Merlin Olsen and Me

Thursday the 11th of March. I heard from Dixon, of all people, that Merlin Olsen had died today. Merlin was a neighbor of mine and our families grew up together. His older sister was Marilyn’s age, Larraine was my age and Gwen was Janet’s age, plus they had 6 other. Merlin was three years older than I and he became a good football player – good? Well, all American, All Pro, and Hall of Fame. Plus he was a TV star and broadcaster. I had to think back to our youth and a couple of funny experiences came to mind. On Sundays we didn’t have block meetings so we had all afternoon to goof off (yes, I know, I should have been reading scriptures or something). Often we would change out of our Sunday clothes and go to the park, across from Merlin’s house and we would play touch football. One time I had the ball and was trying to run for a gain when Merlin (on the opposing team) not only touched me, but picked me up and ran me and the ball backwards for 30 yards or so. I didn’t know about the forward progress rule.

Another time he had to play for our ward’s softball team because he lived in our ward’s boundary, although his family went to the 11th ward. We picked him up for a game and he came out with two slices of bread and four hot dogs in the middle. He wasn’t as good at softball as he was at football, but if he ever hit the ball, it was “Good by Softball.” We were lucky to retrieve it.

I worked with his mother at the Island Market and she was a big lady (not fat, but large and strong). She worked during the day and I worked after school. She would sometimes go shopping after her shift and when I would check out the purchase, she wanted me to carry the bags to the car for her. Heck, she was big enough to carry the bags and me too! Merlin, I’ll always remember you and your family.

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