Families come full circle watching middle school sports
Baby doll - In August of '75 the Fred family moved to Lewes and rented a house on McFee Street. The second day, my SPCA cat Toby, transplanted from Pennsylvania, disappeared. I went out to look for him. Somewhere down off Fourth Street a muscular young man nodded hello and I asked, ”You didn’t happen to see a big gray cat walking around and looking lost, did you?" The man said, ”Yes, we ate him yesterday.” “Who ate him?" I asked. "The black people,” he said, then he started laughing. I think I was the first white person to walk into a black neighborhood looking for a gray cat. That young beast, who looked like he worked out curling truck axles, was Tyrone Gibbs, entering his junior year in high school. Nicknamed "Baby Doll” by his sisters, Tyrone would win three state wrestling titles for Cape. He also ran fullback and played nose guard on the football team, high jumped over six feet and ran leadoff on state championship sprint relay teams. Tyrone's great-nephew Aarin Burton is now wrestling for Beacon.
Uncle Frankie - This time of the year, lots of athletes and coaches deliver Christmas cookies, serve turkey dinners and help with canned goods and clothing drives. Boxes of used toys that usually involve stuffed animals with missing body parts and board games minus a few key pieces and clothing that can be dated using carbon 14 miraculously appear in school hallways and gyms. I remember one Christmas, I followed some basketball players on a cookie delivery to a battered women’s shelter with my stupid camera. I heard a person inside joke, “We should kick his butt.” My late Uncle Frankie lived his adult life at the Trenton Rescue Mission. Frankie had the biggest heart of any person who ever walked the planet. His face and skin had been hacked and stitched and radiated since he was 5 years old, tumors upon tumors. His father, my grandfather, was an abusive jerk. Kids on the street made fun of Frankie. People on buses moved away. Frankie worked on the Rescue Mission box truck picking up donations and delivering items to needy people before that was cool. He was so happy. Frankie to me was that glaring example of what's inside a person as opposed to what you see on the outside. He died on Christmas Eve on his 38th birthday. His sister, my mother, sang the German lullaby, "Oh Tannenbaum," which translates to, "Oh Christmas Tree" by his bedside. I had never heard my mother say a word in German, and now she was singing a Christmas lullaby to her dying brother Frankie. Dorothy was the light at the center of a family, the star at the top of the tree. I think all families have a story to tell and a saint in their midst; perhaps that is the book I should write. Maybe it is the book I’ve been writing my entire life.
Snippets - There will be a Lewes Polar Bear Plunge at 1 p.m., New Year's Day at Cape Henlopen State Park on the beach in front of the bathhouse. The Lewes Polar Bears started in 1982 when a group of locals decided they needed something not to look forward to in order to make the time go faster in the winter.
I think a quarter midget racetrack would go big in Sussex County. If you give a young child a choice between Saturday soccer and driving a race car, he/she will be boot-scooting around the oval all day long. Sponsors buy advertising space on the car; it's all pretty amazing. And teach the drivers how to work on their own cars so they can grow up with a degree in comparative religion, become certified car technicians and also play the piano. And throw in big wave surfers. If there were constant big surf along the Delaware coast, how many football players would be lost to the taste of salt water? And how about those pesky skateboarders and the culture of clothes and slang that comes with skateboarding? You know if there’s an empty parking garage somewhere, the counterculture on loud wheels is going to find itself stoked to try some sick tricks with no intention to bail, so posers stay home.
I have devised and created a fun diet for members of the Linemen for Life Club. It’s the NFL There are Millionaires Fatter Than Me Diet. Just grab a roster of your favorite team and use a highlighter to roll over all the players who weigh more than you do. The goal is to move from nose tackle to strong safety. If there is a tiny scale on your kitchen counter that records in grams you are a drug dealer, joined Weight Watchers or you’re a fat drug dealer without the discipline for Weight Watchers. Meet me on Aramingo Avenue near the McDonald’s. Go on now, git!