Today I am recollecting the times that I drove to St. Louis…as a 16 and 17 year old. I took other kids with me. Almost exclusively Jerry Wills went every time. He just turned 15 years old. What kind of parents allows their son at 16and 17 years of age drive to St. Louis for the entire weekend and take a 15 year old friend and sometimes younger? I will answer that question and more at the end of the blog.
The Entire Weekend at a Motel
We would go to the ballpark to see the Cardinals play about three to four weekends per summer. We made reservations at Holiday Inn in Collinsville (it was a Holidome) most of the time. Some trips we stayed closer to Edswardsville. It depended on who was with us and where we felt like staying. Can you imagine a 16 year old kid trying to secure a motel/hotel reservation today? It can’t happen now but times were different for sure.
These trips had their moments. We were not malicious but did a few things that are to be remembered. We were (me, Jerry Wills and Denny Fletcher) staying at a Holiday Inn near Edwardsville. Nice place and very close to a drive-in Root Beer stand. We decided to go there and eat in my car, since it is a drive-in. As were finishing we notice the nice mugs with root beer in them and someone said we need one of those. So one was removed from the tray on the drivers door and we proceeded to check out. Of course, you turned on your lights when you needed service or was ready to go. We did that. The girl took our tray and I quickly backed out. She got about ten steps away and noticed one of the mugs was missing. I was just putting it in “drive” when we heard her say. “sir, sir…..” We never looked back and went to our motel. ALL NIGHT long we were worried. Figuring they got our license number or car description we fretted the police may coming storming into our room with guns blazing and ready to cuff us. It never happened but wasn’t worth the worry.
Getting Baseballs Hit into the Stands
There are a couple of stories here that could be open to interpretation. I would imagine Jerry Wills has his own thoughts on these. We always went early to the ballpark and preferred to get their when the gates opened so we could watch batting practice and try to get a ball hit into the stands. What happened on one occasion is we were just a few minutes late as they started because we, including myself. bught a hot dog and a program before entering the field area. We come bounding down the stairs in left center when I see a ball being hit that hits partly up the stairs where I swat at it with my program and then it goes back down to the concourse. I am going to get that ball! I run at the ball with one guy ahead of me I slide on the concrete to get ahead of him and unintentional knock him down. I grab the ball and hurriedly get up and out of his way. Let me back up here, the guy was on crutches. I knock a guy with crutches down to the ground. I wanted the baseball and I got it but I never made eye contact and never issued an apology. I will do it now. If you are the guy I knocked down that day, ” I am sorry for knocking you down to get the baseball, but I wanted it.”
Plop, Plop into my Hands
It was another warm day at Busch Stadium and Jim Ritchie, Jerry Wills and myself bought tickets down the third baseline just between the dugout and the bullpen area they used along the side of the field. I was seated closest to the field, Jim was in the middle and Jerry was next to him being the furthest from the field. On the way down, Jerry was moaning again and again about how he had never gotten a baseball yet in all the time we had been there and how it seemed I got one every trip. Waaa, Waaa! I don’t know the circumstances of this particular game but a batter hit one past me and Jerry reached up and deflected it. He attempts to keep it in front of mim when Ritchie puts his hands into the fra to gt it and knocks it towards himself. I was still seated as the ball was too far away at the start. Drinking a soda, Jim smacks at it one more time and it lands in my lap. I have ONE MORE baseball! Jerry is still TICKED to this day.
Run Jerry Run
It was a fleeting second that Jerry and I looked at each other considered whether he should run or not. As mentioned earlier we like to get the as soon as we can. One particular game we were hanging out at the wall in center field because several players were back in the area shagging flyballs and general talking to each other and occasionally to us. Jerry was leaning over the wall for various reasons and his comb fell out of his pocket and hit the field below. We noticed it but so did pitcher Lindy Mc Daniel. He stuck the comb in his glove and threw it up to Jerry to retrieve his possession. At that instance, Jerry and I froze as we contemplated he running out of the stadium with the glove of star reliever McDaniel. I know Jerry would become one of the fastest in Mason County track but the reward of attempting to get the glove was offset by the fact of getting caught. Jerry was fast but couldn’t out run the walkie-talkies of the ushers. The glove was thrown back down with a “thanks” from Jerry.
It was me. I did it and felt really , really stupid for it. What happened on this trip is that I was the oldest ne as I was most of the time. Also, was the only non-alcoholic drinker. The others were. I was the oldest so I was the one they thought would have the best chance to buy them some beer. We were staying in Collinsville and if you East a bit out of town there is a bar that is/was in the country. It was sitting all by itself. It was around 2PM I drove out there with the others basically slumped down in the car. I was the only car in the lot and when I walked in there were NO patrons. I guy comes out of the back and asks me what I needed. I tolded him I needed a case of beer (think is was Budweiser) and he looked at me and said, “Can I see your ID” to which I replied by slapping my back pockets and saying, ” I must have forgotten my billfold back at the hotel.” He said ok and went to the back and brought it out then proceeded to tell me how much I owed. What do I do but PULL OUT MY BILLFOLD and pay the man. He probably was laughing his butt off as I turned and left with the purchase. I walked out of the door towards the car and was shaking my head all the way to them. It was a facepalm moment.
What Were Are Parents Thinking?
I believe I have the answer to that.They trusted us. We were good kids and that was good enough for them. My parents trusting me with the car and some friends. The friends parents trusting them and me to be a good driver and stay out of trouble. It was a matter of trust and we passed the test.
NEXT SEASON will be our 50th season for Jerry and I to go the St. Louis. Care to join us?
SIDENOTE: That is all for Part One of Driving to STL. There will be a Part Two coming along the way. Hope you enjoyed my recollections and if you know anyone that might have been involved or would like to read these, feel free to let them know. I closed the comments section of the blog as I got 76 SPAM comments in two hours the other day and I couldn’t keep up deleting them. I encourage comments on my Facebook page. Thanks!
January 15th – Call the Sheriff
January 11th – Kilbourne Condom
January 8th – I’m Still Paying For It
January 4th – My First School Basketball Team
January 1st – The History of Me- My Birthday