Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ruth and Marv Hiddleson Of West Des Moines Find Out That There Are Hawkeye Fans Everywhere -- Even When They Go To Islands In the Caribbean

You may remember my friends, Ruth and Marv Hiddleson of West Des Moines.

They're very nice neighbors and bigtime University of Iowa sports fans.

They not only have season tickets to the Hawkeyes' football and basketball games, but for about 10 years have had what they call a "Hawkeye Room" in their home.

The room is the half-bath on the main level, and it's filled with Hawkeye memorabilia.

I asked if there was anything new in the room since I last saw it.

"We have pictures of this season's basketball team, and an autographed picture of [Iowa guard] Jeff Horner and I that was taken last June," Ruth said. "We also have pictures of Senior Night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season."

[Marv and Ruth are pictured at the top of this column while attending the March 4 Iowa-Wisconsin game -- which the Hawkeyes won, 59-44].

Ruth and Marv e-mailed me a while back when the rest of us were freezing our nubbins, or something, off.

It was January and the Hiddlesons were in the Caribbean islands of Barbados and St. Lucia.

They were part of a St. Olaf College tour. The Hiddlesons' daughter, Le Ann Hiddleson Finger, is a 1985 St. Olaf graduate who now is the men's and women's golf coach at the school in Northfield, Minn. Ruth is a 1958 St. Olaf graduate.

"The tour was appealing to us because we are longtime friends of Kay and Mary Kramer," Marv said. "Mary is the U.S. ambassador to Barbados [pictured on the right] and six other Caribbean islands.

"Kay Kramer and I were college classmates at the University of Iowa in 1957-58. Kay was president of the Hillcrest men's dormitory. Also from 1956-58, while in college, I was resident hall advisor at Hillcrest. Those were the 'Fabulous Five' basketball days at Iowa.

"Over the years, we have kept in contact, not only through Rotary, but we were instrumental in organizing in the Des Moines area the Golden Circle Iowa Alumni Club for the University of Iowa.

"The St. Olaf trip was appealing to Ruth and I. Since the Kramers arrived in Barbados two years ago, we said we would like to visit them in Bridgetown."

Marv said he and Ruth left Minneapolis Jan. 5 for five days in Bridgetown and another five days in St. Lucia.

"At that point, being away from Iowa and the basketball team, Hawkeye scoes were dominant in the Hiddlesons' minds," Marv told me.

When the Hiddlesons returned, Marv wrote about the trip for the April edition of the Iowa Alumni magazine.

Here's his story:

One of the current unbelievable basketball victories this winter was Iowa trouncing undefeated Illinois in Iowa City on January 7th, 63-48. More amazing was how news of the victory traveled to Iowa fans who were not at the game, not even in the States!

Krista Kramer Hartman, 1989 graduate in Leisure Studies, now lives in Chicago. She was so excited after watching the victory, that she called her father, Kay Kramer (1958 BA), who lives in Bridgetown, Barbados. Kay's wife, Mary Barnett Kramer, formerly of Iowa City, who graduated in 1957 with a degree in Piano Performance and 1974 MA in Adult Education, currently is Ambassador to Barbados and six other Caribbean Islands. She was appointed by President George W. Bush in late 2003 and is in her third year. She too savoured the victory.

As planned, the Kramers met Marv Hiddleson (1959 BSC in Accounting) and wife Ruth the next day at breakfast in Bridgetown. The first thing Kay told Marv was that Iowa beat Illinois. Knowing Illinois was undefeated at this point (14-0), this was a major accomplishment for the Hawks. The Hiddlesons who were vacationing in Barbados, also visited the Kramers.

Hiddlesons continued their vacation to St. Lucia, and flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico. While waiting for their luggage in San Juan, Marv struck up a conversation with Steven Aanes, a pharmacist, from New London, IA who was wearing his Hawkeye jacket. He was interested in hearing the Iowa score, too. Another Iowa graduate Robert L. Hammond, Jr. BA in 1974 was shocked to hear the Iowa score, and down right delightfully happy which prompted a spontaneous celebration by the small Hawkeye Huddle at the San Juan airport.

(A sign reading "Absolutely NO photography" prevented capturing this Kodak Moment.)

Further visiting with Mr. Hammond revealed he is an attorney and also the mayor of Blue Earth, MN. Hammond has a local radio talk show each Monday afternoon for 25 minutes to discuss happenings in Blue Earth. In an attempt to turn Gopher fans into Hawkeye fans, Robert begins his weekly program with "The Iowa Fight Song." It just doesn't get any better than this.

Yes, Hawks are everywhere and keeping up to date on the scores takes many angles.