Madison Stumhofer and Chloe Stumhofer; siblings and their spouses, Larry and Susan Mansour, Prissy and S.N. Thomas, Martha and Al Collinger, and Rita and Sam Farmer; and ten nieces and nephews.

A private graveside service was held on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Troup County Humane Society, Harris County Humane Society, or the

in memory of Mr. Alfred Mansour, Jr.

Those wishing to share a condolence or remembrance with the family may do so by visiting www.shlagrange.com.

Arrangements are by Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange, GA 30240 (706) 884-8636

Jim Davis poem: 68 Lines, to my classmates on the death of Father Dunne

June 10, 2014

(See item in blog notes: Father John Dunne died in November, 2013)

The Daily Domer obituary
Got me walking to Engineering,
And when I went inside I remembered
Where I sat, not something he said,

Although from my seat I could see him
Up front, and close up after class,
Then I imagined him at the end,
In bed, eyes closed, bearded, no beret.

I had read "The Circle Dance of Time," but
Still wondered what he boiled after death
Down to before his death.
Now, I see the class blog mentions

His last book, "Eternal Consciousness," and
I figure, if someone bedside dared ask,
"You're still thinking light, right?"
He would not say over and out.

Where do you and I need to be at the end?
Do we have some leeway?
Whaddaya think?  Of course, we got leeway.
God made leeway.  So, don't avoid

Questions in twilight, even if you're set,
You guys, with your families and hobbies and ways,
By now, if you don't cheat on your wife, you might
Even eat the hell that goes with heaven,

Rather than trust God to love all your issues.
Anyway, whatever you've been thinkin',
Take this basic question from Father Dunne,
Whether death leads to light we will know, or

Dark we won't -- let's call that nothing -- it's where
He brings Christ to the plate to swing for light.
Wanna hit for yourself?  Le'me tellya,
Light is good anyway you can get it.

When my stroke started, I knew nothing, 
And it wasn't the nice thing Father Dunne
Called the void in the stillness.  Was it
The no thing Alzamora was shouting about

At 2 in the morning during exam week,
When he looked at me, all anger,
Held out his fist, and exclaimed,
"I know there is nothing!  Nothing!"?

Me?  I never got to nothing before
Or after my stroke, and now I see things
At night in the dark, eyes open or closed,
I can summon them if they don't appear,

Achromatic crumbs morph into faces,
Against the black background, mostly grotesques,
Laughing and talking, but I can't hear'em.  
Odd stuff.  Charles Bonnet syndrome? 

Or something I shouldn't yet know?
They're nothing my doctors wanna talk about.
Is silence speaking to the impure heart?
Don't know.  Hope I never see'em in my car.

I think they're a wiring issue that
May or may not affect anyone's take
On what I'm talking about, as I  
Lean toward light as a matter of policy.  

And if death leads to Eternity, but
Once we're there we can't tell,
That's not the worst result I can think of,
As I ponder my nighttime visions.

Can this case be settled?
Are all the Hindus wrong?
Do I have to do a better job of living?
I've now read the last book, which says

Eternal life is more than we can tell,
But not than we can know.  And we do that
How, Jim?   The way you do it or don't.  And 
Keep an eye out for clues, in God's presence.

Copyright © 2013, J. M. Davis
All rights reserved

Note from Forrest Hainline about his poems

Forrest Hainline sent this news June 9, 2014:


A link to a review of the poetry anthology Forgetting Home, which discusses my included poem, Holding Hands.



Also, my poem Fibonacci – Water (Variation 1) is in the Fib Review http://lnkd.in/bh4u6S3

The Fib Review Issue #17


Regards, Forrest


Forrest A. Hainline III
Goodwin Procter LLP
San Francisco, CA


Dean-Tracy Scholarship Embodies True American Hero

(Tom McKenna – Chicago Cuz – sent this news of a scholarship honoring our classmate John Tracy’s uncle Jack Dean and brother Tom Tracy)
Dean-Tracy Scholarship Embodies True American Hero
Endowed Scholarship for men’s and women’s basketball tribute to ex-Blue Demon standout Jack Dean
Jack Dean is the inspiration behind the Dean-Tracy Endowed Scholarship for men's and women's basketball.

Jack Dean is the inspiration behind the Dean-Tracy Endowed Scholarship for men’s and women’s basketball.

May 29, 2014

CHICAGO – Folks in the DePaul community have every reason to puff out their chests and perhaps even salute the legacy of an inspirational Blue Demon and true American hero named Jack Dean.

Dean was a happy-go-lucky swashbuckler kind of a guy who sashayed onto campus for the 1943-44 basketball season winning over his teammates with a feisty athleticism and wowing the coeds with his good looks and easy charm.

Starting at forward as an 18-year-old freshman on a team what would finish as the NIT runner-up was no small testament to the 6-foot, 2-inch Dean’s talent and immediate impact. No less an authority than legendary coach Ray Meyer spotted that right away, and Dean was the third-leading scorer behind All-Americans George Mikan and Dick Triptow.

That Dean only starred at DePaul for one season was a reflection on his determination to serve his country in time of war and be willing to sacrifice his young life in defense of a freedom cherished by an entire nation.

Dean wound up enlisting in the U.S. Navy after his freshman season, and after stops at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago and the Naval Training Station in San Diego, Calif., Dean was assigned to the ill-fated USS Indianapolis.

After completing a secret mission delivering the first operational atomic bomb to an island 80 miles north of Guam, Dean’s ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine and suffered the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Out of 1,196 men on board, almost 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 or so men were left floating in shark-infested waters with no lifeboats and most with no food or water.

The ship was never missed, and by the time survivors were spotted by accident four days later, only 317 were still alive.

It was a scene so chillingly recounted by the Robert Shaw character in the movie “Jaws.” Here’s an excerpt from a survivor named Woody James that’s on the website www.ussindianapolis.org.


Day 4
“The sun finally did rise and it got warm again. Some of the guys have been drinking salt water by now, and they were (hallucinating). The day wore on and the sharks were around, hundreds of them. You’d hear guys scream, especially late in the afternoon. Seems like the sharks were worse late in the afternoon than they were during the day. Then, they began feeding at night, too. Everything would be quiet and then you’d hear somebody scream and you knew a shark had got him.” James was rescued on day four.

Dean’s former teammate Jack Phelan had a chance encounter at dinner with a survivor of the USS Indianapolis.

“I got into a conversation with a gentleman about old-time basketball players,” said Phelan who now lives in Florida. “I was in the Navy at the end of the war, and this fellow said he had served on the USS Indianapolis. I said that one of my best friends at DePaul had also served on that ship.

“He said that he knew Jack. This man had been in the water with Jack for three days surviving the shark attacks. Then he said: `Jack left us after 2 ½ days.’

“I remember thinking that Jack wasn’t even 21 years old yet and had already gone down. Man, I’m so lucky I’ve had a great life with a wife and a family. Jack never had a chance to do that.

“It was a different world back then, and we were fighting that war for our liberty. The loser of this war was going to be in real sad shape. Jack gave up his life and was an American patriot in every sense of the word.”

In an effort to enlighten the DePaul community about Dean, nephew John Tracy headed up a drive to establish the Dean-Tracy Endowed Scholarship for Blue Demon men’s and women’s basketball. The Tracy in the scholarship name is actually for John’s brother Tom Tracy who played at DePaul from 1967-70 on the same teams with Doug Bruno and Joey Meyer.

John Tracy, the longtime coach and dean of students at St Ignatius, passed away in March of 2013. His close friend Jim Corgel has picked up the baton and is kick-starting the drive for the Dean-Tracy scholarship in hopes other DePaul supporters and alumni will join in honoring Dean’s inspirational story.

“John was Jack Dean’s nephew and one of my best friends for 38 years,” Corgel said. “He told me all about his uncle, and after talking with Doug Bruno, we realized what a meaningful story this is for DePaul. John was the driving force behind the idea of an endowed scholarship.

“When John passed away, I felt it was my responsibility to carry on John’s work. In a sense, I’m now representing John Tracy. He was a successful basketball coach for a long time and coached the Bruno boys (Bryan, Kevin, David and Brendan) and Eugene Lenti’s girls (Ali and Gena) at St. Ignatius. Tom Tracy was the assistant coach for the Bruno boys.

“John played at Brother Rice and is in Rice’s Hall of Fame and was inducted into St. Ignatius’ Hall of Fame in March. He was the leading scorer in the Catholic League in 1964, one year before a guy named Mike Krzyzewski from Weber won the scoring crown.

“John and I first met each other working at IBM in 1975. I became involved with the DePaul community through John, coach Bruno and Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. John and I remained friends after I moved to Connecticut in 1988.

“The inspiration to get this going came from John Tracy. We would talk every week for more than 30 years. I miss talking to him.”

May has been designated as “Scholarship Month.” For 31 days, Blue Demon athletic programs are engaging in a scholarship and funding initiative spearheaded by Athletics Development. The alumni team that generates the most scholarship gifts will receive first prize—50 percent of the Athletic Department’s on-line auction revenue.

From what Bruno has heard of Jack Dean, the women’s basketball coach sees a striking resemblance in Dean’s nephew Tom Tracy.

“Tommy was a very fun-loving guy, and from the way people describe Jack Dean, Tommy was very similar to his uncle,” Bruno said of Tom Tracy who passed away in 2011. “Dean was known as a great basketball player and a lover of life. Tommy was much the same—he loved to hoop and he loved life. He was a good-looking guy just like his uncle.

“Tommy was an excellent shooter, and when he was cooking, he’d put up 25, 26 points. Not only was he a great shooter, but he was also a great athlete with terrific hops. He could really rise up. He’d get off the ground and at the peak of his jump release this aesthetically pleasing shot.

“He was a tough guy who didn’t act tough or talk tough. I remember as an eighth grader going to a Brother Rice-Mt. Carmel game in Carmel’s tiny gym when a fight broke out. Tommy was right there in the middle of it.

“I’ll never forget the time we were playing at Marquette and Tommy was guarding Jeff Sewell. Early in the first half they ran a UCLA backdoor screen. Sewell made his move and Tommy denied the cut. Sewell pushed Tommy over. Tommy got up and dropped him with one punch.”

Ponsetto knows there is a special place in DePaul Athletics for someone like Dean.

“For those at DePaul who know the Jack Dean story, you can only have the utmost respect and admiration for the sacrifice he made as a humanitarian and serviceman who loved his country very deeply,” Ponsetto said. “He left behind a promising college basketball career and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom with his life. You can only say that he is a true American hero.

“Everyone at DePaul should be really proud of Jack Dean and the great story of a courageous human being who gave up his life in the service of others.”

Dean was the incandescent candle that illuminated the world around him.

“He played some tremendous games for us, and I remember one in particular against a U.S. armed services team,” Phelan said. “It just didn’t happen back then that an 18-year-old kid could start at forward on a very good team.

“Jack was quite a handsome guy and was loved by the girls. It was like he had a thousand young women chasing after him. He was very popular and very much the life of the party wherever he went. He was a happy-go-lucky free spirit who lived for the moment.

“We were playing in New York that season and staying at the Paramount Hotel in Times Square. And wouldn’t you know it, Jack lined up dates for us with the chorus girls from the well-known Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub made famous by the Betty Grable movie `Diamond Horseshoe.’ Well, Jack got hurt in the game that night and all the dates were cancelled because Jack couldn’t go.

“We were a close-knit team and did everything as a unit. That’s the reason we finished second to St. John’s in the NIT in 1944 and came back to win the NIT a year later.

“We were in Philadelphia for a game and Jack said: `Let’s all get the same ties.’ So we went to a local haberdashery and bought these atrocious red, yellow and green ties. We all wore those atrocious things together and got a lot of laughs walking through the hotels in Philly and later, New York.”

Phelan has one other special connection to his former teammate.

“I was the first recipient of the Jack Dean Award for sportsmanship at DePaul in 1949, and that means a lot to me,” Phelan said. “I donated the trophy to DePaul where it is displayed in the trophy case as a way of trying to get people to know who Jack Dean was.

“The endowed scholarship in his name is a real inspiration, and I’m so proud of all the people getting behind this effort.”

The Shaggs – Reminiscence by Chuck Perin

(Brian McMahon, who had a hand in the Shaggs back then, received this material from his daughter Mariah, and forwarded it to Will/Bill and Joan Dunfey, who sent it on to Gini/Virginia Waters Enright, who forwarded it to the Class of 1968.  Click the link in mid-article and that will take you to another trove of Shaggs history.  Brian wrote:

“Who knew?

“Mariah, my 22 year old,  found my last copy of the Shaggs album today. She and her musical friends from Minneapolis loved it and looked them up – attached. Amazing!

60′s garage rock bands – the Shaggs/the Shags – 1964


When I graduated from high school in 1964, I returned home to Pekin, Illinois to work for a year in order to save up $$ to attend the University of  Notre Dame, but I used to go back up to ND a couple of times a month on weekends to hang out. On one my first visits, a football Saturday in fall 1964, I walked into the Rathskeller below the student center to find the Shaggs set up and playing — Frank Krakowski, RayWheatly, John Hall (who later founded the group Orleans, penned the big hits Dance With Me & You’re Still The One, and is now a Congressman from New York) & one other guy named Joe. They blew me away. I had been playing bass in a local central Illinois teen band, Eddie & the Excels, but I went back & formed my own version of the Shags — with one “G”. They became very popular in the Peoria/Pekin area that year, culminating with a top 3 finish in the Battle of the Bands at the Illinois State Fair the summer of 65. The next year, September 1965, I enrolled at ND and looked up Frank K. Turned out he was in the same hall as me, Farley, and needed a singer since John Hall had left ND (willingly or unwillingly). All of a sudden, I was in the real SHAGGS & performing on Sorin Hall porch was now “my domain” on football Saturdays!

Another band, the Shamrocks, were our main competition for all the frat parties that were held almost every weekend at a place called the Laurel club on the other side of South Bend. It was far enough away from campus that the junior & senior class social organizations could rent it out, a floor for each class, & have bands, dancing & booze. It was a wild scene, great parties, girls dancing on the tables, guys doing the alligator on the floor. I had this 50-foot mic cord and I would wander the room & dance floor during certain songs. We had no cars at first, so the Shaggs would take 2 cabs there & back. Frank had it all worked out so all the equipment would fit in one cab & the 2 trunks (including his drums & the PA), & we would all cram into the other cab. Later, we saved up enough to get the hearse pictured above.
We had a lot of fun & performed in some unusual situations. I remember playing for a class event in the sand at the Indiana Dunes & once playing in transit on a train full of students bound for West Lafayette, Indiana for a Notre Dame-Purdue football game. When Stepan Center was built on campus, we became one of the main openers for concerts there. We opened for The Kingsmen of Louie, Louie fame (Frank’s dream come true – check out the picture of the Shaggs & the Kingsmen on the right), as well as The Supremes, the Buckinghams, the American Breed, Baby Huey & The Baby Sitters, etc.

The other new member of the Shaggs was Geoff Gillette, a freshman from Chatham, New Jersey, who has gone on to become one of the most respected live sound engineers on the West coast. We became close friends. That spring (April ’66), the Shaggs, in order to have something to put on “The Huddle” jukebox, recorded two songs, direct to 45 rpm acetate, at a place called Universal Audio in nearby Osceola, Indiana. The songs were Farmer John (one of our big crowd pleasers) and Too Dark For Day, a song Geoff & I wrote. Click on the titles to hear them in all their glory, salvaged from the worn out disc. Check them out!

Geoff & I were sort of a self contained duo & could sit in with any band & do our shit. I was a guitar player too, but stuck to tambourine/harmonica mostly with the SHAGGS. At the end of our freshman year, May 1966, Geoff and I delivered a drive-away out to San Diego at the urging of Denise Willett, a St Mary’s girl who lived in Pacific Beach. Geoff loved to surf, & we lived at the beach, a few blocks from where I now own a home, & would take our guitars down to the boardwalk & serenade passersby with Beatles/Stones songs. We also got taken down to Tijuana a few times, where we would sit in with the Mexican cover bands at all of the clubs along Avenida Revolucion & do a few songs in exchange for drinks (zombies). What a time!

For more information, you will find an 2002 interview from 60sgaragebands.com by clicking http://southbendpower90s.blogspot.com/2010/01/shaggs-wink-1963.html
Here’s a sample songlist of some Shaggs material:
Walkin The Dog
Mustang Sally
Farmer John
Midnight Hour
Louie Louie
Twist & Shout
Slow Down
Cherry Pie
Time Is On My Side
The Last Time
Tell Me You’re Comin Back To Me
Good Lovin
You Better Run
Devil With A Blue Dress On
Wooly Bully
Dirty Water
Land Of 1000 Dances
Play With Fire
I Got You Babe
Land Of 1000 Dances
Mony Mony
Shakin All Over

About Me, Chuck Perin

When I was in high school, I developed an appreciation for music and literature; anything different and creative captivated me. I spent all my free time listening to record albums or reading. It was those dreamy, brutal, magical 1960′s. Everyone was getting a voice. Acoustic music and topical songwriting exploded as an art form, so playing guitar and putting my own thoughts into songs was a natural progression for me. It not only grew to become something I enjoyed doing, it became my passion – and I’ve kept working at it ever since. If you do anything long enough, you begin to develop your own sensibilities and style. My goal has always been to keep learning and growing.

I have been running a jazz performance space in San Diego called dizzy’s since April 2000.  There I schedule and present a wide cross section of creative music – whatever excites me.  I fill my head with the positivity of hundreds of nights of musical performances each year and carry that creative vibe over into my days, spending them writing and recording my own music.

I’m a lucky man.