The 4th of July weekend ends it's run today, on July 5th no less...a Holiday set aside for Government workers, and not much more. I can relate to that...I used to be a Gov'ment worker, and too advantage of these long weekends as much as anybody. These Days? Being semi-retired, not a big deal....in fact I "worked" the weekend...so far 5 games umpired in the various Jr. ACME Tournaments in Lima and Rockford. I'll be back at Parkway High tonight in Rockford for another elimination game...then for the next 3 nights I will be on the road for the Varsity ACME Tournaments in Convoy and farther north in Leipsic. Since my old buddy Tom lives and trains horses near that Putnam County town, I probably will stop by his place and crash for the evening...after getting a bite to eat and downing a few cold ones.
One thing for sure, the games, hot sun, humidity, and beer took it's toll over the weekend...a little too much of each for this old body....I may have to reconsider doing as many summer games next season. The money is decent, I enjoy the games, but Summer afternoon double headers in the 90+ degree sun with humidity to match, tends to take it out of you.
The 4th of July____
Yesterday, after the games, I stopped by sister Marty and her husband Pat's place. Patricia, Hal, Mom, niece Megan and her husband Cory were there for a cookout....I stayed for about a half hour, had 1 beer and a burger, and said my good-byes. I was gassed, and headed home for a shower, then to the backyard for a few more Miller Lites and a cigar. Hal, home to play golf with his Uncle Pat, stayed for the night at our place, and we downed a few more and stayed up until Midnight or so, BSing in the back yard. He headed back to work at Troy this morning...I fed the Squirrels and Birds out back, and have barricaded myself in the Air Conditioning for the next few hours.
Independence Days come and go....I really have a clear memory of only 1 of the 61 I have been on this earth for, guess if I wanted to think real hard, I could come up with more, but who wants to think?
July 4, 1967....Brother Mike had just departed for Thailand, and left me in charge of his 1964 Dodge...probably one of the many mistakes that the older brother has done in his life. My buddy Rick(see Friday's Post), and our mutual pal Phil, decided to go to the large Amusement Park on Lake Erie, called Cedar Point. Now that was long drive, especially in Mike's Dodge, which I had only driven a few times...so I did what many 18 year olds do..I lied to the folks. Told them we were going to the Drag Races in Kettlersville or Sidney, don't remember which, but it was one of those close-by places we used to hang around in our "race car loving years".
With the lie firmly in place, we started out up I-75, which of course in 1967, was nowhere near completion...turning left in Bowling Green on US 6 we arrived at Cedar Point. We spent the day doing the rides, looking girls, and generally making fools of ourselves. No alcohol involved, but the sun had pretty taken us out of it...so we headed back along Highway 6 towards Bowling Green. Phil, was riding shotgun, while Rick snoozed in the backseat, as I headed west into the sunshine. About 5 miles east of BG, our trip turned into a minor disaster, and it could have been a deadly disaster.
I remember the song on the radio station(CKLW Detroit/Windsor)..."Jackson" by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, as my mind wandered, and the Dodge tires wandered off the pavement, being a rather inexperienced driver, I yanked the steering wheel to the left, and the big D raced into the opposite lane, staring us down was a large 18 wheeler, Phil in a quick move, grabbed the wheel and pulled it the other way. The truck was avoided, but more thrills that we had at Cedar Point awaited. We went off the right side, slid backwards into the large flat ditch next to the flat farm land some 100 yards away, the vehicle let loosed and did a slow roll onto it's top, on the farm fence, and there it stayed. I was hanging by my seat belt looking down at the roof...Rick and Phil were scrambling out, while I fumbled with the seat belt buckle button.
The State Highway Patrol arrived shortly thereafter, the wrecker was called, and we were transported by the Trooper to Bowling Green...where it was discovered that we had about 9 bucks to our names....no ticket, no arrests, just the cop telling me, that I had enough problems(after my story of lies and deceit), without a ticket on top of that.
Anyway they were kind enough to give us a bunk in the Wood County Jail, free of charge for the night, and feed us to boot(having no money for a motel or even a flop house cot)...I had by this time called the folks, and dad telling me..."you got yourself into this mess, now, find your own way home"(that was some 95 miles to the south).
So next morning we walked to the Trailways Bus Station...3 tickets to Lima(still some 40 miles away from Celina) would be $9.30...between the 3 of us, we had exactly $9. The Bus Depot was at a gas station, and seeing our plight, the owner of the station gave us the extra 30 cents. We thanked him and were on our way. An hour or so later, we got off the bus in Lima, and now totally broke, we had to figure out how to work our way back home. We walked, and walked some more, another 10 miles or so south, to Phil's older sister's farmhouse...where she drove us the rest of the way home...not a pleasant homecoming. The Dodge was in Bowling Green, and I was in the Dog House.
The Summer of 1967 in music and Hippie lore is referred to as the "Summer of Love", for this recent High School Grad, it was the Summer of Broke. Lucky for me, despite it's damage from being rolled, the Dodge was fixable...$500, which I borrowed from mom(talk about humble pie), and which I paid back by giving here most of my check each week from the Huffy Bike plant where we both worked. Rick's uncle had a garage and tow truck...and drove up to BG to get the car, and charged me almost nothing to bring back to the repair shop.
I always considered myself lucky as Hell to survive that wreck...but the Summer of Love, 1967, was a Summer of Lessons for this 18 year old. I got the car back, drove it on occasion, even had one more wreck in it later that year...this one not my fault, when some elderly lady pulled out in front of me...her car took the brunt of the damage. When Mike returned home in later June of 1968, I turned the car back over to him, and he traded it for a new 1968 GTO. A week later I traded my shorts and t-shirts for blue...The Air Force Blue.
Photos-Old Glory, ACME Baseball, a 64 Dodge Polara, the same color as Mike's back in 1967...and one of the Cedar Point rides....