June 4, 2012

Coach Jimmie Amen left a wonderful legacy at Division Avenue High School

1956-57 freshman basketball team. Coach Amen is between Nos. 8 and 13, while Dewain Lanfear is No. 7.

Click on photo to enlarge


Class of 1960 and DAHS teacher

My first real experience with Mr. Amen was freshman basketball in 1956. That team, 9-1, was the highlight of DAHS basketball for several years. He was a terrific coach and teacher. Whenever I watch a game on TV I see it through his eyes and how he taught the game. He taught us to understand the game. His overly enthusiastic "pats on the back" were well known.

I had the pleasure of teaching at Division while Jimmie was still there, and learning to address him that way and calling Mr. Jewell "Jerry" were tough steps to take. Anyway, Jimmie was an entertaining person to be around in the faculty room. He and the other coaches ate together at the "jock table" and pretty much dominated conversation. Lots of jokes and personal jabs - not a place for the thin skinned. These were definitely the days before PC was the rule.

They would collect ice cream slips from teachers who didn't want them and wind up with three or four desserts apiece. New teachers were always welcome at their table, especially if they were female and under 60. In the days before enlightenment, any birth in the faculty was required to be celebrated with cigars, and these guys would turn the air in that lunchroom blue with smoke.

Jimmie was well known for his general impatience. Famous quote was "I got things to do". We played in the teachers' golf league together; par for Jimmie was measured in minutes and hours the round took, not strokes. He rarely sat still and contemplation was not a familiar state for him.

During the teachers' strike in the late 1970s, I was walking the line with him one day and we took a break and were sitting on the curb in back of the shops. He was kind of down that day and said "Here I am after all these years coaching and teaching and I wind up here, sitting on the curb, eating peanuts." I recall feeling so bad then because the strike was so nasty and he was such a good dedicated man. He retired soon after that. His son followed him to DAHS years later and showed many of the same strengths and idiosyncrasies as his Dad.

Jimmie Amen left a wonderful legacy at Division Avenue and we are better for having known him


Frank Barning said...

picture caption

1956-57 Division Avenue High School freshman basketball team:

Sitting: Skippy Orr, Doug Lindemyer, John Gentleman, Alan Kurtz

First row: Lefty Carlo, Marty Rosenberg, Ken Ganim, Ben Stark, Dewain Lanfear, Pete Cybriwsky, Mike Newton, Terry Tobey

Standing: Russ Green, Tom Krustangel, coach Jimmy Amen, Artie Dorrmann, (unknown), Richie Glaski

Marilyn Monsrud Frese DAHS '63 said...

Wonderful memories Dewain! I began working in the Athletic directors office at DAHS just after Jimmie left. But he was drawn back to the office again and again... like a moth to a flame! His HEART was still there- Blue and Gray, thru and thru! I was there for about 10 years with AD Sally Brown... stayed for 1 more year Sally left for California, and Jim Amen Jr. took over the AD spot. His dad would still stop in- not as often as he had before, but it was always a joy to see his smiling face! There is a lovely memorial to him behind the school... behind the 1st base line on one side and the south side football goal post (now all turf with lights) on the other side. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man! Thanks for the memories!