These three words were my exact response the first time I saw this book come across my desk. I mean, what in the mighty name of Lou Holtz is going on here?
Maybe I should start at the beginning…
I grew up in northern Indiana, about 30 minutes south of Notre Dame. Which means that most of our major school field trips were to The University. I have personally smacked the official “Play like a Champion” sign. When my dad’s youngest sister got married to a Polish Catholic guy from the west side of South Bend, they got special permission to have their wedding photos taken on campus, in The Grotto. The summer before my senior year of college, I took piano lessons on campus and each week I parked my car under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus.
So Notre Dame and I have a history.
Growing up, I also knew that the Ku Klux Klan had a bigger part in Indiana history than most Hoosiers readily want to admit. For instance, when my dad was a band director at a small town in central Indiana in the 1970s, the Klan would usually march - in full hood - in the local parades. Imagine enjoying a Fourth of July parade – here’s the local marching band…oh yes, and here comes our Klan.
But I honestly had no idea that in 1924 (which was a smidge before my time) the boys at Notre Dame broke up an attempted rally of the Klan in South Bend.
Tucker tells a good story in his book, giving us excellent historical background on both Notre Dame and the Klan – some of which I knew, and some of which I didn’t. This means that there is something for everyone in this book. I will admit that parts of it were a little embarrassing to read as a Hoosier – for instance, the fact that we had a Klan member as governor for a while. But if we don’t remember our history, we are more likely to repeat it.
I enjoyed this book, and I think anyone who is any kind of Fighting Irish fan would enjoy this one*. Spoiler alert – the good guys do take the day, just in case you were afraid they wouldn’t. I mean, what would the Gipper say if they hadn’t?
So let’s cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame!
Happy Fighting (Irish)…
*Yes, the football team does make an appearance. But there’s more to life than sports. Sigh.
Notre Dame vs. The Klan
I knew both of these were a thing - but I never realized they had clashed.