Where were the three or four of you when Nixon resigned? Who told you? Were you even alive then? What was your reaction?
I was a kid in line for the Gran Prix Raceway at Disney World in Orlando. I don’t remember if I was there with my family or with the Hammond Shamrocks football team. I have a ton of family in Orlando, most of them Mormons, and as a kid we would go down there a lot, even in the summer.
I’m a little confused about the purpose of the trip and the happenstance of being in the line at the Gran Prix Raceway. That's because one memory of the trip trumps all others.
You know how the long lines go back and forth in a sort of maze before you could bend down and get in one of the sky blue or yellow or candy-apple red cars? The Gran Prix Raceway is what’s known as an “extinct” ride at Disney World, so in case you never saw the lines there, think about the meandering TSA lines at an airport or the lines at Cabelas to buy a gun at Christmas time. Back and forth, back and forth…
Anyways, this kid about my age came up to the edge of the lines and yelled, “Dad, guess what?” And since it was Disney World, every man over 25 turned his head, “Dad, guess what, Nixon resigned.”
“You’re kidding me,” said the kid's dad… and so did every other dad in the line. Then several of these dads, and a few grandpas and moms and grandmas, got out of line and went to find their grandkids or whoever they came with. I remember this clear as day because in my whole life of going to Disney World whether I wanted to or not – I saw the Country Bear Jamboree at least 25 times as a kid – I never saw people get out of line.
Not for Space Mountain. Not for It’s a Small World. Not for Treasure Island. Not even in the line to buy a cotton candy. So when all of these people jumped over the dividers or bent under them and left the line, I was that much closer to another race on the Gran Prix.
“Thanks to the president for resigning.” That’s what I thought at the time. I can remember it that clearly because my wait went from a good 45 minutes to about five.
Why does all of this come up?
Because here we are again talking about My Radio Life and somehow I mosey on over to talk about Trump instead. And there’s a sense among some that Trump isn’t gonna make it a full term. Either he’ll get impeached or he’ll get indicted or he’ll just get tired of all the BS and just resign. Whatever it is, there’s a sense among many that Mike Pence could very well become the 46th president of the United States.
I won’t detail all that Trump has done in the past week. The details may not matter as much as the pace with which they’re happening. There’s the Jim Comey firing, and now Comey agreeing to testify. There’s the meeting that Trump had with two Russian higher-ups in which Trump allegedly game them classified info… and called Comey a “nut job.” There’s reports that the FBI is looking at one specific person in the Trump administration who may have commiserated with the Russians. (It’s the Russians, remember, who are supposed to have fixed the 2016 presidential election.)
The list of weird scenes inside the gold mine is lengthy. The thing that matters to My Radio Life is that if Trump resigns or is forced out of office, I want to be here to relate to the three or four of you where I was when I found out, who told me, and what my reaction was. Does that sound of any interest to you?
… It’s Sunday evening, May 21, 2017, at 5:04pm. Alexis and I just got back from Columbus, Ohio. We went there to watch our nephew Craig Dedelow play his last regular-season game in center field for Indiana University. Now IU goes into the Big Ten Tournament, which is being held in Bloomington this year. We didn’t get to see Craig get any hits in the two games we watched. He’s near the top of the Big Ten in home runs, so Ohio State pitchers walked him more than once. But the night before we got there, Craig jacked two home runs in successive at bats. I followed it live on the Ohio State game cast on my phone. That was kind of cool.
Also, my brother Jeff and his wife Laura live in Columbus. Jeff’s a radiologist at Ohio State’s hospital. They live in this quaint area just south of the downtown called German Village. Jeff, a bit of a history buff besides being an X-ray and CT buff, told us that it’s a really old area, that people were given land to settle there as a reward for serving in the Revolutionary War.
“That’s why all the streets are brick.,” Jeff said. “They’re really old.”
Besides learning this bit of history, I also discovered on this trip to Columbus that it’s very difficult to ride a rental bike on old brick roads. They’re really bumpy. You have to pay close attention to drops in the pavement so that you don’t become what’s known among cops as a “single vehicle crash.”
I learned this because on Saturday morning, when Alexis and the rest were sleeping, I walked to the corner and rented a bike from a computerized stand with a huge “GoCo” sign on it. It cost eight dollars for 24 hours.
I rode through the downtown area and wound up in another neighborhood of Columbus that has brick streets. This one’s called Victorian Village. I will always remember this name because I very nearly met my maker in Victorian Village.
I was riding the bike along, half taking in the majestic old mansions and half being keenly aware of the rather jagged pavement, when I looked up and noticed that the front grill of a Jeep SUV was travelling at a fast rate of speed toward my right leg. It was one of those moments when time slows down – like it did when I first found out about Nixon resigning. I can remember the design in the bricks, the look on the woman’s face as she pumped the brakes – her mouth was open – and I even noticed a bird crap stain on the otherwise spotless hood of the SUV. The bird crap stain was in the shape of the state of Florida.
Now I really was, at one time, a superior athlete. I know that some of the three or four of you who listen to the show know that I joke about this. “That’s because I’m a superior athlete,” I say sometimes. But from an early age I had quick reflexes and an ability to do a ton of pull-ups. As a senior at Munster High School, I was even awarded a plaque as “athlete of the year.”
But no matter what kind of athlete you are, you really can’t prepare for those moments in life when you must react perfectly to remain alive. And sometimes, whether you live or die is out of your hands.
In my case, it came down to the quality of brakes on a GoCo bike that I had rented for eight dollars a day. And I gotta give it to the city of Coumbus – their rental bikes have really good brakes. I squeezed on both the front and back brakes, went into a skid, and after a whole bunch of tire screeching on the part of the Jeep, my front tire wound up actually touching the left front tire of the Jeep. I was alive.
But I wasn’t without shame. A woman rolled down her window from another car and yelled – “that’s why we stop at stop signs.” And I looked up. Yes, in my concern about the unevenness of the Revolutionary War pavement, I had rolled straight through a stop sign.
I mouthed “sorry” to the frazzled woman who almost ran me over, straightened up my bike, and pedaled on, pledging to pay better attention to stop signs and not just pavement.
… Anyways, we’re back in The Region, and I’m still scared as hell like the three or four of you and everybody else about what’s gonna happen in this country. President Trump is either a “nut job,” himself, or he’s way smarter than we are. Perhaps he’s creating, as was suggested to me in Columbus over the weekend, a diversion as he gets rid of the EPA and changes the tax code to favor the ultra-rich.
There are other options, not the least of which is that Trump’s craziness may be the only way to “drain the swamp” of DC bureaucracy overload. I don’t know the answer to any of this. I just know a couple of things.