My favorite Warrior memories come when I can write about former teammates who are still in the area. Leonard Nielsen is one of those.
When I started my freshman year in 1947, Len was a junior. When lightweight basketball practice started, he had already completed a full season in the program. It was a pleasure to have this class young man to look up to.
After two years as a lightweight he moved up to the varsity as a senior, where he joined Harry Trehearne, Dick Turner and Don Morgan as the Warriors had an exciting 8-7 winning season. The team was led by coach Brick Bralich, who was only here for the one year.
Len also took his athletic talents to the Warrior baseball field. In school he was involved in many student activities. During the first semester of his senior year he served as student body senior president. He served as editor of the Crest Union, which was the school newspaper. In 1947 Leonard, along with his cousin Gordon Miller, was selected to attend the World Boy Scout Jamboree in France. In 1948 he was selected to attend Boys State in Sacramento.
In 1949, Leonard and his good friend John Fraser painted a 1931 Model A Ford bright yellow and took off cross country for New York.
They camped out every day except Saturday, when they would rent a motel room so they could shower, call their parents and sleep in a bed. Stories from the trip are many.
One told to me by John Fraser needs to be retold. Those of us who have known John for most of our lives know what a storyteller he can be. John said the old Model A performed great for almost the entire trip. When they got back into Idaho on the way home the car was starting to act funny. When they stopped for gas the attendant told them, don’t turn this thing off or it will never start again.
They decided then that they would drive straight through to Crescent City, taking turns driving. About 2 a.m., with Len driving and John sleeping, John said all at once he felt bump-bump-bump. He woke up and found they were driving around in the middle of a field. He asked what are we doing? Leonard said there were hundreds of jack rabbits running around and he was just trying to get one. They didn’t, but got back on the road and continued home.
They made it back safe and when they drove into John’s driveway and shut off the motor, the attendant was right. The car never started again. They both agree it was a trip of a lifetime, but both agree it would be too dangerous to try today. The trip took 2 1/2 months.
After graduation Len enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he completed three semesters before enlisting in the Army for three years. He spent two months in Japan and 10 months in Korea. He returned to the U.S. and spent the rest of his tour at the Presidio in San Francisco.
While there he met and married his wife Bev. They returned to Crescent City and Leonard went to work for his father in his hardware store. This store was located about where Del Norte Office Supply is now. He worked there until the 1964 tsunami destroyed the building. Len and wife Bev then bought the Sears Catalog Store, which they ran until time to retire.
Len has always been active in civic activities. He served 22 years with the Crescent Fire Protection District, the last three as chief. He has also served on the school board, and has always been active in Elks, serving a tour as Exalted Ruler.
Bev and Len still live in Crescent City, where they have raised four children, two girls and two boys. They are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
I feel lucky to be able to call this native Del Norter a friend.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.