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Al (“Daddy” or “Uncle Al”) – The beginning of it all.  My dad introduced me to Penn State football and tailgating.  All of my PSU memories have been shaped by him.  It was Dad who taught me about loyalty and teamwork (which were the ideals that he valued in the Penn State football teams), and to always root for the underdog.  Dad was the consummate Penn State Fan.  He loved them through the good times and the bad. However, he did not follow them blindly; he was often critical and frustrated.  Which, I believe, added to the credibility of his devotion.In 1965 my father started attending PSU home (and away) football games.  He was not a PSU grad, in fact he’d never (at that point) taken a class at PSU.  He came to State College as a field engineer for a local company.  It was his work buddies who got him hooked on the Lions.  He became a steadfast fan, and, although the department he worked for was closed, and they each went their separate ways for employment, they remained football friends.  They were there when Coach Paterno took over the head coach position and they witnessed the great teams of the late 1960s as Penn State emerged onto the national scene.  They developed a system, a tradition of tailgating and football spectating.  Unwavering loyalty mixed with malcontent and an undying love for the underdog.  By the way, Penn State is always the underdog.  In the early years they would go to nearly all the games, home, away and bowl.  In fact, my parents got married on a Friday in September, so that they could go to an away game for their honeymoon.

Dad pared it down to home games after I came around, but he never missed one (without an extremely good reason, like surgery) and he tailgated with the same crew.  Chuck Hoover (Mr. Hoover) became the organizer/leader of the group.Dad and the crew were down in Florida for a bowl game and while they were partaking of some libations a strong storm blew through.  When they left the establishment they discovered that a huge palm had broken off of one of the trees.  The immediate reaction was “Hey, what a great souvenir!”  While they contemplated the logistics of tying the from to the roof of the car – cooler heads prevailed when it was suggested that they might have difficulty passing through the series of toll booths on the drive home – explaining how and why they came to possess the foliage.  The palm was abandoned, but the legend lives on.

Diesel Tailgate - Oktoberfest 2006

Dual Diesel Tailgate 6 - Homecoming-ween (PSU v. Purdue - Oct. 29, 2005)  We met the other tailgaters at 6:30am at the Sleep Inn and once everyone was present and accounted for, we (3 trucks and 2 cars) headed out to the stadium. The gates didn't open until 8am - so Rob (Tailgating Coordinator) had asked us to make some "pre-breakfast" snacks - we had chocolate chip, blueberry and corn (w/ green chilies) muffins, keilbasa rolls, and sausage pockets (inspired by the Bath Pasties!) -

Once in the parking lot (and after I yelled at the parking attendant - who was being a Jacknut) we started the set up. The clever dieselers always purchase an extra parking pass - so we can have even more room to spread out. We had 3 canopies - 2 of which we used for chairs and "side" tables - and one for the food tables. The guys have a mammoth flag pole from which they fly USA and PSU flags, wrap with blue and white lights and top with a cut-out of a nuclear submarine - makes it pretty easy to spot. We had 2 full-size gas grills, our tabletop grill, 3 coleman stoves, 1 of those outdoor deep-fryers and a propane fueled outdoor fireplace.

They fired up the grill and made bacon, sausage and eggs for breakfast - Suzanne made white russian coffee drinks and we heated up some apple cider. We put out some snacks and desserts on the tables -

For Lunch the guys heated up the deep fryer and made peirogies and deep fried Turkey (they made another around "linner-time") - Suzanne and I had prepared a "nacho bar" with refried beans, Chuck's Cheese Sauce, taco meat, lettuce, shredded cheese, ripe olives, salsa, sour cream and homemade nacho chips! We had skewered pounds of shrimp on Friday and marinated it in Good Seasons salad dressing (remember the tailgate next to Chuck's where "Steve" would make "Shrimps on the Barbie" - it's his recipe) - I grilled them up and Suzanne had gotten out a great platter for me - but they never made it to the table - folks were eating them off of the grill - it was hilarious, and a little scary! I didn't get one, but I'd saved a "good one" for Suzanne and she said that they were great - It made me very happy and a little nostalgic -

We had made: brownie bites; homemade pretzels; "big" chocolate chip cookies in the shape of footballs; cheese puffs; peanut butter/chocolate cookie bars; burnt keilbasa; chocolate covered pretzels; some crazy coffee/caramel cookies suzanne made; spinach dip; creamy salsa dip; 3D football cake; a big tray of "dirt" that we decorated with graham cracker tombstones and buried non-blue and white football players; tortilla roll-ups - and so on. It was a "locust" event of biblical proportions - we couldn't get the stuff out there fast enough - but it was great - everyone was eating and drinking and having a super time.

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