Seventy-five years ago today, my dad, Clark Lindsay Christlieb, turned Sweet 16. He was having a blast as a sophomore at Murray High, directly across from his house on Grantham Street in picturesque, serene St. Anthony Park in St Paul, Minnesota.
Dad played basketball and ran track that year (1945-46) and was a placekicker in football — although from what one friend wrote in his yearbook, The Pilot, he must have broken his arm during football that 1945 season.
One thing shines through in Dad’s 1946 Pilot: He was already a really popular kid for a sophomore. His yearbook is filled with notes written by gals and guys who clearly thought highly of him. They saw him as swell, cute — and in the case of several girls, wanted to get to know him better. Many of the guys raved about his basketball and track talents, calling him a future star for the Pilots.
Starting with the inside cover, the yearbook shows what a ladies’ man Dad — known by his middle name, Lindsay, growing up — was during high school.
“To a real cute kid who I wish I knew much better,” wrote Caryl Anderson.
From Marilyn Mansergh: “To a really swell kid with whom I’ve had a lot of fun.”
“Best of luck to you cutie. You’re swell. I only wish I knew you better. Maybe next year (I hope). Always yours, Elayne Gullick”
“Dear Lindsay, I want to wish you lots of luck ’cause I think you’re a swell kid! We really had some times together, didn’t we? Jeannette Posch”
“To a swell kid who I wish I knew better. Good luck, Pat Doherty”
Yep, I’d have to say Lindsay definitely caught the attention of more than a few of the girls at Murray High. Who knows what they wrote in his junior and senior yearbooks?
Dad, who would’ve celebrated his 91st birthday today, was a lefty with a smooth hook shot and a prowess for rebounding as a 6-foot-1 member of the Pilots’ “Bucket Brigade” basketball team by the time he was a senior in 1947-48.
As the football team’s kicker, he also helped lead the Pilots to the 1947 city championship with a 31-6 triumph over Marshall High on Halloween night. We have the newspaper clipping of the St. Paul Pioneer Press story from the next morning, as well as a glossy print of the celebratory photo that ran with that gamer — with a yelling Dad smack-dab in the middle of the team shot next to Coach Ralph Engebretson.
During his 84 years until he passed away in July 2014, Dad was always highly outgoing. He never thought twice about saying hello to strangers, always liked to make new friends, struck up conversations with people he didn’t know, and loved to dispense his unique brand of humor to everyone he met. He just plain adored folks and life, and the more people in his life and the more he could make anyone he came across smile, the better.
Not everyone picked up on the fact that, when Dad threw out an “insult,” it was his way of joking around with them. He’d do that with waitstaff, grocery store cashiers, bank tellers — practically everyone he ran into. It was his way of engaging with and having fun with people, and it’s how he made so many lifelong friends. He loved to laugh and make others join him.
Through his 1946 Pilot, I can see how Dad’s lively, fun-loving and sociable personality, and the way people he endeared people to him, started during his youth. It’s written all over the yearbook. Kids loved him, a sophomore — from seniors to freshmen.
Dad had a serious, reserved side like his youngest adopted son (me), but he was no introvert. I wish we had more of his yearbooks to enjoy what his friends and classmates said about and to him, but this is the only one we found at his home in Missouri City when he died.
One of Dad’s dearest girlfriends was Barbara Grove, who was a year younger than him. I corresponded with her (Mrs. Jacobson now) by email about a year after his death, and she told me they had dated her freshman and junior (his sophomore and senior) years. She was doing well, living in California and widowed after having been married for 60 years before her husband died of dementia in 2012. She would be 90 now if she’s still living; I’m hoping to check in with her again soon.
Being such a flirt (all innocent, of course) and well-liked by the department store buyers, Dad was an ideal fit to be a lingerie salesman as he was for Hollywood Vassarette for over 30 years. He was always one of the company’s top salesmen.
In closing, I wanted to share a few more memories I pulled from the 1946 Pilot that made me smile — and laugh. Here’s to you, Dad. Happy birthday in heaven, from your family and every friend you ever made, from grade school to Murray High to the Navy all the way through life. We love you.
“To a very, very nice (but fresh) kid. De Anderson”
“Dear Lindsay, to a pretty cute and swell kid. Loads of luck, Dolores Burnett”
“The big wolf who has all the girls on his tail. Jerry Christensen”
“You’re a stinker Lindsay but I like you! Ruth T. P.S. I promise not to tease you any more!”
“To Christlieb Lindsay — the man girls dream about and men admire (B.S.). Well you’re a good kid anyway.”
“Hi Lindsay, still flirting in all your classes.”
“I bet all the girls are crazy to go out with you huh?”
“You are really a swell athlete. … Take it easy on all your women.”
“To a leader of men and a follower of women.”
“Oh you darling hunk of man.” (Written by a guy.)
“To a boy with
a) cheerful disposition
b) good looks
c) open heart to females
d) wonderful build
f) clean fingernails and teeth
h) enough foolishness to make him gay
From a boy with a minus a to h, Richard Reimers.”