I Suspect Her Mom
by Bill Donnelly
A couple years ago a certain local journalist, who shall remain anonymous for my article, but whose initials are B.B. (not to be confused with Michael Beebe, whose place he took), mentioned in his running column in The Buffalo News that at an area road race a woman surprised everyone by winning the contest over all other runners, men included. I forget most of the particulars, except that he mentions that the winner, who ran the 5K in 18 minutes and change, beat the next woman, Carrie Geise, by three minutes. Carrie is a friend of mine, and I thought tough luck finally getting your name mentioned in one of “B.B.’s” running columns only because you were so slow you wound up that far behind the winner.
When next I saw Carrie, I asked how she felt about this fact, and she was a bit upset because it had been the worst race she had run in quite a while. I told her I understood how she felt, and that I would never point out in one of my articles the fact that she ran such a miserable race, and that she was three full minutes behind the first place girl, even if that girl won the race overall. I mean what a thing to point out. Whoops, did I just point out that same sad fact in this column? Dang, I wish I knew how to erase stuff when I make such a blunder while writing on my computer. I of course have tried using White-Out, but that just messes up the screen.
Oh well, I’ll just get to the point of why I mentioned the fact of this girl coming in first overall in what “B.B.” pointed out was a very rare occurrence. I just wish I hadn’t embarrassed Carrie by mentioning her coming in three huge minutes behind the winner. I just don’t want to be accused of being politically incorrect again. Not that I get accused of that very often. I, like many people, think political correctness is sometimes carried to extremes, and the last time I was accused of being politically incorrect, it took a heavy toll on me, both mentally and financially.
You see, when I first moved back to
seven years ago, I left teaching behind and thought to follow my passion for cooking by opening a restaurant which was located at the corner of Buffalo Clark St and Kent St over by the Broadway Market. Now, I try to be politically correct at all times, as those who know me well will attest to, but the firestorm of accusations that followed my planned opening almost made me give up on ever again trying to follow my dreams.
To help me, I started by hiring a Colored cook who came highly recommended. His name was Stanley Buttski, and he was famous for starting the “Colored Chef School of Cooking”, which got its name because of the many colorful dishes he made. His creations were a veritable rainbow of colors. Then I bought me a Chinaman to work out front. The Chinaman was actually a life-sized porcelain figure of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee dressed in a chef’s outfit, and I placed him by the front entry-way as sort of a silent greeter of the customers.
Next I hired two girls to be my waitresses, who were Stella and Mandy. Now I must tell you that when I first thought of describing why I hired these girls, if I did so in my usual straight-ahead blunt manner, some sensitive readers out there might misconstrue what I mean, so I have rethought what I was going to say. This is, after all, a family newsletter.
Here goes. I hired Stella because she has two big earthenware jugs she would let me handle as I wished. You know the kind of jugs, the kind you see hillbillies blowing into when playing in jug-bands, that is, after those galutes have finished drinking the moonshine out of them. Well, Stella let me display her jugs in the restaurant for the obvious ambiance they brought to the place.
Now Mandy didn’t work out, but I originally hired her because of the beautiful cute donkey she had, but Mandy was always late for work, which was in part because of that terrific donkey of hers. You see, Mandy rode to work on her donkey, and let me tell you that despite it being one gorgeous donkey, it was so slow, and that was why Mandy was always late.
Now if you do not quite understand why I had to be careful in describing these two waitresses and why I hired them, ask Checkers member Anne Reif. She just knows me and how my usual straight talking way can make what is meant to be totally innocent sound like something else. She especially will understand about the donkey.
But anyway, back to my being labeled politically incorrect, which puzzles me to this day. I got around to putting up the sign with the name of my restaurant just before the grand opening. I called my place The P.E.T.A. Lounge, and in exquisite hand-scripted writing below the name, I had the full name that the initials stood for. P.E.T.A. simply meant People Eating Tasty Animals. And what menu specials I had. We featured all sorts of rare and exotic dishes, some so rare because the creatures the recipes called for were so-called endangered species. I figured better let the populace get to at least taste and enjoy these animals before they disappeared from the face of the earth. What a shame that would be, no, what a crime that would be.
We had great specials planned too. One was polar bear stew, which was pricey, but if you ordered it, you would get a free pair of mittens and a hat made out of the fur of the very bear you were eating. And the Siberian tiger goulash, I mean, who wouldn’t want a beautiful tiger skin rug for in front of the fire-place?
But then this group I never heard of came along. It just so happened they were called P.E.T.A. also, and as they had the name first, I figured maybe they had a legitimate beef with me, so I told them I would change my restaurant’s name to P.E.R.T.A., which would stand for People Eating Rare Tasty Animals. Now, I don’t know what this group’s agenda was or why they now seemed even angrier than a bull being neutered with dull scissors, but they screamed political incorrectness at me everywhere they could. And wouldn’t you know it, if one howls loud enough like a dog tied to the back end of a bus that’s going down the street, somebody ends up listening. I got shut down before I even opened for business, and my dream was deader than a sack of kittens attached to the exhaust pipe of a car.
So don’t talk to me about political correctness! Anyway, back to the point about the woman who won the race, in which she beat everyone, including what must have been one big group of girly-men. Political incorrectness indeed!
Well, Back in the Day (I bet you all missed that saying), which was held some time in July, 1978, the Belle Watlings sponsored a 10K race that took place at Spraguebrook Park. Called the Sully/Brown Memorial Classic, the race started on a road, but quickly went into the woods, and the runners followed trails over brooks, tree roots, hills and dales, and then ended on a big grassy field. It was unlike any other race in the area, and today’s trail runners would have loved it.
The race was run in honor of the two grand old men of the Belle Watlings, Dick Sullivan and Olcott Brown, who had both just turned 50 that month. These days 50 years of age seems like nothing, but Back in the Day any runner older than that seemed to be one step away from the grave, thus the title Memorial Classic. Sully, the founder of the Belle Watlings, is of course still running strong in his early 80s, but Orky Brown unfortunately passed away a few years ago.
The first running of this difficult race was on a typically warm July day, and the winner was Pete Edwards with a time of 34:02. I came in 20th out of 145 entrants with a time of 38:38, and two places and three seconds behind me was Susan Schaefer, the first woman. Sue beat the next woman, whom I shall not embarrass as some writers do by mentioning her name, but whose initials are Jane Chyndweth (oops, I wish I knew how to erase that) by over six minutes. See Carrie, three whole minutes wasn’t so bad (oops again). Darn, I so want to seem to be politically correct.
Anyway, I didn’t know Sue Schaefer; she was a 19 year old dame (oops) who had just burst onto the local running scene. She was a babe (oops) who was quite the looker (oops), and if I had known she had such beautiful gams (oops) I would have let her pass me early so I could follow her and get a good rear view of her (oops).
The real story took place at the second running of the Sully/Brown Memorial Classic in July of 1979. I remember it was a hot day, but I was running well on that occasion. I went into the woods in good shape, and by my calculations I was running in fifth place. As I said, it was hot, and the terrain was getting to me, and with a little over a mile to go, who passes me but Sue Schaefer. As I’ve mentioned in other articles about running Back in the Day, there were not many gals (oops) running then, and rarely was I passed by a member of the weaker sex (double oops). I could say that in those days it didn’t bother me to be passed by a skirt (oops), but as my competitiveness made me hate to be passed by any runner, let alone a hot momma (oops), I would be lying.
I didn’t like it, I’ll admit to that, but I had nothing left in me to do anything about it. I settled in, as did Sue, and I stayed about
30 yards back of her. We came out of the woods onto a road which quickly dead-ended at a cross road. There were no signs there pointing which way to go, I just remember a fire truck sitting there for some reason. I saw Sue stop and look both ways trying to figure which way to go, and as the leaders were out of sight, she guessed to turn right. I followed her, and at that point we were about a half mile from the finish. We turned onto the big grassy area and could see the finish a quarter mile away. I kicked it in, as did Sue, and I finished with a respectable 37:14, exactly 12 seconds behind Sue.
Going through the finish chute, friends came up and were pounding me on the back in congratulations, as if I had run the race of my life. A short time later I realized why, as the four guys who had been leading the race crossed the finish line a few minutes behind me. Turns out that when they got to the fire truck with half a mile to go, an older woman (to this day I wonder where Sue Schaefer’s mom was on that day) was standing there pointing them in the wrong direction, and off they went for some extra distance. The things these lads had to say about this state of affairs would definitely not be considered politically correct by anyone’s standards, and certainly could not be repeated in this family friendly newsletter.
So finally you may see my point in bringing up the race “B.B.” mentioned a couple years ago in which a woman won the race. Back in July of 1979, perhaps for the first time in
Western New York, and perhaps for the first time anywhere, a woman, Sue Schaefer, won a co-ed race, and wouldn’t you know it, I have the distinction of being the guy who came in second. At least I can say I finished with a good view of the winner (oops, I better try me some of that White-Out again and see if it doesn’t work this time!). I try so hard to be politically correct at all times, as those who know me will attest to.