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The seats become part of the family. The seats have remained through rain, snow and Bill Callahan. The seats, in a good many cases, can be named in the same way a person might rattle off his or her address or phone number or names of grandchildren.

That doesn't necessarily mean those seats are more important than the grandkids, mind you, but better to just not ask the question and risk causing any family strife.

Joan Uribe's seats are Section 5, Row 39, Seats 7 and 8. She is 83 years old and so is her husband Charles. They had many different seats in Memorial Stadium for many years, but since 1976, those particular seats have been theirs. She thinks they've missed five games in that time.

Tickets have been in her family for just a little while — since 1923.

"My father came home from the first world war, put $25 (into) the building of the stadium," she explains. "When it was finished, he walked around the east side until he found the right seats for he and my mom."

Even when Calvin Coolidge was running the show, claiming the best seats possible mattered in this state. And even now, when every Nebraska football game is broadcast on a high-def television near you, having seats carries a certain cachet.

Tell a friend you have two seats to Saturday's Nebraska-Oregon game, the 350th consecutive Husker sellout, and see their envy. Then hear them ask, "Who's going with you?" There's always that one friend trying to claim one of your seats for free, isn't there?

A Husker home game is a spectacle now, of course, with 90,000 gathered in tight quarters. Rooting, texting, tweeting.

Even without Facebook and Twitter in 1922, enough people in the state were alerted that there was an effort afoot to raise $430,000 to begin stadium construction. The money was secured and it took a little more than 90 days for construction to be completed, according to the Nebraska athletic department's historical account.

Memorial Stadium was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1923 on Homecoming for the Nebraska-Kansas game. It was a 0-0 tie.

There were dry periods. In the '40s and the '50s, Nebraska football generally stunk worse than expired milk.

But you've heard the history lesson. It all turned in 1962. The streak began on Nov. 3 of that year when 36,501 attended Nebraska's Homecoming game against Missouri.

Nebraska lost 16-7 that day and its only score was a defensive touchdown. The fans came back and their team won. A lot. During the sellout streak, the Huskers are 298-51 in Memorial Stadium.

The graduates from Arkansas have been there to see most of them. Duane and Mary Ann Wilson moved to Omaha in 1966 for a job with Hoerner Boxes, Inc., selling shipping containers. When the fall arrived, Mary Ann noticed how empty the town seemed when the Huskers were playing football.

"All my customers and prospects were in Lincoln, or watching the football game on TV," Duane writes.

He brainstormed. A letter was written to Doris Cunningham, the Husker ticket manager at the time.

"Received the nicest letter back, almost laughing, saying the stadium was 'sold out' ever since Bob Devaney came to the university," he recalls. "Every six months a letter would be mailed to Doris about maybe single tickets behind pillars, etc? Another nice letter would come back, 'Sorry we are SOLD OUT!'"

Correspondence carried on like so for two years with the same results.

Just before the first Husker game in 1968, his telephone rang. Mr. Wilson, this is Doris Cunningham from the Nebraska ticket office.

Getting a call from the president of the United States might have not caught Wilson by as much surprise. "You are pulling my leg, who is this?" he said.

Nope. There were four season tickets in the end zone that hadn't been picked up and paid for.

The instructions were these: "If you will be here an hour before the game with a check for the tickets, they are yours 'IF' the people don't show up."

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The Wilsons immediately drove to Lincoln, check in hand. They have had Husker football seats ever since, even multiplying the number of tickets a few years later. They live in Oklahoma City now, but still have eight seats to their name.

Andrew Feaser arrived to the Husker party later. It's sort of fascinating that he arrived to the party at all, given that he grew up in Maryland. But his mom was a Husker fan. Then, at age 10, he watched Nebraska beat Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl. He was hooked.

So hooked that the thing he told his mother after his first communion was that he wanted Husker season tickets.

"She said that she would match my money saved to be put into the (ticket) lottery," Feaser writes.

Turns out he had 10 years to save up his money before they got the good news. They had seats. They'd take a flight from Maryland to Nebraska late Friday afternoon and come back Sunday. Seven times a fall.

Feaser lives in Papillion now, and his mother is coming back to Nebraska for Saturday's game. "It still in a way feels like when I was a kid!" he writes.

No one has to ask if that's a good thing.

Lorain and Joan Krueger have had their seats since 1965 and rarely missed a game since. Joan remembers listening to Bobby Reynolds' ziz-zag touchdown against Missouri on the radio with her dad, and she remembers the first game she saw in person in 1944. She watched it in the old "knothole section" and recalls it costing somewhere between 10 to 25 cents.

Time moves on and a dime in your pocket can no longer get you in the stadium. But the Kruegers aren't about to end their Husker Saturday ritual. "We are ages 85 and 82 and nothing stops us!" she writes.

Seven years ago when the Huskers had their 300th consecutive sellout, Betty Graham, who was then 90 and living in Wichita, Kansas, told the story of how she was at the very first game in Memorial Stadium in 1923. Her dad gave her a coloring book to appease her.

Decades moved on and she kept returning, minus the crayon. Asked why she kept traveling so far to Husker games at an old age, she replied, "It's loyalty, it's the kind of people that live there. It's in your blood."

It is why Dixie Rehm has missed only one game since she first got season tickets in the late '60s. A friend got married in 1973 "and I felt I had to go to the wedding."

It has to be a special friend to give up your seats in the fall.

Certainly it's fair to wonder how much longer the streak can carry on. The stadium has grown and every game can now be watched on television from one's couch. It took until mid-summer this year until the final season tickets were sold.

But worth highlighting just as much: there was a 95 percent renewal rate for season tickets for a team that just finished a 6-7 year. The continued sellouts is one Husker streak that has survived even the toughest of seasons. It is a streak that belongs to the fans, and their pride in it won't let go of it easily.

For Doug Farmer, the tickets in his family go back to 1923. They were purchased by his grandparents. That didn't always mean much to him, but it does now.

"Grandpa wrote it all down in his memoirs, and we have old photos and film taken at the stadium," he explains.

The tickets were transferred to his mother's name, and then eventually to his name.

Farmer is hardly alone in remembering the first Husker game he attended: Nov. 8, 1969, against Iowa State.

"Three days later I turned 12 years of age," he writes. "And now I take my grandkids to the games."

The cycle spins round. There will be death, there will be taxes, there will be a full stadium on Vine Street.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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