26. June 2009 · Comments Off on I Remember Where I Was · Categories: Archive 2009

A lot of sports radio hosts are trying to deal with how to present Michael Jackson’s death, and it’s interesting listening to them struggle with the topic.  A common, tired theme is the whole “Do you remember where you were when X person died.”  Here’s my little MJ moment: I slept out one night on the sidewalk outside Wherehouse Records in East Lansing for tickets to his concert at The Palace (I believe it was the first show ever at the facility).  Still scratching my head on how I cleared that one with my parents.

Anyway, a call today into WTKA evoked one incredibly sad memory from my younger days, much sadder than even this

Distinguished professor, author and radio host John U. Bacon dialed into WTKA this morning and challenged readers ($1) to read his latest blog post without shedding a tear.  Bacs talked about his experience at a YMCA camp up at Torch Lake and the influence of the camp patriarch Pat Rode.  It’s a wonderful post, not much to do with sports, but give it a read.

As far as Bacon’s challenge, there’s no bet coming from me.  That’s because of this passage in the post:

At camp I learned how important it is to be needed.  When a young camper lost his mother in a car accident, I could only tell him what it felt like when my best friend died.  I was surprised this helped him — and even more surprised how much this helped me. 

I spent some time up at camp Hayo-Went-Ha over a couple summers within the younger groups at the camp.  A cabin mate of mine lost his mother while I was there, and after an email with JUB, I’m pretty sure this is the same incident Bacon mentions in his post.  A wild and sad coincidence.

The day his mother died our group was actually off the camp site property, I believe spending the night at nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes, the park containing the massive sand hills that roll right up to Lake Michigan. 

I recall a few things about that trip (girls were there from another camp-sweet) but I knew that we were told that our cabin mate’s mother was in tough shape and we they weren’t sure how it was going to work out.  When Pat Rode arrived, like the school principal showing up in your classroom, we knew it wasn’t good.

I watched from afar as the boy collapsed in Rode’s arms after hearing the horrific news.  It’s one of those memories that is burned in your head.  I remember crying most of the night, sad for my buddy, probably a bit scared at the prospect that any of us could lose our mothers.

So to John, there’ll be no wager from me on this one.

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