In 1963 I hopped on a bus in Philadelphia and took off for The University of Louisville. The previous year I had attended Temple University and I didn’t like the urban school setting, nor was I keen on continuing to live at home. Louisville had accepted me based on tests I took trying to become a Navy jet flyer…the deal was the Navy would pay for my college and upon graduating I would give the Navy five years of service; all of this notwithstanding the fact I did not like heights, I did not like to go fast, and the only amusement park ride I truly loved was bumping cars. Fortunatly for the Navy I did not score well enough for the program, but I was accepted at the school offering the program. So there I was in the blue-grass state, on my own for the very first time. There were a lot of “firsts” during the three years I attended this college before I was asked not to return. I received my first college “A”, in a philosophy class. I was in the first class for the brand new Nu Sigma Chi Fraternity which two years later was picked up by the national Sigma Chi organization. The first time I ever became horribly drunk happened at a football game with bourbon and coke, and I was so sick, it ruined my taste for boubon forever and also ruined forever any chance of dating the cheerleader I threw up on while trying to get to the bathroom. My first act of consumated sex happened in Louisville and was so traumatic that the result of this two minute endevor almost resulted in me having to do the right thing for a girl from Erie, Pennsylvania. My roommate made a baby- booty mobile in our room and I lost twenty pounds due to the very real possability of becoming a father and spending the rest of my life in Erie Pennsylvania! This fact-of-life reality crisis evenutally passed in a few weeks and I could finally get back to being a college screw-up.
I played dormatory intra-mural basketball and developed a diminutively deadly three point shot from any corner of court. If mother nature had seen fit to have added a few more inches (like seven or eight) to my height, I could have been a basketball contender. The local joke at the time was Louisville was the home to beautiful horses, fast women and U of L basketball. I’ve already mentioned women and basketball, so that brings me to horses.
This first Saturday in May is the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The Derby is called the greatest two minutes in sports and one can make an argument for its truth. I attended in 1964-1966, when the winners were respectively “Northern Dancer”, “Lucky Debonair” and “Kau King”. Churchill Downs on Derby Day is aways crazy-packed with dreamers and fanciers of betting good fortune. I too had dollar visions from the Derby but not from betting. A week before the race I begged, borrowed and stole a large cache of #2 pencils. Prior to the first race I would charge the stands like a hotdog vendor at a baseball game, and each year easily sold about one hundred pencils at $5 each before first post. As an added bonus that first semester, I received my second “A”, this time in Economics 101.
My three Derbys hold special memories of all the glitz and glamor that goes with socicialites’ hats and mint-julips (actually a pretty awful concoction in my opinion). I will be watching today after making my silent picks, knowing there are not many more beautiful sights in nature than watching a througbred sprinting for the finish line. Good luck to all the bettors, and for the record, my triple-box pick is : “Union Rags”, “Daddy Nose Best”, and “I’ll Have Another”. Now where did I leave my pencil???