With the Super Bowl over, next up in February is Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, Black History Month and the “Impeachment Trial of Donald trump, the Sequel.” As for Black History, February was chosen because Lincoln was born on the 12th and Frederick Douglas on the 14th. (Who can forget Black History 2017 when Donald Trump thought Frederick Douglas was still alive.)
Until 1976 it was “Black History Week” before President Gerald Ford expanded it to include the entire month. (See, I can say something nice about Republicans.) Actually I recently received an email accusing me of hating the GOP. This incarnation I do, explaining why I call it the “GQP.” (Q is not a typo.) The email was from “KH” who said she and her boyfriend used to think my writing was “amusing” but not now. Ouch!
Perhaps in jest, KH also criticized my devotion to the L.A. Rams (On that score she may have a point.) While this column involves the Rams it’s primarily about my favorite and long-departed aunt, Amelia, my late mother’s older sister.
For my Bar Mitzvah more years ago than I care to count, Amelia bought us season tickets to the Rams games played at the historic L.A. Coliseum. Often with crowds of 100,000, the atmosphere could be exhilarating. But, starting with the very first game, we found ourselves in a messy situation. (As I’ll explain, we could have used beach towels.)
Before the era of tailgate parties, many fans would frequent neighborhood bars and, forgive the technical term, “get soused.” To avoid DUI’s the bar provided a bus to whisk them to the game just in time for the kickoff. (And after the game zip them back to the watering hole to either toast victory or drown the sorrows of defeat.)
Our luck, in the row behind us was a bunch of bombastic boozers who wore windbreakers with “Ace in the Hole Bar” lettered on the back. They hated the Rams so vociferously every time something went wrong for L.A. or something went right for the opposition, they’d jump for joy and, in so doing, inadvertently spill beer on Amelia and me. (Forget beach towels, umbrellas might have come in handy.)
We desperately hoped they weren’t season ticket holders, but the following week was a repeat performance. The “gentleman” in the group gave us a handkerchief though I would have preferred a wet/dry vacuum. My aunt was furious but I had a plan to get even. When we came home, and without telling my mother or father, I composed an indignant letter to the president of the Rams, which I hunted and pecked on our family typewriter. (For those unfamiliar, Google “How to use a typewriter.”)
To my shock, two weeks later I received a return letter from the Rams’ President. He was thoroughly apologetic and said at the next home game one of his employees would meet us at our seats and escort us to our new seats on the opposite side of the Coliseum, which not only provided a better view but were in the shade.
And that’s what he did, while also ominously informing the “Booze Brothers” he’d be back to deal with them, bringing a big smile to my aunt’s face. (At the next game, using binoculars I looked for The Ace in the Hole gang but they were gone which I hopefully speculated they were banned and back at the bar listening to the game on radio.)
My mom, dad and Amelia were impressed with my initiative. (I was impressed with the “power of the pen” or should I say typewriter?) To my mother, who had always wanted me to be a lawyer, this was an omen. Because I read the Times Sports page religiously, I wanted to be a sportswriter so for me this was a different omen.
Years later, at Hamilton High I was sports editor of the school paper aptly-named“The Federalist.” My father wasn’t exactly thrilled because his view was many sports writers were big drinkers. But one of the customers at his men’s store was a respected sports scribe. My dad arranged a meeting for the three of us at the Frascati Inn on La Cienega so the sportswriter might give me some “career advice.” Unfortunately, he showed up sloshed! (But at least he didn’t spill his drink on us.)
Last week I received another email from KH, who, perhaps facetiously, called me “talented” and said I had the right to express my views about anything I wanted. (She should only know.) In retrospect, you could say that the letter to the Rams’ president was the origin of how I ultimately wound up at the Daily Press where, after 800+ columns, I’m still trying to get one right.
Happy Valentine’s this Sunday, everyone, including my much missed Aunt Amelia.
When he isn’t busy reminiscing, Jack is at: firstname.lastname@example.org.