The Wikipedia article on Jack Yerman notes that the retired high school teacher, who lives in Paradise, "played football for Berkeley in the Rose Bowl." An extraordinary achievement, considering his origins. "When Jack was born on February 5, 1939, his father ... sat behind the bars of the Butte County Jail--the family guesses it was a fight, or maybe he was drunk, or maybe he owed someone money, or maybe it was everything. The hospital clerk in Oroville wrote 'Common Laborer' on the birth certificate."
His mother, Irene, divorced him soon after. Jack grew up in Woodland. "Mom and Gram had pooled their resources to purchase a small, one bedroom home for $500" and that was home to Irene, Jack and his sister. "Jack never heard the words I love you in his home. He did not know that other mothers cradled their children and read to them before bed." Yet Jack wanted something more, and the dream became clear. He wanted to run. "Something inside said, Your time will come."
Just what happened is told by one of his sons, Bruce Hamilton Yerman, in "Your Time Will Come: Jack Yerman And His Incredible Journey to The 1960 Olympics" ($11.99 in paperback from Lulu.com; also available in ePub digital format--for details, visit bhyerman.wix.com/books).
Bruce Yerman has done readers a great favor in setting his father's story (including his courtship of Margo) into historical context. The book contains an extensive bibliography and a selection of photographs. Jack Yerman made news not just as a football player but as a runner. The story of the preparation for the 1960 Olympics in Rome comes from interviews with Jack, and it was clear that the U.S., locked in heated rivalry with the Soviet Union, did not do well by the American athletes.
Nevertheless, in spite of having to fly to Rome in a prop plane (officials took jets) and attacks of dysentery because of the water, a weakened Jack Yerman pulled it off. He and teammates took home the gold medal in the 1600-meter relay. During his running career Jack set world records in the mile and two-mile relays, indoor 400-meter short track, and more.
For those high schoolers who wanted to know whether the stories Jack told were true, they are.