An Early Morning Goodbye

January 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

This photo from Nick Sloff '92 shows the line outside Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Tuesday afternoon

I arrived at 6 a.m. Wednesday, nearly two hours before officials again opened the doors to Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for Joe Paterno’s viewing. And I wasn’t even the first one there.

By far. The Early Bird award goes to David Brown of Greensburg, Pa. He’s a Pitt alum, but has been a Penn State — and Paterno fan — his entire life. Brown arrived at 4 a.m. He left his house at midnight.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been 1,000 fans here at 4,” Brown told me. “I just wanted to pay my respects.”

By 6:30, it was just a handful of people. The sun hadn’t risen yet and it was the type of late January morning where you could see — and feel — your breath.

By 7, there were 75 people. Fifteen minutes later, that number doubled. And at 7:40, when officials opened the doors of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for Joe Paterno’s viewing, the line had grown to 1,000.

Thousands of fans, supporters and members of the Penn State community are expected to pass through the spiritual center from 8 to noon Wednesday to pay their final respects to Paterno.

When I left Pasquerilla Tuesday night at about 11, police told me that “tens of thousands of people” attended Tuesday’s 10-hour window. When I walked through at 10:40, Paterno’s children, Jay ’91 and Mary Kay Hort ’86, stood by the exit and shook hands, hugged and thanked supporters who walked through. Sue Pohland ’62, was also there until the end — sitting in the chairs normally reserved for the choir, wearing a thick red coat, her arm around one of her granddaughters.

The second guy in line Wednesday had a story, too. John Myers, 70, from Tamaqua, Pa., arrived at 5 a.m. after a two-and-a half hour drive.

“It was worth it,” he said.

Myers has been a Penn State fan for more than 60 years. He remembers visiting State College in high school. After the last football game every year, the school would send a bus up so students could attend Penn State games. The bus cost 75 cents.

Emily Kaplan, intern

P.S. To see more of Nick’s photography work, click here to check out his blog.

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