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Peterson: Music the sound of our times

Just the other day, I was listening to the radio (Sirius variety) when a song came on that put me on time passages of the mind.

The song, “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and Papas, was popular in the winter of 1966.

Now, 1966 was a time when you could actually understand the words. That’s very unlike today when the music is either so loud — or obnoxious — that you can’t make out the lyrics.

The year 1966 marked a turmoil-filled era in this country.

There were riots and protests in the streets of America. The Vietnam War was raging and young men in this country were very aware of the military draft.

It was a “dangerous time to be young,” as Bob Dylan intoned in one of his tunes. The problems of the world seemed not so far away — even in the Copper Country.

But we still had Calumet & Hecla turning out copper. You could visit the Bosch Brewery on Friday afternoons and get a few free cups of suds (something me and my Suomi College friends often did).

And the Coffee Cup in Hancock and Broemer’s Restaurant in Chassell were the hangouts for the young.

There was also some excellent high school basketball going on that long ago winter.

The Copper Country Conference featured three great teams. Houghton, Hancock and L’Anse were all very good, but the Purple Hornets were shaking off the effects of earlier losses to the Gremlins and Bulldogs and getting on a roll.

Coach Bill “Sugar” Popp had some great talent in 6-foot 6 center Gerry Gerard, high-jumping 6-3 forward Bob Fredrikson and outside shooters Roland Swartz and Deane Kent.

The Hornets didn’t just beat foes …. they demolished them at the cozy Hornets Nest, a dimly-lit house of horrors that featured overhanging ends of the court.

The burly Gerard was the catalyst of the machine with his rebounding and accurate passes to guards streaking down the floor.

He was also a very effective inside player with a range of up to 15 feet.

L’Anse was placed in a district tourney in Iron River, leaving Hancock and Houghton to battle it out at Michigan Tech.

The Hornets breezed through the district and regional brackets and went all the way to the state finals. They met Flint Holy Redeemer in the finals and scored an impressive 89-71 victory behind 29 points by Swartz.

Kent, later a star at Lake Superior State, was the benefit of several long passes from Gerard for uncontested layups in that game

L’Anse would be nearly as unstoppable the next season, running their winning streak to 39 games before losing to Wakefield in Marquette.

I’ve covered many fine teams since then, but I still rank those Hornets near the top of the list.

L’Anse, you see, was my very first assignment as a sports stringer at the Mining Gazette.

And “Monday, Monday” still brings a smile to my face.

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