Tag Archives: kids

Dancin’ In High Gear ©

Looking down on the track of the Letongaloosa International Raceway, Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins knew today was going to be a horn tootin’ sort of day. It was a day that had been 35 years in the making and Jeremiah was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. To be honest, the possibility of this day wouldn’t even be on his radar if he hadn’t listened to that darn message his grandson, Garrison, had left on his voicemail last Sunday. But here he stood waiting for the next chapter of his life to kick into high gear.
Jeremiah closed eyes, took a deep breath and continued gazing over the raceway. This is where his career began. This is also the track where he ran his last lap and won his final race just one month ago.   The feelings of excitement from that race, and all the races he had won throughout his career came rushing back. Memories of the interview from his last Winner’s Circle played in his head…
“Jeremiah, so many drivers have tried to win the Letongaloosa 600. You’ve won twice. How are you feeling?”
“I’m so excited.. I had heard this was the first time officials had shortened the race because of rain since 1966. I’m glad the officials decided to do it again. I want to thank my sponsors, Hank’s Hardware, Alvin’s Auto Body. They were instrumental in helping us get our car on the track.”
He remembered telling the reporter that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have won. He thanked his fellow competitors and all of the drivers who had come before him who had inspired him to start driving in the first place. It had been quite a day.
When Jeremiah was a boy, his Grandpa Sam had brought him to the Letongaloosa International Raceway to see his first race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and the rush of adrenaline he felt from watching the drivers run laps around the track made him dance with excitement. It was at that point, he knew he wanted to be a racecar driver when he grew up. That was also the day his grandfather gave him the name, “Junebug” because he was so excited by everything just couldn’t stop jumping around.
Jeremiah has now been a part of racing for decades and he has competed on all stages of competition ranging from some of the biggest races in the country to the smallest. Since early in his driving career, he has loved to go fishing.  Dropping a line in the water excited him almost as much as getting behind the wheel of his racecar. Fishing is how he always celebrates his wins and cheers up after his losses.
Once Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins made his final lap in his last month’s Letongaloosa 600, he decided to retire. He wanted to celebrate his retirement by fishing and that’s what he was doing on the Sunday he got the message from his grandson, Garrison.
Garrison is the lead meteorologist at MEGA-TV in Letongaloosa. He and Jeremiah are as close as a grandson and grandfather can be. Like Grandpa Sam, Jeremiah took Garrison to see his first race. Garrison was excited about the race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and watching the drivers run laps around the track didn’t faze him. He was more interested in the rain storm that stopped the race. Since then, Jeremiah has relied on his grandson to give him the weather report before every race.
Retired for a month now, he knew the message Garrison had nothing to do with weather conditions. However, it did have everything to do with racing, but Jeremiah wouldn’t be racing around a track, but he would be back in the winner’s circle. MEGA-TV would be launching a network that had everything to do with racecars, pit crews and roaring engines. Jeremiah would be the lead reporter.
A week later, Jeremiah was back at the Letongaloosa International Raceway. As he walked toward the Winner’s Circle, he was so excited. He felt his feet dancing. He felt like a kid again.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Never Brag

My Mom taught me never to brag. She was the best mother in the whole world.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 
 
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Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey ©

What Dexter Dolby saw before him that Friday night, was unlike any spectacle

he had ever seen. It was the night after Halloween. Police had blocked off the

streets in front of the La Mancha Cineplex where a crowd was starting to form.

Lights and camera bulbs were flashing.

Looking up at the marquee, Dexter, a writer and movie critic for the

Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, couldn’t believe what

he saw. The marquee announced the premiere of his one-day, iconic film,

Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey.

Dexter couldn’t pinpoint the age that his obsession with cult classics, indie films

and campy “B” movies truly started. He always wanted to make them. Now he

was the winner of the La Mancha Fall Film Festival, and had received the

Trailblazer Award for Up-and Coming Filmmakers. And he was coming face-to face

with his creation.

As a kid, Dexter took the bus to La Mancha and got off in front of the old Odeon

Theatre. Every week, he bought a ticket for the afternoon matinee, headed to the

hamburger stand for a burger and a chocolate shake and then visited The La

Mancha Wildlife Conservatory. He loved to see the animals, particularly the

turkeys, before the movie started.

It was always a fun afternoon, but it was inside the theatre that Dexter felt really

alive. It always excited him to see the creatures come to life onscreen. With

popcorn and candy in hand he sat on the front row and watched the strange

plots evolve, and enjoyed the weird costumes and odd camera angles of

movies like Attack of the Puppet People, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and It

Came from Outer Space.

As an adult, Dexter was a behind-the scenes kind of guy. He preferred observing

and capturing life’s quirky little oddities from behind the lens of an old Revere

8Mm movie camera, a present from his grandpa, George. Dexter filmed

whatever walked in front of his camera. Frequently what walked in front of his

camera were turkeys from the conservatory. The strutting birds often escaped

and paraded through the center of downtown. One Saturday, Dexter picked

up his camera and followed them.

Later, he learned everything he could about turkeys from the biology of their

beaks to the grandeur of their gobbles. He learned that turkeys are related to

dinosaurs. They have the same chest structure as the giant T-Rex.

Now, all these years later, Dexter stood on the red carpet, lights of the

photographer’s flashbulbs capturing his image. He wasn’t used to the frenzy

that came from being in front of the camera, But he was a filmmaker now and

he was loving every moment of it.

People had told him that Hollywood directors and producers were attending

the film festival. If that was true, he’d love to work in Hollywood. Regardless,

hoped they liked what they saw. He hoped everyone did.

The audience began to take their seats and as he took his usual position in the

front row, almost frozen with excitement.

People loved the movie. They complimented Dexter on the strange plot lines,

the weird costumes and the odd camera angles. And a Hollywood director did,

in fact, approach Dexter that night.

He was wearing a black tuxedo, a long white scarf around his neck. “That was

quite a film, Mr. Dolby,” he said. “I’m Paul Peterson. I own a production

company in California and I think you’d be a good fit for us. He handed Dexter

his card.

Dexter felt good as he walked away from the Cineplex that night. It had turned

out to be quite a night for this small-town movie critic.

The next day, Dexter did what he had done every Saturday since he was a kid.

He headed to the La Mancha Wildlife Conservatory to visit the turkeys that

helped him realize his dream of becoming a filmmaker. He ate his usual burger

and chocolate shake. But as he walked into the theatre to watch the campy

movies he loved so much, Dexter Dolby did a little dance in front of the box

office. He wasn’t just going to watch campy movies, he was on his way to

Hollywood to make them.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Pop Fly

There was ease in Madie’s manner as she crouched behind the plate.

La Mancha is the posh section of town where the streets are

winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.

The La Mancha girl softball team—the Amazons–had worked their

way to the final game of a double elimination regional tournament.

The Amazons’ catcher Madison “Madie” Sommerset was a

prototypical example of a self-absorbed La Mancha teenager. She

imagined the adulation she would get when the Amazons won.

Photographers would run onto the field. She saw herself yanking off

her brand new $140 catcher’s mask as news photographers

crowded around her.

The Amazons had won their first game against the Fairfield

Fusions, but to everyone’s surprise, had lost the second game. In a

powerful effort to put the Fusions away, the Amazons scored four

runs in the first inning. Then their bats went cold, but they led 4 to 1 in

the top of the final inning of the tournament.

Before the last inning, officials called a five-minute time out to

re-chalk the batter’s boxes and check the infield. Madie slipped

away and ran to her car. Open cosmetic containers were spread

across the front seat. Madie grabbed a hand mirror and applied a

thick coat of a New Air Foam foundation to her face. Advertisers

said the air foam foundation make-up would give her face a

“perfect matte surface.” She sprayed the foundation on thick,

smoothed it quickly, jammed on her catcher’s mask, and dashed

back to the dugout.

“Play ball,” the umpire shouted.

The bottom of the Fusion batting order was coming to the

plate. It was time to send the Fusions home with a runners-up cup.

The Amazon pitcher wasted two inside pitches trying to intimidate

the first Fusion batter, but the batter refused to back up. The next

pitch zinged in waist high and right over the plate. “Crack!” The

batter slashed a sharp line drive between first and second into right

field. It went all the way to the fence. The Amazon short stop cut off

the throw as the batter slid into second. The next batter got a single,

and the runner held at third. The Amazon pitcher walked the third

batter purposely to load the bases and get at the last batter in the

Fusion line-up. She was a scrawny substitute who had come into the

game after a Fusion player was hurt in a collision with Madie at the

plate. The first two pitches came in straight, fast , and right over the

plate.

“Strike one. Strike two,” said the umpire.

Then the Amazon pitcher’s fingers slipped and the pitch came

dawdling toward the plate looking as big as a volley ball. Scrawny

Arms closed her eyes and swung. When the dust had settled the

Fusions had three runs in and the batter was hugging third.

Fusion’s lead-off batter stepped to the plate. The pitch.

“Crack!” It was a broken bat pop fly. The ball sailed high, looked

foul, then drifted fair between home and third.

“I got it,” yelled Madie. The other Amazon players held up.

They had learned long ago what it meant when Madie yelled, “I got

it.” It meant “Get out of the way or get clobbered.”

Madie yanked at her new catcher’s mask with one hand as she

raced toward the fly ball. The mask wouldn’t budge. Somehow the

foundation make-up that Madie had just put on had bonded –like

glue–with the inside of the face mask.

The ball fell into fair territory two feet from Madie and rolled

toward the pitcher’s mound. The runner broke for home and

crossed the plate standing up.

The Fusion team picked up the scrawny sub and marched her

around the field on their shoulders. Photographers had a field day.

Madie was able to wrench the mask off just as three

photographers reached her. A three column by eight-inch photo

close-up of Madie’s face ran on the sports page the next day. The

padded mask had left inch-wide tracks in the thick make-up down

both of her cheeks. She looked like a raccoon.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Thought While Walking the Dog

How many ants

On how many sidewalks

Have been stamped on

By laughing Children??

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Soccer Grandpa (c)

Sports prowess runs in our family. Way back in the mid 1800’s my great grandpa Bill financed his family’s trek across the plains to the Utah territory by winning impromptu horse races in and around Winter Quarters Iowa. Brigham Young didn’t like gambling so my great grandpa quit racing. After that great grandpa just used his fleet steeds to get away from Indians, bad guys, and Johnson’s Army during the Utah War of 1857-58.

My father worked as a blacksmith in Utah in the early 1900s. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem describes my dad:

“The smith, a mighty man is he

With large and sinewy hands.

The muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

My dad used his brawny arms to win plenty of arm wrestling matches when he was young.

My mother, wearing long skirts, and using gut-strung rackets won many tennis matches against strong male and female opponents on the dirt courts of Tooele, Utah between 1908 and 1916.

Sports prowess skipped me—unless you count twenty years of second, third and fourth place finishes in 5K and 10K road races.

On my wife, Emmaline’s side of the family, sports prowess manifests itself in fandom. Her uncle Horace attended every home baseball game the Salt Lake Bees played between 1920 and 1940, and he yelled himself hoarse at every one.

Emmaline is a serious sports fan. Once when we lived in northwest Florida, Emmaline forced me into the car to drive to Atlanta where the Kansas Jayhawks were playing in an NCAA sweet sixteen basketball tournament. The reason she had to force me into the car was that a category four hurricane was steaming ashore right behind us. The hurricane came inland on the same course we were heading. Radio stations all the way north broadcast warnings: “get off the highways,” “seek shelter, now!” We just drove on through the storm. When we finally made it to Atlanta we had to wade through ankle-deep water to get to the entrance of the field house. The

Jayhawks lost, but because I got a chance to take her picture standing beside KU’s mascot, the Baby Jayhawk, Emmaline considers that Atlanta trip a great success.

When we watch sports on television I strap a pad to my thigh because I know Emmaline will pound on it with her fist if the game is close. When we watch regular television programs the dog lies on the couch beside Emmaline. But when we watch sports events on TV, the dog hides under our bed—Emmaline’s yelling scares her.

My daughter is a cross country skier, mountain bike rider and rock climber. My son is a softball player and epee fencer.

That brings me to the current generation. My grandkids Ariel, aged seven and Gorky, aged four, play soccer on Saturdays. That makes Emmaline and me soccer grandparents. It’s wonderful! The concept of “victory, victory uber alles,” doesn’t apply to the kind of soccer they play on the kiddie fields of Letongaloosa.

Gorky plays in the Hobbit League. The players, a dozen four-year-olds, wear green or yellow tee shirts that hit them at mid thigh, or sometimes at the ankle. Each player has his or her own ball. The players run around on mini soccer fields with mini soccer nets at each end.

Ardent, happy fans stand on the sidelines yelling encouragement to all the players:

“Great going, Turner, you actually kicked the ball!”

“Marvelous Gretchen, you got up off the grass really fast!”

“Hang in there, Thompson, lying on your stomach on the ground and pulling grass is lots of fun too!”

There’s a little more structure in the seven-year-old league that Ariel plays in. During the game there is only one ball on the field at a time. Seven-year-olds focus better and are a bit more intense than the four-year-old players, but the fans are just as positive and supportive as the Hobbit League fans.

“Go Red team,” they shout. “Go Blue team.”

“Good job Amelia, you kicked the ball right out of bounds.”

When either team makes a goal, fans on both sides of the field applaud and yell “Good job!” When the games end, scores are seldom mentioned. The players all give each other high fives and then run to the sidelines to get healthful treats.

In an age when sports competition is very intense, Emmaline and I have learned a lot from being soccer grandparents.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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