Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pivotal Moments

There were long discussions around the Sportman's home last evening. My Daughter is in the enviable yet stress-laden position of having to choose which College to attend next year. She has been accepted at some excellent schools and is having a hard time making the selection. As her Father, I endeavour to offer useful advice. I hope I am being helpful and providing meaningful guidance based on my experience and knowledge.
For many high school seniors this is one of the first really important and difficult choices they make in the transition from kid to adult. Liz is certainly cognizant of the gravity of the choice and is trying to approach the decision intelligently.
All of this led me to think back on some pivotal events in my own life.
Two of these events are pictured here. The first is the day I met U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. This photo was taken in his Chambers on a day we visited him and attended Court and saw Lawrence Tribe argue the Pennzoil v. Texaco case. One of my best friends from Lehigh is Brennan's Great-Nephew and that is how the visit was arranged. Meeting this brilliant Jurist cemented my desire to attend Law School and pursue a career as a Lawyer.
The second photo is the moment I was instructed to "kiss the bride" at my wedding. My wife and I had been dating since high school, but in this captured moment, it was now official. Marrying this wonderful lady was one of the best things to have happened in my life.
Pivotal moments and events that shape and dictate our futures; we often see them coming and recognize them as they happen.Sometimes we do not. My daughter is experiencing a pivotal event presently and I fervently wish the result for her is as postive as as these moments were for me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Judo Team

The Main Line Y.M.C.A. Judo Team in 1974. The team was organized and coached by Howie. He had won a spot on the 1968 U.S. Olympic Judo team. However, a severe knee injury just before the trip to Mexico City crushed his Olympic prospects. Howie brought that level of Olympic discipline and dedication to teaching a bunch of kids the Martial Sport founded by Dr.Jigaro Kano in Japan in 1882.
We had regular practices and fervent competition and participation. The work-outs were tough but fun. We all learned life lessons about discipline, combat sports and team spirit. The team competed in local and regional matches and many of us had significant success. I managed to win a Gold Medal in the regional Junior Olympics and a Bronze in the East Coast Regionals. I still have those medals and I am proud of the fierce work and competition they represent. I reached Purple Belt at 13. Sadly, the call of after school jobs, girls and school sports, coupled with the increased level of dedication required to try for a Brown Belt and move to the Junior High division, put an end to my career.Equally sad is how Judo was overshadowed by Kung Fu and the like with the advent of various movies and TV shows glorifying the more agressive forms of Martial Arts.
But man, check out the Afro's on some of my buddies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Violet Eyed Beauty

I just saw the news that Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. Suffice it to say she was stunning on screen and led a tumultuous personal life.
From a Sportsman's perspective, I always loved the role she played in 'National Velvet." The story of a determined girl and a fine timber jumping Thoroughbred horse; an intrepid girl who loves her horse and sets out to win the Grand National Steeplechase.
From a different perspective, her beauty and charm took one's breath away in "A Place in the Sun." Likewise, her Maggie opposite Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was a character of depth and sensuality.
She is gone but her film legacy lives.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Fighting Chair

Late 1930's, somewhere off the coast of Central New Jersey, perhaps 30 miles out.The man on the right is my maternal Grandfather, about whom I have posted of old time Football and Baseball. The man on the right is his Great Uncle.
His name was Wilson and they called him Wils. He graduated from Lehigh in 1933, 52 years before me. He was a Chi Phi brother. (Based on this "legacy" I received a pre-bid during Rush...but turned it down for a variety of reasons.)
After college he worked in Manhattan as a coal broker for Bethlehem Steel. The the War intervened and he ended up spending the war years in the Army in Langely, Virginia. He was supposedly in supply and logistics, but based on some things he said over the years at Thanksgiving or Christmas pre-dinner cocktails,when he was lubricated with a Maker's Mark Manhattan, I suspect there was more going on. Perhaps he had some minor intelligence role based on where he was stationed.He certainly was far too smart and talented to merely arrange shipments of Spam and socks.
He enjoyed a long life and made rural Connecticut his home.
Wils and my Grandfather loved to fish and would book a charter to chase Tuna off the Jersey coast. I love the tone of this old photo,the leather jacket and the neckties the wooden rods and the massive Penn Reel above Wils's right hand, the overhang of the upper deck and the wooden framing, the padded fighting chair and the focus of the fisherman off the stern. According to my Grandfather, his younger brother Wils hauled in a fairly massive Tuna that afternoon.
Uncle Wils once bought a fine field grade Belgian Browning 20 ga. back in the early 50's that I still have and sometimes use to hunt Rails and Quail. He was a Sportsman and a Gentleman and a Lehigh man and liked nothing more than to be in a fighting chair trying to haul in a big one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Muscle Car Weather

The recent weather has stirred thoughts of Spring.With thoughts of Spring comes the urge to unleash the growling beast which has rested dormant in the garage since the leaves began to drop and the weather turned cold. Said beast is pictured above. I posted about my 1969 Olds 442 some time ago. Then I came across a better photo in my desk at the office, this time the American muscle shown with top down.
I have lusted after this particular, year, make and model since 10th grade.In that year I began to work at a local gas station after school and on weekends. One of the mechanics at the station had a 69 442 and I simply fell in love.I liked Mustangs and Vettes, but something about the 69 442 captured me. Being 15 and having no money, I had to settle for admiration from afar and the occassional ride in the mechanics car.

Fast forward to 1998 and a listing offering a 1969 Olds 442 convertible for sale in Norristown, PA. Now I possessed the means and the garage space. The sale was consumated and I have been enjoying this car ever since. When the weather turns the cover is removed, washing and waxing is completed, oil is changed and fluids are checked. A drive around the back roads of the Main Line on a soft, sunny Spring day is a type and form of therapy not often found.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back to Boxing

My fighter is slated to get back into the Ring on Friday April 1, 2011. He has been training exceptionally hard and has a new trainer as well. We hope that he can score a win and get things back on track. He better win, April 1st is my Birthday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Evening with Max....minimus

Perhaps some of you have already read of the now infamous evening last week when this Sportsman had the pleasure and privilege of meeting up with ADG, the wordsmith at the helm of Maxminimus. Max scooped me on the post and I have been intending to give yet a second account of that night.
I had read in passing thru ADG's very enjoyable and damn well crafted Blog that on occassion his business brings him to Philadelphia. I suggested we meet for drinks on one of his visits and he agreed. Apparently, he was not worried that he would wake up in a strange hotel down by the Airport with hastily sewn sutures over his abdomen where one of his kidneys had been harvested and sold to Russian drug lords.
On the appointed evening I suggested we meet at the Vesper Club. NOT the Vesper Boat Club pictured above, which is on the river and home to some very accomplished crew racers and scullers. Rather, the Vesper Club which is a private dining and drinking club tucked away on Sydenham street in Center City, across from the back door of the Philadelphia Raquet Club. The Vesper Club was organized back in the days when it was necessary to get around old Quaker "Blue" laws which forbade the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Vesper is a bit frayed around the edges, and is about as exclusive as a 7-11....but it has exceptional service, a great Bar, excellent food and barman and staff who know all the Members names, make you feel welcome, and know their business.
Max was all business when he sauntered in, greeted my friend Linc and I and immediately ordered a Stoli Martini, up with 3 olives. I was already working on a Basil Hayden's Old Fashioned.
Let me simply put it this way: ADG is, to borrow a phrase from one of my High School age children, "way cooler" than even comes across from his writings and photos on his Blog. We were instantly at ease with one another. As I stated in a comment on his far more creative narative of the evening, meeting Max/ADG was like catching up with a long lost Fraternity brother...albeit a better dressed version than the beer-swilling maniacs I banged around with at Lehigh.
We drank, ate clams casino and jumbo lump crab meat,drank some more and touched on numerous topics. He even hit it off with one of my oldest buddies,Linc, who came along as my wing-man as he never misses a chance to drink at the Vesper Club and smoke a good cigar. Coincidentally, another boyhood friend came in that night, a guy I have hung out with since 7th grade.
As the talk and ribbing and jokes and laughs and anecdotes poured like the hooch, we hit topics ranging from the raising of daughters and dealing with their boyfriends,to our mutual obsession with collecting antique toy soldiers. We talked about WWII history and Ambrose's book "Pegasus Bridge" (he had an interesting personal connection to that story) to sporting art and prints such as A.B. Frost and the Vanity Fair prints and watercolors he collects. We discussed other Bloggers and their posts and ones he'd met and the ones we thought were great and the ones we thought were less than great. We talked about guns and gunning and I promised I was going to get him out duck hunting. We talked about owning our own businesses and we had a similar curiosity about the particulars of each others professions.
As tends to happen when guys get drinking and bullshitting, the time flew and I suggested we adjourn around the corner to Chris' Jazz cafe, the Jazz Club I owned from 1999 to 2006. I sold my interest to my partner who still runs the place but still hang out there and get what we used to call "The Sinatra Treatment" anytime I come thru the door. It is a great joint.
So we arrived and I dragged him through the kitchen and to the office to meet my former partner: my particular friend Mark. Max was still hungry despite the clams and crab, and he needed a booze sponge. Mark is Italian and takes it as a personal affront if someone is going around hungry within 10 blocks of his Joint..He is always one to oblige a hungry guest so a delicious hot roast beef appeared for Max's enjoyment and sustenance. We continued to laugh and talk and enjoyed the Guitar jazz wafting from the stage.
At the end of the evening a sartorial disaster did unfold which accounts for the scorched jacket pictured above and described in Max's post. I leave it to him to disclose exactly how this unfortunate episode of rapid oxidation was visited upon his Flusser-made jacket. Knowing him and his clothes obsession thru his Blog, I fully appreciated the horror he must have felt...but he was a good sport and took the calamity in stride.
We popped next door to my garage, collected my Caddy, and I dropped him at his hotel. In retrospect I should have driven my F-150 hunting truck with the custom camo seat covers just to stay in Sportsman's persona.
In the final analysis it was a great night enjoyed with a great guy. Max's mix of South Carolina charm, worldly wit and refinement, and well read and well bred perspective, along with his uncanny attribute of seeming like a long lost buddy, makes for a guy you would be happy to spend time with anywhere from a Tap-room banging back drinks to an auction house seeking rare prints or a Football game or a quiet dinner party and everything in between. Now that we have the mutual admiration posts out of the way....what about that jacket.....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sportsmen's Porn

Ornately engraved shotguns are clearly a fine confluence of art meeting function. The examples above are just a few representations of the wonderful engraving, hand-chequering and woodwork presented by fine field pieces.
Of course, these are not the type of Shotgun one takes out to the duck blind or goose pit. The marsh mud one encounters while duck hunting can get into crevices and never be removed.You do not take a $20,000.00 Parker or Churchill out to bang around in a duck blind or heaven forbid fall out of a duck hunting boat along the Eastern Shore.
A finely engraved Over and Under is fine for a day of Upland game hunting or for shooting Skeet or Trap or Sporting Clays. I have a 12 ga. Side By Side Ithaca with fairly nice engraving. I use it for field shoots only and it never touches the ground after being taken from the sheepskin lined "leg-o-mutton" Orvis break down case in which I keep it.
Sportsmen eagerly await the arrival of the magazine "Shooting Sportsman" for the high quality glossy photos of engraved Purdys and Churchills and Holland and Holland double guns. We longingly stare with salacious and covetous intent at the guns in these pages.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lacrosse Season and Trial Schedule

I am in the middle of a 3 day trial in Federal Court here in Philadelphia. The case involves some failry complex commercial litigation so my attention and energy is sapped by the time toiling in the Courtroom. Such is my demeanor that the likelihood of any interesting or amusing post is remote at best.
However, Lacrosse season is once again upon us and my son just finished tryouts for the local youth league for which I am coaching again this year. He made a it on a good team and we have 2 young coaches from the Shipley School filling out the staff. With these full time coaches lending their time to our kids I think it will be a great season and the kids will learn even more than usual. Both guys have impressive playing backgrounds and know their Lax. My son will also be playng on his middle school team so I will be trying to manipulate my schedule for the next 3 months to be able to get to the weekday school games in the afternoons...not an easy task.
All of this plus Opening day in the offing and Playoff Hockey around the corner...and the start of the Spring Steeplechase Season...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shotgun Valet

Even Louis Winthorp,III liked messing around with Shotguns. He however, had the advantage of having his Valet, Coleman, assist in cleaning and organizing his double guns. Mr. Winthorp was not preparing for a day afield, he was getting locked and loaded in preparation for dispatching a fusillade into the respective patellas of Randolph and Mortimer Duke.
When the seasons change and I have to go about cleaning and storing some of my guns, I certainly could use a Coleman-type to help. I suppose I will have to settle for my Son's assistance. We see Louis in possession of what appears to be 3 shotguns: Two over/unders and a side-by-side. Well done Louie...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

West Coast Lacrosse

One does not often equate Lacrosse with the West Coast. Likewise, one does not often expect to see snowy scenes South of San Francisco in Santa Cruz or Soquel. Lacrosse has only in recent years crossed the Sierras into California and they are embracing the game with enthusiasm and vigor.
As evidence, we see the team managed by my particular friend Bonster..the wife of my best friend from college. Her son Max,whom I have known since he was a zygote, plays on the Soquel team. Last week during a tournament in Soquel,CA, they had snow during a game...rare events on both counts. Bonster was kind enough to share these photos with me and I simply had to post them here in the interest of our periodic Lacrosse theme and posts. Reportedly, the game-time snow caused cheers from the spectators and fired up the players. I only wish I could have been present to see Max play and lend Bonster a hand...and see white flakes settle on mesh sticks and shiny new helmets.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pitchers & Catchers Report

Baseball season opens shortly. Here in Philadelphia,we Phillies fans are incredibly optimistic about the Season. There is talk that the Phil's pitching rotation will be the best to ever take the mound. I suppose that is an arguable point and baseball fans love to argue about such topics. Nevertheless, with Lee, Halladay,Hamels and Oswalt...opposing batsmen are facing a pitching staff that is formidable.
In anticipation of baseball season,I feature another vintage photo of my Grandfather.....this time with his Stroudsburg High 1923 Baseball team (Second row far right.) Apparently, Grandad was a damn fine pitcher and had good "stuff" as they say. He had a slider and heater, a curve and a change-up.. It was the curve that derailed his career. According to family lore some scouts had checked him out. However, too many games and too many curves really messed up his elbow resulting in an abbreviated career on the mound and the evaporation of any professional interest in his talents. He always loved the game and it was great to watch or listen to a game with him.