Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers

Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers
Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers
Paperback: $12.95
96 pages, 53 photos and illus., 1 map, 7 x 9"
ISBN: 9780870203893

Published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

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Price: $12.95
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By Stuart Stotts

When Earl 'Curly' Lambeau was a young boy growing up in Green Bay in the early 1900s, he and his friends didn't have money for a football. Instead, they kicked around a salt sack filled with sand, leaves, and pebbles. That humble beginning produced a single-minded drive for the figure whose name now graces the Green Bay Packers' stadium.

This title in the Badger Biographies series charts the course of Curly Lambeau's career as a flamboyant player and coach, which paralleled the rise of professional football in this country. Lambeau revolutionized the way football is played by legitimizing passing in a game that had previously centered on running.

Stuart Stotts is a songwriter, storyteller, and author. He performs throughout the Midwest, and sometimes farther. He is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops for teachers, parents, and librarians. Stuart is also the author of "The Bookcase Ghost: A Collection of Wisconsin Ghost Stories" and "Books in a Box: Lutie Stearns and the Traveling Libraries of Wisconsin." He lives with his wife, Heather, and their family in DeForest, Wisconsin.

Interview with Stuart Stotts

Wisconsin Historical Society PressWhat motivated you to tell Curly's story? What about him intrigued you?

To be honest, I got motivated because I was asked to do the book by the Wisconsin Historical Society. But once I was asked to consider it, I became very interested in him and in particular, the early history of football. He was a controversial character, incredibly charismatic and driven, and yet also, ultimately a man who probably overreached his grasp. It was fascinating to learn about him in the context of the early development of the game, as well. Plus, I've always been a Packer fan since the days of Bart Starr.

WHS PressDid you know anything about Curly before you began this project?

Very little. I had vague impressions of him as the founder of the Packers, I had maybe seen some photographs of him as a young player.

WHS PressWhy is Curly's story important for young readers?

I think Curly provides a great view of a very successful sports figure, while also giving readers some awareness of the pitfalls that come with success and fame. Readers will also learn a lot about a game that is central to both Wisconsin and America. Curly's story teaches us something about drive, dedication and the fire to play and win.

WHS PressHow did you go about doing your research? Was it difficult to tell this story to young readers?

I read books about Curly and the Packers, as well as about football as a young developing sport. I spent some time in Green Bay at Curly's high school, and speaking with Packer historians and sports writers who knew Curly. The only real hard part about telling the story to young readers was separating out the more "adult" aspects of Curly's life, which, in the end, aren't essential to understanding the rise of the Packers.

WHS PressWhat about his story did you find most surprising?

Curly's incredible success as a winning coach at a very young age. He won the league championship three times in a row when he was in his thirties. It's like winning the Super Bowl three times in a row. I didn't realize how good of a coach he had been.

WHS PressWhat do you hope readers take away from this book?

A sense of the development of football: how it moved from local teams playing in parks to this huge thing we call the NFL. Also, I hope readers see how being good at something requires huge dedication, but also, in the end, a humility about who you are and your own limitations.

WHS PressHow does Curly's story help us understand more about Wisconsin? About football?

Curly's story gives you a sense of the less developed and yet more intimate nature of football in a place like Green Bay. It was an industrial, working-class town filled with immigrants and factories, and yet it spawned this world-renowned team, the Packers. The Packers are one of the first things many people think of when thinking of Wisconsin.

The book has a whole section on the development of football, which I found fascinating to research. For example, in the early 1900s, people were often killed playing football because players were so unprotected and the game was so physical.