Two years ago I found myself in Austin, Texas. I remembered that the Dickinson' boys from camp were living in the Long Star State, there was my Idaho State Tennis Teamate Bobby, Roger who graduated from Texas Tech, and then Todd. Todd was such a good kid on all levels, he could handle any task, but also thoughtful and a great player to boot. The Dickinson family all were deeply entwined in Mercersburg and Northern New Jersey Tennis. I did a Google search and found Roger's Dad in Arlington and he told me that Roger was working at the Texas Department of Labor just blocks away from Driscull Hotel where I was staying. I called him and two hours later that smiling face that I hadn't seen in more than 25 years was there in the Lobby of that great hotel, he took me and my colleagues to lunch.
He hadn't changed a bit, it was a glorious reunion and we talked about old times and people we knew and the years fell away. Roger is a lawyer, a grandpa and is back playing tennis again. He looked to so good that I thought twice about setting up a match.
Roger had asked what I've been up to since camp and it was almost too big of a question to answer. I was a teaching pro for three more years, doing a stint in Toronto, Canada and Florida.
I taught school for a year, was television news photographer for two years, then a reporter for the NBC affiliate in Boise for 13 years. Press Secretary to the Attorney General of Idaho for two years and now Broadcast Services Manager for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. During the years I had covered a couple of wars, hosted a talk show, flown in fighter jets, met Presidents and even a King. I had won an Emmy, was appointed to a few board of directors and did just about everything on my to-do list...but as I told Roger over lunch in Austin, It all started with FXB. He funded my college education, taught me how to succeed, taught responsibility and how to compete. Roger agreed that Mr. B had prepaired him for law school and had been a force and inspiration in his life as well.
November 20th, 1997 I was out jogging and felt a sharp pain in my chest. I could have paniced but didn't. I kept my cool. I got back to the car and drove myself to the hospital. I was immediately admitted and a few hours later I had heart surgery. I was lucky, I had a blocked left ventricle and was able to have a stent rather than an open heart surgery. I was back up and working in just two weeks. But I was sentenced to a life of either a couch potato or daily workouts by my doctor. I chose to work out and started lifting and stair stepping but found it extremely boring when one day an old friend invited me to play tennis. I hadnt picked up a racquet since 1985 and all the joy and memories came streaming back. Its like this, on the court its always summer and I'm 20 and all the worries of the world disappear and things FXB had told me on the court and off come back like boomarangs tossed in 1977.
My wife Sheryl, step daughter Kalina and I were moving in the summer of 2005 and it was a hot day in the dusty garage. I was digging through some boxes and found a big shoe box filled with diaries, letters, photos from Mercersburg. In the streaming dusty light I sat there and read caught in time, suspended in 1977 and it was so sweet that I didnt want to come back. All of my friends were with me in that garage, all young, smiling with racquets in hand. We were all so handsome and young. I realized that the garage was my cornfield, the diaries my field of dreams and then I thought If I build it they will come...I heard Frank Brennan's voice ringing in my ears..."...he missed that overhead and the ball went across the street and into the Ford Dealership a block away..." or "Think of ways to win, not lose," or "Go out and play your own game."
I built a blog and the friends, like ghosts came back to the field of dreams, to the har-tru courts.
Ive heard from Roger, Mark Sanderson, Eric Riley, Chris Russel-Vick, former counselors Eileen Brennan, Coleen Brennan, Skip Schwarzman, Eric Anderson, Jim Hall, Jonathan Markson, James Haft camper Jonathan Mudd and Joyce Hackett. I hope more will make it back .