Monday, August 12, 2013

On This Date in 1998

I wanted a change ot scene so I drove an alternative route during most of the trip back to Middleton. I took one of my favorite (and most familiar) stretches of highway in Pennsylvania, U.S. 62 between the Buckaloons and Oil City. To pass the time, the boys and I played a game of Jeopardy. Andy picked the categories – psorts, states, cities, (musical) groups, movies, TV shows – and I made up the questions. Groups for $300. What group sang about Michelle, Anna, and Lady Madonna? The Beatles, an answer the boys missed, as they are more familiar with the earliest Beatles songs. Sports for $200. What quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to their first two Super Bowl victories? Andy knew it was Bart Starr.

After a pit stop at the Barkleyville interchange, we hopped onto Interstate 80 and soon found ourselves crawling along at less than 10 miles an hour due to a road construction delay. It felt as though we were in rush hour traffic. Fortunately, it lasted for only 15 minutes.

We took U.S. 30 through the western half of Ohio, the first 1090 miles a mostly straight stretch of two-lane highway except for bypasses around Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky. Traffic was moderate but moved along at a pace just above the speed limit. Our destination was Van Wert, just 13 miles east of the Indiana state line. But with light still in the skiy and my butt glued to the driver’s seat, we continued onward to the west side of Fort Wayne and checked into a Holiday Inn with a pool and activity area, just like South Bend, much to the boys’ delight. We played around in a swimming pool strewn with big plastic noodles, which was helpful for Eddie since the water was 7 feet deep at one end. Andy and I played ping-pong, and I bought the boys $5 worth of tokens to play video games. Back in the room ,the boys settled in front of the TV (big surprise!) while I went out to find a convenient drive-through. A McDonald’s was located less than a block away.

We continued our trip at 9 a.m. Monday morning. We drove 20 miles west on U.S. 30, which is a four-land divided highway across the length of Indiana, before stopping for breakfast at a Bob Evans in Columbia City. Eddie ordered pancakes off the kids’ menu but ate only two bites, plus the one strip of bacon served with his order. He seemed lethargic and slightly pale, so I wondered if he might be coming down with something. Andy ordered lunch, a kids’ pizza with alphabet-shaped deep-fried potatoes, and a lemonade, which he found too sour for his taste. I considered an omelet, but everything pictured on the colorful menu looked like too much food, so I settled for an order of 2 eggs over easy, fried potatoes, and toast. Eddie did eat one piece of my toast.

The trip through Chicago around noontime was a breeze. No delays anywhere. The section of Interstate 94 that arcs around Chicago was a different story. The portion of the highway we saw in northwestern Indiana was moving at a snail’s pace. And the traffic looked to be mostly semis. In an interesting, but frustrating reversal of typical road conditions, the loser we got to Rockford, the worse the traffic became. It seemed to be a combination of stalled vehicles and road construction. The delays caused us to push back our expected time of arrival 45 minutes. Originally, I had predicted 2:30. We pulled into the driveway at 3:10.

The boys immediately plopped themselves in front of the TV while I unloaded the car, unpacked the suitcases, started a load of wash, and then removed an assortment of debris – gum wrappers, half-empty bottles of Mountain Dew, little football and baseball helmets, crumpled napkins, etc. – from every surface of the Saturn. At 5:00, we left for Cross Plains, so Andy could pick up his football equipment. At first I thought I’d hear a complaint from Eddie, but he almost sprang off the couch when I told him it was time to leave.

This excursion took longer than I expected. We didn’t return home until 7:00. Along with Eddie, the back seat contained a helmet, jersey, pants, shoulder pads, knee pads, hip pads, and a tailbone pad. Did I forget anything? When Andy had put on all his gear, just to make sure everything fit, he looked as though he had aged a quick two years.

JoAnna, of course, was happy to see us all. After she made some phone calls for one of her candidates and I did some grocery shopping, the four of us went out to Dairy Queen for a treat.

I was up early Tuesday morning g. At 5:30. Already back into the routine, what with laundry and shopping Monday evening, I was on the Walkfit before 6:00, listening to music and watching Sport Center with the sound off. For the first time this summer, I was the first to arrive at work. I was at my desk a few minutes past 7:00. I had lots of mail to look through, 380 email messages waiting for me (most of which I immediately clicked into the trash), then prepared myself for the three meetings I would be attending during the day: Dane County librarians in the morning, Wisconsin Library Association Personnel Committee in the early afternoon, and a library board meeting in the evening. It was a long day. The boys went to work with JoAnna as Andy had a physical at 10:15. We had to schedule one with our previous pediatrician, who now practices in Fitchburg, a south suburb of Madison, as our current one was booked into October when I called for an appointment three weeks ago. Andy had to have a physical before his first practice yesterday, and, to my great relief, the Middleton Clinic made the referral for us. Otherwise, I would have had to get down on my knees and beg and plead.

The boys spent the first half of the afternoon at home alone. When I stopped by for lunch after my second emoting, it was obvious that they had been occupying every room of the house at one time or another.

“Why do you guys have to watch TV in our bedroom?” I asked them in exasperation, after picking up a half-empty glass of milk in the bathroom, the residue of Chips Ahoy cookies on the surface of the milk and sides of the glass.

I wanted to get back to work but waited around until Andy’s ride to practice arrived. I was afraid he would forget the form the doctor signed, certifying that he was fit to play. And sure enough, he would have. It might have been a good lesson for him to watch the practice from the sidelines.

Eddie didn’t want to accompany me to the library, so I dropped him off at his chosen destination. The Middleton pool, which provide a convenient “babysitting” service. JoAnna picked him up there. After the two of them had something to eat, they went to pick up Andy and Drew at practice. I couldn’t wait to get home to ask how things went, so I called JoAnna right after the board meeting adjourned at 7:45.

“He liked it,” she reported. “He looked really good. I’m surprised how fast he is.”

Andy always complained whenever he had to run the mile in 3rd and 4th grade gym class, and running is a big portion of this week’s football practices.

“We didn’t only do running, Dad”, Andy told me during a conversation about his first practice after I returned home from work. Before going to sleep, he clipped stories and statistical summaries from the day’s sports pages of The Capital Times and taped them on one of the walls next to his bed. Close to ten o’clock, he was still wearing his practice jersey, although he didn’t wear it to bed.

Eddie still isn’t sleeping in his own room. He slept on the floor next to his brother’s bed last night and on the futon on the night before. Yesterday evening, he started to work on a large drawing with a prehistoric theme (i.e., dinosaurs, which haven’t been in his repertoire lately.)

It sure didn’t take long to get back into the old swing of things.

The boys and I enjoyed our visit. Last night, JoAnna suggested, without prompting, that we go to Pennsylvania for Christmas, but we haven’t work out the dates yet.

No comments: