Road Trip Dad - Leftovers Again?
Dan Witmer | November 30, 2020
I did a post-Thanksgiving “Leftovers” RTD back on Nov 28, 2016, so this time around I creatively added to the title…

Lots of little tidbits connected to the past few months of a renewed RTD effort…

I’ll start with last week’s tribute to Marty Seaman, who passed away earlier this month. Here’s a story I heard this past week at her (remote) memorial service…

There was a young Rancher at Rawhide who was a diabetic and had to prick his own finger at least once a day to test his blood sugar level. He was away from home for the first time and was scared, so Marty made a deal with him – he would come to the main office and she would prick her own finger every day with him. She encouraged him to tell his bunkmates about his medical condition, and he did, which removed a lot of the fear and embarrassment. Within a week or two, the Rancher was an old pro, and his Rawhide friends supported him. That was Marty Seaman.

I’m telling you – those seven summers at Rawhide Ranch were, simply put, transformative. When I started working there in 1976 at the age of 16, I was relatively shy, quiet, and lacked confidence. By the time I left RR after seven summers in 1982, three months after graduating from Oswego State, I was ready to tackle two full-time jobs (simultaneously), live independently, and start work on my Master’s degree for the next five summers. I will forever be indebted to Bob and Marty Seaman for giving me all those opportunities for personal growth. Talk about game-changers…

I didn’t mention it, but I returned to Oswego back on November 18 after driving back from Florida. You know the line about how fish and overnight guests start to stink after three days? Well, my stay down there at my parents’ house was almost six weeks, so, you figure it out. I was there when my Dad got out of the hospital and moved into a rehab center, and I was there when he got out of the rehab center and came home. Then I helped my Mom screen some eight different CNAs who we hired for home care – one, two, even four days at a time – until we found the right two. I left my parents in their good hands, and have talked with my Mom on the phone almost every day since I left, checking up on her as much as, if not more than, my Dad.

My two 1307-mile trips (on October 7-8 and then back north on November 17-18) weren’t exactly what I’ve always imagined – no stops to visit friends, no sight-seeing, etc. – but now I can say that I’ve been to NC, SC, and GA. Funny, I wasn’t a big fan of the 70 mph speed limits when I drove out to Utah and Arizona and back in 2016, but I enjoyed the long stretches of I-95’s fast pace when I was down south.

I tried to follow NY State COVID guidelines and get tested before leaving Florida and then again after being in New York for a few days, but I wasn’t eligible for a free test at CVS because I wasn’t a Florida resident. Running short on time, I decided to bend the rule slightly and just get tested after I’d been home a few days. I figured (correctly!) that they might be stricter in the NY airports than on the interstates connecting state borders, and I was careful the whole trip north to wear a mask whenever I got out of the car and even wore gloves when I pumped gas.

After a few delays and setbacks, my primary care doctor ordered a test for me, which I finally had done this past Tuesday. I’d hear the results, I was told, in 24 to 48 hours. Wednesday came and went without a phone call, and with Thursday being Thanksgiving, I wasn’t exactly sitting by the phone. On Friday, though, I got a call from my doctor telling me that my test was negative. I expected as much, but it was nice to actually hear the words.

I got some interesting feedback to my Favorite and Least Favorite Venues for College Lacrosse blogs, as I hoped I would. Several Oswego alumni emailed me to say that, even if it wasn’t an Upstate venue, they loved playing at the unique and memorable field at SUNY-Maritime. The campus literally sits underneath the Throgs Neck Bridge, which connects the Bronx with Long Island, and the Upstate kids – especially the ones who had never been to New York City before – were just mesmerized by it. We played there back in the 80s, when it was a grass (and often muddy) field, and we played them in the 2000s, when the field had been updated to turf. We played night games and we played day games, and we could always count on a strong parent and alumni turnout from all the Westchester and Long Island families. The monsoon we played in back in 2009 is still a topic of conversation.

And if we’re venturing downstate, and willing to talk about venues not in Upstate, I’d add these Honorable Mentions to my Favorite list: the field at St. Mary’s College (Maryland) that sat in the middle of a horseshoe of dorms, Homewood Field (JHU… yup, we played there – and I coached the 2002 USILA North/South Game there, too!), and Washington College’s Kibler Field, which is what you picture when you imagine an awesome D-III lacrosse stadium. Honorable Mention for my Least Favorite sites outside of Upstate would include Scranton’s “steel cage” field where we played just once – and just happened to witness a car accident on the expressway where a car came up over the side of the road and got tangled up in the fencing. That was in 1990 – can’t say what’s happened there since.

Those two blogs also made the discussion on the Lax Factor podcast, operated and hosted by Section IV’s own Ted Hust. Thanks for the plug, Ted!

And my November RTD piece about the lack of a 2020 Tully Cornfield Classic also got mentioned on Brice Queener’s Queener Lax podcast. Thanks, Brice!

I actually got quite a scare the day after that Tully blog went up. An unnamed college coach messaged me and said something to the extent of “Nice article, but I think the Tully Tournament is on for this weekend…” Huh? I was mortified! Could I have really gotten that wrong? Was the Cornfield Classic actually going to happen? I emailed tournament director Bill Hardy immediately and asked him what was what (you would think that a good writer would do that before posting a blog about the lack of a tournament, right?). Bill explained that a few clubs were going to scrimmage, but that the Cornfield Classic was, in fact, canceled for this year, and he thanked me for the kind words.

Whew! Dodged that bullet!

When I got back home I received another “quarantine book” worth mentioning. Doc Nelson dropped off a copy of Thomas Vennum, Jr.’s American Indian Lacrosse – Little Brother of War, which somehow has dodged itself from my reading list since its 1994 publication. I haven’t really gotten into it yet, but I did read the Acknowledgements, Preface, and Prologue – and I’ve already seen many familiar names, from the Bucktooths and Gaits to the 1992 NCAA final four at Penn’s iconic Franklin Field (yes, I was there – were you?). Throw in references to Roy Simmons and Roy Simmons, Jr., John Zulberti, Oren Lyons, Gordie Ohstrom, Ron and Oliver Hill, Lavern and Ron Doctor, Mark Burnam, Travis Solomon, Greg Tarbell, and Emmett Printup – and that’s just up to page 9! I’d keep reading but I’m currently stuck in a situation I don’t usually get myself into – I’m about two-thirds of the way through The Lay of the Land, but I’ve also started Vennum’s lacrosse book as well as Natural Born Heroes, by Christopher McDougall. Lay of the Land has a library due date coming up soon, so I’ve got to give that priority…

That’s it for RTD left-overs, but there’s lots of fresh, potential lacrosse news on the horizon. Be sure to make the short trip and join me next week.

And please, drive carefully. Stay safe, stay smart, and stay kind.

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu

Dan Witmer is the author of two books.  The Best of Road Trip Dad – the Laker Lacrosse Collection  is an accumulation of 45 articles written for JustLacrosseUpstate between the years 2012 and 2018, about the history and traditions, the people, and the stories of the Oswego State men’s lacrosse program. The book is available on Amazon.com, and at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, the SUNY Oswego College Store in the Marano Campus Center, The Sports Outfit on West Genesee Street in Fairmount, and Geared 2 Sports in Cortland.  ...and piles to go before I sleep - The Book of Wit  is his memoir describing his 33 year career teaching HS English and coaching at Hannibal Central School. It is available on Amazon.com and at the river's end bookstore.