by Bill Indek
First, I hope all of you are ok, and if not, don’t sneeze on my column.
You might be a redneck if you are a loyalty member of the local towing service.
Met a guy walking his dogs on a nature trail I was running on. He calls out to me, “Do not worry, they do not bite!” Me: “That’s ok, as I do.” Long pause and then he and the dogs laugh.
‘And now for something completely different…
This month is a stroll down memory lane. Here it comes:
Take a seat- it is time for another Throw Back Thursday Time Trip from the annals of Mr. Bill. The setting was in March 1964- my senior year of HS at Port Richmond HS on the Island of Staten (sounds more exotic that way) My track coach set up a time trial for us at a meet in Manhattan- to see who be on the 1 mile relay- each guy would run a 440, As a 1 miler/800 meter dude- I gave it my best shot and was 5th. So- that meant I was an alternate. If someone wereabducted by aliens- I would get to run. Unfortunately no aliens helped out- so I missed my chance. These relays are the oldest in the world—now over 125 years. Teams come from all 50 states and many foreign nations. Sort of like the Super Bowl of running.
Now fast forward to 1992. I am 45 and competing as an 800-meter runner for Garden State AC. In March, I got a call from the coach asking me if I would like to replace an injured Masters (age 40 and up) on the Club's 1-mile relay at Penn! I was stunned and then told him that I had been waiting 28 years for that call, and then told him the background.
Relay Day arrives for us. There are three days of races and as we warm up and, look around at the thousands of spectators/runners at UPenn's Franklin Field, an announcement is made that the Masters Races will be pushed back two hours due to TV coverage. One of my team mates then says, “I cannot stay as I am being honored as the Westfield, New Jersey, Man of the Year at 7 pm.” Then he looks at me and says, “Bill, is that 28-year wait story true?”
I put on my best sad puppy look and replied, "Yes!" He then says, “I want your dream to come true, so I will run the 1st leg, hand off the baton to you and then grab my clothes and speed home." Well- we did not win- that would be asking too much - but we were competitive. So, dreams can become truee. I then wrote his wife a letter when I got home explaining what a special act of kindness her husband did for me. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.
And- while I was part of a group of 35 on a college tour of schools in North Carolina back in 2015- here are a few morsels of my contributions to higher education:
1. At Lees- McCrea College, there is a major in Wildlife Rehab Management. I had this image of an Eagle on marijuana saying—“wing out man!”
2. At Gardner Webb College there was a sign on campus saying “Tobacco free campus.” So, I asked the tour guide if that meant cigarettes were free?
3. At the Biltmore Mansion (they took us there for a tour) the home is one of the largest private residences ever built- it was done by the Vanderbilt family. As it was a hot day- we stopped at the snack bar and I got an ice cream cone. At the check out, the young lady asked “single?” Me: “No, I am married.”
4. At Queens College of Charlotte- they wanted to break us down in to smaller tour groups. So the tour leader says_ “Starting with Bill, count off to four.” Me: “Ok, 1-2-3-4”. The Tour leaders look at each other and say, “Why did we even ask him to start?”
No current races as- well- there were none. But National Masters News has published the National Rankings for the past 2020 Indoor Season- I was ranked 37th in the 60 meter dash for guys 70-74. In the 55-meter dash- I was 10th. Do not get excited- there are very few 55 meter races and there were only 10 of us in my bracket.
Well, we finally got to play some practice games in late June- early July in my Rockland County Senior Softball League (age 40 and up- so I have to work at being agile). I have been practicing on my own since late March: hitting off a tee, fielding/throwing against a school wall. It has paid off. In our first practice game had 4 hits, 4 RBI’s played entire game- as middle infielder and catcher. We won and I was given the game ball. Nice to be appreciated as an old dude. Our first baseman- age 51- made some great plays. After the game I congratulated him. He said, “I HAVE BEEN ON FIRST BASE FOR 30 YEARS, SO I SHOULD BE GOOD.” Me: “That explains why you never got to second base.” The entire team cracked up and I was noted as saying something actually funny.