Ozark’s Dad’s 80th Birthday

PAX:  Khakis (Respect), Slow Pitch, Vandelay (Respect), Sasquatch, FNG (Party Cove), Ralphie, S’mores, Clark Kent, Buttah, Patchy Adams, Barn Door, Fine Print, Gator, Tator Tot, Gemini, Honky Tonk, Chiclets (Respect), Patton (Respect), Hard Hat, Griswold, Lite Brite, Sweet Sweet, Paddles (Respect, Respect), Lemu (Respect), Wait Time (Respect), Boji, Ketchup, and…your Q, Ozark (YHC, Respect)

A 27-degree, 80% humidity morning with a light, northwesterly breeze.  YHC arrived to set-up on the soccer field with numerous ruckers and pre-runners already in form.  More than normal set-up required today.  To relive some childhood memories with my dad, some of the farm required reconstructing.  A makeshift machine shed and a bean field were put forth in the gloom. 

The Pre-runners made it back to the flags around 5:27 while Lite Brite helped YHC unload coupon after coupon (“Jeez, Ozark.  You lug around so many coupons.”)  More PAX trickled in, including an FNG!!!  Wait, where’s Gator?!?!  Oh, here he comes.  Patchy Adams is here.  Where’s his pants?!?!?!  Patchy flips that question on its head with “Hey, are you wearing jeans?!?!?”  Yes.  Yes, I am.

Mumblechatter abounds… (“What’s with the farmer outfit, Ozark?!?!”)

At 5:30, YHC welcomes the 27 other PAX to Wild Kingdom.  Today we will help YHC celebrate what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday.  To do so, we’ll take a walk down memory lane and reconstruct some of the ways dad and YHC spent time together, i.e. – walking beans (which is short for long, extended walks in a bean field stopping now and again to pull weeds) and carrying bags of seed corn.  Hence the work boots, jeans, Carhart jacket, and Dekalb hat.

Then YHC covers the mission statement, core principles, and unprofessional disclaimer.  One FNG!  No one down range.  Let’s Mosey.

YHC led the PAX north into the grass for Warm-A-Rama.  While trying not to interrupt happy mumble chatter, Ozark led cadence:

Side Straddle Hops (for warmth) – 10

Cherry Pickers – 10

Chinooks 15

Big Somethings (groin stretch.  Whoops, YHC ripped his jeans)

Modified Runner Stretch (On one knee, other leg extended in front, forehead to extended knee, slow 10 Count); then Switch legs

Pigeons – each leg

Time for explanation of the Pre-thang.  Many a hot, June and July day were spent in the bean field walking back and forth stopping all too frequently to pull weeds.  To best reconstruct, we pair up with one coupon and form a large circle.  While one PAX stays at the perimeter (near a well-lit list of exercises and orange irrigation flags) and performs AMRAP exercises (Merkins, Carolina Dry Docks, Werkins, then Plank), the other PAX murder bunnies into the center (near another well-lit set of orange irrigation flags) and returns to the perimeter where the pair flapjacks.  Turns out, pulling weeds incessantly ain’t that great, is it?  YHC and Khakis were without a coupon, so bear crawls ensued.  Still no Bueno.

After enough of that non-sense, Mosey to the Thang.

The Thang – Here, Hold This / Here, Carry That

Having finished the west 40, we amble with coupons east to the make-shift machine shed.  Marked with a Dekalb sign and moniker of “Bob Ulbrich – Dealer” along with the circa-1986 Dekalb thermometer and its gorgeous landscape picture of a seed corn plot, sits our stack of seed corn that requires moving.  Yep, today it needs to be over at the other side of the shed.  Why?  Doesn’t matter.

YHC’s dad (“Bob”) and YHC spent a lot of time together in the machine shed.  Tasks such as taking stuff apart, fixing it and putting it back together (“Hmmm. A lot of bolts left over…”).  Not a lot of conversation going on there.  Although, it was during these times where Bob would say those three words most often spoken to YHC over the years, “Here, hold this”.  So, while we do need to get that corn moved, while one partner carries their coupon with a bag of corn on top, the other would perform AMRAP exercises whilst holding a wrench.

Round 1- Squats

Round 2 – WW1s

Round 3 –Apollo Ohnos

Round 4 – Flutterkicks

Once the PAX returns with the coupon and seed corn to flapjack, the other PAX hands him the wrench and says, “Here, hold this.”  Whenever the PAX reaches the far end with the coupon and corn, coupon exercises are required before he returns.

Round 1 –  5 Blockies

Round 2  –  10 Block Curls

Round 3  –  10 Block Presses

Round 4  –  10 Kettle Bell Swings

Throughout, the PAX were able to soak in the ambiance with Kenny Rogers at his best, The Gambler and Coward of the County.  Mid way through this seed corn move, YHC alerted the PAX that we’re making great time. In fact, if we get done in time, we may be able to get some fishing in!!!

Now, it’s YHC’s intent to get the Cardinals game downloaded on Youtube and the PAX could revel in the experience of hearing Jack Buck call the Cubs/Cards game in Wrigley Field on June 14, 1985.  A classic.  11 innings with a crazy finish.  However, with limited cell coverage in the machine shed, the 4-hour game just wasn’t happening.  (Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlwcPU0RPv8 ) Instead we settled for the finish of the last series in Busch Stadium that 1985 season where the Cardinals beat the Mets in unlikely fashion clinching the NL East for the season.  (“That’s a Winner!!!”) 

Omaha!!! Oh no. Where did the time go? Not enough of it for fishing today boys. Sorry. But, hey. If things go well the rest of the week, maybe we fish on Saturday!

OK, we got the corn moved.  Let’s get ‘er stacked up so we can get out of here.  HEY!  What are you doing?!?!?!  How many times have I told you, you can’t stack it like that, it’ll fall!!!  Do I have to do everything myself?  You put 3 length wise, then two across to tie them in.  Then flapjack. Holy Cow, this shouldn’t be that hard to remember.

Mosey back to the flags w/ our coupons.

Time for Mary.  Lite Brite, Griswold, Vandelay, and Ketchup led us in various ab work.  Nice work gents.

Name-o-Rama then we name our FNG.  Turns out he’s NOT from Indiana (my bad).  Instead, he works with Sasquatch (Shhhh).  After a story of a boat party in Lake Okoboji, Wait Time shouts out Party Cove. Party Cove it is!  Welcome, Party Cove.

Announcements, Abide Saturday from 9-noon, next weekend Boji is organizing wreath placement at the Omaha National Cemetery.  Details for both are on Slack.


YHC started by explaining that today represents his dad’s 80th birthday.  John Robert (“Bob”) was born in Bloomington IL to a German father and an Italian mother (who was 1 of 9) with a big extended family.  In fact, one uncle was only a few years older than him.  He grew up very Catholic attending Holy Trinity.  He became a teacher, meeting my mom in college.  They moved to the Chicago suburbs in the late 60’s where they each taught and he coached football.  He taught night school, primarily to adults seeking a second chance with their GEDs, and my mom taught days, scheduling such so they could care for me.  When I was 6, starting grade school, we moved to my mother’s family farm and the house her mother and she grew up in (built in 1865), located in central IL (in her family for multiple generations and she’s an only child) so Bob became a farmer, which he knew nothing about.  My grandfather (mom’s dad) and uncle taught him.  So, many hours were spent together in the machine shed just working on whatever was needed; repairing machinery, moving implements, etc.  To cover the costs of the seed, he sold seed corn and soybeans for Dekalb.  Which meant we were constantly unloading, moving, and loading 50-75 lbs. bags of seed around.  We also spent countless hours in the bean field pulling weeds.  At the time, though I didn’t like it, it’s what we did, i.e. – necessary work.  Thinking about it now, it was long, hot, exhausting work.  We didn’t exactly talk much, we were too tired.  Instead, in the machine shed, we listened to Jack Buck call the St Louis Cardinal games and Harry Carey and Steve Stone call the Cubs games. It’s how I came to understand what a beautiful game baseball is.  We’d go to St Louis every early August once the beans were done and spend a long weekend watching the Cards play.  My gosh it was hot there.

As I aged, I changed.  I wasn’t exactly the nicest guy going.  My competitiveness paired with that pre-scheduled surge in testosterone and then success on the athletic fields made me fairly arrogant.  Frankly, I didn’t have much respect for much and wanted only independence.  Then a lot of anger in my 20’s played out differently for my relationship with my dad, but same result, distance.  His idea of what I could become was limiting, IMO.  His success as a teacher at the local junior college wasn’t for me, although he steered me that direction.  By this point farming the 450 acres was no longer financially viable, so a neighbor farmed it for us.  Then I moved far away with my wife and the distance was literal.

Then we had children.  Then they grew.  Then I learned a lot about myself that I’m not happy with.  I began to work towards finding a way back to the Midwest, to raise the kids there and to allow them to spend time with my parents so that they can know them as I know them, i.e. – before they lose their health or their minds.  A year after we arrived here my dad died suddenly.

We’d grown closer and relations improved those last few years.  Mind you, most of this distance was my doing, not his.  He touched so many people over the years as a teacher, as a Deacon in the Catholic church, on boards in the community, etc.  But I still had my issues. And though I’d hoped our move to Omaha would bring us closer and we’d find more commonality by spending more time together, which we’d started to do, that time ended up being quite short.  I’d really like just one more day with him.

So, what I ask you HIM, is to find ways to spend time with your dad.  Take him to lunch or breakfast.  Ask him open ended questions; the whys, especially.  Time and experience allow us grace to better understand and appreciate others and their decisions.  Answers will provide you perspective needed to find peace and forgiveness.  Even if it’s only to forgive yourself for your actions and inactions.

Enjoy this day, gentlemen. And find time and ways to enjoy your dad.

Vandelay took us out in prayer.

Shalom Out – Ozark

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