Posts Tagged ‘Phil’
Heidi Priebe, the younger sister I never had, asked me to make some suggestions for the update she is submitting to The Rawlins County History Book Vol. III. She said that she’s probably not going to use all of the suggestions – the write up is currently over the 400 word limit. So you can read my version now or her version when the book comes out.
Phil and Heidi (Mickey) Priebe
Heidi Jo Mickey Priebe is the daughter of John and Betty (Rooney) Mickey. She was born in Atwood on June 30, 1972, the first year of the Lake Atwood 10 Mile race. She graduated from Atwood High School in 1991 and attended Kansas State University (because she couldn’t get in anywhere else).
She and her husband Phil Priebe, who is much older (in fact rediculously older) met while part of the wedding party for her sister Joni and John Creighton. While Heidi was at Kansas State, John invited both Phil and Heidi on a summer vacation to North Carolina with a group of Atwood alumni and future residents. Marriage soon followed. Thanks John! (No worries, you’re welcome.)
Philip Nathan Priebe was born on March 20, 1965 in Hackensack, New Jersey (which Heidi just learned in their 15th year of marriage but is now trying to cover up that fact by saying she was only confused about Phil’s brother). He is a graduate of Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Phil graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas (the greatest school ever) in 1998.
Phil and Heidi were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan Kansas on July 23, 1994. That same year, they moved to Louisville, Kentucky where Phil earned his Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1997.
Phil and Heidi lived in Westminster, Colorado from 1997 to 2001 while Phil completed a residency in Obstetrics/Gynecology at St. Joseph’s Hospital. During this time period, Heidi worked as an assistant for one of the greatest managers she’s ever known (her brother-in-law, John), cared for her neice Emma, graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado School of Culinary Arts and owned and operated her own business as a personal chef for highly paid athletes and other Denver luminaries.
Their daughter Elizabeth Agnes was born in Denver on June 12, 2001 on the same day that her Uncle John had a business trip.
Phil joined the staff of The Medical Center of Bowling Green, Kentucky in the summer of 2001. Phil and Heidi lived in Bowling Green for five years. Their second daughter, Anne Wesley, was born there on April 15, 2004.
Missing the Creightons desperately, the Priebes returned to Colorado in 2006 and continue to live in Fort Collins where Phil is a partner and rabble rouser with the Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado. Their son Coy Lewis was born in Ft. Collins on June 8, 2008. The Priebes are active members of the Ft. Collins United Methodist Church. Heidi also serves on several school committees for Poudre Public Schools.
Phil enjoys his annual trip to Rawlins County to hunt pheasant. Heidi continues a career as mom. Realizing that she is so close to 40 that she should just call herself 40 and pining for more adventure, Heidi lives vicariously through the characters in the novels she reads, collects memories visiting famous restaurants and sometimes wonders how her “family update” would read if she was a heartless woman with no children.
I’m not close to being in Johnny Cash’s league but I’ve been a few places. My work has taken me to 41 states and the District of Columbia.
I interview people for a living – in small groups and one-on-one. I get paid to ask people questions such as “What do you think?” And, “Why do you think that?” It’s not bad work if you can get it.
I’ve talked with folks rich and poor; old and young; black, white and brown about health care, education, politics, the environment, religion, immigration, taxes and U.S.-Russia relations just to name a few topics. I write reports about what people say. I advise clients, given what people think this is what you should do.
I spend a good deal of my time the past few years training people working in community organizations how to do this work for themselves – to ask their own questions, to do their own listening, to make their own judgments about what to do.
The great joy of this work is that I’ve had to the opportunity to learn from Americans from all walks of life – from executives to homeless. It is humbling to sit and listen to people tell stories about their lives.
I sang hymns with members of an African Methodist Episcopal church in inner city Atlanta. I’ve eaten pie with farmers in southeast North Dakota before talking about the environment.
I’ve been to Union halls in Michigan and Legion halls in Idaho. I’ve sat in cramped “community” rooms in rec centers in North Las Vegas and plush board rooms in New York City. I’ve been to factory floors and college campuses. I’ve had beers with Pulitzer Prize winning reporters in Tampa and with future governors and congressmen in Cleveland. I’ve stayed in hotels on Newport Beach and overlooking a deserted downtown in Flint, Michigan.
The conversations with people can get uncomfortable. A man in Miami had to be restrained from hitting me when I asked, “What would you say to someone who said, ‘Americans complain a lot.’” Thankfully another person in the group yelled, “He said he was going to play devil’s advocate.” The man replied, “He’s doing a damn good job of it.”
I had to intervene when two people from Michigan got into an argument about race relations.
People you’d never expect could find common ground just by listening to each other answer questions. In Albany, Georgia a woman said, “I pulled my kids out of public school because they can’t pray to God.” The woman next to her said, “I think they should give condemns to kids in high school.” I thought to myself, “This is going to be a long afternoon.” Long after the focus group came to an end the two women stood in the parking lot still talking. I saw them exchange phone numbers.
Some people I interview leave me speechless – not a good thing when you’re being paid to ask questions. I had to pause when…
- A man from Las Vegas told me about getting robbed at gunpoint in his own apartment and then declared, “This is the best place I’ve ever lived.”
- An older man crying because he’s harassed by his teenage neighbors and he didn’t know what to do.
- A group in southern Mississippi explaining why they think it makes sense for black and white students to have separate proms – in the late 1990s.
- A woman in Atlanta talking about her son being bullied and eventually taking his own life.
- A young mother from Andover, Kansas talking about what it was like to lose the family farm.
I tried not to slap my forehead when interviewing a group in Philadelphia about US-Russia relations. A man said, “Why don’t we just buy Russia.” The woman next to him asked, “Can we do that?”
I tried not to pull my hair out when a farmer from southwest Minnesota sat silently in a group for more than 90 minutes. “Brian,” I queried, “do you have any thoughts about the environmental issues we’ve been talking about?”
“Oh, I’ve got a lot of opinions about what people have been sayin’.”
“Do you care to share any with us?”
“Rather not,” he replied and didn’t say another word until he said good-bye.
The travel itself can be a bit of an adventure. I went to Las Vegas the first time when my plane was stuck in Denver and my boss’ plane was stuck in DC due to weather. My boss was supposed to give a speech in Las Vegas. I gave the speech. He stayed home.
Flying from Fargo to Minneapolis the cabin of our 16 seat plane filled with smoke. Our pilot assured us it was no big deal that he had to shut down one engine. It was slightly disconcerting to see the runway lined with fire trucks. But, I made it to Denver in time to watch KU play in the Sweet 16 – so life was good.
I’ve been in some jams, too – all minor of my own doing. On my first business trip after college, it didn’t occur to me to rent a car. We had to take a bus to Payless Cars because everyone else was sold out. My boss wasn’t happy when we arrived at our meeting an hour late.
I had to bang on the door of Brown’s Shoe Fit in Lincoln, Nebraska at 6 a.m. and beg the night accountant to sell me a pair of dress shoes. I was giving a speech to ten western governors at 8 a.m. and the only shoes I had were a pair of flip flops. They didn’t quite go with my suit.
My work takes me to many interesting places at interesting times. I was in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newsroom when editors and reporters argued over how to cover the discovery that Mark McGwire was taking Andro the summer he hit 70 home runs.
The O.J. Simpson verdict (for his murder trial) was announced while I was interview a group of Baltimore Sun reporters. The interview ended abruptly so they could publish a special edition of the newspaper. It was on the streets by the time I reached my car.
I stayed in the Marriott World Trade Center on 9/1/01 – far removed from the tragedy of 9/11 but weird for me.
Then Candidate Obama gave his speech on race and politics in March 0f 2008 in the wake of the controversy about his church pastor. I was with a group of about 50 people on that day. Thirty or so were African-American. The next day I was doing business on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. The reactions to the speech could not have been more different.
This week, I am in Detroit. I arrived the same day GM announced it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I had the opportunity to interview people on the streets of downtown Detroit. The streets were clean. The people were friendly. There was resilience in the air. A testament to American’s fortitude. A reminder that it’s easy to have preconceived views about unfamiliar places.
I love to ask questions. I love to learn. But, it doesn’t always translate well to my personal life. Phil Priebe once declared that he’s not coming to our house for dinner if, “John’s going to ask a bunch of questions.” I try to tone it down.
I am grateful for the places my work has taken me – though I’m no fan of post 9/11 air travel or staying in hotel rooms. I feel fortunate to have heard the stories of thousands of Americans – each different but so similar.
We live at a time when media and politics emphasize our differences. Yet we all are more like the two women in Georgia who stayed late to exchange phone numbers in the parking lot. We all have so much in common and we’d know it if we just took the time to talk to each other.
As a woman in Detroit said this week, “I think we all want to live in communities that are safe, healthy, respectful, full of opportunities and are connected.”
I hear that everywhere, man!
* * *
For those of you who made it to the end, here’s a little Johnny Cash.
A spring break trip was a foreign concept to me. I had never heard of such a thing until people started talking about it my freshman year at KU.
In high school, I don’t even remember the phrase “spring break.” We had Easter break. I can’t remember if it was a full week or just a few days. It didn’t really matter. We had track practice during the break and we weren’t encouraged to miss that.
Our freshman year at KU, the idea came up to go skiing. I spent most of my time on Scott Focke’s floor at Ellsworth Dorm. Five people on his floor, plus Scott, me and a friend of mine from a history class decided to go. We drove as far as Atwood the first night.
Phil Priebe was one of the five from Scott’s floor. It would be his first trip to Atwood. Little did we know at the time he’d make many more.
One in our crew was from the East Bank of Israel. He claimed he’d been a member of the PLO. He spoke very little English so we had trouble asking questions to verify if his claim was true. He made us all a little nervous but he seemed like a nice enough guy.
One person traveling with us, Rob, was surprised by Dad’s grey hair. “I didn’t know your dad would be so old,” he said to me after Dad left the room.
My friend from history class, Brandon, spent his time in eastern Colorado looking for a place you could only see plains and no trees. It kept him entertained for over an hour.
The ski trip involved most of the activities you would expect of 19 year-old boys. There were a couple of pratfalls. Phil and a few others did not heed Scott’s and my advice to wear sunscreen. They spent our last day at the slopes sleeping in cars with badly burned faces.
A few of us spent our last day skiing the back bowls of Copper Mountain. I hot dogged on a green slope as we approached the bottom of our last run and broke my leg. I didn’t realize I had the stress fracture until several weeks later.
We skied through mid-week and then returned home. Phil stayed with me in Atwood. The others went on to Lawrence. Phil’s and my adventure continued when we rode back to Lawrence in Bill Beamgard’s Dodge Dart (at least, I think that’s what it was).
Bill, with our blessing, decided to take Highway 36 rather than go down to I-70 for reasons I can’t explain. We had not yet reached Oberlin when it started to snow. It came down fast, wet and heavy. A typical spring snow.
We topped a hill just west of Norton. There was nothing Bill could do. He slammed into a Trans-Am that had just rear-ended a stalled car in front. The Trans-Am fiberglass shattered and scattered. The Dodge Dart seemed just fine.
Inside the broken car was Brian Moore of Oberlin and Dawn Tonguish of Herndon. Brian was a sports rival from high school. Dawn was a fellow KU student who would go on to become an accomplished broadcaster. We made sure they had help before we pressed on.
The snow came and went but the progress was slow. We saw no other cars the rest of the day. As we approached a hill near Belleville, the Dart took a rest. It stalled. Bill tried in vain to start it again.
We climbed out of the car contemplating what to do. No farm houses in sight. No cars. Just snow. Phil captured the moment singing out, “Ahh Ahh, Kansas!” The state’s marketing song of the time.
To our great relief the Dart started again. We continued thirty to forty miles an hour. We reached Ellsworth Dorm thirteen hours after leaving Atwood – twice the normal time.
We had no cell phones. No one knew where we were. We learned that the highways were being closed right behind the whole time we drove. It was a major blizzard. We were crazy to be where we were.
Even Mark Frame, my roommate at the time, was worried. That’s when I knew it was bad.
There is no lesson from this story except that nineteen and twenty year-old boys are seldom the best decision makers.
Our team might still be reigning champion of the Lake Atwood Days canoe races. I can’t verify this. So, for now, I’ll assume that we are. Please don’t notify me if I am wrong.
Several years ago my brother-in-law Phil Priebe, nephew Taylin Hein and I spontaneously entered the three person canoe races at the Annual Lake Atwood Days.
No one liked our chances to win. Not even us. The competition included three high school Boy Scouts who had just returned from a weeklong canoe trip in Nebraska.
But, Phil and I had raced together before in the Manhattan to Lawrence race upon the Kaw. Could we regain our college form? Or, would our college form be an even greater handicap?
This was a good year for Lake Atwood. The entire lake was full. There was a good three to four feet of water. Plenty for canoe races.
We made it to the finals. So did the Boy Scouts. They were rightfully feeling a great deal of confidence.
The course was short and simple. The starting line was near the boat ramp. Teams were required to paddle about 100 meters to the west, circle the buoy (aka Fr. Damian Richards), and return past the starting line.
The race began as everyone expected. The scouts opened up a large, early lead. Our goal was to be respectable. We just tried to keep our canoe strait and paddle in unison.
The scouts rounded the buoy well before we did and we lost sight of them, since our backs were to them now. We approached the buoy and started to veer off course. That’s when we experienced Divine intervention.
We were headed straight for the buoy. A collision was imminent. The water was about chest deep on Father Damian – the buoy. He tried to evade us but it’s hard to move quickly in chest deep water.
Father Damian grabbed hold of our canoe and spun us around. He gave us a push back toward the start/finish line and simultaneously straightened our course.
When we looked forward, we noticed the scouts had run into trouble. Perhaps they had grown over confident. I don’t know. But, they had moved to close to shore and got hung up in the rocks. They were stalled.
We paddled harder thinking we might have a chance. We might even have broken a sweat. We moved past the scouts just as they freed themselves from the rocks. We were too close to the finish line for them to recover.
Victory was ours. We lifted our hands and ours in the air savoring the moment. Guided by the hand of a Father fleeing in self-defense, our win must have been pre-ordained.
We returned the next year to defend our title. But, alas, there was no water in the lake. We would continue as defending champion by default for another year.
Lake Atwood is once again full of water, or so I am told. Perhaps our team will return to defend our crown. Or, perhaps, it is better to retire as champions.
It’s my favorite time of the sports year. It is the time of year that hope springs eternal for all college teams in the tournament. And, a great time of the year to be a Jayhawk.
I have had the great good fortune to be in the right place at the right time. KU has won two national championships in the past twenty years – 1988 and 2008 – and I was in the stands alongside my friend and now brother-in-law Phil Priebe both times.
Phil, who lived on the same dorm floor as Scott Focke, and I became friends our freshman year at KU as members of the Greg Dreiling fan club. We arrived at KU the same year as Larry Brown. All three of us stayed for five years (many of us enjoyed a Super Senior year). We were grateful that it took the time it did to graduate so we could enjoy the championship year of 1988. It was worth every penny of extra tuition.
The year before we arrived at KU the Jayhawks had a second straight losing season with just 13 wins. It’s the last time KU’s basketball teams have ever had a losing season.
Larry Brown began to rebuild the magic of Allen Field House. KU lost only five home games in five years. We were there to witness it all.
Seats in Allen Field House were easy to come by early our freshman year. Nothing like the campouts we had to endure to secure seats during the Super Senior Championship Year. Nothing like today.
In one of the first games I saw as a student, KU was blown out by Kentucky. The stands were half full. The only other loss that season was to Oklahoma. By that time, the stands were full.
Calvin Thompson hit a half court shot to send the game into overtime – the shot was only worth two points in those days. But, Oklahoma dominated the extra period. Then, to our dismay, they proceeded to cut down our nets because they had secured a share of the Big 8 Championship. It sparked a heated rivalry that would last through Oklahoma’s Billy Tubbs era. I can still feel the outrage.
From that point forward, KU reeled off 55 straight home victories.
The Greg Dreiling Fan Club was born in a dorm room in Ellsworth Hall. About a dozen of us decided to paint our faces and make signs. We did it as a joke at first. People made fun of Dreiling. During halftime of one game Dreiling’s wife came to our seats and told us that Greg deeply appreciate our support. We felt guilty and compelled to continue the fan club in earnest for the rest of the season.
We all got a charge when Dreiling pointed up in the stands at us during introductions of the final home game. We also enjoyed getting our pictures in the papers. We made appearances in the Kansas City Star and the Wichita Eagle.
I missed only one or two games during my five years on campus. I was active in state politics at that time – to the extent that’s possible for a 22 year-old. I chose to attend the Republican Kansas Day events in Topeka on January 30, 1988. That was the day Kansas State ended the Jayhawks home winning streak. I was in shock listening to the game being called on the radio.
We would lose two more games at home that season – to Duke in overtime and, again, to Oklahoma. The ’88 season was a struggle. Danny Manning was the only NBA caliber player on the team. The Jayhawks finished the regular season a mere 20 and 10.
We sipped our schooners at Louis’ on the eve of Selection Sunday speculating that KU would have to settle for the NIT. We were thrilled the next day when KU was given a six seed.
The Final Four was in Kansas City at Kemper Arena that year – the last time it was ever played in a small arena. Phil and I had managed to win two tickets in the NCAA lottery for the semi-final and championship games. Phil insisted that we try. I thought it was a lark.
We planned to sell our tickets and make a “fortune.” We assumed KU would make an early exit from the tournament. We’d have no need to go to Kemper ourselves.
I called a ticket broker I found in the classified ads in USA Today (people still used the classified ads in newspapers in those days). I made the call from the storeroom office behind the Kansas House of Representatives where I was working as an intern.
I don’t remember the price the broker offered me. It was a lot by our standards. I distinctly remember what he said when I informed him that we were going to wait to see how KU did in the first two rounds of the tournament before we made a sale.
“What are you boys smokin’ in Lawrence?”
But, that weekend, the magic began. KU beat Xavier and dodged a game with number three North Carolina State who lost to Murray State. KU barely slipped past Murray State and then handled Vanderbilt who had upset number two Pittsburg. Kansas State did KU the biggest favor all defeating number one Purdue in the round of sixteen.
Joni sat bravely amongst an apartment full of KU fans as the Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats to advance to the Final Four. We had a spontaneous celebration in our parking lot dozens upon dozens of students pouring out of doors from all directions.
I wore my Atwood baseball jersey during the first tournament game. Each round Phil told me I had to wear it again for good luck. Who knows what role this charm played in the Jayhawks’ victories over Duke and Oklahoma in the Final Four – I’ll take whatever credit anyone wants to give.
The three teams that beat KU at home were the last three teams they defeated to win the championship. It spawned one of my favorite all time t-shirts: Don’t Beat Us at Home (on the front); Paybacks Are a Bitch (on the back).
Phil and I would never have forgiven ourselves if we’d sold the tickets to the broker before the tournament began. The first half of the KU v Oklahoma game is still the best I’ve ever seen – fifty to fifty at the intermission.
The celebration that followed in Lawrence was like nothing I’ve taken part in before or since.
We had to drive back from Kansas City to Lawrence, of course. The Kansas Turnpike toll both attendant that night was the ever present man with no mustache. He’d been in the booth every time I passed for five years. It only seemed fitting that he be part of our celebration.
Back on campus, I ran into Brad Finley by the Jayhawk statue in front of Strong Hall. We embraced. We jumped. We yelled. We carried on for 10 minutes or more. Then, we both disappeared back into the celebrating crowd.
My 1988 memories closed out two months later. Mark Frame and I went to Armadillos for a Sunday night drink and some food. The only other people in the restaurant were Larry Brown and his assistant, Bob Hill.
We sat at the table next to them and watched a replay of the championship game. Bob Hill mentioned how nervous Scooty Barry was shooting free throws in the closing moments of the game. “I think he was going to pee his pants,” Hill said. Brown smile and laughed but never said a word.
Mark and I didn’t speak either. We just thought we were cool to be watching the game with Larry Brown.
Little did we know that we all were in our final weeks in Lawrence.
We stood on the boardwalk in Atlantic City looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. There was a faint hint of light on the horizon – a sign of the coming sunrise. It was a new and bewildering sight for two kids from the Great Plains.
It was not quite six in the morning. We were very tired. It had been a long night.
There was no good reason for us to be in Atlantic City. We were on our way to Boston. Atlantic City was hundreds of miles out of our way. But, there we stood.
Twenty four hours earlier we were in Louisville, Kentucky. We had spent the night with Phil Priebe – our close friend, my roommate at KU and now our brother-in-law.
We were on our first road trip as a married couple. We were moving all of our worldly possessions to Boston – a mattress and box springs, table and chairs, a television, kitchen supplies and a few boxes of clothes, towels and sheets . I had one year of grad school to finish. Joni would find a job.
We had no car so we rented the smallest truck available at the Colby, Kansas U-Haul. Our belongings did not begin to fill the truck. They would more than fill the three to four hundred square foot apartment we rented on Beacon Hill.
On the advice of an older friend, we decided to live in the city. We just couldn’t afford much space. Our basement apartment was so small it was not possible to open the stove and the refrigerator at the same time. The bugs we discovered at night were as big as the mice.
We left Louisville early in the morning and made good time. We stopped Hagerstown, Maryland for a late lunch. We sat in a booth at Wendy’s and studied the Atlas. The wheels in our minds began to turn.
Should we turn north and take the shortest path possible to Boston? Or, should we see the sights along the East Coast? We had three days before we had to return the truck. But, we didn’t want to pay to stay in a hotel.
The answer was clear. Drive all night and sleep in the truck if we got tired. Those kinds of answers make sense when you’re 21 and 24. And thus began our Clark Griswold vacation.
We turned south at Hagerstown and headed for Washington, DC. We didn’t count on rush hour traffic. Little did we know that we’d wrestle with this traffic every day just a year later when we moved to Virginia and then Maryland.
The traffic was so thick we didn’t make it to the city until well after dark. We were having trouble reading the map. We drove through Georgetown which we didn’t realize at the time. A few turns later, we were driving along the Mall taking in the Lincoln and Washington monuments, the Capital in the distance. It was inspiring. We’d never seen the monuments lit up at night.
I’m not sure how but a moment later we were sitting in front of the White House – you could still drive by in those days. We had no idea where to park the truck. So we didn’t. We just slowed down and Joni took a picture of the White House through the passenger side window.
Next “stop,” Baltimore. It was getting late. Again, we didn’t park. We drove down to the Harbor, back to the Interstate and on to the next city.
In Philadelphia, we never found Independence Hall. In New York, we drove through Times Square and then down to Battery Park. We pulled over on a side street into what we thought was a parking spot. We climbed on top of the U-Haul to get a better view of the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t want to leave the truck.
Then, someone yelled at us. I have no idea what they said. But, we got back in the truck as fast as we could and tried to escape the city.
We visited Atlantic City between our drive-bys in Philadelphia and New York. We drove through New Jersey in the middle of the night. It was pouring rain. Joni could not stay awake. I pulled the U-Haul under an overpass and parked, waiting for the rain to let up. A New Jersey trooper stopped to check on us. He told us it was not safe to park there. We went on.
We arrived in Atlantic City at five a.m. – just as the casinos were shutting down. They wouldn’t re-open for another hour or two. So, we headed for the boardwalk. We had finally found a place to park the truck. There were only a few people out – clearly at the end of a night that involved alcohol.
Joni and I were mesmerized by the waves. They rolled toward shore in a perfect rhythm like a metronome. One after another. The same height. Uniform distance. It was hypnotic.
We stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes studying the waves. After careful consideration and drawing on our collective knowledge of oceans that we’d learned on the prairie, we agreed, “Cool wave machine!”
We headed back to the U-Haul to complete our trip to Boston.
For those who might be wondering… Yes, we really thought a machine was making the waves.