Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Tremendous Machine

On the afternoon of June 9, 1973, I climbed the stairs of the 3 story old Berkeley house and entered my bedroom.  It was my only room in the house I shared with 4 others.  Great way to split rent for a graduate student finishing up his state teaching certificate.  I was two weeks away from working in a Del Monte cannery while waiting for word of a teaching position.  Like millions of others at the time, I was also waiting for the first Triple Crown winner of my lifetime.

The 60s were beginning to yield to the 70s during this time and my thoughts, when not focused on lesson plans or job interviews, found their way, momentarily, to Big Red: Secretariat.
Horse racing seemed to be in my blood.  From the time I'd wait for the afternoon sport's pages of the L.A. Herald Examiner, to sneaking a peak at the Hollywood Park race of the week in black and white TV, I was enthralled.  Riding a bike became galloping a thoroughbred more often than not.
While I vaguely recall following the Triple Crown trail in 1973, I do vividly remember all the naysayers about Secretariat's chances to take his place alongside the immortals of the sport.  Even the big colt's connections were worried.  So much can go wrong in a contest that lasts less than one round of boxing but on Belmont Park's huge oval the mile and a half distance was believed to be the equalizer.  To get that distance requires the perfect balance of speed and stamina.

So up I trudged to see if I could coax my old black and white TV to deliver a foggy image one more time.  The TV had issues.  Loose tubes, inconsistent static in the sound, and a propensity for the screen to turn light green after it over-heated.  But it was my ticket, it was what I had.
By the time Chic Anderson's famous line poured forth "...And Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine..." there was no doubt.  I was just about holding the picture tube together but Secretariat was a Triple Crown winner and I had avoided electrocution.
This week the naysayers abound again.  The "right-fighters" love to predict it won't happen.  This time I believe they are wrong.  American Pharoah has the look.  True Silver Charm and War Emblem and Smarty Jones did too, but not exactly the same look.  This isn't a race to bet or merely watch.  This is a race to marvel at the ability and magic of a true champion.  AP should bring this drought to an end.
As I write, I've just completed a move and am watching my cable guy have difficulties in getting me up and running.  But I have faith.  Come Saturday, while I'm watching the festivities in color from a much bigger screen, I'll think of that old TV and another tremendous machine.

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