Tuesday, July 17, 2007

History Lesson

I’m a pack rat – a compulsive hoarder of useless items. I have been known to save slips of scrap paper because there is an unidentified phone number on it "that might be important" or a recipe for rhubarb tarts that was published in the Cresco Times three years ago because "I might make it one day." Photos are stored in unlabeled boxes and I’m pretty sure that I have the video of Smarty Jones winning the Kentucky Derby somewhere around here ... on an unlabeled black videocassette, naturally. And of course I have a plethora of art projects and scribbles and toys that my kids have given me that, as useless as they are, I cannot bear to part with them because I am a sentimental boob.

Meanwhile, my husband could happily exist with only his computer with reliable high-speed internet connectivity and an infinitesimal supply of cold beer.

However, Mr. Throw-The-Junk-Away is very appreciative of his library: Norman Mailer, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Ayn Rand. But for reasons unknown, there is one unusual title that has remained in his possession over the years: Sports Illustrated 1992 Sports Almanac.

This evening, I was inspired to read the section on horse racing in the 1992 almanac. (read: I couldn’t think of anything to write about).

First, a little refresher of the year 1991: We had a Bush in the White House and a war in the Persian Gulf. There was a little tussle between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas on Capitol Hill. The Soviet Union broke up. MTV was still cool. There were no such things as cell phones, iPods, or Dr. Phil. And the "internet" was just a series of tubes.

And in the world of horse racing in 1991, Strike the Gold won the Kentucky Derby, Hansel won the Preakness and the Belmont, Calumet Farm went bankrupt, and the Shoe was paralyzed in a car accident. And there was this observation,

Sadly, much of the racing news in 1991 wasn’t cheerful. Tracks continued to grope for ways to boost sagging attendance. And the controversy over medication continued, with no uniform rules regarding the uses of Lasix and Butazolidin. Most vexing of all, racing continued to compete against itself by embracing the brave new world of high-tech TV gambling, which takes fans away from the tracks and pulls them into off-site wagering facilities. [William F. Reed, SI 1992 Sports Almanac]

Some things never change.

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