Saturday, July 26, 2008

Teacher Of The Year

I was thinking about a skydiving buddy of mine the other day named Steve . It occurred to me I’d better not use his full name. He made teacher of the year where he lives last year. This post probably wouldn’t help his career.

When I first met him he was president of the oldest skydiving facility in the St. Louis area.

I got my instructor rating out there. I was also on a 4 way team with Steve. It was really a study group because I could never afford to drop everything to compete in the Nationals.

The club was pretty wild. After jumping all day we’d get drunk and party around a bonfire. We’d throw cans of an aerosol hair product called Vavoom into it. It would actually produce a mushroom cloud. We’d dive behind anything we could find to avoid the shrapnel.

There was a straight stretch of highway running along the airport. Sometimes people would surf on the roof of a van as they raced on it doing 50mph.

The club paid for their airplanes by doing demo jumps at the VP fair, the Forest Park Balloon Race, and other local air shows.

Our base of operations for the VP fair was Parks College in East St. Louis. I remember setting off fireworks in the grass at it entrance. The grass caught fire and we almost couldn’t put it out.

I’ll never forget standing on the burned grass when everyone in the club burst into laughter. My fiancée Kim walked toward the group with her mother. Kim was standing beside her older self. It was eerie.

This was the year my friend, and attorney, Kim Tucker spiraled around the north leg of the Arch twice as he landed his canopy. This was the only time anyone had ever done it. He’s the guy I mentioned in an earlier entry that jumped into Busch Stadium as Fredbird.

I drove a beer truck as a casual driver for our local Budweiser distributor back then. One morning I was making a delivery to a drug store. Steve was there looking for medicine for his wife. He looked at me in the truck filled with beer, dropped to his knees with outstretched arms and yelled, “It’s every skydiver’s dream!”

I found this photo at Steve’s school website. It’s another point of view of the Missouri POPS record we broke a few years ago. Steve is in the middle in a black jump suit. I’m at the top in another black jump suit with a gray rig.


...Sharon said...

I dunno... maybe there's some jealously here as you sound as if you had more fun and excitement with your sky jumping friends when drunk and playing with fireworks! With me, no explosions, no big-bangs - just carefully chosen, glowing, sparkling, glittering works of art. Remember me keeping the multi-staged sparklers behind the bar to give to folks on special occasions? Remember hanging around after closing; you always liked lighting them as we gathered with friends and plenty of drink? Remember the ones that pop up into a 5-story pagoda with lights on inside? Or how about the ones that bounced around and whinnied like the Three Stooges. Now, those were good times. Seriously.

Doggie said...

Yep, those were fun too. Rib Tip and I would also stop at the fireworks stand on the 5th of July to get stuff for New Years. I've always been a sucker for pyrotechnic displays. Even the emotional ones from girlfriends!

Anonymous said...

"Fire in hole !!!"