Archive for March, 2015

THE TIDE

March 25, 2015

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of life is bound in shallows and in misery”. Brutus, Act IV, Julius Caesar., W. Shakespeare

I’m still deciding if I’m taking life at the flood or have I already omitted that possibility. After all, daily living seems to be a sequence of ups and downs, never a drought but also no tsunami in sight! This past 10 days certainly had the quality of a flood, as I donated my services as a volunteer worker at the LPGA Founders Cup golf tournament in Phoenix. Most of my duties made use of my not in-considerable skills of meeting and greeting, from my days as a school principal; I scanned ticket UBC’s, checked tickets and special passes allowing entry into the more hallowed areas of shaded bleachers, free food or snacks, and gave directions to visitors to various locations within the grounds.

Four six-hour shifts over the seven days of tournament activity not only provided me with six tickets to give to friends, but also a free greens fee for this same course (to be used any weekday up through December), vouchers for use at the concession stands, and of course a significant tax deduction since this was a charitable event allowing me to submit my travel costs including gas receipts ( I drove from Wyoming), meals, and lodging. My former dentist and his wife (a middle school student of mine back in the 70’s) were very appreciative of the gift tickets, not having ever attended a golf tournament but presently committed to frequent golfing in their Arizona retirement. Great weather throughout blessed the tournament organizers.

One of my shifts had me checking folks arriving to play in the pro-am event preceding the tournament competition. One luxury car after another pulled up to the valet parking area, spewing entrants each of whom had forked over $3500 to play their one day with one of the lady pros, in fivesomes. The money from this activity goes to help fund a program, Girls for Golf, which focuses on recruiting more young girls into the sport through lessons and junior tournaments, nationwide. This is enhanced by the raison d’etre of the tourney; it honors the 13 women who founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association back in the early 50’s. Three of them are still alive, and greeted each player upon finishing, from their cushioned wicker chairs below the 18thhole grandstand.

As I watched more vehicles arrive, this time with young girls coming for the Golf for Girls events embedded within the tournament schedule, a thought occurred which reminded me of a similar intrusive perception into an otherwise pleasant (at the tide) occasion; watching students from a private school play at a variety of athletic events on lavishly provided facilities. My thought, in brief, was that these kids have “already made it” as they are coming from homes that provide all the material resources offering the opportunity for success. While the Golf for Girls has made major steps nationally to involve more children from lesser economic levels, there still remains a long way to go. As each BMW, Audi, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus, and one lone Maserati arrived to disgorge their mostly white kids, I only could hope that the message and efforts of the program’s leaders can effectively bring more kids into the fold. And that the contribution of the several thousand (yes, thousand!) volunteers here will help achieve that mission.

Among the high points was meeting lots of new folks, working alongside them in our various assignments. On Saturday I was free to become a spectator and walked nine holes following my favorite Michelle Wie, whom I consider to be an excellent role model for the youngsters growing their skills and attitudes. Wie has overcome the pressures of having been put into the national spotlight as a pre-teen and teenager, then withstood the criticism that she shouldn’t go to college (Stanford) and ignore her golfing professional career. To me, she is an example of combining her obvious skills in an athletic activity while at the same time developing her abilities in other areas (she’s a terrific artist; view her work on her website). I even suggested to one of the Golf for Girls leaders that perhaps they could get some of the pros who have additional outstanding talents and skills (Sandra Gal, from Germany, is also an artist), to market their work to the benefit of the program, and to emphasize the message that “golf is only one part of your life; you need to be developing in other areas too.” I was told that they certainly will consider this idea, it could provide additional financial support while at the same time delivering the message of the mission.

Other activities included some failed negotiations to perhaps trade my fine car for a Honda Odyssey van, and after looking up information about the van after returning home, found out the usual—the dealer was trying to screw me. I should know better, but often my “wants” overwhelm my “needs” and I have a reputation as the King Of Impulsive Buying! That even extends to the grocery store; today I bought a jar of olives and another of sweet pickles, two things I’ve only bought once before in my life. And my car got a superb 38.8 mpg during the stretch from Prescott, AZ, to Grand Junction, Colorado. (2011 Hyunda Sonata Turbo). One of my favorite drives was once again featured, the scenic highway Utah 128 down the Colorado River canyon past Castle Rock, Fisher Tower, and Priest and Nuns rock formations near Moab, and US 191 south from Moab through Monument Valley where John Wayne and Chevy Chase prowled during some of their cinematic events.

Over the years I’ve spent significant time in Castle Valley, and my wife and I even devoted three days of our honeymoon to that locale. I had friends whom I had met through their daughter Sylvia, wife of Sal Tedesco, one of our Peace Corps administrators. Ray and Ethel Scovil owned the 155 acre “Porcupine Ranch” at the head of the valley, next to the LaSal National Forest and Mountains. They had a restaurant “by appointment only” and Ray served gourmet meals, having moved there in 1954 after having a succession of restaurants elsewhere and wanting to “get out of the rat race”. Ethel did bookkeeping for Atlas Mineral Corporation, the company gleaning the benefits of Charlie Steen’s earlier discovery of uranium north of Moab. Movie stars often stayed there, in the bunkhouses—John Wayne and Dorothy Malone had been visitors while filming “Cheyenne Autumn” 8 miles down the valley. The Scovil’s passed on years ago; my wife and I briefly explored the idea of buying the ranch and establishing a residential school emphasizing outdoor education, with campuses around the world. However, our funding source also passed away, and that idea moved into the area of fantasy. At least I have some of Ray’s recipes!

On my way to Phoenix, I had stopped in Prescott, Arizona, which along with several smaller communities is located at 5000 feet elevation. As a result, it doesn’t suffer the extreme heat of the Valley of the Sun in Phoenix during the summer, in fact, folks from the latter have summer homes in Prescott. It does snow occasionally, but melts within a day. I like four mild seasons! Anyway, while there I gave a golf lesson to a former colleague from Wyoming, checked out a couple of the golf courses, and picked up some real estate stuff. I’m trying to decide whether to become a “snowbird” during several cold months, move completely, or remain in Wyoming only taking brief trips of a few weeks now and then when I see bad weather on the way. Last weekend’s internet indicated that Wyoming is the best state in which to retire—it’s cheap living, the climate is excellent except for the cold for a month, and we don’t usually get much snow, only wind blowing it around. But not in Thermopolis, where I live. Here, I have my dinosaurs, and the trout fishing is great; I have the hot mineral pools for all those aches and pains.

Well, it’s now time to once again explore all the aches and pains which seem to have become increasingly active throughout the back and around the torso. The general opinion has been that their source is in my deteriorating arthritic spine, but I’m suspicious that some other gremlin may be lurking somewhere in the shadows. I see an osteopath tomorrow and will emphasize to her that the golf course opens next week. I hope she’s sympathetic. After all, I have other things to do. In April I’m donating time to help a school district convert a junior high into a middle school, over near Devil’s Tower. And in May, it’s once again driving to North Carolina, to work my third year as a volunteer at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. Along the way I’ll check out some other “snowbird” locales, and look forward to seeing my grandsons, one in Frisco, Texas, and the other two in North Carolina. There’s a place on the Mississippi coast that’s only a day’s drive from each of those places, near Gulfport. Except for mosquitoes and cockroaches, it sounds ideal!

Always Be Happy  To Our Youth

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