Dudes and Dudettes:

In my freshman, year I attended a brand new high school in Fairfax Virginia called Woodson T. High School. Irv Woodson had won the Nobel Prize for inventing the yo-yo. He forgot to get a patent and died pennyless.

The next year, 1964, interestingly, I attended another brand new school. Thomas Jefferson High School, named after a kind and fairly intelligent slave owner in Virginia, who, like me, attended William and Mary, founded in 1693.

Woodson was a really big school. In fact, I heard that it was the biggest high school east of the Mississippissippi. Seriously. Not sure if that's true but from one end to the other, it was three miles. Actually, it was maybe 200 yards. I don't know.

My buddy Bragg and I would sprint to the cafeteria and it took about 3 minutes. Not. But we really did sprint to the cafeteria, beating all the football players (who thought we were juvenile).

They walked slowly, with confidence and dignity. Unlike us.

Anyway, in gym class we had an opportunity to do all the track and field sports.

I threw the javelin pretty far. I wasn't wearing my glasses and didn't realize that the coach was in the field helping a student who had twisted his ankle.

Fortunately I missed the student but, unfortunately I killed the coach.

I was found innocent of 1st and 2nd degree murder but was found guilty of manslaughter. I got 10 years but it was suspended and I was given parole, and had to do community service in a toothpick factory.

I injured myself there, on a toothpick and was sent to a marshmallow factory where, they thought, I probably wouldn't get injured.

No, actually, ( now this is true) we all had an opportunity to do all the track and field sports. I was excited about the pole fault. I mean pole vault, which I figured was named after some dude from Warsaw.

Really, I was excited and had visions of myself sailing easily in the air, clearing the bar at 12 feet.

Back in 1964 these poles had almost no flexibility....this was before fiberglass poles. Now, these atheletes sail over something like 17 feet. Hey, I'd be cared even jumping from 17 feet. Back in 64? Maybe 12? Don't know.

Anyway, I held the pole, the way they do and looked down the 20 yard lane with great anxiety. I had no idea what would happen.

I was afraid to run at full speed and putting the end of the pole this pocket.

Anyway, I jogged toward the pocket and, with great trepidation, stuck the end of the pole in the pocket. My pole lifted about a foot or two and it felt like I had run into a wall.

I then realized that my "technique" wouldn't get me more than a foot in the air. It was kind of like just jumping. The pole did nothing for me. I just jumped.

It's funny how kids fantasize about succeeding in sports without any practice. (I threw the shotput about 10 feet. No idea what the high school record was then)

My dream ended with a hard dose of reality, but at least I tried.

I wasn't ready to compete at the high school level. I couldn't even get the pole to lift more than a foot or two.

Undeterred, I continued to fantasize about winning gold at the 1968 Olympics. I mean if a poor Black kid from the ghetto could win gold, why not me? That Black kid was, of course, Muhammad Ali. (Cassius Clay) 1964 Gold, making his opponents look slow and clumsy. Don't know if it's on YouTube.

For a second or two, I considered trying out for the 1968 Olympics in boxing to challenge Ali, but Ali didn't compete so wouldn't have my opportunity to beat him and I gave up my dream. I'm pretty sure I could have beaten him because my jab was faster than his.

So I was relegated to mowing lawns for $1.50, feeling good about it. Got $1.50 for a quarter acre, like grandma's place. One hour work. I think I did one which was a half acre and was excited about getting $5 from this rich guy named Mr. Pitts, (1965) on the rich side of Sleepy Hollow Road where the swim club is.

Mowing lawns? Yes, I was CEO of my start up business! I had one employee on one job. I mowed the next door neighbor's 1/4 acre lawn for $1.50 and hired a buddy to rake it for 75 cents. My profit for an hour's work? 75 cents. I figured I'd make about $35 for one summer. Not bad. That's about 350 cokes at 10 cents each!!

Not too shabby!

That lady next door, Ms. W. gave me $2 for the $1.50 job. I thanked her excitedly for the tip, then she said she wanted the 50cents change. I swear.

45 years later I told her daughter the story. She got a chuckle about that and said "That sounds like my Mom."

My switching from a career in sports to one in business, was the best decision of my life.

My career in the lawn business rather than sports has allowed me to retire quite comfortably.

I pray that my kids, Elena and David, I mean Danny, will will, one day, take on my business......

"Steve's Bush and Grass Service:

If it's Green, We'll Cut It.
If It's Brown, We'll Avoid It."

Elena and Danny are sure to succeed.......

....I can still get manure at a discount!!