Where did the summer of 2013 go?

For the News-DemocratSeptember 8, 2013 

I had high hopes for new adventures in summer 2013.

But I ran out of time. Again.

Ever wonder why time passes so much faster as you get older?

Everything else slows down, a little bit.

Everything but time.

Summer 2013 set the record for fastest summer ever, in my world.

I guess running in a 5K charity run will have to wait until next summer.

Bought new tennis shoes, but my evening walks on the Belleville West track never became more than an occasional jog.

I wish I would have eaten more vegetables and fruit and not as much ice cream and Popsicles. Blue Bunny Bomb Pops. Can you eat just one on a hot summer day? I can't.

I didn't make it to Rams training camp in Earth City. I attended only a couple of Belleville Hilgards baseball games. I shut out myself on the array of local outdoor summer concerts.

Instead, I watched a lot of evening Cardinals games on TV and listened to my iPod and, ready or not, it's football season.

Good news is my favorite month October is less than a month away. Harvest moons. Sweatshirt evenings. With a little luck, maybe the Cardinals, Rams and Blues will all be playing on the same weekend.

In hindsight, my favorite memories of summer 2013 are unrelated -- family vacations and the recent community talk about a high school football game in Belleville.

Kayaking in Casco Bay

In early August, we took a vacation to Peak's Island, Maine. The island is a short ferry ride from Portland.

If you've never been to Maine, I'd recommend it. Peaceful. Abundant fresh seafood. Comfortable weather. A lot of Red Sox and Yankee fans. I wore a Cardinals hat often.

Kayaking in Casco Bay near Portland was fun. I wouldn't win a kayak race, but I held my own recreationally. Even in early August, the Atlantic Ocean was soberingly chilly, so there was no tipping over.

The only downside of kayaking was my ankles got sunburned. Yep, 2013 was another Irish summer. I'm just as pale in September as I was in May.

While in Maine, we made a day trip to Boston to visit my older brother, Bill. We walked around the big city and spent some time near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The finish-line marking remains on the street. I thought about the TV coverage. The photos. The mailbox. The stores. The backpacks. There I stood.

What impressed me is Boston has not allowed an overwhelming tragedy to stop its spirit. The streets were vibrant. Shoppers everywhere. Cafes packed. Boston Strong. I get it.

In mid-July, we went to Chicago to see a Cards-Cubs game. We spent the weekend in downtown Chicago.

My brief time this summer in Boston and Chicago reminded me why I live in a small town in Southern Illinois, near St. Louis. I need my quiet time. I also get tired of cabs that smell like stale Febreze.

Thanks for the memories

Althoff and Belleville West played what could have been the last football game between the two high schools Friday night.

I hate to write that fact. It's personal. I played in a few of those games in the mid-1970s. I played for Althoff. We lost to West my junior and senior years. Friday night lights. Friends on the other team. Still friends today.

My senior year (1976), we lost to West but beat East the next Friday night. That relieved some of the sting.

That West team evolved into one of the best Maroons teams ever. Joe Young. Kirk Sonnenberg. John Betten. Steve Lanxon. Bobby Carroll. Mike O'Donnell. I know I missed a few names. I'll hear about it.

I also covered a handful of Althoff-West games in the early 1980s as a sports reporter for this newspaper.

That fake punt by West in 1984 that went for a touchdown? Coach Bruce Arnold said it was planned before the game. But he had no idea that first punt would be from his team's end zone.

But it's 2013, not 1969, 1976 or 1984. Today, it's more about school enrollments and making the state playoffs.

That's OK. The natural rivalry isn't as strong. Today's players from Belleville West and Althoff didn't necessarily go to grade school together, or play against one another in little league football, or hang around McDonald's on Main Street on weekend nights.

I'll miss West-Althoff playing football against one another every September. It's the one football game of the year I rarely missed.

I hope the kids have at least one special game on their football schedule that they'll be talking about 35-plus years later with their old teammates.

And old opponents.

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