I am twenty-one years old, and I am finally getting to know my Dad. Why so late in the game? I honestly couldn't tell you.
Maybe I was scared, or maybe I didn't care to know until today. For whatever reason it was; I now feel ready to know my Dad; Chad Dietze: The unkown half of my own blood and flesh.
Last weekend I finally gained the courage to do something I had never done before: Sit down and talk to someone about my dad. The opportunity has always been there, but I never felt ready. I chose to call Lance Olson; a current U.S. Marshal and old-time friend of my dad's. Ever since I can even remember Lance has always told me, "If you ever need anything you let me know, ya hear?"
The phone rang twice before he picked up and greeted me with a, "Coooorrreeeyyy?" His distinct smart alec voice always makes me laugh to myself. I responded likewise, "Laaaaance?, what are you up to?"
I asked him if he had time to talk, and he told me to meet him at the Marengo Police Station. I have lived in the small town of Marengo my entire life, but I have never arrived with such nervousness. I knew I was going to learn a lot during this little chat, because before today I only knew Chad Dietze more as a wrestler than as a father.
I cruise down the icy streets of Marengo, splipping and sliding to my grandparents house with too much on my mind. I look across the street and see my old highschool. My dad was a legendary wrestler for the Iowa Valley Tigers back in the 80's. He was a 4 time state qualifier, and won 2 state championships in wrestling's finest state.
His enormous plaque stands out in Iowa Valley's trophey case, it always caught my eye as I'd walk by. When I think of my dad, I think of the picture of him after he won his second state championship. I think of him hoisting both index finers directly to the sky, signifying his triumphant championship. Next to the picture on his plaque is a poem written by his good friend, Travis Fiser. I don't visit Iowa Valley much, but when I do, I'll be sure to read the entire poem.
I arrive at the police station a little after lunch. Lance and I chatted with the other officers for about 20 minutes. He knew I didn't want to sip coffee and eat donuts all day, so he asked me to help feed his dogs at his cabin. Stepping into his big truck I knew I was only a few miles from learning a lot about my dad.
The Iowa River looked beautiful, the flowing river water was the only thing that wasn't covered in snow. We walked in the cabin and immediately Lance commanded,"Have a seat, while I feed the dogs."
I scanned the inside of the cabin, it was fairly simple. He wasted no time in asking, "So what do you want to know?" As he unzipped his coat and tore off his gloves.
I began, "I began writing a memoir and suddenly I'm stuck.' 'I was wondering if you could give me a little information about my dad, because other than his wrestling career, I know nothing"
"Well Corey I knew your dad real well. I covered his murder case, and it is very hard to talk about, that's probably why you don't know much. Well your dad was doin' real well. He just started his own concrete business and was bringin' in some good money. He was becoming the father and fiance your mom wanted him to be, too. He and his posse were starting to grow up, and they caused a little less trouble for me and the Marengo force each day. One night, what was he 23?"
I nodded, that seemed about right.
"He and his buddies were at a party in Victor and must of had some words with Collins. Rob Collins was the guy who shot the gun, ya know. Collins allegedly punched John Smith's girlfriend. As you know John and your dad were the closest of friends. I got those two out of more trouble than you could even believe. Well anyway Rob left the party, and John, your dad, and 2 others went after him. And I don't even know if they were going to kick his ass, or to talk things over, but they had NO intention of killing Rob. It wasn't your dad's idea to go over there, but of course he had to have John's back."
I was chewing on my fingernails, trying to ignore my racing heart beat. I was scared, but ready. This was it.
"They got to the trailer court and began walking towards Collins' place. He was standin' outside his front door with a twelve gauge shotgun. From what I know, the boys tried to settle him down and told him to put the gun down. Your dad gave up and kept walking toward him and said, "He's not going to shoot anybody. And as you know, Collins shot him with a 12 gauge. Right in the chest."
I took it all in. Of course the police report isn't the only thing I want to know about my dad. Lance even told me to talk to John, and his parents Ron and Sherry, if I wanted some good stories. But I figured this was a good start in figuring out my childhood.