I left Celina at 9am Wednesday, and made it back home in one piece before Noon yesterday....what a day long odyssey it was. Taking Indiana Highway 18 to I-69, and then on Indiana 26 towards Kokomo was a trip that I had made many times during my stay at WIOU Radio in Kokomo in 1979 and early 1980. It was a trip that I had not made in 30 years. As much as the world, at least my world, has changed in the 30 years, the route had not changed much in those 3 decades. Montpelier, the outskirts of Marion, down 69 to James Dean's hometown of Fairmount, looked much the same as it did when I made the trip from Kokomo to Celina back in my News Anchor days at WIOU/WZWZ.
I had only planned on staying the afternoon, just to catch up with fellow Vietnam Sky Cops Sam Lewis and Tom McCandles...but they planned leaving time around 6pm came along, I was already convinced to stay the night, with a little help of some good conversation and a few drops of white lightning. And I'm glad I did.
$10 to get in for the entire weekend...if you are lucky enough to get a campsite, like Tom has had for 24 of the 28 years of the event...those are $10 a night as well. The place is sold out every year, and a farm field a lady owns is filled with overflow...and this was only Wednesday, the actual events don't begin until Thursday night. Regardless, Tom and a few thousand others had been there since Monday, and I'm guessing(if CBS and the National Park crew in DC can get a count wrong, so can I)...somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 thousand were already there when I arrived just before Noon Wednesday.
Free food, everybody has a cooler or a number of filled bottles, and you can party on the cheap....no difference if you are Air Force, Marines, Army, and Navy....everybody was getting along, and I noticed no difference if you had been there 24 years, like Tom, or where a first year FGN , like me and Sam. Of course it helped being with Tom...everybody, and I mean everybody knew him.
Music throughout the weekend, swap meets, sales, free food, and by tonight some 40,000 Veterans of Vietnam, friends, family, and descendants, will be on hand....I had a blast for 24 hours...I made it until about Midnight, somewhere about half passed Drunk-30, when I hit the sack...or should say, passed out in the back seat of my car. It took Tom and Sam awhile to find me, wondering just where the Hell I had gone....I was gone all right, this old beer drinker isn't used to that hard stuff.
I got home before Noon yesterday, headed north to Wayne Trace to do a Junior High football game, and got home to a good nights sleep...tonight I head to Toledo for the City League game between Rogers and Whitmer...another long night, especially with a JV game at Spencerville tomorrow morning.
I plan on taking it easy, other than football officiating and watching, this weekend....and I'm trying to figure out how next year, I can pace myself if I decide to spend 3 or 4 days at Kokomo. Photo descriptions below: Double Click for large versions....