WATCHING THE PREAKNESS: A THOUGHT ABOUT COURAGE

EX-JOCKEY LEARNED THE HARD WAY

 

     Stewart I. Haupman was petting a $2,300 cockatoo when I met him several years ago at his parrot shop in Redondo Beach, California. But he wasn’t always in the exotic bird business.

     He grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, a tough tenement section brimming with poverty and controlled by gangs. At the age of seven, he sold magazines and sang on weekends at Jewish weddings to help support the family

     Sharing a small two-bedroom flat in a tenement house with his parents, grandparents and a brother who had polio, he slept on a cot in the hallway.

     When he turned 14, he quit school, forged his father’s signature, and became a stable boy at the old Jamaica Race Track. A year later, he became an exercise boy at Hialeah, a track in Florida.

     It was there he got his first mount as a jockey. The third horse he raced, won! Within eight months, he had won 127 races and had become a full-fledged jockey.

     Over a period of eight years, riding for Sonny Jim Fitzsimmons, whom he described as “the dean of trainers,” he had won 832 races. “Being a jockey, that was my education. I rode and I broke yearlings for the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys… “I owe a lot to those people. They taught me to be a human being. I learned to function in an area of society I never even dreamed I could be a part of.”

     As a winning jockey, the kid from Hell’s Kitchen not only rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, but found a pride within himself. “The racetrack gave me self-esteem. I had a great time. Winning a big race is an unbelievable experience.

     “You hear the crowd yelling, screaming. And You’re whipping and driving. Well, it’s exciting. You wave at the judges in the winner’s circle. There’s smiles. Applause. The track gave me the feeling of being somebody special. Like a track star.”

     During a race at Hialeah, his mount “snapped an ankle” and Steward went down in front of the pack. Trampled by six horses, he was “busted up bad” and spent nine months in the hospital, gained weight and lost that competitive edge to win.

     “To have success suddenly taken away from you — it was devastating! When you’re a kid, nobody paints you a rosy picture. Nobody tells you there’s a rose garden out there. You find it. Then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. It seems that nobody really teaches you that in life, you win a few and lose a few. You should never quit when you’re down.”

                                                               — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

GOT A BROKEN HEART? IT WILL HEAL!

PUTTING A FACE ON THE HUMAN RACE

 

VIEWS OF A BROKEN HEART

A broken heart

will scar the soul.

A broken heart

will take its toll.

A broken heart

bursts forth a groan.

A broken heart

turns love to stone.

A broken heart

can beat forever.

A broken heart

cries up a river.

A broken heart

is hurt by mean.

A broken heart

can end a dream.

A broken heart

leaves many scars.

A broken heart

is caused by wars.

A broken heart

sits all alone.

A broken heart

waits by the phone.

A broken heart

can heal with time.

A broken heart

is not a crime.

Boots LeBaron

 

 

 

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

THE HUMAN RACE

 

  

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

 

Not too long ago,

I was walking down the street minding me own business when

when I heard a rustling of leaves coming from high in a maple tree.

When I looked up, there was Francis Archibald O’Leary with

that waggish face beaming down at me.

He was trapped, clinging to a spindly branch that barely supported his portly Leprechaun frame.

“Top of the mornin’, chappy!” hecalled, tipping his topper.

Up to that point in my life,

I had been a logical kind of guy who believed that elves, mermaids, gremlins,

pixies, brownies, even gnomes were figments of our imagination. But I must admit that

I’ve known my share of Leprechaunic folk the size of Billy Barty.

So there high above me was Francis, oozing blarney winking down with

impish green eyes magnified by bifocals.

As sure as St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, I had

never met a more whimsical character than the one whose coattail was

was caught in the branches.

“Before you forsake me,” he pleaded, “would

you be up to doin’ a kind deed?”

I shot him an skeptical glance.

“Wouldn’t you agree, it’d be unmerciful

to leave a body trapped in a tree on such a fine kite-flying day?” he rattled on.

“How’d you get up there?” I asked.

“Would you believe I was tryin’ to getcloser to heaven?” he snorted.

“If I help you down, will you give me an interview?” I asked.

“Yer pullin’ me leg,” he howled.

As I began to walk away,” he hollered after me:

“Unless yer interested in talkin’ to the descendent of Ireland’s King Timothy O’Leary?

That’s me, you see!”

No sooner did I help him down that he pushed

out his double chin and tossed me a cockeyed smile.

“Timothy O’Leary was not really a King,”

he explained showing no guilt. “He was more like the

chief of a clan in County Cork. But King

Leary did exist. And his same blood

trickles through my veins and those of

my sons, Shawn, Kevin and Bryan. They

are all sturdy lads.”

“Just where on the Emerald Isle do you

hail from?”

“Sad to say, I’ve never been to

Ireland. My father, Timothy

raised nine of us on an estate in Cambridge,

Mass. where he was a groundskeeper.”

“Are you truly one of the Little People?” I asked.

“Not only am I the largest leprechaun in the world,

I’m the only one with an engineering degree; one

who works with rainbows, pots of gold, taxes,

and has an enchanting wife named Allie who teaches

college calculus. Just think of me as an overgrown

elf with supernatural powers. That’s me!”

That spiel was the beginning of a friendship

that lasted far more than a blink of an eye.

Before we parted, I asked, using tax lingo,

“Francis, would you be up to granting your

rescuer three promissory wishes?”

“Brace yourself,” he said puffing up his

chest and pouching out his belly:

“May the road rise up to meet ya. There’s

one… May the wind be always at yer back…

And here’s me favorite: May you be in heaven

ten minutes before the devil knows yer dead!”

Right there in front of me, Francis vanished

in a puff of smoke leaving the scent of

Irish Spring in his wake.

Francis Archibald O’Leary was truly a happy soul.

Right now, I’ll wager he’s at a place, far above

the maple tree, shuffling his twinkle toes,

dancing a jig. The sight of him will surely cause

old St. Peter to open wide his gates.

And, may I add, leave the many friends he

left behind with heartfelt memories.

Toodleoo, old pal.

In Irish, that means good-bye.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

(Frank, a physicist and former U.S. Marine,died on Valentine’s Day last year when I wrote this story.

He was born in Cambridge,Mass. in 1927)

http://www.amazon.com/Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458011225&sr=8-1&keywords=boots+lebaron

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: LEPRECHAUN CAUGHT IN MAPLE TREE

THE HUMAN RACE

 


A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

  

Not too long ago,

I was walking down the street

minding me own business when

when I heard a rustling of leaves

coming from high in a maple tree.

When I looked up, there was

Francis Archibald O’Leary with

that waggish face beaming down at me.

He was trapped,

clinging to a spindly

branch that barely supported

his portly Leprechaun frame.

“Top of the mornin’, chappy!” he

called, tipping his topper.

Up to that point in my life,

I had been a logical kind of guy who

believed that elves, mermaids, gremlins,

pixies, brownies, even gnomes were figments

of our imagination. But I must admit that

I’ve known my share of Leprechaunic folk

the size of Billy Barty.

So there high above me was Francis,

oozing balarney winking down with

impish green eyes magnified by bifocals.

As sure as St. Patrick drove all the

snakes from Ireland, I had

never met a more whimsical character

than the one whose coattail was

was caught in the branches.

“Before you forsake me,” he pleaded, “would

you be up to doin’ a kind deed?”

I shot him an skeptical glance.

“Wouldn’t you agree, it’d be unmerciful

to leave a body trapped in a tree on

such a fine kite-flying day?” he rattled on.

“How’d you get up there?” I asked.

“Would you believe I was tryin’ to get

closer to heaven?” he snorted.

“If I help you down, will you

give me an interview?” I asked.

“Yer pullin’ me leg,” he howled.

As I began to walk away,” he hollered after me:

“Unless yer interested in talkin’ to the

descendent of Ireland’s King Timothy O’Leary?

That’s me, you see!”

No sooner did I help him down that he pushed

out his double chin and tossed me a

cockeyed smile.

“Timothy O’Leary was not really a King,”

he explained showing no guilt. “He was more like the

chief of a clan in County Cork. But King

Leary did exist. And his same blood

trickles through my veins and those of

my sons, Shawn, Kevin and Bryan. They

are all sturdy lads.”

“Just where on the Emerald Isle do you

hail from?”

“Sad to say, I’ve never been to

Ireland. My father, Timothy

raised nine of us on an estate in Cambridge,

Mass. where he was a groundskeeper.”

“Are you truly one of the Little People?” I asked.

“Not only am I the largest leprechaun in the world,

I’m the only one with an engineering degree; one

who works with rainbows, pots of gold, taxes,

and has an enchanting wife named Allie who teaches

college calculous. Just think of me as an overgrown

elf with supernatural powers. That’s me!”

That spiel was the beginning of a friendship

that lasted far more than a blink of an eye.

Before we parted, I asked, using tax lingo,

“Francis, would you be up to granting your

rescuer three promissory wishes?”

“Brace yourself,” he said puffing up his

chest and pouching out his belly:

“May the road rise up to meet ya. There’s

one… May the wind be always at yer back…

And here’s me favorite: May you be in heaven

ten minutes before the devil knows yer dead!”

Right there in front of me, Francis vanished

in a puff of smoke leaving the scent of

Irish Spring in his wake.

Francis Archibald O’Leary was truly a happy soul.

Right now, I’ll wager he’s at a place, far above

the maple tree, shuffling his twinkle toes,

dancing a jig. The sight of him will surely cause

old St. Peter to open wide his gates.

And, may I add, leave the many friends he

left behind with heartfelt memories.

Toodleoo, old pal.

In Irish, that means good-bye.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

(Frank, a physicist and former U.S. Marine,

died on Valentine’s Day last year when

I wrote this story. He was born in Cambridge,

Mass. in 1927)

 

 

  

 

 

 

PERSONALIZED OSCARS TO BEAT PREJUDICE!?

THE WILD AND WOOLLY HUMAN RACE

 

     DIVERSITY has many faces. They come in

different colors, creeds, genders, logic, ethnicity,

religions, prejudices, levels of narcissism and

variances of naivety. As the Academy of Motion

Picture Arts and Sciences proved with its Oscar

show on Sunday, we are an unpredictable species.

Each of us, in our own inimitable way, is a little

goofy. We tote these eccentricities wherever we go:

Showbiz, Wall Street, politics, the workplace,

into personal relationships, even sports. While

watching the Oscars and listening to comic Chris

Rock’s one-liners, the thought, loony as it may

sound, occurred to me: Why not create a dozen

golden statuettes each individually honoring white,

black, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and

lesbian artists and technicians? Sure it’s a

logistical challenge. But the film industry has

a year to cope with it. To get them started, I

did a quick sketch of what these golden statuettes

might look like. Granted, it ain’t migraine proof.

But at least it’s a thought that might save the entire

celebrity industry from going bonkers.

 

Boots LeBaron

GET A LIFE: SAY HELLO TO THOSE WHO IGNORE YOU!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

WILDEBEESTS NEED RECOGNITION, TOO!

As we trudge along the wild uncharted

trails of civilization, there’s nothing

more refreshing than recognition

from another Earthling.

You know, a little eye talk, a smile,

a nod, a wink, a pinch, a salute,

or simply a pleasant, “Hi.”

It’s invigorating to encounter a

stranger smitten with acute benevolence.

After all, our journey is quite brief.

It can end abruptly, or painfully

last far longer than expected.  

So what’s the sense of traipsing

through life as sour-faced

scaredy-cats or pompous schmucks?

The laws of civilized-jungle-survival

are obvious: Steer clear of

grizzly bears in dark alleys.

Don’t tweak a werewolf’s snout.

Even at safe havens like

the Coffee Bean or Starbucks,

never fall for a line delivered by

an amorous silverback sporting a Rolex.

That beast wants nothing more than

to drag you off into the brush.

Predatory creatures definitely exist.

But that’s no reason to curl up

like a porcupine trying to hide your

very essence from pass’ers-by’.

If you bump into a wildebeest,

try not to be intimidated

by his scraggly demeanor.

Pounding beneath that gruff exterior,

you might discover a caring heart.

As those mousy mortals with

their deadpan pusses parade by,

startle them with a harsh, “Boooo!”

While they’re scurrying away,

eyes cast downward and

tail tucked between their legs,

howl after them, “Hey!

I’m just a fellow traveler

in search of a kind word…

I don’t even bite!”

— Boots LeBaron —

JUST WHO IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!

THE HUMAN RACE

WHO ARE WE?

Lovers can be friends.

Friends can be enemies.

Enemies can be teachers.

Teachers can be preachers.

Preachers can be hypocrites.

Hypocrites can be gigolos.

Gigolos can be heart breakers.

Heart breakers can be liars.

Liars can be users.

Users can be abusers.

Abusers can be cowards.

Cowards can be heroes.

Heroes can be brutes.

Brutes can be romanticists.

Romanticists can be manipulators.

Manipulators can be politicians.

Politicians can be swindlers.

Swindlers can be believers.

Believers can be dreamers.

Dreamers can be schemers.

Schemers can be tycoons.

Tycoons can be ignoramuses.

Ignoramuses can be patsies.

Patsies can be voters.

Voters can be celebrities.

Celebrities can be impostors.

Impostors can be charmers.

Charmers can be shysters.

Shysters can be lovers.

Boots LeBaron

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