Mayor Al Stango and the Lewes Marathon

October 6, 2020

Spaghetti every Friday - I interviewed Bob Fletcher in 1983 about his book “Spaghetti Every Friday,” the story of running 50 marathons in 50 weeks after Bob turned 50. Bob had just completed the Lewes Marathon. In 1986, the year after the Lewes Marathon was dropped, eight runners showed up in Lewes on a Friday afternoon to continue their quest of 50 marathons in 50 states. Mayor Al Stango showed up at my door and said, “Coach, tomorrow we’re having a marathon for these people. I'll be leading them in the police car and afterward I’m buying them all a spaghetti dinner at La Rosa Negra. Do what you have to do to make this happen.” Last Sunday, in the parking lot of Cape Henlopen State Park, I met Pam Dieffenbauch, 46, and Pam Keenan, 66, of Wilmington, N.C. They had just hit the midpoint of running 50 half or full marathons somewhere they could reach by car from their home state. They mentioned they were trained by Tom Clifford, and before I could interject my Tom Clifford who played at Temple story, I sensed their graciousness had a time limit, so I stopped. The two Pams made a point to emphasize what a beautiful course and beautiful people they encountered at the race, which would have been sweeter if they had been able to meet Mayor Al. 

My boy and my buddy - Legendary, lovable, cantankerous Cape coach Tom Hickman always told me, “Don’t bother making friends and close friendships with people on the school board. They come and go. Just do what you think is right by kids.” Hickman was a World War II forward scout infantryman hero – a great guy – who ironically was always squabbling with administrators. Butch Archer, an electrician, was on the school board and worked successfully to bring Cape back from the sports abyss in the early ’90s. Later, Butch lost an election and someone in Wawa said to me, “I see your boy Butch lost.” I responded with “Why he gotta be my boy? And yes, he did, and you all lost, not him.” Current school board President Dr. Alison Myers is not “my boy,” but she is “my buddy.” Alison is confidently congenial and self-assured, and she shares Cape stuff with me because she knows I’m a community player with the interests of all Cape kids at heart.  By the way, I have some close friends on this school board – Janet Maull-Martin and Bill Collick – and I like them all. 

Eastbound and Down - The NFC East has won a total of three games, and the Eagles at 1-2-1 now lead the division as the first quarter of the season is over. I believe 1-3 Dallas is the best team in the NFC East. The Eagles are at 3-0 Pittsburgh on Sunday while the Giants (0-4) play at Dallas. The 4-0 Bills at the 3-0 Titans is a game to watch Oct. 11. Cape coach J.D. Maull has been a Bills fan since I or anyone else has known him. Remember the house on scenic Route 9, before the bypass, that had Buffalo Bills painted on the rooftop? What was that all about? I’d like to see the A’s win the American League (it’s a Philly thing) and the Padres emerge in the National League. The Phillies trading away Sixto Sanchez was the biggest goof since they sent Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. But by the  insurance chart standards of health, Sixto at 6 feet, 235 pounds is morbidly obese. But when the fat guy brings 100 mph of high heat to your wheelhouse, don’t bother trying to catch up to it. Personally, I’d be bailing like a Boston Whaler.  

Jackie Q kicking cancer - Two years ago, Jackie Quigley said to me, “Seventeen years clean, Fredman.” I asked her, “What was your drug of choice?” I thought she was talking about addiction. That got a laugh big enough for us to share. On Sunday, trimmed in pink and finishing a half-marathon relay, Jackie said, “Nineteen years clean!” I freaking get it, just never stop kicking and stomping those dark days gone while embracing the joy of just being on the planet. My brother Tom always referred to anyone younger than he was as a kid. I would say that Jackie Quigley is a tough kid.  

Snippets - I’m a wounded duck. The mask police have already targeted me with carpeted F-bomb attacks. I am trying and complying, but do I think athletes should wear masks during the game? The answer is, “No, I don’t.” I just don’t think it is feasible, to say nothing of breathable. On Sunday, wearing a Cape hockey mask, state park administrator guy Pat Cooper said, “Fredman, do you know you have your mask on upside down?” “No, but hum me a few bars and I’ll see if I can sing it for you.” Go on now, git! 

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