Oct. 11, 2004
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Mondays, hawkeyesports.com will bring readers a Kinnick Stadium Memory from the thousands of stories that have been submitted to the website for the 75th Anniversary of Kinnick Stadium.
John H. Brockway’s Iowa football memories date back from before the war – the First World War, that is. And that sets the scene for a complete 75 years of Kinnick Stadium memories.
Brockway’s father, James, was a member of the 1898, 1899 and 1900 Hawkeye football squads. He played left guard on the ’99 and ’00 teams, which are two of the four teams in Iowa history to go completely undefeated. And the senior Brockway earned letters in 1898 and 1900.
Brockway senior was also named to the first team of the “Select Two All-Time Elevens for Old Gold” by Dean Wilbur J. Teeters and Professor James N. Pearce in a Dec. 3, 1922, publication. Teeters was one of the first instructors in the College of Pharmacy as well as an amateur sportswriter.
James Brockway made sure that his son would grow up to be a “True Hawk” and started taking him to games when he was seven years old in the early 1920s. The pair went to games at the Iowa Stadium on the east side of the Iowa River, where the current English-Philosophy Building stands.
When the new Iowa Stadium was built across the river, John Brockway was old enough to start transporting his friends from Muscatine to the games with the help of his father’s International Six-Speed flatbed truck – one of the 20 in his father’s business.
“I put the sideboards on the flatbed and a tarp over the top if I needed to, and I would take eight to 12 of my buddies up to the ballgames in the truck,” Brockway, now 90, said from his home in West Des Moines. “There were all mud roads for the first games, and it’s roughly 40 miles from Muscatine so it was a two-hour trip. But we passed the hat to pay for the gas and we went.
“It was a big time for me to go,” Brockway added. “The high school and junior college kids really took advantage of the Knothole Club.”
The Knothole Club was an out-of-the-way section of Kinnick where juniors could buy tickets for extremely discounted rates, affording thousands of youngsters the ability to attend games with or without their parents.
Brockway, though, usually went with his father.
“It was kind of awkward because everybody gave him so much respect,” Brockway said. “Dad was a pretty good speaker too, and he spoke at the homecoming of 1939, and I was in Albuquerque but I couldn’t tune it in on the radio.”
Brockway even attended the dedication game at Kinnick, when the rain had turned all the new construction area into pure mud.
“So many people walked in the mud. I still feel like I have some on me,” he said.
After the Second World War broke out in 1941, Brockway joined the Navy and two years later his father suffered a premature death of peritonitis at age 64, mainly because of the shortage of penicillin during the war.
“I put the sideboards on the flatbed and a tarp over the top if I needed to, and I would take eight to 12 of my buddies up to the ballgames in the truck. There were all mud roads for the first games, and it’s roughly 40 miles from Muscatine so it was a two-hour trip. But we passed the hat to pay for the gas and we went.”
“He died too young,” Brockway said. “Sec Taylor knew him well and he wrote a number of articles about him. But he was a real dad. He owned a farming and a trucking business, and on Sundays he would shoot basketballs and hit baseballs.”
When the war ended, Brockway started buying Iowa season tickets for Hometown Diary, then the Iowa Dairy Foods Association and then the Iowa Hotel Association, taking clients and fellow managers to the games. In fact, Brockway only missed games when there was a death in the family, but he had to end the tradition recently when his mobility started to become limited.
Considering the span of Brockway’s participation in Iowa football, there were a few things he noticed had changed since he started attending games in 1921. One was the availability of tickets.
“You could get a ticket anytime you wanted for $3,” he said. “And when I was manager of the Iowa Diary Foods Association and the Iowa Hotel Association, I’d buy a couple of hundred tickets with no problems, and we’d have a block to sit in on the east side of the field.”
Brockway also had a critique of the Throwback Game that was staged against Kent State in September.
“I don’t remember the referees wearing hats,” he said. “They wore them during the reenactment, but not many of them did back then.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com