|Saturday, August 24, 2002||ISSUE #241|
WESTON, West Va.: This is the town where they hold the Carp Fishing Festival, and it's just upriver from where that famous general, Stonewall Jackson, grew up. But the reason I'm here this week is football. They've got a new high school and a new football field and I came to watch what the coaches call a scrimmage.
Let me tell you about this school. See, anywhere else when they decide to build a new school they buy up about 100 acres of prime flat land. But here, they bought 25 acres of steep hillside ground. I guess they figured once it was flattened it could amount to 100 acres.
Now, how do you build a big school and everything that goes with it, on a hillside? Well, you've seen pictures in China where they farm the mountain sides with terraces. It's kinda like stairs going up the mountain. That's what they did here.
First, you cross a bridge (did I tell you it was on the other side of the river?) and drive up to the parking lot, then up another level to the school building. Every school has to have sports, so they went on up the hill and leveled out a baseball field. Then someone remembered they had a football team, so they went higher up and leveled out enough space for a field. Putting in the home bleachers was easy, they just set them right on the slope on the uphill side.
But they forgot that in high school everybody cheering for the visiting team always sits on the opposite side, and there's no room for bleachers. So, they just put up a fence along the edge, and the fans have to line up behind that fence and hang on. If you happen to let go, and the grass is wet, you'll slide down the hill and you don't stop till you hit the first base line.
This field don't have the elevation of Denver's Mile High Stadium, but by the time you walk up to it you feel like you climbed the Washington Monument. Our President says we should get more exercise, but anyone that goes up this hill every Friday night won't need to jog three miles to stay in shape.
In July Mr. Bush told us he was going to Texas for a month, and, frankly, we were looking forward to the vacation. But he fooled us. He's been flying all around the country... Maine, Pennsylvania, California.... giving speeches.
In Oregon he said the way to prevent forest fires is to cut the trees before they can burn. And anyone planning to build a house in the woods should first cut down every tree within 500 feet of it. Then all you've got to worry about is grass fires, mudslides and an avalanche.
Just down the road in Clarksburg today the town held an election to vote on one thing, an excess tax levy. I don't know if it passed or failed, but you've got to compliment the city council for being honest enough to call it "excess". You know, if Congress called every proposed new tax an "excess tax", maybe fewer would go through.
By the time you hear from me again the baseball season may be history. Football is ready to take over, so hardly anybody cares what happens to baseball. It's sure different than it was seventy years ago when we had Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang. Ruth admitted he made more than the President, but said he had had a better year. We got lots of players today being paid ten times more than the President and they're batting .210.
Historical quotes from Will Rogers:
"Say, there is an awful lot in the papers the last few days about these experiments these college professors are making with rats.... One wanted to find out what effect athletics had on anyone's intelligence. They wanted to see if he was dumber, or keener, after running back punts and tackling another rat for awhile. The experiment showed that the rat was keener with athletics, by him demanding tuition and board for nothing and 10 per cent of the gate on all big games. The rat with no exercise wound up as a bond salesman." DT #990, Sept. 27, 1929.
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