After an early flight, we arrived in LAX. It was interesting that the time to taxi the plane to the gate, navigate the airport to transportation, and take the shuttle to the rental car, took as long as the flight. A funny problem with the economics of travel and time.
Whittier is much the same as when you lived here and it brought winsome memories of our visits with you. The first year in a dorm and in later years living with footballers in rental houses. The city was always like a small town. A few score of thousands plopped in the middle of millions. A stretch of Greenleaf Avenue with a beautiful canopy of trees lining both sides of the street. Neighborhood homes with porches and yards. The Whittier Village Cinema with its local funky look: art deco spires painted in sea green. Not an AMC or Harkins mega theatre but more like the local Bijou. The Nixon building, named after Whittier’s most famous graduate. A safe city for a small town boy to grow into manhood, play football, and meet a mate. So, it’s all so sad, but brings comfort to remember these good days.
The day will be a tailgate with Jon’s best rub for pork. He plans to arrive early and bring the best of his master grill skills to the table. He teared up when I told him how much you loved cooking with him and how much you learned the art of barbeque from him. He indeed is a master who knows the drill. I consider myself a third generation Jon griller from you and only wish you would have lived long enough to teach me more. I’ll now have to study the art on my own and I know it won’t be nearly the fun we had standing around the grill with small talk that often had no value for the information exchanged but was invaluable for the perspective shared. Totally different reasons for talking. Two guys just bullshitting the day away.
The day will end with a game defined by a win or a loss. For Whittier, it seemed the losses tended to pile up a bit more than the wins, which might explain your approach to value the game over the outcome: Competition is not (just) about winning, it’s about being on your game. You played many positions over the four years at Whittier; it likely made you a better coach to help Kevin with SEHS, one of your favorites in life. So, it’s Redlands tonight. I’ll keep you posted tomorrow.
The day will end with a Duck outcome too: UCLA. Now a team we love to hate not just because of the Southern California rub, but the coach who’s back at college ball: Chip. You know the drill. Gotta have someone to be against. Or not. You only played the rivalry to create the stir and move on. Make it more interesting. But leave it at the end of the game.
So the day is all about Whittier, a college town with a beautiful campus, nestled in a megalopolis with football in every corner of the day. It would have been a day marked for KT. Your kind of day. And that’s what makes this whole death thing so impossible. So don’t get me started. I’ll end with the lightness of your life being part of ours.
We love you so much buddy. We’ll keep you close.