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July 2 2015
Betsy and I lived in Lakeland, Florida, from 1960 to 1964 when I taught at Florida Southern College. The school sponsored basketball and soccer teams and had an NCAA champion baseball team, but lacked the very expensive football. When some students agitated for the sport, the administration posted a sign-up sheet in the gym. The students said, “We didn’t mean us, we wanted you to hire us a team.”
Football for Florida as most other Southern states is the supreme sport. Lakeland High School had an excellent team and played big Miami schools. Many local boys went on to play at University of Florida. The former girls’ college at Florida State was launching a football team which was ridiculed by serious football fans.
Lakeland High played in a stadium seating 10,000. Friday nights were the social events during autumn. Men wore suits and women dresses and heels, and when evenings turned cool, women had a chance to show their furs.
The games began with a perfunctory singing of the Star Spangled Banner, and then the band played “Dixie.” People not only sang lustily, they shouted and waved Confederate flags while the band played on. After our first couple games, I did not join the singing.
The Negro high school also used the stadium. Many whites attended because they knew these players could go on to their college - Florida A & M - and might become pro stars like Willie Gallimore of the Bears. I regret not having seen one of these games because I understand the band played all the way through. I don’t know if they played Dixie.
These were the challenging years of school and college integration. Few Southerners trusted the US government and many hated President Kennedy. When his death was announced, children in Lakeland cheered. Cocktail parties were held around town, toasting that “great American” Lee Harvey Oswald.
Prejudice did not stop with Negroes. Catholics were disliked and so were Jews. Baptists, of which there were many varieties, and Methodists were approved of, and also Presbyterians. Episcopalians were suspect because their ministers wore collars. Lutherans were made up of immigrants.
In Lakeland, African-Americans were not admitted to restaurants, as they were not in Bloomington-Normal. Of course, they had their own churches, such as the African Methodist Episcopalian (AME). Florida Southern was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. “Episcopal” meant It was governed by a bishop. When the bishop announced in 1963 that all Methodist institutions should begin steps toward integration, this edict ensnared the college in a quandary.
I embarrassed the administration by asking what steps they had taken. They said they were forming a committee. When I asked to be on it, I was told that my position as Director of Freshman Writing was too important for me to assume additional obligations.
Students in Greek fraternities opposed integration. Independents or “barbarians” were less prejudiced. A small group who planned to become ministers worked for integration. I subsidized their newspaper, “The Barbaric Yawp” (title from Walt Whitman). “Yawp” created a stir not only on campus but in Lakeland and Polk County. Its editors were accused of being Communists. And the band played on.
July 2 2015
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July 2 2015Pro Sports: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby?
BACK IN THE DAY when I was in high school, girls were forbidden from playing interscholastic sports by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Uninformed gender bias decided girls were too fragile to participate in strenuous athletics. They could be cheerleaders but that was about it.
Nowadays, those of us who have lived long enough have seen a dramatic evolution in female athletics. From UConn women’s basketball to the U.S. world soccer team to superstar tennis athletes and track and field dynamos. And a whole lot more.
But the road to a level playing field is still a long one. A very long one.
This fact socked me right between the eyes when I read feature articles on two superstar high school seniors in the June 19 edition of USA Today.
One piece went into considerable depth profiling Ben Simmons of Florida’s Montverde Academy, a versatile 6-10 basketball standout ranked by most scouting services as the No. 1 high school senior in the country. The consensus among pro scouts is that Simmons will also be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft, even though he hasn’t played a single college game yet (he’ll be attending LSU.)
Also profiled was Highland, California’s Rachel Garcia, who was named the USA’s Gatorade softball player of the year. She’s headed to UCLA. Garcia’s senior season statistics seem improbable at best. As a pitcher, she struck out 418 batters in 175 innings and had 20 shutouts, including ten no-hitters and five perfect games, while competing against some of California’s most challenging opponents.
When she had a bat in her hands, Garcia dialed it up a notch, if that seems possible. For the season, she batted .667 with 20 home runs, 57 RBI and a 1.412 slugging percentage. No, those aren’t misprints.
NOW HOW ABOUT the future for these two elite athletes? Except for the NBA’s self-serving and unreasonable “one and done” rule, Simmons could go straight to the NBA right now. That’s what LeBron James and Kobe Bryant did. But the rule now states Simmons must play a year in college before he’s eligible for the NBA draft.
If he’s like many of his one and done predecessors, he’ll waste his time for a year on campus (and that of several LSU professors), in the protective custody of academic shelters and a bevy of tutors, during which time he may or may not go to class.
If the pro scouts are correct, and Simmons becomes next year’s No. 1 pick, the NBA rookie salary scale dictates he will sign for approximately $5 million, guaranteed, with second and third year salaries slightly higher. Also guaranteed. His fourth year option calls for a percentage increase of 26.1 %.
All of these dollar amounts come courtesy of Basketball Insiders.
IF GARCIA chooses to pursue a professional softball career, there are options, but the money is positively miserly by comparison. According to the National Pro Fastpitch League’s “Frequently Asked Questions,” the NFP pays between $5 and $6 thousand for a season running from mid May to late August.
Each year, the league holds a player draft of college seniors who cannot sign a contract before their college eligibility is exhausted. In short, Ms. Garcia can expect to spend four years (at least) at UCLA before she is eligible to sign a professional contract. On the bright side, she’s likely to go to class and actually engage in a university learning experience, very likely en route to a college degree.
If she does play in the NFP, it will be with one of four teams: the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Pennsylvania Rebellion, or USSSA Florida Pride. The schedule will include a 48-game regular season for each team. Each NFP team expects to average 1,500-2,000 fans per game.
Television exposure? Not so much. It’s pretty much limited to sporadic streaming. ESPN highlight reels? C’mon. Player opportunities for merchandise endorsement contracts? It’s more likely Donald Trump will be elected president.
I hope Rachel Garcia enjoys a stellar four years at UCLA and follows that up with success in the NPF.
The league won’t make her rich, but she should have a comfortable, rewarding future beyond the diamond. She’ll probably have that college sheepskin; she completed her senior year in high school with a weighted 3.44 GPA, “is an accomplished guitar player and youth softball coach in Palmdale, California,” according to the newspaper.
THE MONEY disparity isn’t hard to account for; the NBA generates millions in revenue every year. Professional softball is a niche sport at best, and a tiny niche at that. Simmons may be the one driving the Porsche into the driveway of his Beverly Hills mansion, but Rachel Garcia should be a happy woman with a bright future in coaching and/or music.
July 2 2015
The lilies are really pretty this year. You can add them to an arrangement, or use then alone. As soon as you bring them into the house, cut an inch or so off of the stem. Use a sharp knife and make a diagonal cut so the stem can have more surface area to absorb water. Remove all leaves that could be under water. The submerged leaves can produce a bacteria that will shorten the vase life of the flowers. As the blossoms wither and the leaves turn yellow, remove them. Change the water every few days.
With all the rain and the cool nights, we are seeing more powdery mildew on the plants this year, especially phlox, lilac, cone flower, and bee balm. If the leaves turn brown, you can remove them and destroy, not compost, them. The mildew should go away once the sun shines more and they have better air circulation. It should not kill the plants, just takes away from their beauty.
We don’t hear a lot about using coca-bean mulch. It is a good attractive, sweet chocolate smelling mulch, but it can be dangerous for your dog. Chocolate contains a compound that is toxic to dogs. If you don’t have a dog, enjoy using the cocoa-bean mulch.
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The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington
July 2 2015
The Golden Years
It has been called “the Golden Years.” That time of life when married couples, that have scrimped and saved, kept their heads down; worked day after day, week after week, year after year, all-the-while, holding onto visions of living the life that they always wanted. Carefree days of lounging in the sun in a faraway exotic resort, sipping on a cool drink and basking in the sun with that special someone, which the demands of everyday living have somehow stolen away.
But upon retirement, it’s now “OUR Time, and the world awaits. Time has become only a measure of moments of doing what you want, when you want and where you want to do it. Finally, freedom is here and “the Golden Years” have arrived. Upon retirement, most of us have made that final mortgage payment and the car has long since been paid off as well.
Financial planning, begun at an early age, has eliminated a major concern for some retirees. Yet, despite the best of plans, health issues arise and oftentimes, unexpected. Thus, “The Golden Years” have lost some of its luster. The family planner (day-to-day schedule) now becomes filled with doctor and dentist appointments and frequent visits to the pharmacy to fill ever-changing prescriptions.
Many of you know of that which I speak. Sometimes a diagnosis requires the need of a medical specialist or surgeon. Mountains of paper work begin to pile up and assistance is limited. But you and I press on because that is what we have always done. A door closes and another one opens. A health scare is averted and “the Golden Years” have added back some of its lost luster. A trip here or a trip there and all is well with the world. Could it be that a dose of reality is just around the corner? How often have I marveled at the resilience of our seniors?
But I have also wondered more so, of late, about the needs of our elderly. It seems that the glitter of “the Golden Years” can become tarnished when age and health or the death of a spouse interrupts. The simplest of tasks can become worrisome. Take the changing of a light bulb. Who is going to change it? The master of the home is no longer present. Should an elderly person chance climbing onto a dining room chair, removing the globe, high above her head, and change it herself? What about balance? Fear of falling, breaking a bone and perhaps lying on the floor until someone shows up. So many little things that you and I take for granted.
Think about it. Failing eyesight and the consequences of that disability. Driving a car; cellphones, remote control for the TV; HVAC thermostats; grocery shopping and the ingestion of medication in pill or capsule form. How many to take and when. Let’s see 20 pills a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year. That over 7,000 doses of medication a year. Add to those listed, the long days and even longer nights when no one stops by or bothers to call. Friends, is there someone that could use a little help in your circle of family or neighbors?
Till next time…john
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