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With frigid temperatures expected Sunday, Packers fans recall legendary Ice Bowl

Earl Finkler

As a big storm and Arctic temperatures moved toward Wisconsin on Saturday, residents of Medford were talking about the Green Bay Packers all over town --  at downtown coffee shops, snow shoveling, ice fishing. Memories of earlier frozen-tundra games burned bright.

No matter how harsh conditions might be for the Green Bay-San Francisco playoff game on Sunday, Medford folks said, it would not be near the really cold Ice Bowl game the Packers won some 50 years ago.

As a lifetime Packer fan, I clearly remember that big game in 1967 between the Pack and those dreaded Dallas Cowboys. The temperature was about 15 below zero and the wind chill was 45 below. With 15 seconds to go, Green Bay quarterback Bart Star dove into the end zone to give the Packers the NFL championship.

I found several Medford folks who went to that game. One secretary works in a law office that our Husky Avu and I visit every morning for dog treats. She said she was surprised at the way people tried to keep warm -- with an array of scarves and men with those old caps and flaps that came over the ears.

People kept going to the rest rooms to warm up, but there was not enough room for those needing a toilet. And some crazy fans still cheered bare-chested –- at least for a quarter or two. She remembers her husband buying two coffees, both of which were cold by the time he returned to his seat.

As I remember it, Coach Lombardi wore a warm cap and a stylish overcoat. But his zeal and energy helped keep the players and the fans a little warmer.

The forecast for Sunday in Green Bay calls for a high of zero, with a wind chill of 35 to 40 below. Already on Saturday, several school districts in the Milwaukee area decided to close on Monday.

Most Medford fans said that folks back in the 1960s did not have any of the high-tech clothing so common today -- just lots of scarves, caps and heavy wool socks. Think of that little boy in the movie “A Christmas Story” whose mom put so many scarves around him that when he fell on his way to school, he couldn’t get back up.

Anyway, I hope the Packers and fans in the stadium can stay somewhat warm -- and manage to beat San Francisco Sunday on the way to the Super Bowl.

Earl Finker was a Barrow journalist for years before moving to Wisconsin.