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A DREAM COME TRUE: Press And Journal's Larry Etter heads to Green Bay, packs in green and gold memories on trip of a lifetime

larry in standsPhoto by Dan Etter - Larry Etter sits in the stands at Lambeau Field prior to the Green Bay Packers’ preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 12.

“To be associated with that organization and the names that have been placed in the Ring of Honor, the names that have been placed in the Hall of Fame, is more than a dream come true.”   

Those are the words shown as quoted on the Bart Starr display in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


My son Dan and I experienced our own dream come true recently when we made a trip to Green Bay to see a preseason NFL game between the hometown Packers and the visiting Cleveland Browns. Getting to Lambeau was something I always dreamed of, but realistically believed I would probably never get to do. Fortunately, that doubt changed on Father’s Day back in June.


  Dan and his three children came to visit that Sunday and he handed me an envelope with my name written on it. I noticed that the writing was not his, but his wife, Shayna’s. Inside the envelope was a note from her that said in part, “You and Dan are going to a preseason game on Aug. 12. This game is against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field.”


I had to read the note twice to make sure I was seeing what I had read.


But it was true! She had gotten us the tickets and booked us a room as a combination Father’s Day gift for the two of us. Shayna was able to buy the tickets online after looking for more than a year.


Shayna, a zoologist, was working that day at her job at Lake Tobias and could not be there for the presentation. But I did get to talk with her on the phone a few minutes later and somehow managed to choke out the thank-yous to her.


And, so, we started working on the plans as we looked anxiously forward to August. Finally the week arrived.  We had decided to drive to Green Bay even though it would entail more than 875 miles and 13-plus hours to do so.  


We left Dan and Shayna’s home in Dauphin around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.  The game was scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, and we were confident we would be there in plenty of time.  And that worked out well for us.  


The drive was long and tedious, the worst part being the Chicago Loop with its bumper-to-bumper traffic on Friday morning. We had stopped at a hotel in northwestern Ohio that night prior to reaching The Windy City to catch a few hours of sleep and then were back on the road.  


Looping around Chicago with all of its traffic mayhem, we headed north and before too long we were in Wisconsin! As we neared the city limits of Green Bay, we looked off in the distance and could see a giant white G at the top of the stadium at Lambeau Field. The sighting sent a shot of adrenaline through our bodies.


Off the exit we headed straight down Lombardi Avenue and right to Lambeau. Needless to say, it was a thrilling sight.


It was around 1:30 when we arrived and we could see the event staff already getting set up for the game.  After making a turnaround for another driveby, we headed to our motel, which turned out to be just a few blocks away. We grabbed a quick lunch while our room was being readied and then checked in. An hour later, we caught a free shuttle bus to the stadium, happy and relieved that we didn’t have to drive and find parking.


Getting off the bus, we stood looking up in awe as legendary Lambeau Field Stadium rose majestically before us.  We took pictures of the green façade and of the statues of Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau standing stoically in Harlan Plaza.


From there, we climbed the steps and entered the atrium where various displays were on hand. Dan and I kept looking at each other, amazed that we were actually there. We had plenty of time before the game started and decided to visit the Packers Hall of Fame.  


  Wow! What a great decision that was.  Displays of past and present players, trophies, old and new uniforms and a history of the Packers lined the walls and glass cases in the two-floor hall.  We were walking amid the history of one of the most storied franchises in professional sports and enjoying every bit of it.  

uniform displayPhoto by Dan Etter -- This display in the Packers Hall of Fame holds the game uniforms that were worn by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, tight end Richard Rogers and running back James Starks in last year’s game against Detroit that Green Bay won on a last second, 61-yard “Hail Mary” pass.


From there, we were going to visit the pro shop on the lower level, but there was a line of visitors that stretched from the first floor to well past the top of the steps leading to the shop.  Instead, we walked around some more and Dan bought a Packers hat at one of the smaller concession stands. After stopping to get a drink to take with us, we headed to the section where our seats were.  


Walking up the ramp and finally looking down on the playing field at Lambeau was something neither of us will ever forget.


I have been a Green Bay fan since the mid-1960s. Pro football was just starting to get more television coverage, well behind Major League Baseball in that respect. Because the Packers were one of the most successful teams at that time, they probably got a bit more exposure than some of the other teams received, and I just liked the name.


I have stayed a loyal fan ever since, and Dan became a fan during his teenage years. Now, here we were, gaping in awe at the inside of the stadium, just like the first-timers we were.


And while it was a fact that this was only a preseason game that didn’t mean anything, and many of the star players did not play, to us it was as exciting as an NFL Championship contest.


  The fans around us were all friendly and we bonded with them, knowing they were there for the same reason we were — to cheer on the beloved Packers! Just knowing that players like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, Jim Taylor and the many gridders before and since then had actually played on the field we were seeing before us was thrilling. And to top things off, the Packers won 17-11, making Dan and I 1-0 at Lambeau.


The atmosphere was everything we had hoped for. The most exciting time probably was when the players entered the field prior to kickoff amid the cheers of the fans.


Getting out of the stadium when the game was over was easy and we caught the shuttle bus back to our motel with no trouble.  The next day, Saturday, we had a big breakfast and then headed back to Lambeau in our car. We took some more pictures and then visited the pro shop which was far less crowded than the day before. And, yes, we spent some money in the shop. We really could not leave without doing that.  


We walked across Oneida Street to look at the Don Hutson Training Center building where the Packers practice and then returned to our car.  


While it would have been great to have another day in Green Bay to see more of the city, we had to start heading back home. We left around 11:30, and the trip home turned out to be a long, grueling journey. The navigation system in the car sent us a different way than which we came and added a couple hours to the travel time. We had decided that we would drive as far and as long as we could. Rather than stopping, we ended up driving straight through, with short rest stops along the way.  


We finally arrived back in Dauphin at 5:30 Sunday morning and I pulled into my driveway 40 minutes later, tired but satisfied that we had made it to Green Bay and back. Since our return, we have had time to reflect on our dream trip and I have looked at the pictures we took a dozen times, just to make sure it was real and not a dream. The stadium staff, the fans we met and the people at the pro shop and restaurant were all great, making the experience even better and more memorable.  


We don’t know if we will ever have the opportunity to make a return trip to Green Bay, but, thanks to Shayna, we can truly say that we there at least once, basking in the history and the aura of Packers football.

dan by displayPhoto by Larry Etter -- Dan Etter stands by the display marking the Packers “Ice Bowl” game against the Dallas Cowboys in December, 1967. The Packers beat Dallas on quarterback Bart Starr’s sneak with 13 seconds left.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 August 2016 15:40

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23 Years Ago: 8/24/2016

O8241623 YEARS AGO - Back To “Shoe-LL” – Some things never change with the start of a new school year, including breaking in a new pair of shoes. Here, Ginny Murtoff, owner of the Middletown Shoe Store, 10 S. Union St., sizes up Stephanie Teeple, who is entering Londonderry Elementary School. Stephanie’s mom, Susan, with baby brother Alexander in tow, smiles her approval.

From The Wednesday,
August 25, 1993 Edition Of The Press And Journal

Trucking Co. Gets Okay
For L. Swatara Facility


 Watkins Motor Lines, Inc., a Florida-based trucking firm, got the green light from the Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners to submit a subdivision and land development plan for a 30-acre tract located along the east side of North Union Street, approximately 800 feet north of Fulling Mill Road.

For the full story, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Press And Journal.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:20

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Woman writes book about being caregiver to daughter, son-in-law

DanDarleneSLIDEDaniel and Darlene Hershberger

Middletown’s Margaret Houser admits she once struggled with the thoughts of allowing her daughter to get married and buy her own home. 

The parent of an intellectually disabled woman, Houser had lots of questions and uncertainty about her daughter’s ability to be a successful wife and live on her own with her husband, who is also intellectually disabled. 

Houser persevered, and now, a year after the couple celebrated their silver wedding anniversary, she released a book, “He is Her Friend,” describing her journey as their primary support and caregiver over the past three decades. The Middletown First Church of God will celebrate with a book launch party from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, with copies available for sale.

The book is available at the Middletown Pharmacy and Amazon.com. Readers also may contact Houser at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to purchase a copy.

Houser’s daughter Darlene met Daniel Hershberger when she began attending school through the Intermediate Unit. They began dating and Hershberger slowly became part of the family, Houser said in the book. 

“They met in school and they wanted to be together,” Houser said. "It was one of the hardest things to let her go.” 

Houser and her husband, Butch, made a commitment to Darlene and Daniel to support them in holding jobs and getting to work because neither is able to drive. Darlene has worked at the Sheraton hotel on Lindle Road in Swatara Township for more than 25 years. Daniel worked for Co-Ven-Co, formerly Canteen, in Lower Swatara Township, until his health forced him to retire in January 2016 after 30 years. 

With support, especially in being shuttled to work every day, Dan and Darlene paid off their home’s mortgage in 23 years. 

The marriage saved Dan from being placed in a group home in his 20s, Houser said. Darlene is able to cook with a microwave, oven and crock pot. 

“She has learned many things by being on her own with support,” Houser said. 

But that’s one of the reasons Houser wrote the book, she said. The fruit of all her encouragement and patience has allowed her daughter and son-in-law to have lives that others once thought was impossible.

“I know individuals like them that want to be married and one parent or both parents will say no,” Houser said. “I had those fears, too,” Houser said. Ultimately, she supported them and helped them, and found it incredibly rewarding.

“I have been encouraged because so many people are in that situation.”  

Through their marriage, Darlene and Daniel enjoyed their time together at Hersheypark, Hershey Bears hockey games and watching football on TV. 

“It’s amazing they are married 26 years,” Houser said. “They lead a nice life together.”

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 August 2016 16:17

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Seiders, gas station owner, was cornerstone in the community

elwoodatpumpSLIDEElwood Seiders

 

By Dan Miller

Press And Journal Staff

 

Elwood Seiders was generous. But he also knew early on how to get the most out of a buck.

Whenever Seiders took his then-girlfriend (and later wife) Frances out for a milkshake, he would just buy one but ask for two straws. That way he and Frances could drink from the same glass at the same time.

Robert Reid, Middletown’s long-time former mayor, can’t tell the story without laughing. 

“Elwood was very, very thrifty,” Reid says. 

Far more common are the stories of the many ways Seiders gave to his community over the almost 60 years that he owned the Elwood’s Sunoco station at West Main and North Catherine streets in Middletown.

“Generous to a fault” was how his daughter, Debbie Bryan, described how her father would give away a tank of gasoline for free, especially to people new to the area who had no money.

Sometimes those on the receiving end would come back and pay Seiders the money, sometimes they wouldn’t. To Seiders it didn’t seem to matter, said Debbie, who for years has managed the financial end of things at the station.

Seiders passed away at his home in Middletown at age 87 on Saturday, Aug. 13. He was surrounded by members of his family, including Frances, who was Seiders’ wife for 64 years.

Seiders in a 2007 article in the Press And Journal talked of how he would sometimes walk the two and a half miles to the station in the winter if the snow was too deep for his car. He wanted to make sure that emergency vehicles and snowmobiles had somewhere to go to get gas.

Reid knows first-hand about that. One time during a blizzard Reid’s snowblower ran out of gas. A kid in the neighborhood was going around collecting empty gasoline cans from people. A while later the boy came back with all the cans full of gasoline.

“I wondered where in the world did he find gas on a day like today?” Reid remembers. The boy had gotten it from Seiders.

Seiders bought the station in 1957. He loved to whistle while he was working. He was also a big Hershey Bears fan — a season ticket holder for at least 40 years.

He liked to garden and work out in the yard, even mowing the grass. He didn’t hunt, but he liked to go deer-spotting and enjoyed watching birds and other wildlife.

But mostly, Seiders’ life was inseparable from his work. 

Long after most other stations had opted out of full service, you could still pull into Elwood’s and get your tank filled, your windows cleaned, and your oil checked — all without getting out of your car.

That’s how Seiders insisted on doing things, until 2009 when the business decided to take the pumps out.

Selling gasoline no longer made sense economically, said Bill Landis, Seiders’ grandson, who started working at the station as the in-house mechanic at age 13. Keeping the pumps cost more than what the station made from selling gasoline. That had to have been a tough decision, given how much gasoline Seiders had given away over the years to those in need.

“Say somebody needed gas because they were trying to get home. He would just be like, ‘Here you go, send me a check later.’” Landis said. “He worked hard and tried to be honest and trustworthy with everybody. That’s what kept him here so long. You don’t really see that much, anymore.”

To daughter-in-law Edie Seiders, Elwood Seiders lived out the simple command that Jesus Christ gave to one of his disciples in John 21:17 — “Feed my sheep.”

She talked of grown men “bawling” during Seiders’ funeral, trying to tell stories of how Seiders had come to their aid while they were little boys. 

In one case, two boys goofing around stuck hair on their face with adhesive as a disguise, but then couldn’t get it off. Their parents weren’t around, so they ended up at the station. Seiders found some way to remove to stuff, and everything was all right.

That was the type of simple act of kindness for which Seiders was known, the type people never forgot.

“That’s what he was to the community — a cornerstone,” Edie said.

There are no plans to close the station, Debbie Bryan told the Press And Journal. The business will stay in the family and the station will keep the Elwood’s name, she said.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 15:55

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Business group might finally get off ground

Almost two years ago after being incorporated with the state, why is there still no downtown business association in Middletown? 

 

For the full story, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Press And Journal.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 15:37

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