Neither Oregon rain nor California shine kept this Duck fan from her appointed rounds.
Her destination? The 2010 Rose Bowl to see the Ducks vie for the Pacific Athletic Conference title with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
A four-point spread mid-month favored the University of Oregon, and Martie Johnson decided to travel from Stayton to Pasadena to root on her favorite team for what she expected to be a resounding win.
“I think we can beat the Buckeyes by more than four points,” she said confidently after hearing the pre-game statistics.
Johnson missed the Ducks’ Rose Bowl bid in 1995 because of illness and was thrilled when her team started looking like 2010 contenders.
“I e-mailed my buddy and said, ‘Let’s put the bikes in the back of my truck, drive down through the snow on the passes to my cousin’s in Redding, leave the truck and ride on down,’” she said.
The plan at the time of this writing was that on Dec. 29, Johnson was to head south with her green-and-yellow, Duck-supporting Kawasaki 900 Classic in the back of her pickup with her motorcycle pal, Eric, from Damascus (near Portland) along for the trip. They were to arrive in Pasadena a day later, just in time to hang out with other Duck fans at a half dozen tailgate and other parties.
“I’ve been excited since mid-season,” said Johnson just before Christmas. A season ticket-holder, she supports her beloved Ducks by attending games and activities and giving financially. The Stayton Library Foundation is another recipient of Johnson’s generosity. She pledged the cost of a meeting room at the Stayton Public Library to honor her grandfather, E.G. Siegmund.
Whether her team won or lost, she was just glad to go.
Johnson inherited her Duck fever from her father and uncles and has been avidly following the team since as far back as she can remember.
“My father graduated from high school in 1930, and there were not a lot of jobs,” she explained. “He was sitting in the living room with his mother and father when his older brother, Don, came in and discussed my father’s options. Don told him, ‘Come on down to U of O and I’ll get you a job.’”
So Johnson’s father and Uncle Don packed up their belongings into their Model T Ford and headed south to Eugene.
“My dad worked his way through college by busing tables, washing dishes and stoking fires at some of the sorority houses,” Johnson said. “It took him seven years to get his degree, because, he said, he played too much basketball and ran track.”
But Wilson Johnson finally earned his degree in business administration and became a certified public accountant. Years later, his daughter graduated from the U of O with a degree in social sciences, and like her father, had trouble finding a job. She became a flight attendant for United Airlines, a position she held from 1968 until she retired in 2001.
With time on her hands, Johnson began riding motorcycles in 2005, a passion she embraces all year round.
“I rode to the Boise State game on Sept. 3, and will ride to the Tennessee game in Knoxville in September 2010,” she said.
“I’m not a silly Duck, like some at the games,” she added. “I’m an adult Duck.”
Johnson sports custom-made leathers, and a U of O motorcycle helmet and rain jacket, and her yellow-and-green motorcycle is all decked out with Duck paraphernalia. When people see her coming, they wave, honk and take photos, she said.
“I’m getting a bit of a reputation,” she said smiling.
Prior to leaving, Johnson said she expected her Rose Bowl trip to be one of the highlights of her year.
“I’m the ultimate Duck fan,” she said. “I was born a Duck, and have been a Duck all of my life. This will be a tight schedule, but every minute will be packed with a lot of Duck!”