One standard piece of advice for writers is to write what you know. This column could be described as what I knew, or someone else knew.
That’s because, as has happened here before (and I’ve written about here before), this past weekend struck me as déjà vu combined with not role reversal, but role transferral.
The fact that this was the fourth Hometown Festival Week(s) I’ve witnessed actually had nothing to do with it, because the festival does change incrementally from year to year. (As well as, based on my world premiere appearance in an eating contest, my role in it, it seems.)
Saturday was the Tom Caccia swimming invitational. This event (which some wit called the Polar Bear Invitational after the 58-degree 2013 meet) used to be the swimming conference meet back when Caccia was the coach and Lancaster, Shullsburg, Dodgeville and other communities’ swimming teams were part of Platteville’s conference.
I covered the 1990 conference meet on the way to a surprise birthday party for my mother. (My role was to tell my mother I could not come up to Madison that weekend because of said swim meet. So it wasn’t a complete lie. And, by the way, since it’s the same weekend, happy birthday, Mom.) While I was shooting photos, a woman came up to me and introduced herself as the sister of my new girlfriend. That month, we had progressed from my writing two stories about a Peace Corps volunteer, to running into her repeatedly in a small town, to we-might-as-well-go-on-a-date-even-though-I-know-you’re-going-to-Washington-in-the-fall, to, that day, the beginning of my introduction to the rest of her family, which appeared to comprise at least half of Grant County.
My parents, who came Saturday, have great familiarity with high-school and outdoor swimming, not because of me, but because of my brother, who swam for both our high school and the Monona swim club. (My role, in the days when I had a driver’s license and he didn’t yet, was to get up at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m. to pick him up from summer or winter-vacation practice. The horror.) Unlike with their grandchildren, Monona’s opponents were elsewhere in the sprawl that is Madison. So I believe they never had to get up at 4 a.m. to get to a pool in, say, Monroe, Milton or Beloit in time for warmups.
(Saturday’s result, by the way, can be read on page 10A, in a story that may set a world record for the number of times “Prestegard” appears in it.)
Sunday afternoon, we (including aforementioned then-girlfriend, now wife — happy 25th dating anniversary — and mother of said swimmers) wandered into the woods west of Lancaster for the Eagle Scout ceremony of Jonah Barnet of Platteville. The ceremony was on the Wings Over Wisconsin property south of Five Points because that was the site of Barnet’s Eagle Scout project, which you can see on page 12B. (Also present was Max Frommelt, who got his Eagle Saturday. To duplicate Barnet’s location would have required him to have his ceremony in Mound View Park or Harrison Park, where Frommelt’s bat boxes are located.)
Eagle Scout awards may well be the biggest accomplishment in an Eagle Scout’s life to that point. (Though Barnet and Frommelt also have been on NASA’s Vomit Comet, as you read in this newspaper a couple months ago.) It is one of those things in which how you got there is more meaningful than that you got there. Nearly 35 years after I got my Eagle Scout award (a length of time certainly deserving of a #facepalm), I still feel honored to participate in Eagle Scout ceremonies as an Eagle Scout, even one from a year that began with the number 19.
Sunday night, because we just hadn’t done enough this past weekend, we went to the Kids from Wisconsin performance in the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. (Also pictured on page 12B.) I have no connection to the Kids from Wisconsin other than being a trumpet player, and the band has trumpets. But it is cool to have a Platteville native, Arianna Day, in the cast, and two UW–Platteville students, Amanda Frisch and Jacob Brandenburg, in the show.
Frisch and Brandenburg played bass trombone and saxophone, respectively, during “Birdland,” which I played in the UW Marching Band (my bad singing of which impressed an audience member for reasons unclear to me), and a medley from Chicago, which rock-and-roll-fan horn players are required to claim as their most favorite rock band of all time. Day sang, played piano for a Carole King medley, and demonstrated a part of the amazing musical talent Platteville continues to share with the world — in the Kids’ case this year, from Antigo to Lancaster to De Pere to Kenosha.
The Kids will stop moving long enough to perform daily during the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis in August. (Alice in Dairyland, Teyanna Loether, will be there daily too.) If that isn’t enough of a reason to go, consider two words: Cream puffs. Or two more words: Fried foods.