Vidakovich column: From zero to 60 in the blink of an eye
One of my best-ever birthday celebrations happened at Glenwood Elementary in Ms. Bertholf’s kindergarten class. The year was 1966, and the date was November 29.
I shared the spotlight that day — and the cake — with my classmate and best buddy Scott Bolitho. We were pretty much inseparable during the grade school years. Scott and I would even set up our rugs on the floor next to each other in the afternoon when Ms. Bertholf would happily declare “It is nap time, kids.”
I’m not sure any of us actually fell asleep during that 30-minute hiatus from the rigors of kindergarten academia, but it sure was fun to goof and giggle in any remote corner of the classroom we could find unoccupied.
It’s kind of interesting and a bit unusual that Bolitho and I have remained close friends through this roller coaster journey that we call life.
As the both of us grew older, we competed against each other in almost everything you can imagine. We faced off on opposite sides in playground games at GSES and the annual “Field Day” competition at the school. This was serious business for a couple of boys who wanted nothing more than to gobble up all of those blue ribbons that our physical education teacher, Coach Chavez, handed out to the winners of various events from the softball throw to the long jump.
Each year in the football Punt, Pass and Kick competition for kids and baseball’s version of the same skills test, the Pitch, Hit, and Throw, I would come tantalizingly close to winning, only to have Scotty always take away that gold trophy at my expense.
I did manage to get the best of him one fateful day in a sixth-grade football game at the Glenwood High School field. With Bolitho at quarterback and me playing defensive back on, of course, the opposite team, I managed to undercut a sideline throw he attempted to the speedy Glenn Samuelson for an interception. With the ball firmly tucked into my arm, I ran with all of my might for what is now called a “pick six.”
We went on to win the game and the championship that year. The fact that Coach Chavez kind of spiked our team was no matter. A victory over a rival was a victory, any way you can get it.
Scotty claims he doesn’t remember the play. I think it’s just a case of selective amnesia that my friend Doug Meyers also has at not being able to clearly recall that I threw him out at home plate in a championship little league baseball game during our youth.
As many of you know, Bolitho went on to make an indelible mark on the athletic record books at Glenwood High School. All-State and All-Conference honors in leading the Demons to state championships in both football and basketball his senior year, are accomplishments that remain etched in stone.
I do believe that in the same breath as former Demon Dakota Stonehouse, Bolitho is at the top of the list of the best quarterbacks Glenwood has ever marched onto a football field.
Along with Chris Massaro’s punt block in the south end zone in the snowy state championship game at Stubler Field in 1979 against the Valley Vikings, Bolitho provided me with Friday night memories from my viewing spot on the visitors’ sideline that I will never forget.
Some people are outstanding athletes, but they’re not really outstanding people. Bolitho, since we were children until now, has always been both. Whether serving as head boy at Glenwood Junior High School, or giving me and my sorry golf game words of encouragement during a tournament, he has always led by example.
Born on the same November day that will soon mark our 60th year on earth, I can run a little farther than Bolitho, but I still can’t get the best of him in much else, especially the category of a life well-lived.
I came into the world thanks to my mom Beatrice and a c-section at 10:22 a.m. on Nov, 29, 1960. Bolitho followed that same morning at 10:36 a.m.
I may be a bit older, but certainly not wiser. I think we’ll find a way to get together on that birthday morning and talk about some old times. It feels like we’re still just kids, but I guess the reality is that we now are the “old” in times. Sixty years went by pretty fast, but it’s my guess that there are many good times and memories to make still ahead of us.
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.