"Minnesota Against the World"
was a basketball game played in Madison Wisconsin. Madison, or "Madtown", deserves the reputation as a hard partying campus. Loke, my railroad friend, his friend Hari, and I had travelled from Minnesota to the University of Wisconsin at Madison the weekend Minnesota and Wisconsin played for the NCAA Hockey Championship. We stayed at an apartment where their friend Jeff lived. The day of the hockey final, we four Minnesotans teamed with other native Minnesotans in a pickup basketball game against a team made up of University of Wisconsin students hailing from everywhere. It was Loke who coined the phrase, "Minnesota Against the World". Anyway, representing our State as we did we managed to win a very spirited contest.

That night we went to a house where we watched the hockey championship game on T. V. with about twenty U of Wisconsin fans. Every time the opposing team scored a goal, students cheering for the scored-on team had to take a shot of whiskey. Minnesota lost something like 3-1. Too bad. Our Wisconsin hosts were of course obnoxious in victory, but not in a confrontational or unfriendly way. Their earlier defeat at "Minnesota Against the World" kept them humble and respectful. (Yeah right).

As the Wisconsin fans were counting down the last seconds of the game, one fellow who lived in the house carried his bedroom dresser into the living room. After the game ended, he carried it into the street, broke it apart, and lit it on fire. I guess he was excited to win the Title. Other combustible objects were added to the blaze. Soon a fire truck arrived. I remember the herd of students attending this impromptu bonfire running en mass into the back yard of the house. When it was noted that no police accompanied the fireman, we all returned to watch them put out the pile of burning trash.

Now the hue and cry was "State Street". So Loke and Hari and Jeff and I began the walk up to State Street. We stopped a bar to buy some beer. Everyone thought I was crazy because I kept asking the bartender if he sold beer "off sale". I knew the term to mean that they would sell beer to us and we could leave the premises with it, instead of having to consume it inside the bar. Anyway, we got our case of beer. We each carried an open can to drink along with four or so cans shoved up inside our shirts. We arrived at State street only to find a guy hanging from a street light. Seriously - he was hanging by his arms about 2 1/2 stories in the air. He was a gymnast from the school gym team, someone in the crowd said. At the base of the streetlight stood an officer of the law. His ticket book was open, he was just waiting for the human fly to descend so he could cite him. We started to head down State Street toward the campus building. On the next block, the crowd was rocking a car and trying to turn it over. We four mingled in the crowd, drinking our "off sale" beer and taking it all in.

We walked up a hill to a University building where a huge crowd had gathered. (Jeff told us that students took cafeteria trays and used them to slide down the hill - just something I remember). Somehow, a few students had managed to climb up on the roof. The whole crowd was swaying back and forth, one arm extended, singing, "Varsity, Varsity ....". After a while, we left this group and went to sit on the steps of a library. Some guy attempted to ride his motorcycle up the steps, but didn't make it all the way before wiping out. I was pretty drunk by then. I remember trying to talk to some coeds, but my friends told me later I wasn't making much sense.

We made our way to Mifflin (sic) street, which was just around the corner from the house where we watched the game. Mifflin street has a huge party every Spring. We walked in and out of lots of houses where celebration parties were going strong.

Very late, we left campus and went to a bar. It was very near closing time. There was a large crowd milling about in the parking lot. I spotted a huge guy, a classmate of mine from Minnesota who hailed from the Northern Minnesota Iron Range, commonly referred to as 'The Range'. He was arguing with two guys. They had the notion that this Ranger had their car keys. I felt like I should intervene. I stepped between the parties. I asked one of the two dudes what the problem was. "He's got our car keys". I turned to the Ranger, "So do you?". "No, I don't know what they are talking about!". With my back to the Ranger, I turned back to the two guys. "I really don't think he's got your keys". Just then, over my shoulder, this six foot four Ranger's fist came over my shoulder and punched the guy I was talking to in the face. His back hit the ground and he rolled over in a somersault. I kid you not. I ducked out of the way as he hit the second guy, likewise knocking him for a loop. I quickly walked over to my friends and we ended up leaving. Whatever possessed me to intervene I can't say. What a whacky night in Madtown.


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