What a night to be in Bloomington

What a night to be in Bloomington

Tuesday Herald-Telephone

March 31, 1981

One of President Reagan’s one-liners Monday that eased the minds of the American people was: “All things being equal, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”

Many Hoosiers were in Philadelphia, celebrating IU’s second national championship in the last five years. For thousands of IU fans, however, all things being equal, it was a night to be in Bloomington.

Minutes after the basketball game was over and celebrants were pouring into the streets, a white-haired gentlemen from Chicago was traversing Walnut Street with a box full of T-shirts proclaiming “Indiana Hoosiers – 1981 NCAA Champions. This Was No Upset.”

The man, who gave his name as King Raleigh, said he works for the Four Seasons sporting goods store in Chicago.

“We were here in ’76 too,” he said. “We go to big events, like the World Series and the Super Bowl.

“We started printing in the second half,” he said, “as soon IU went up by 11.”

Was he afraid at any time the IU lead would disappear – making the shirts worthless in case of a loss?

“Not at all,” replied Raleigh. “I’ve been watching that IU defense.”

The Hoosiers, like Mr. Raleigh, had things sewn up.

One of the best lines of the night had to come from Ed Halpern, an IU graduate student. Riding his bike through the mass of people on Kirkwood, Halpern said to friends:

“I was studying all night. When I came out I thought Tess must have won best picture.”

Whether the 1976 celebration was bigger than Monday night’s is subject open ti debate. Among the people at both were George Turchyn of Bloomington. His vote, for excitement at least, went to Monday night’s affair.

“It was believable in 1976,” he said. “But this year it is just (bleeping) unbelievable!”

The celebration was similar, according to the city and IU police. The crowd size was similar to that of 1976: about 2,000 people in the 200 block of North Walnut Street, which had been blocked off by the police; another 2,000 on Kirkwood in front of Nick’s; and about 5,000 at Showalter Fountain on the IU campus.

Twenty-six arrests were made this year; only six were made in 1976. Virtually all arrests were alcohol-related. Thirty-eight persons were treated at the hospital this year; 27 were treated in ’76.

One Iu police officer, Donald Schmuhl, suffered a cut arm and hand when he tried to stop a number of celebrants from tearing down trees behind the IU Auditorium.

Two concrete fish were taken from the Showalter Fountain.

“The Auditorium area looks like a battlefield,” said deputy campus police chief Robert Dillon.

Three cars were turned over and several fire hydrants were turned on in the city. Other vandalism incidents were reported in the downtown and campus areas – windows were broken and signs were stolen andknocked over.

It was 11 p.m. when the signboard for the Bluebird Tavern was conquered. Celebrants on the roof of the building reached down- sometimes precariously – to disassemble the words there advertising coming attractions at the nightclub.

When the rearranging was completed the sign read “IU No. 1 NCAA.” The crowd in the streets below roared its approval, chanting “IU” and pointing its hundreds of no. 1 index fingers skyward.

Greg Apple, a 1977 IU graduate living in Greenwod was greeting olad and new friends by exclaiming “It’s twice as nice.”

“I was here in ’76 and in was a great time but you kind of expected it,” he explained. “This time they weren’t the favorites. That made it even greater when they went out and beat everybody’s butts.”

At 4:30 p.m. Monday the four television sets at Nick’s English Hut blared ou the somber news of the shootings of President Ronald Reagan and three others in Washington. As newsmen worked frantically to piece together the details of the incident, Indiana University basketball fans set out on a frantic mission of their own: securing the best possible seats for viewing the NCAA championship game.

Nick’s Attic opened at noon to accommodate the throngs of people hoping to watch the game on the big screen set, according to manager Jim Mathias.

Karla Hudacek, IU senior, said when she and her friends arrived shortly after noon the seats closest to the set were already occupied by a group of backgammon players. Several layers of people and tables stood between Hudacek and the silver screen and she confessed that she had skipped three classesto keep her spot at the table, but, she added, “We came here to watch all of the games that we didn’t have tickets for this season, so when we couldn’t get tickets for Philadelphia this was the first thing we thought of doing.”

As game time approached, excitement in the sultry, packed-to-capacity bar mounted to a fever pitch. The ebullient crowd offered hearty ovations for the appearances of the NBC peacock and game commentator Bryant Gumbel on the screen, but the reaction to the camera’s first shot of IU coach Bob Knight bore something of the religious fervor generally reserved for men who walk on water.

David Zilkowski, IU senior, expressed similar fervor after the game when he confessed that he “had faith” in the Hoosiers even though he was worried by their lackluster performance in the first 10 minutes of the game.

“I love Bob Knight,” Zilkowski said, “and I knew he’d get their heads together at halftime. I had faith in ’em all along.”

Nick’s waitress Carrie Cutshall came to work Monday in running shoes and a basketball cap, both of which came in handy as she zipped from one thirsty table to another throughout the evening. Cutshall said customers had been very nice and generally considerate of her harried sitation on the job.

“I didn’t even know what the score was during the first half,” Cutshall admitted breathlessly during a moment she allowed herself late in the third quarter. “But this is fun for all of us.”

Craziness everywhere was the way one jubiliant IU student described the scene Monday night on Kirkwood Avenue as he traveled in the back of a pickup truck with 15 other people.

“Well what do you think about all the craziness?” said his friend. “I want another beer,” the student replied.

That was typical of the dialogue between students and others who joined in the giant celebration after the IU victory. Chants of “IU, IU” joined crowds together as they merged in downtown Bloomington. As the night wore on, the chants subsided and the most prominenet noise was the sound of empty bottles and cans crashing to the pavement.

Although the word excitement is an understatement, it certainly xame close to describing some of the students who live in Wissler Hall in Teter Quad.

“I came here in 1976 right after IU won the national championship and I’ve been waiting five years for this to happen again,” said Dave Goldstein, a graduate student in Japanese from West Lafayette. “I saw us win the NIT, but that sort of seemed like second best.”

Steve Buckmann of Denville, N.J., a freshman, admitted that he was skeptical of IU’s basketball team when its record was 7-5. But that all changed Monday night when Buckmann became a lifetime member of the IU fan club.

Only words of praise were heard about IU’s often-controversial coach Bob Knight during the celebration.

“He’s so consistent,” said Barry Adams, a former IU student who drove from South Bend to watch the game in Bloomington. “He holds so strong to his morals and his principals. People around him may change, but he doesn’t.”

Jawn Bauer, a third-year law student, called Knight a “genius,” “one of the smartest people in the world.”

In the midst of all the chaoson Kirkwood, one student, Mike Pachette, had not forgotten about another Monday event – the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

“I’m proud of the Indiana Hoosiers,” Pechette said. “But more important is what happened to Ronald Reagan and Jim Brady and the two policemen. They’ve got to hang in there.”

The celebrants came to the fountain on the IU campus as they do after every basketball championship. But this year the Indiana University Police Department was ready for them. In years past, the Showalter Fountain has been filled with soap suds and the lady has been dismembered.

Shortly before the game several IUPD officers donned crash helmets and with billy clubs in hand, climbed into the waterless fountain. The officers stayed to protect the lady’s honor as the students poured into the area from all directions.

About an hour later, IUPD officer Linda Stewart, who was posted at the street corner behind the Auditorium was asked if her fellow officers remained inside the fountain. It was impossible to see.

From a small group of 30 to 40 students who began the celebration during the last minutes of the game. the crowd swelled to thousands in 15 to 20 minutes. Most chanted, swilled beer and shot off fireworks continuously around and into the crowd. They climbed trees and scathed the fine arts building and the Auditorium. Several colorful characters mingled in the crowd. One male student wore a pair of red long-johns with what appeared to be shaving or whipped cream sprayed all over. Another figure scared away passers-by with a wolf-man mask.

Two other students rode by in a grocery store cart by the side of the Auditorium.

Several rather older-than-student men said they were staying in the Indiana Memorial Union – had come from Kansas City and wanted to join the fun. Asked if they were rooting for IU, they said, “Hell, we would have been for Carolina if they had won.”

Although there was a 50-degree chill in the air, most students didn’t seem to notice as they walked about clad in T-shirts. One male, reminiscent of times gone by, was apparently so heated up that he took all his clothes off and streaked through the crowd, protecting his most private parts from the cold – or attack. Although he ran straight for two police cars, the officers made no attempt to stop him as he dashed by in the night.

And while Rome burned…Several Bloominton musicians celebrated the IU victory with fiddling. Brian Hubbard and Bob Herring fiddled old-time tunes, backed up by friends Teri Klassen, Brad Leftwich and Barry Kern on a stoop in the 100 block of East Sixth Street.

One man stopped along the sidewalk, looked back at the musicians and ahead at the crowd on Walnut Street, and summed up the situation:

“Ain’t nothin’ but a party.”

Some pedestrians in front of Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream on East Kirkwood got a thrill about 11:30 when an eastbound Oldsmobile, its roof already mashed in from the people who had been riding on top of it, veered slowly but steadily to the left and toward the sidewalk.

The crowd parted and the car rolled up on to the sidewalk, stopping with its front bumper up against the Baskin-Robbins door.

“I guess he wants some ice cream to go,” somebody in the crowd said. After several minutes of trying, the driver got the car back on the street, parked it against the curb, got out and disappeared into the crowd.

They started streaming into Bear’s backroom in the early afternoon. By 2:30, according to one patron who arrived at 2, the room with the giant TV screen was completely full.

Five minutes after the game was over, it was empty, except for the Bear’s staff, which was left cleaning up the mess.

Tables, benches and floor were awash with bear and fragments of wet newspaper, but thanks to the foresight of the manegment and the reasonable restraint of the crowd, no one had been hurt.

People had screamed and stomped and run amuck over the table tops, happily sploshing beer on one another, but the cups were all plastic, salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders had been removed, and thus, no one had been hit with heavy, flying objects.

Pedestrians stood in the middle of Third Street in front of Bear’s Place and the Hopp immediately after the game, stopping traffic and giving “high fives” to vehicle passengers when the cars wouldn’t stop.

Hundreds of dorm residents and bar goers joined that celebration at one time or another during the night, raising a noise as loud as anything ever heard in Assembly Hall.

One of the youngest participants was 7-year-old Robert Olshin, who stood at the roadside with his mother, Brenda. Young Olshin said he didn’t know exactly whay he was there, but he was having a great time.

“We watched the game and then heard the noise,” said Brenda Olshin. “We came out to see it. We’re from Philadelphia and there we were watching the Spectrum. It was fantastic.

“I love Indiana basketball. I havn’t been to a game yet. I hear you have to be here awhile before you can get tickets.”

But by 7 a.m. remnants of the celebration were few along Third Street from Jordan to Indiana. A street sweeper had come through and the area was surprisingly clean with some traces of toilet paper streamers and a few beer containers dotting the landscape.