Thanks to my friend and fellow server, Ralph Singer, I was fortunate enough to get free tickets to the 1985 World Series. What happened on that road trip with my buddies, Ralph, Stephen and Mark, could make for a great movie. The next time we have a beer together, remind me to tell you what happened. And don’t let me leave out the part about the vice squad.
The Kentucky Derby is a World Series or Super Bowl type event. My friend Michael Gabelman, owner of Fun Happenings Travel, put together an excursion fromNashvilletoLouisvillefor 112 of his closest friends. His advance team claimed a great piece of the infield. I sat under the shade of a tent most of the day with a clear view of the third turn.
The races last a little more than two minutes with about an hour of partying in between.
Heading down to Churchill Downs, I had images of Colonel Sanders greeting us with mint juleps. Obviously, those in the infield aren’t treated quite as well. They only have one infield gate that allows chairs and coolers to enter.
As we approached the entrance, we were quickly engulfed in a tide of fans awaiting inspection of their belongings and coolers. It felt like half the day was wasted inching up to the gate. I don’t know about you, but I’d want everyone inside buying booze and betting.
Standing in that line with cooler in tow was interesting. Everyone was in a good mood and respectful, except the radical evangelists. These extremists were on bull horns calling everyone going into theDerbysinners, whores and gay. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in God, but I don’t believe in insulting people.
You’ll win more people with kindness than with their rhetoric. A devote Christian friend of mine was offended by their display. She thought it put Christians in a bad light. I disagree. Everyone there knew they were way off the main stream.
Finally, my cooler was cleared and my girlfriend Denise and I were headed through the tunnel under the track to our group’s spot in the infield.
The day was beautiful. Everyone had a great time. All of the people in our general area were very respectful to each other.
However, the powers to be failed to put out trash cans. By the end of the day, the entire infield was covered with a layer of cans, bottles and trash.
As we grabbed our belongings and walked across the trash, we made it back to our exit tunnel.
The crowds were thicker than when we arrived.
As everyone inched their way down the slope into the tunnel, you could see about twelve officers and security guards looking down on you. I felt like I was in prison.
As the mob continued, the looks on their faces exhausted, belongings in tow, all I could imagine was Armageddon.
So this is what it would feel like to have to leave your home with only what you could carry and walk to a place of safety. Now my people are used to that. We had forty years practicing in the Sinia.
I would prefer never to have to face that again. Everyone on our trip was a fan of theDerby, but agreed next time, sit in the good seats. I’m too old to attend Frat parties.
The apocalyptic yells of the evangelists, the crowds getting in, the trash in the infield and the feeling leaving through the tunnel, definitely made for an Armageddon type experience.
But I will share two highlights.
1. While waiting to get in the gates being yelled at by the radical religious, there was no violence. There were just chants of “USA,USA,USA…”
2. As I was heading home through the tunnel, tired, dirty and sweaty feeling like the end of the world was coming, I heard a faint sound. There in the middle of the tunnel was a busker playing his saxophone. As the Star Spangled Banner played, the crowd started to join in song. Before long, the voice of a thousand plus people, including me, replaced the despair of the tunnel with hope.
It was one of the most uplifting moments of my life. I would put our rendition ofAmerica’s song against anyone’s.
At that moment I felt hope.
I know we are going through challenging times in this country. Some people are worried about the economy.
I personally am more worried about the general malaise and feelings of entitlement in our society. Last night, on the news, there was a story about the government providing free cell phones and service for the poor. One lady had acquired over thirty cell phones, all currently working, at no cost…and no one has figured out how to close that loop hole?
Have we come to this? What? A land line won’t work?
As “doom and gloom” as I am aboutAmericafollowingEuropeinto becoming an entitlement state, I have hope.
That one song sung by a thousand strangers is evidence of whatAmericais really about.
When pushed into a corner. We don’t back down. We fight. We fight to win. We are the best in the world.
We kick ass. We take names. We are the country others risk life to join.
I have a saying, “When thrown into the deep end, few people willingly choose to drown.”
There will be a time when all Americans will be forced to swim, or at minimum, tread water.
After my Kentucky Derby experience, I know we’re still up to the challenge.
Please forward this blog link on to anyone you know who may appreciate it.
Well That’s All For This Issue!
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