Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hail to the King!

Today I watched the recording of Jack Nicklaus' eulogy for Arnold Palmer.  He said everyone who has a story of the King of Golf should share it.  So here's mine.

I grew up watching Arnold Palmer on TV but I finally got the chance to see him play live at the old Comfort Classic Senior Tour event at the Broadmoor Country Club in Indianapolis.  I took my young sons Jeremy (10) and Joshua (7) went with me.  We quickly learned the tee time for Mr. Palmer's group and followed him around the course.

It was a Saturday so it was the second tournament day (Senior events are 54 hole affairs).  Palmer started back in the pack but he was in top form that warm day.  He hit fairway after fairway with his drive and every green in regulation.  Bunkers didn't seem to exist before his pinpoint accuracy.  After a few routine pars he started making putts and by the end of the round he shot 6 under par.

I and the boys joined the ever-growing crowd, clapping for every straight drive and roaring every time he sank a long putt for birdie.  I could tell he was loving it.  He was putting on a great show as he climbed the leaderboard.  I found myself in awe of this icon of the game I still love.  Those were the days before the often boisterous golfing crowds of today that seem to draw attention away from the golfers to themselves.  I was proud that my sons got to see this great man do so well.

The last time I saw him play was after the event moved to the Brickyard Crossing course next to the Motor Speedway.  He was in a threesome with Gary Player and another golfer whose name I cannot recall.  They came to the 311 yard 14th hole and I stood not 15 feet away and listened to them talk while the group ahead finished up.  Then without further comment, Player took the honors and each of them drove the green.

Years later, I still stand over putts thinking, "And here's Arnold Palmer with a putt to win the Masters . . ."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy Birthdays!

My Dad and my daughter Jessica share birthdays today.  She was nine years old when he died in 1995.  My family moved around a lot and we eventually settled at some distance from each other.  The result is that my parents did not get much time with our four kids (2-3 times a year on vacations).  There were no overnight sleep overs.  With us in the East and them in Michigan and later in Florida, we could never resort to them for free babysitting.  We have photos and scrapbooks of events but no deep-rooted routines of Sunday dinners together or sitting on the porch watching the fireflies rise or cheering from the bleachers together as one of the kids gets a hit or scores a basket.

I'm thankful that we connect with our grandkids more.  It has been a little easier with cell phones, the Internet, Skype, and more money to travel with.  Three of them lived with us for a whole year while their Dad was deployed (good memories, mostly).  We've recently finished repainting.

Two of our grandsons (6 and almost 4 years) are with us this morning after staying overnight.  Over pancakes and bacon with coffee and juice, I told them about today and that their great-grandpa's name was Donald.

"Donald Trump?" the older one said with bright eyes and a grin.

"No [showing him a different type of grin].  Are you watching too much TV or have your parents been talking?"

Another grin with no answer.

"His name was Donald Jarvis.  He was born in 1927 and was a Marine in World War II.  He fought to keep us safe."


I think that great-grandpa would have liked that.

I know he would have also helped me drink up the coffee.