THE VACATION THAT ALMOST WASN’T
It was a nice Saturday afternoon on July 28 when I called my golfing buddy Craig Couvillion to give him my “pre-weenie” warning that I would not be playing golf on the next day.
The reason I was “weenieing out” was because my head was stopped up, my sinuses were draining and my throat was getting raw. It appeared I was getting a dreaded summer cold just as wife Susan and I were packing for our trip to Las Vegas on Monday, July 30.
We closed up the house that Sunday afternoon and drove to Houston where we would spend the night and then fly out Monday morning.
I just kept feeling lousier and didn’t sleep a wink in Houston, so it wasn’t very difficult for Susan and me to cancel our trip, which incidentally we already had paid for. Susan had enough foresight to buy flight insurance, so we weren’t out any money.
The thought of feeling so lousy and the predicted high temperature of 120 degrees for Vegas made our decision much easier. Susan also got a touch of whatever I had.
I spent that week doctoring myself with steroids and antibiotics hoping to feel better for our trip to my hometown Schenectady. N.Y. last Tuesday. It was the day before departure and I still felt bad so I went back to the doctor and got loaded up with more “miracle drugs”.
I was told I wouldn’t be cured immediately but would start feeling better as the vacation progressed. Our daughter Cathy Whitehead and husband Brian were real anxious to visit the area where I grew up and all of the history pertinent to that area.
The kids were anxious to visit historical Saratoga Race Track, which was built during the Civil War in 1863 and still stands in its original design with some expansion.
Our flight to Charlotte was about to take off when a blinding thunderstorm rolled into Houston delaying us nearly two hours.
The problem was that our layover was only one hour so we missed our connecting flight to Albany and had to wait more than five hours in that terminal for the next flight to Albany.
We picked up our rental car in Albany right after midnight and drove the 13 miles to Schenectady where we arrived at the River Casino, which is less than a mile for where both of my grandparents lived most of their lives.
It’s hard to believe that a city with the bluest of blue collar inhabitants would have a modern half billion-dollar casino/hotel on the banks of the Mohawk River where 100-year-old factories once stood.
We spent last Wednesday at Saratoga and enjoyed watching those high-dollar horses competing against each other. We brought back less money than we started with but still had a good time.
We went back to Schenectady and ate dinner at a “real” Italian restaurant called Cornell’s that has been in that location since the 1930’s. I ordered home-made pasta called cavelli and finished to meal with two cannoli’s.
We got up early Thursday and set out for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which was about 90 minutes away. However, Brian set the GPS to avoid toll roads and we didn’t see any toll booths in those corn fields.
I was interested in visiting the Little League section where memorabilia from our 1954 World Championship team was displayed but was told it was recently taken down in favor of a display about Boston Red Sox catcher Moe Berg, who was more famous for his undercover wartime career in World War II than his .243 career batting average.
One could spend a week looking at the thousands of personal items donated to the Hall. We returned to Schenectady and ate supper at a beer garden that featured craft beer, sausages and brats.
We planned on going back to Saratoga Friday but flash flood warnings for the entire Eastern portion of New York State helped change our minds.
The kids wanted to see where I grew up and visit some of the landmarks I always talked about. I grew up on Elm Street which today is void of elm trees because of the elm disease that took its toll.
I showed them where some of my friends lived—Linden St., Elder St., Haigh Ave.—and Spruce Street where Pat Riley lived, plus some of the houses of my old girl friends.
We traced my daily route to Mont Pleasant High School that I walked back and forth every day which totaled about seven miles. Throw in some zero temperatures and seven-foot snowbanks and it proved to be quite a daily trek.
Almost every city in New York has a Central Park and Schenectady was no different. Amazingly, after more than a half-a-century, the park was just like I remember it from my youth.
The bumpy hill called “The Washboard” was our favorite to do our sleigh riding. The lucky ones who survived the rough ride made it all the way to the frozen lake at the bottom of the hill.
The week I was leaving for my freshman year at McNeese State. my parents moved from Elm St. to the edge of the Stockade Area which has homes that were built in the early 1700’s and are still inhabited.
Many houses were built of stone and had escape cellars that led to the river where a small boat or canoe was stored for a quick getaway from attacks by the French and Indians.
We ate at our favorite restaurant “The Lighthouse” Friday night on the porch overlooking the Mohawk River and then had to pack our bags for a 6 a.m. Saturday flight from Albany.
Our wake-up time was 3 a.m. (2 a.m. Orange time) to Philadelphia where we caught our flight to Houston. We arrived at Bush International around noon.
Now we need another vacation to recover from the last one!!
KWICKIES…High school football practice is upon us as local players sweat and strain to get into shape for the season they hope lasts well into December. It all started this week.
National Football League teams begin their exhibition season tomorrow after Thursday’s inaugural Hall of Fame game when the Baltimore Ravens edged past Chicago 17-16.
And speaking of the exhibition season, don’t expect to see J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and a few of the Houston Texans’ stalwarts in too much action before the season begins. The team plans on bringing them along very slowly, avoiding most of the action that doesn’t count for a hill of beans.
Sad to hear about the passing of Beaumont golfer Bruce Lietzke from brain cancer. He was always a good guy to the press and certainly got some of today’s younger golfers started on the right foot. He was 67.
JUST BETWEEN US…Several of the football writers around the New York area appear to be concerned about the rumored trade that will bring Orange’s Earl Thomas to the Dallas Cowboys sometime this month. After all, the Cowboys are the Giants’ biggest rivals in the NFC East Division. Although Earl is still under contract with the Seattle Seahawks for the 2018 season, he was expecting the team to gladly extend his contract and allow him to finish his career in Seattle. After all, most NFL players with super-star status like Earl have their contracts extended shortly after the season before their last ended. All head coach Pete Carroll can say about the situation is that Earl is supposed to be at training camp and he’s not there, so they’re going to get ready for the season without him. It’s been quite a concern on the many recent sports talk shows airing on television, the radio and online.