Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29 Great Memories

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As I celebrate my 47 birthday, what makes December 29 so unique?

I've never failed a test or exam in any school because there were no classes to attend.

It's the last of 107 or 108 days in the 20's of every month depending on if it's a leap year.

There are 72 hours left in the year and there were 8,688 hours that have past to get to this date. In a leap year that number would increase to 8,712 hours.

As the temperature this year in Deerfield Beach, FL., hit 66 degrees and my Aunt Judy Strohl told me today that I was missing snow and 22 degree weather back in Michigan, I'll never forget my 16 birthday when I had to take a drivers test during a blizzard in 1978. Thanks to an assist from my late Grandmother Sophie Morganroth Jacobs, who drove my father's old Yellow Cadillac, I managed to pass the drivers test by using her vehicle despite the bad weather as I had an understanding nice looking dark blonde woman instructor who was very patient despite the slippery roads.

To date, I've driven 2.75 million miles in 31 years and taken several cross country trips despite the fact that I've never been a paid truck driver. There are too many restrictions in flying and I could make my own schedule and see more places.

What I've always enjoyed about this birthday is I haven't worked on it in 47 years and the streak remains intact. I have found that employers are just as relieved that the year is over and they seem to be enjoying the holiday season. The only way that I would put an end to this 47-year streak is if I became a Professional Public Speaker or had a Broadcasting/ Full Time Newspaper career. I have no problem going to work when it doesn't feel like I'm working but I'm having a lot fun writing my two Blogs today. The first was my Tribute to Ernie Harwell earlier this morning.

In this Blog, I'm going to list the top 10 Moments of "December 29" over the years.

1. While taking a 10,000 mile plus trip that lasted 35 days in a rental car across country, I stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah and not only did I have a chance to understand the Mormon Culture, visited Temple Square, and covered a couple Utah Jazz NBA Basketball Games, one of the local radio stations invited me to come back and left a ticket at will call at the Salt Palace to watch a minor league hockey game the day of my birthday to have me on as a guest during periods. They wanted me to talk about the route of my trip, how many games I was going to see in the different sports plus other tourist attractions, in how many days and how many states I was going to be in. Ironically, that hockey team would be sold to late Detroit Pistons Owner William Davidson which played at the Palace of Auburn Hills and became the Detroit Vipers.
2. On another Western Trip, I had a grilled cheese sandwich and hash browns with a trucker whose CB handle was "The Sting" at 4 am at a truck stop in New Mexico. We were talking for hours about the icy roads, where the cops were hanging out to give tickets, etc. Sand was the only way the tires on my Burgundy Buick Regal could grip the roads so I would have traction to avoid an accident. I relied heavily on my CB to communicate with truckers and my handle was "Scoop." But "The Sting" and I hung out for a couple hours to talk and as I grabbed his bill, he insisted on paying our checks insisting that it was my birthday present and thanked me for having a nice experience. I never had a cell phone on that trip, just a pre-paid phone card to use in pay phones & hotels to stay in order to stay in contact with family members and friends.

3. I had a chance to watch a Harlem Globetrotters Game at the Old Olympia Stadium in Detroit with my family featuring Meadowlark Lemon and Curley Neal.

4. I had lunch with one of my best friends Chip Namais when he worked with the Tampa Bay Bucs. I've known Chip since 1982 when he was the Director of Public Relations for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the defunct North American Soccer League. That night, another close friend Gus Pantelides, whom I've known for 31 years took me out for ribs at a restaurant at New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner's Hotel the Bay Harbor Inn in Tampa and bought me a Tampa Bay Lightning hooded sweat shirt.

5. When I was in Cancun, Mexico one year, I attended the bull fights during the day then I went to Pat O' Brien's at night where the manager bought me two of his famous Hurricane Drinks after I showed him the proper identification. I was real relaxed and enjoyed socializing with the crowd.

6. On my 30 birthday in 1992, I took the most beautiful drive of my life on California's Pacific Coast Highway 1 after watching the Detroit Lions lose to the San Francisco 49'ers the night before at Candlestick Park. I remember talking with former Lions QB Andre Ware on December 28, and not only did we have a good football discussion but I did mention the drive I was about to take for my birthday. He smiled, gave me birthday greetings and gave me a big hug and told me to be careful. The 16 hour drive from San Francisco to San Diego with all the mountains and water plus listening to great music was awesome. I can just imagine how much better the music would be today with satellite radio.

7. Birthday No. 40 saw me watch the Lions lose to the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field and after the game, I drove out to Eastern Tennessee., where I would hang out with a friend and we took six laps around the famed High Banked Bristol Motor Speedway. The $10 I spent for those laps was cheap and went to charity plus I had a huge adrenaline rush afterwards.

8. My ex wife Susan and I spent a great non sports day visiting the famous Casa Grande Ruins in Arizona in 2000.

9. While I can't count how many birthdays that I actually spent with my Grandmother Sophie, she was alive for 37 of them. To this day, she remains the most important person that has ever been in my life and will always be No.1. She is pictured with me at www.scottsports33.com.

10. Last but not least, No. 46 was spent with my best friend George Eichorn & Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ernie Harwell on Decemeber 29, 2008 at Ernie's residence in Novi, MI. We spent a couple hours together and it was truly special. Now that time becomes more magnified because Harwell was diagnosed with incurable Cancer of the Bile Duct. I also had the opportunity to visit many close friends in Detroit, received an abundance of phone calls and text messages. To cap things off, I enjoyed dinner at Apple Bees with My Aunt Judy Strohl and Uncle Bob Strohl.

The only thing I can say about this birthday is I'm glad that I made it to No. 47 since this was a brutal year which started out on a positive note as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa. This was one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.

But major back surgery with a grueling recovery process in a tough economy made me feel like I was glad to make it to the finish line of a major marathon.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com

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