It’s Like This By Bob Palmer

Sticks and stones

 
We didn’t have the first television on the block, but in 1956 the cabinet in the living room with the black and white screen was ahead of a few of the neighbors. This meant the other kids could gather at our house to watch “Howdy Doody” on Saturday morning.
I can place the year because I remember watching national political conventions and the World Series that year with my father. Years later I finally learned the presiding officer at the Democratic Convention was not automatically called, “Mr. Speaker.” Sam Rayburn wielded the gavel at the convention and the House. The bald-headed man from Bonham with the big hammer was an imposing sight for a boy of 8.

Television also became part of our Sunday afternoon routine. After church, after a lunch where the family gathered around the dining room table, the television was turned on to allow the roast to settle and parents to watch their shows.

First up was Charles Goren. I know it is hard to believe there was actually a 30-minute television program on bridge, but the commercial where he stood on a card table was pretty exciting. Next was golf.

 
We might watch a tournament complete with TV cables snaking across the fairway, but at some point, perhaps during the off season, “All Star Golf” took over the time slot after Goren. Top world players would compete with a commentator walking along with the group.

That was when I learned I had a relative on the PGA tour, or at least I claimed Arnold Palmer as a distant relation. When you brag on the elementary school playground, you can’t let facts clutter the story.

Arnold Palmer was a great competitor, great sportsman, gentleman and supporter of charities. The world lost one of its citizens who gave the rest of us hope we could not just hit a little white ball around a cow pasture better, but be a better person.

I think Palmer would have been saddened by the conduct of several of the fans at the recent Ryder Cup which has become one of the premier events in all of sport. Unlike your usual genteel golf tournaments, fans at a Ryder Cup, played every two years between the best US golfers and the best European golfers, get rowdy and loud. When you add alcohol to the mix, some people do not know where to draw the line. Saturday, a couple definitely stepped over it.

One heckler rode Europe’s top player, Rory McIlroy like a borrowed nag. When McIlroy’s putt came up short, the guy in the crowd shouted coming up short was why McIlroy’s girlfriend had left him. McIlroy pointed the fellow out to marshals who ejected the loud mouth. American players, embarrassed by such outbursts, were perhaps more affected than the Europeans who took the jibes as a spur to do better.

I’m not saying alcohol can be more of a problem in the Great Frozen North (this Ryder Cup was played outside Minneapolis), but I remember a story by the great Mike Royko about visiting a bar in Wisconsin.

“They would come in and order a beer and a shot,” Royko wrote in his column. “They would pour the shot in the beer and down it in one gulp then thump their distended bellies. Their men folk would do this, too.”

The burden of policing this situation…

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