So long, St. Louis–for the time being

St. Louis (both the city itself and the county) will re-open tomorrow, just as I’m heading back to Russell. Even though I would like to stay, there comes a time when travelers must return home. Tomorrow will be that day for yours truly.

Even though there wasn’t much to do, this venture was a success. I got what I came for (White Castle, Pibb Zero, Vienna Beef Polish sausage, Nathan’s Famous bagel dogs, capicola and mortadella, steaks for Father’s Day), discovered some new things (provel cheese, soap at Whole Foods) and rediscovered something I really like (sushi, as long as it doesn’t have cream cheese).

The bad news? I won’t be eating White Castle or provel again until I return to St. Louis, save for the leftover White Castle I eat on I-70 west tomorrow and the 24 slices of provel I’m bringing back. The good news? Dillons in Hays sells sushi, Pibb Zero and the cold cuts are available in Salina (as long as Dillons keeps them in stock), and Whole Foods is in Wichita. I can also order soap online.

The hotel in Chesterfield is isolated from restaurants and stores, but I’m used to that at two of the hotels I frequent in Kansas City, one at Briarcliff and the other near Kansas City International Airport. There’s easy access to Interstate 64 from the Chesterfield hotel the same way I-29 is easily accessible from KCI and US 169 is easily accessible from Briarcliff to get me to I-29 or I-35.

I usually don’t like first floor rooms, but this week, it has made life easy. It’s near a side entrance AND the dumpster, a daily double. I bring my trash out each day and throw it over the doors instead of leaving it in the hallway and/or letting it pile up. The doors to the dumpster have been open the last two days, allowing me to dispose of boxes and the cartons the Pibb Zero came in. It will make loading the Buick much easier tomorrow–I won’t need a cart. With all the things I’m loading, it’s great to have a first floor room near a side entrance!

Here’s hoping the Cardinals will be playing at Busch Stadium by this time in July, and the Blues will be on their way to successfully defending the Stanley Cup. St. Louis loves its sports more than nearly every other major city in America, and without the Cardinals and Blues, something seems off in the Gateway City.

Coincidentally, I’ll pass by the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City (unless I detour at Interstate 470 in Independence and go around the south side of the metro area on Interstate 435 to Kansas Highway 10). The Royals are hoping to be playing at Kauffman soon, and the Chiefs want to start on time, which means they host the NFL’s first game of the 2020 regular season on 10 September vs. the Texans.

That’s it for me from St. Louis. But as MacArthur famously said, I shall return.

The NBA’s Memorex Moment

Forty years ago tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers were in Philadelphia, looking to defeat the 76ers in the sixth game of the NBA World Championship Series and bring the Walter Brown Trophy back to southern California.

If the Lakers wanted to avoid a seventh game at ingelwood less than 48 hours later, they would have to do so without the 1979-80 Most Valuable Player.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won his record sixth MVP as the Lakers went 60-22, one game behind the Celtics for the NBA’s best record, suffered a high ankle sprain on his left ankle during the third quarter of the Lakers’ 108-103 victory two nights prior.

Abdul-Jabbar played the fourth quarter on the injured ankle and scored 14 points in the stanza, giving him 40 for the night. The 76ers’ woefully weak center combination of Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones helped Kareem’s cause. When Philadelphia finally upgraded its center situation three years later, the results were much different. I’ll get to that later.

On the advice of Lakers team doctor Robert Kerlan and trainer Jack Curran, coach Paul Westhead and the rest of the Lakers, including 20-year old rookie Earvin Johnson, made the cross-country flight to Philadelphia without the 33-year old legend, who was seeking his second NBA championship, but first since winning it all with Milwaukee in 1971.

Philadelphia was quite fortunate to be in a game six to be honest. They nearly blew a 23-point lead at Ingelwood in game two, and it took a late flurry in game four, highlighted by spectacular baseline up-and-under by Julius Erving, to pull out a three-point win. The Lakers won easily in games one and three, then won a tight game five.

Most national pundits believed Philadelphia would exploit Los Angeles’ hole in the midlde and sent the series back to California. The simplest option would be to move Jim Chones, the former Cavaliers All-Star, to center and insert Mark Landsberger at power forward.

However, Landsberger had been overpowered by Dawkins and Jones when giving Abdul-Jabbar a rest earlier in the series, and he forever became a highlight film staple after Dr. J drove around him in the fourth game.

Westhead and assistant coach Pat Riley made a bold move.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson wold start at center, allowing defensive ace and long-range shooting specialist Michael Cooper into the backcourt with Norm Nixon.

Magic was only 14 months removed from leading Michigan State to a 75-64 victory over Indiana State and its superstar, Larry Bird, in the NCAA championship game at Salt Lake City, the highest rated college basketball game ever, a distinction it still holds 41 years later.

Though not old enough to consume alcohol in most jurisdictions, Magic played well beyond his years the evening of 16 May 1980.

Johnson turned in the greatest individual performance in an NBA championship game, before or after, with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers routed the 76ers 123-107 in front of 17,000 shocked patrons at The Spectrum. The game was tied 60-60 at halftime, but after Los Angeles scored the first 14 points of the third quarter, Kareem could celebrate at home, and mayor Tom Bradley could announce the exact date and time for the first victory parade in the City of Angels in eight years.

Too bad most of the United States could not watch Magic’s scintillating performance in real time.

CBS, which televised the NBA from 1973 through 1990, inexplicably chose to air game six of the 1980 championship series on tape delay.

The NBA’s television ratings were in the toilet, and CBS did not want to preempt prime time programming for a basketball game which might draw a third to a quarter of the ratings of one of its primetime powerhouses.

When games were played in the Pacific Time Zone, CBS aired them live at 23:30 Eastern/22:30 Central after the late news. The Mountain Time Zone was delayed by an hour, but the Pacific zone was delayed by three hours unless the local affiliate preempted the prime time schedule and showed the game live.

Los Angeles obviously aired the games live. So did Portland and Seattle, where enthusiasm for the NBA was unbridled. The Trail Blazers were Oregon’s first major professional sports team, and remained that way until the Timbers joined Major League Soccer. The Super Sonics were THE thing in Seattle, even with the Seahawks and Mariners both starting play in the late 1970s.

The other market in the west to air all games live? Las Vegas, for obvious reasons.

Games two and five started at 20:30 Pacific. Yes, they were live in Philadelphia, but how many people stayed up until 01:45 the next morning to watch them to conclusion?

Meanwhile, weeknight games in the other three time zones were tape delayed to air at 23:30 Eastern and Pacific/22:30 Central and Mountain. CBS pulled the stunt during game two of the 1979 championship series from Washington, but it DID air game five live nationwide.

In the 1980 championship series, games three and four in Philadelphia were played Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday at 15:30 Eastern and Sunday at 13:00 Eastern. CBS would not be as fortunate for game six.

On the surface, CBS’ choice was logical. Do not preempt two of your highest rated shows, The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas, the latter ranking number one for all television shows in 1979-80.

There was one flaw in CBS’ logic the evening of 16 May 1980.

Dukes and Dallas were already airing reruns.

J.R. Ewing was shot on 21 March 1980, seven weeks before Earvin Johnson became truly Magic.

All three networks ended their 1979-80 seasons in late March or early April, fearing the Screen Actors Guild would go on strike in the spring or early summer. That came to pass in June, and it delayed the opening of the 1980-81 season until November (America didn’t find out Kristin Shepard shot J.R. until 21 November, two months later than CBS had hoped), December, or even January (NBC did not air the first episode of Hill Street Blues until 15 January, 10 days before it broadcast Super Bowl XV).

With reruns already airing, it would have hurt nothing to air the game from Philadelphia live at 21:00, but CBS figured old episodes were better than new basketball.

Again, if you were living in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas, you were in luck.

The other place to air the game live? Atlanta, where the CBS affiliate refused to show NBA games not involving the Hawks. However, an independent station figured the sports fans of north Georgia needed something other to watch than the pitiful Braves on WTBS, so it aired game six live.

Therefore, large markets like New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Phoenix and Miami were all out of luck. San Francisco and Phoenix, of course, could have aired the game live and only would have had to adjust the regular Friday night programming back at most 30 minutes for game overrun.

It was well past bedtime for myself and my brother. Then again, I doubt there were very many NBA fans in New Orleans in the spring of 1980, since the 1979-80 season was the first for the Jazz in Utah after five seasons in the Crescent City. Utah probably should have let the new team in New Orleans reacquire the Jazz nickname when they moved in 2002, but that’s too confusing to go into right now.

There were a lot of negative articles written about CBS tape delaying the deciding game of the NBA championship series, but it didn’t change anything, at least in the short term.

The 1981 championship series featured the Celtics for the first time since 1976, and the Rockets for the first time ever. Houston won the Western Conference at 40-42, defeating the 40-42 Kansas City Kings in the conference finals.

With a team from the Eastern Time Zone taking on a team from the Central Time Zone, it meant tape delay at least twice, and possibly four times if the series reached a game six.

The first two games in Boston tipped at 19:35 Eastern, meaning a four hour for those not in Boston or Houston. Games three and four from Houston were live on Mother’s Day weekend. Game three was the last Saturday game in an NBA championship series, and game four started at 12:05 Central so CBS could televise golf afterwards.

Game five tipped at 21:00 Eastern and aired at the standard 23:35 Eastern/22:35 Central.

The sixth and deciding game started at 21:05 Central, the latest start to an NBA championship game in the Central Time Zone. Boston won in six, the first of their three championships with Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Philadelphia and Los Angeles met again for the NBA championship with one major difference: all games were televised live on CBS.

The NBA agreed to start its regular season later beginning in 1981-82, allowing the championship series to be played after the network prime time seasons ended in mid-May. There were four weeknight games, including the clinching game six on 8 June, where the Lakers prevailed and left the 76ers as the NBA’s bridesmaids for the third time in six seasons.

The 76ers finally realized they needed a big change at center in order to stymie Kareem. Billy Cunningham made the biggest change he could by acquiring Moses Malone from the Rockets, and on 31 May 1983, Philadelphia had its first NBA championship in 16 years, sweeping Los Angeles.

The NFL and Major League Baseball would never dare to air any playoff game, let alone a championship contest, on tape delay. The NHL has aired just about every Stanley Cup Finals game live in Canada since the 1950s, but in America, its coverage has been far worse. Many cities had no NHL on television from 1976-79, and from 1989-92, most couldn’t see any NHL games because of an asinine deal with SportsChannel America, which thankfully no longer exists.

The German Bundesliga returned today, albeit without fans. But it’s LIVE SPORTS. NASCAR races tomorrow at Darlington.

Let’s hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel, although the alarmists hope we’re sitting at home twiddling our thumbs without anything to watch until 2021 or later.

Beards and no masks? I’ve got a REAL problem.

Day six in St. Louis featured trips to two supermarkets in St. Peters not too far apart. I counted seven people not wearing masks. All were male, and all but one had a beard.

It wasn’t the first time. In nine of the ten grocery stores I have visited in St. Louis, more than 80 percent of the maskless people were men with beards. I have rarely encountered a woman without a mask.

I told Peggy this. I prefaced it by saying she might not like it. Her son, Conor has worn a beard since he was in high school, and her three sons-in-law all have them, although Sam, Chelsea’s husband, does go clean shaven frequently.

I would trade my father’s facial hair for mine. My father could not grow a beard if he went without shaving for a full year. He tried growing a porn star mustache in November 1976, which looked pathetic. He had the mustache on the day of my baptism, and every time I looked at that picture, I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag. Sometimes I did both.

The only time I went an extended period without shaving was when I was in the hospital. The first time I saw my face in the mirror I nearly threw up. It was ugly. The most I ever go without shaving is one day. I don’t shave with the double edge safety razor every day right now, but I have a high-end Braun electric to touch up.

Notice I sad “9 of 10” grocery stores in the second paragraph. That’s because the 10th was Whole Foods, which won’t let you in if you’re not wearing a mask. The store provides masks, but if you don’t want to wear it, you have to leave immediately.

I don’t know how much the surgical masks I am wearing prevent against catching COVID-19, but they definitely prevent against sneezes and coughs spreading. I sneezed today in Dierbergs, and I felt good knowing the particles didn’t spread.

I feel better with the blue surgical masks than with a cloth mask. Two ladies were wearing Blues masks at Schnucks. Too bad I don’t know French or I would have said “Go Habs” in French. Montreal did beat St. Louis in both meetings this season, about the only thing that’s gone right for the Canadiens this season. Hey, at least it is still 23-1 Montreal over St. Louis in times winning the Stanley Cup.

N95 masks would be the best, but the doctors need them. I hope Dr. Custer and the rest of the staff at Hays Medical Center has been able to secure them.

I still have not seen blue surgical masks sold anywhere except Hen House in Johnson County, where I’ve seen them at the Leawood and Prairie Village locations. Speaking of Prairie Village, everyone who goes out in public in that city now has to wear a mask, thanks to an ordinance passed by the city council there.

I’m curious to find out how many people in Hays are wearing masks now. I’m going there Tuesday to Walgreens to pick up medication. I may stop at Dillons just for fun, because heaven knows I don’t need food after all I’m bringing back from St. Louis.

I gorged myself yesterday on sushi, plus I ate a salmon filet and grilled cheese.

The grilled cheese was not made of cheddar, swiss or provolone. I decided to try a St. Louis specialty.

It’s called Provel, and it’s a processed mix of the three cheeses I just mentioned. It is used as the main cheese (instead of mozzarella) by St. Louis pizza chain Imo’s, where pies are baked on a thin cracker-style crust and cut into squares. Many St. Louis residents swear by it and will never eat pizza without Provel, but others dislike Provel and want good old mozzarella.

The Provel grilled cheese was very tasty. I’m going to bring some back to Russell and have my parents try it. I’m not big on processed cheese; I will eat Velveeta and “American” cheese, but it is far from my favorite. However, Provel may grow on me and I may start bringing back lots of it from St. Louis, the same way I do things from Kansas City.

I skipped White Castle yesterday but went back today. Got a crave case (30), which will tide me over through today and tomorrow. I doubt I’m going out tomorrow, because the forecast calls for heavy rain. Monday is supposed to be the perfect day for an eight hour drive, with cooler temperatures and abundant sunshine.

One thing I am really hating about shopping right now is the ban on reusable bags. God I hate those flimsy plastic bags. I get a lot of angry looks from baggers and checkers when I request paper and not plastic.

Growing up in New Orleans, we didn’t have to ponder that question. If you shopped at Schwegmann’s Giant Supermarkets, you got paper and you liked it. The bags were so ubiquitous around the Crescent City they were known as “Schwegmann bags”. Unfortunately, Schwegmann’s went bankrupt and closed its last stores just before the start of the millennium.

Forty years ago tonight, a magical sporting event took place. Too bad few people witnessed it live. I’ll get to it in my next post.

Motorcycles more important than a pandemic? Maybe in Missouri

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of a day Boston sports fans treasure…and St. Louis sports fans want to forget.

On Mothers’ Day 1970, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1941 by completing a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Finals. Boston clinched the Cup when Bobby Orr, probably the greatest defenseman (defenceman for the Canadians) to ever lace up a pair of skates, scored 40 seconds into overtime of the fourth game.

The game-winning goal wrapped up a phenomenal season for the 22-year old, who became the first defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (goals and assists), then took home the Norris (best defenseman), Hart (Most Valuable Player) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) trophies, becoming the first player to win four major awards in one season.

Orr’s backhand beat one of the game’s greatest goaltenders, Glenn Hall, but what was more memorable was the photo captured a split second after the goal. It shows Orr suspended in flight after he was tripped by the Blues’ Noel Picard. It is the most iconic photo in NHL history, and certainly one of the best-known photos in North American sport.

It took the Blues 49 years, one month and two days to even the score. Right now, the Blues should be defending the Cup in the playoffs, but of course, COVID-19 has put life as we know it on hold. If the NHL cannot complete the regular season and playoffs, will the Blues keep the Cup, or will the NHL require it go back to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto? The hope of commissioner Gary Bettman and every hockey player, coach and fan is the season is completed one way or another.

For once, I agree with Gary Bettman. Mark it down.

Speaking of St. Louis, your lazy blogger got up at 04:45 today and departed 1224 North Brooks at 05:30 for a trip to the far side of Missouri. This comes exactly three weeks after I left Russell for Kansas City.

My parents know nothing of where I am. They know I left this morning, but that’s it. Peggy knows where I am. Larry knows where I am after I just texted him. Crista will know tomorrow at 14:00.

After farting around in Kansas City for an hour filling up my gas tank, buying bread at Hen House in Leawood and purchasing treatment for scars left over from a grease burn at Target in Martin City, I was on my way to the opposite side of the Show-Me State.

One major difference between how Kansas and Missouri have responded to COVID-19 can be seen in the electronic road signs along Interstate 70.

In Kansas, all signs have now been targeted towards reducing the spread of the disease. Signs read “Wash Hands, Cover Mouth, Save Lives”; “If Fever Strikes, Stay Home” and other ominous messages.

Some of the signs say “Stay Home”, but I’m ignoring those. It has nothing to do with my parents. Seriously. It’s all me. They need a break from me every so often. EVERYONE needs a break from me every so often: Peggy, Caitlyn, Crista, Dr. Jones, Dr. Custer, Robb, Larry, Liz, Brenda…whomever. I can only be tolerated in small doses. It’s not their fault. They do their best to put up with me. All of them deserve sainthood.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly went too far too fast by calling off the remainder of the 2019-20 school year when she did. She could have waited a couple of weeks like most states, including the three which border Kansas. I’m surprised Kelly did not extend the stay-at-home order, which expired last Monday.

You would never know there’s a pandemic if you read the road signs on I-70 in Missouri, at least from Blue Springs to Wentzville.

None of this business about washing hands. None of this business about staying home. Instead, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds drivers constantly to be alert for motorcycles and to share the road with Harleys and Kawasakis.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has been raked over the coals by the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for what they see as a lackadaisical response. The Star has praised Kelly while pounding Parson, and the same is true of the Post-Dispatch comparing Parson to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker., whose state is still under severe restrictions; however, if you took the Chicago area out of the equation, Illinois would be much closer to Kansas and Missouri in terms of cases and deaths.

Speaking of Illinois, it is forbidden for Kansans like myself, unless I want to quarantine for 14 days when I return to Russell. Believe me, there is absolutely nothing I want or need in Illinois, although it would have been nice to have the option to zip through on I-64 heading towards Louisville and Lexington.

If Kansas were still governed by Sam Brownback, or worse, Kris Kobach were governor, I can only imagine just how bad it might be in the Sunflower State. I’m guessing neither Brownback nor Kobach would have issued a stay-at-home order, and Kobach might have made it much worse by threatening to sue—or actually suing—the federal government. Notice I didn’t mention Jeff Colyer, who became governor after Brownback became an ambassador in 2017, because Colyer is far more level-headed than Brownback or Kobach and would have done something to head off the virus at the pass.

I don’t particularly like most of Kelly’s stances (I didn’t vote for any of the three major candidates for governor in 2018), and while I wish she would have waited a little longer to close schools—it probably would have happened regardless—her course was probably as balanced an approach as there could be.

The White Castle in Columbia provided a great caper.

I attempted to place an order for pickup before leaving Kansas City. However, I kept getting an error stating the restaurant would not be open at that hour. I was trying to place an order for shortly after noon. I used the app on both my phone and tablet, and then tried to order from the regular website as well, but nothing. I did, however, place a 16:45 order for the O’Fallon location.

I pulled off I-70 at a rest stop and e-mailed White Castle technical support, explaining I was getting a message that the location was closed. When I arrived in Columbia, there were numerous cars in the drive-thru lane at White Castle. I then called their customer support hotline to explain the online ordering snafu. I chose not to wait any longer, and instead got back on the road.

It turned out I was the one with the snafu.

The Columbia location—the farthest west in the United States as far as I know—is now closed on Monday and Tuesday. I received a reply from White Castle headquarters in Cincinnati which mentioned it, but gave no explanation.

I then shot back that there were cars in the drive-thru, but the representative told me the closure was true.

D’oh!

The good news? Wentzville was only 80 miles away. If I waited seven hours of driving (well, seven hours after leaving home; there was a lot of wasted time in Kansas City and at that rest stop 70 miles west of Columbia), I could make it 80 more miles.

Wentzville, a booming town in western St. Charles County 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis, provided me a good laugh or two.

The QuikTrip was one piece good news, two pieces bad.

The good: I could buy a fountain drink! I could not at any Kansas City location during my trip last month, nor could I purchase one today in Overland Park. However, I walked right up to the fountain like the pre-COVID-19 days in Wentzville. The differences: no styrofoam cups and no refills, so I had to buy a new cup and pour it into my black mug.

The bad…

First, the restroom was incredibly dirty. I have never seen a QuikTrip restroom that filthy. Never. And I have been frequenting QuikTrips for 14 years in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha and (once) Tulsa.

Second, NOBODY was wearing a mask other than the boob from Russell. I’ve made the mistake of not wearing a mask at times, although when I nearly entered the QuikTrip in Overland Park, I caught myself and went back to my car to get it.

On to White Castle, and only the boob from Russell was wearing a mask. St. Charles County has greatly loosened its restrictions, so patrons can go into a restaurant to pick up food, although there is no seating. Six employees, no mask. Four other guests, no masks.

I put the maskless people behind me, because I was damn hungry. White Castle never tasted better.

The Schnucks in Lake St. Louis was almost the complete opposite of the QuikTrip and White Castle in Wentzville. Every employee had a mask on, and nearly every customer did, too. However, at the White Castle in O’Fallon, only the boob from Russell wore one, although no other customers entered during the 10 minutes I waited.

The outlet mall in Chesterfield is a ghost town. That’s because St. Louis County still hasn’t loosened its restrictions. But as long as White Castle, Schnucks and Dierberg’s are doing business, I’m a happy camper.

I’ve crossed the Missouri River on I-64 three times already. Over/under is 14 for this trip, which will go until at least Friday, maybe longer. My yellow rain slicker will get a workout. The weathermen and ladies are expecting a lot of rain in the Gateway City this week.

I’m not as tired as I could be after a long day. But it’s time for me to stop blogging for tonight.

One day, two tales in the Big Apple

Fifty years ago yesterday, two notable events occurred in New York City within hours of each other. (Yes, it’s still 8 May for a few more minutes in Kansas, but it’s 9 May in NYC, so yesterday is appropriate).

One, the Hard Had Riot, was one of many regrettable episodes in the more than 400 years of the city once known as New Amsterdam (“Even Old New York was once New Amsterdam”, a famous line from the famous They Might Be Giants song, “Istanbul not Constantinople). Occurring four days after Sandy Scheuer, William Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause lost their lives at Kent State, 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO attacked more than 1,000 students protesting the war and mourning the Kent State four.

Apologies to Ms. Scheuer’s family and friends for misspelling her name with an extra “R” in previous posts.

It began at 07:30 with a memorial for Scheuer, Schroeder, Miller and Krause at Federal Hall. Four hours later, construction workers broke past a pathetic police line and started beating the protesters, especially those men with long hair, with their hard hats, steel-toed shoes, and anything else they could find.

Four policemen and 70 others were injured. Fortunately, nobody was killed.

This was not the case in January 1976 when union members murdered a non-union worker at a chemical plant in Lake Charles in the midst of Louisiana’s push to become the last southern state to pass right-to-work legislation.

Six months later, after right-to-work cleared both chambers of the Louisiana legislature, the leader of the right-to-work campaign, Shreveport advertising executive Jim Leslie, was murdered in Baton Rouge by a sniper acting on orders of Shreveport police commissioner George D’Artois, who attempted to use city funds to pay for his election campaign. Leslie flatly refused D’Artois’ bribe, and paid for it with his life. Rat bastard D’Artois dropped dead in June 1977 before he could be brought to justice. It would have been lovely to see the S.O.B. rot in Angola.

Back to 8 May 1970 in the Big Apple.

Nine hours after the construction workers attacked innocent protesters who had the nerve to exercise their First Amendment rights, the Knickerbockers met the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden for the championship of the National Basketball Association.

Hours after the Kent State shootings, the Knicks won Game 5 107-100 at MSG to take a 3-2 series lead despite losing the NBA’s 1969-70 Most Valuable Player, Louisiana native and Grambling alum Willis Reed, to a serious leg injury in the first quarter. Los Angeles led 51-35 at halftime, but committed 19 turnovers in the final 24 minutes, leading Lakers fans to believe their franchise was cursed, if they didn’t already.

Two nights later, with Reed back in New York, the Lakers destroyed the short-handed Knicks at The Forum 135-113 behind 45 points and 27 rebounds from Wilt Chamberlain.

The teams flew commercial from LAX to JFK the next morning, leaving them approximately 30 hours to rest for the winner-take-all game.

Charter flights were not the norm in the NBA or NHL until the late 1980s, which means the likes of Chamberlain, Reed, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Walt (Clyde) Frazier, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson flew charters very rarely, and Kareem didn’t fly them for the majority of his career. Same for Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Rod Gilbert, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Jean Beliveau, although Les Habitants (the Canadiens) may have been flying charter before the American teams.

The Lakers were planning a glorious return to LAX Saturday morning, then a parade similar to the ones enjoyed by the Dodgers following World Series wins in 1959, ’63, and ’65.

The Knicks wanted to be honored with New York’s third ticker tape parade for a championship sports team in 17 months, following the Jets in Super Bowl III and the Mets after the ’69 World Series. In between the Jets and Mets, Neill Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were honored with their own parade for Apollo 11.

Sadly for most of the 19,500 who passed through MSG’s turnstiles that Friday evening, the Knicks’ chances appeared dim without Reed.

Then, the NBA’s version of Moses parting the Red Sea occurred.

ABC announcers Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman lamented the Knicks’ fate without their MVP, but as they went on, Twyman excitedly noticed Reed coming out from the tunnel.

Reed took the court with Bradley, Frazier, Dave DeBuesschere and Dick Barnett for the opening tip.

Eighteen seconds later, Reed, who could barely walk, took a jump shot from 20 feet.

Swish.

A minute later, Reed scored again to make it 5-2.

Willis Reed did not score another point.

He didn’t need to.

His defense against Chamberlain spooked The Big Dipper, who was limited to 21 points, although he led all players with 24 rebounds.

Frazier picked up the offensive slack with 36 points and 19 assists, and New York rolled to a 113-99 victory in a game which wasn’t that close.

The Knicks were NBA champions for the first time. New York had its third championship team in 17 months. Prior to that, the Big Apple went six-plus years without a title after the Yankees won the 1962 World Series. The Giants were in the midst of 29 seasons without a title, with Super Bowl XXI a little less than 17 years off. The Rangers’ Stanley Cup drought stood at 30 years in 1970 and would last 24 more. The Islanders and Devils (Kansas City Scouts/Colorado Rockies) didn’t exist, and the Nets were an afterthought until they signed Julius Erving.

The Knicks won the title again three years later by defeating the Lakers in five games, one year after Los Angeles got the monkey off of its back by ousting New York in five.

Since 1973, the Knicks have been to the championship series twice, losing to the Rockets in 1994 and the Spurs in 1999. The Lakers have had slightly more success, winning five championships in the 1980s and five more in the 21st century.

Today’s Knicks are an outright disgrace to Red Holzman’s championship teams. Thankfully, the surviving members of the 1969-70 Knicks didn’t have to put up with having to watch the 2019-20 Knicks at a 50th anniversary reunion; it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Owner James Dolan is a douchebag who continues to anger fans with his outright stupidity and callousness. Isaiah Thomas is a sexual harasser who should be in prison, but Dolan loves him, so he still has a high-paying job with the Knicks.

That’s more NBA than I care to discuss, so I’m signing off.

COVID-19 and Kent State: two sad stories of American history

Kansas’ stay-at-home order has expired. Some businesses have reopened, but many have not.

This was evident today when I went to Hays.

The Wendy’s at the corner of Vine and 43rd north of Interstate 70 was doing quite a business. Ten vehicles in the drive-thru, elderly couples sitting at the tables outside, and people inside the restaurant for the first time in seven weeks.

The nearby Applebee’s and Old Chicago were not seating customers, although they were accepting takeout orders.

I haven’t missed sitting in a restaurant. I’ve been able to procure takeout from Chick-Fil-A without difficulty. Unfortunately, Arby’s and Popeye’s don’t have mobile ordering, which stinks, because I could really go for Popeye’s right now. Then again, the chicken would get cold on the 70-minute drive from Salina to Russell.

The three large cities in southwest Kansas–Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal–are all overrun with COVID-19. Each county has more cases than Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located.

Coincidentally, the same thing has happened in Nebraska. The three large cities of south central Nebraska–Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney–have more cases between them than either of the state’s large metropolitan areas, Lincoln and Omaha.

Missouri also lifted its stay-at-home order, although Kansas City and St. Louis are still locked until at least May 15. St. Louis couldn’t care less about lockdown right now; all the Gateway City wants is for the Blues and Cardinals to return.

Today marked the 50th anniversary of the infamous shootings at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. Sandy Scheurer, William Schroeder, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller were killed, and nine others injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during an anti-Vietnam War protest. Krause and Miller were participating in the protest, but Scheurer and Schroeder were innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Due to COVID-19 and the closure of every college campus in the United Staes, the celebration at Kent State was quite subdued, a far cry from what organizers of the school’s May 4 Committee hoped for. Had campus been open, it’s likely Kent State’s most famous alumnus would have appeared (see below), not to mention Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and possibly three of the school’s greatest athletes, Jack Lambert, Antonio Gates and Julian Edelman.

One of Krause’s classmates was a freshman from Monagaha, West Virginia named Nicholas Saban, who, of course, would become the most successful college football coach of the last 50 years, leading LSU to a national championship in 2003 and Alabama to titles in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15 and ’17.

Saban and a classmate were walking to a dining hall and saw the shooting unfold. He rushed back to West Virginia after campus closed to spend time with his longtime girlfriend, Terry Constable, now better known as Miss Terry, Nick’s wife of almost 49 years.

There was another future Southeastern Conference football coach on Kent State’s campus that day.

Gary Pinkel was a tight end for the Golden Flashes who went on to earn All-Mid-America Conference honors. He eventually followed in Saban’s footsteps as head coach at Toledo before going to Missouri in 2001.

When Pinkel arrived in CoMo (to differentiate from the other Columbia in the SEC), Mizzou was in sorry shape. The Tigers were a powerhouse under Dan Devine throughout the 1960s, and even though they fell on hard times after Devine left for the Green Bay Packers in 1971, Mizzou bounced back to respectability under Al Onofrio and Warren Powers.

When Powers was fired after the 1984 season, the Tigers tanked. Woody Widenhofer, Bob Stull and Larry Smith all failed miserably in pulling Mizzou out of its funk. Sadly, the thing Mizzou is best known for during the tenure of those three coaches was the infamous Fifth Down Game vs. Colorado in 1990.

It took Pinkel a few years to get it going, but when he did, Mizzou zoomed to heights it had not seen since Devine’s glory years. The Tigers reached #1 in the polls in 2007 following their victory over Kansas, although their hopes of a date with Ohio State in the BCS championship game ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. LSU was the beneficiary, ending up as national championship following their victory over the Buckeyes in New Orleans.

Mizzou ended up #5 in the polls following the 2007 season, and repeated it in 2013, the Tigers’ second season in the SEC. The Tigers have struggled since winning the SEC East (why is Mizzou in the SEC East when it is farther west than five of the seven SEC West schools?) in 2013 and ’14, but it hasn’t relapsed into the pitiful form it showed from 1985-2000, when it became roadkill for Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and later, Kansas State.

Here is an excellent New York Times retrospective of Kent State.

Given the late hour, I’ll end it here.

Life (still) interrupted

Last weekend was supposed to be the first weekend of the 51st New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The second weekend of Jazz Fest was supposed to begin Thursday and run through Sunday.

This Monday is supposed to be the 50th anniversary commemoration of the shooting at Kent State University, which cost Sandy Scheurer, William Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause their lives, and forever changed the life of an 18 1/2-year old West Virginia native named Nicholas Lou Saban, who was then wrapping up his freshman year at the Ohio school.

Major League Baseball should be entering its second month. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs should be in full gear. National Football League draft choices and undrafted free agnets should be preparing for orientation and mini-camp this weekend.

It’s just after 13:00 on Tuesday, which means I should be wrapping up another week of writing for all the Main Street Media newspapers which are my responsibility.

I have an appointment at 14:00 with Crista, which means I should be leaving RIGHT now and heading for Hays. See you later!

Not so fast.

I have my appointment with Crista, but that will be done via Zoom. That means I’ll be sitting at my desk in Russell.

All the rest? Not happening.

Thank you, COVID-19.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, who led the Union Army as it burned Atlanta, said “war is hell”. I doubt he, nor any other Civil War soldier, Union or Confederate, could imagine a disease such as COVID-19 bringing the world to its knees.

Among Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first words as President of the United States were “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I’m guessing FDR would much rather have battled the Great Depression of the 1930s than the Great Depression which could be coming if this country stays on lockdown much longer.

George W. Bush probably thinks the War on Terror was a far easier opponent. Bill Clinton will take the Whitewater and Lewinsky scandals any day over this.

There’s just no way to know what the new normal post-COVID-19 will be.

After September 11, 2001, it was increased security. Then again, Al-Qaeda, no matter how deeply buried in caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was far easier to combat than a virus which seems to be immune to the ways of combating other viruses.

I did the math. If an average seat width in a college or professional sports facility is 18 inches, it will require FIVE empty seats between patrons to maintain six feet (72 inches) social distancing. Not only that, but rows will have to be skipped.

I don’t see any way that happens, since it would force massive stadium renovations and cost teams millions in revenue.

Therefore, the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA and all other leagues are going to have to introduce indemnity clauses stating they cannot be held responsible if patrons become ill from attending an event, the same way MLB tickets carry a disclaimer about foul balls and bats possibly flying into the stands.

Kauffman Stadium, home to the Royals, would go from about 38,000 capacity to less than 14,000. Arrowhead Stadium, across the parking lot, would go from 76,000 to 24,000.

The Bundesliga, German’s top football league, is going to have a serious problem, since all of its top stadia, including those in Berlin, Dortmund, Leipzig and Munich, have massive standing areas, and you can be sure people are not six inches apart, much less six feet.

I don’t mind wearing a mask in public. I was more vigilant about doing it last week than before. However, keeping things locked down is not the answer. We’re going to have to face COVID-19 head on sooner or later. People are going to die. It’s sad, but it has to happen if we’re to avoid a repeat of 90 years ago.

It has just been reported the United States now has more than a million diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Deaths have surpassed the more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

Louisiana’s death toll is at 1,758, inching closer to the 1,836 who died during Hurricane Katrina, and more than three times the number of deaths during Hurricane Audrey in 1957. Nearly 28,000 cases have been diagnosed in my native state, with at least one in each of the 64 parishes (counties).

Russell County still does not have a case, but there have been 19 in three bordering counties (Barton 9, Ellis 8 and Osborne 2). There has been a huge spike in the three largest counties in southwest Kansas: 544 in Ford (Dodge City), 422 in Seward (Liberal) and 175 in Finney (Garden City). More than 1,000 of the Sunflower State’s 3,500 are in Johnson and Wyandotte, the two counties which are part of the Kansas City metro.

Asking for life to go back to some semblance of normal before Father’s Day is asking too much. Maybe by Labor Day. If it doesn’t by my 44th birthday, 45 isn’t looking so good.

Happy 50th, Apollo 13

Fifty years ago last night, the humdrum of what appeared to be another routine Apollo mission to the moon was forever changed by five words spoken by Commander Jim Lovell.

“Houston, we have a problem”.

And so began the saga of Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. There was no way they would follow in the footsteps of Apollo 11’s Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, nor Apollo 12’s Bean, Conrad and Gordon. Apollo 11 went to the moon in July 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin setting foot on its surface on 20 July. Four months later, Apollo 12 took the same path.

As an aside, it would be Dick Gordon’s last space flight; twenty-six months later, he became the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the New Orleans Saints. Gordon was obviously smarter than the man who hired him, Saints owner John Mecom, and the head coach Gordon was inheriting, J.D. Roberts, but Gordon was in over his head against the likes of Jim Finks in Minnesota, Carroll Rosenbloom with the Rams, Al Davis in Oakland, the Rooney sin Pittsburgh, and Donald Francis Shula in south Florida.

Enough football. Back to Lovell, Haise and Swigert. Landing on the moon was out of the question; the new question was simply if they would live or die.

The first three and half months of the 1970s were carrying on the same deadly legacy as the last few months of the 1960s.

Following Apollo 11, ]Hurricane Camille bulldozed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same weekend as Woodstock, killing 256 over five states. Three and half months later came the infamous Altamont Free Concert in northern California, where 18-year old druggie Meredith Hunter was stabbed by Hell’s Angel Alan Passarro, the latter claiming self-defense because he and his fellow Angels were scared the former would attack Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones during their performance.

Less than six days before Apollo 13 lifted off, four members of the California Highway Patrol were shot to death by snipers near Los Angeles. And three weeks after Lovell radioed the Johnson Space Center, four students died at Kent State (fortunately for football fans from coast to coast, one of them was not Nick Saban, then a freshman on the Golden Flashes football team).

The launch of Apollo 13 on 11 April was covered by the three networks, but other than updates from Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith and Frank Reynolds, there was no special coverage. The night of Lovell’s transmission, the networks were in regular programming (“Here’s Lucy” on CBS; “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” on NBC and a horrendous TV movie on ABC), but Cronkite, Brinkley and Reynolds scurried back to their anchor chairs and updated the viewing public.

The mayday came after an explosion occurred in a liquid oxygen tank on board the command module. It turns out the tank was seriously damaged when it was dropped in preparation for Apollo 10. The tank for Apollo 10 was replaced, and the damaged tank was repaired and placed aboard Apollo 13.

It should not have been. It should have simply been disposed of. However, in 1969 and ’70, the cost of simply replacing the tank may have been too prohibitive to not to try and salvage it.

The damaged tank could only handle 28 volts, compared to 65 volts if the tank were in optimal condition. When temperatures spiked to approximately 185 degrees Celsius (365 degrees Fahrenheit), the internal wiring in the tank melted. When Swigert flipped a switch to stir the cryogenic tanks, the defective one exploded.

Lovell, Haise and Swigert were now on their own, more than 320,000 kilometers (200,000 miles) from earth. Mission Control was rendered useless.

The only hope was to use the lunar module, which Lovell and Haise would have used to land on the moon while Swigert circled above in the service module (the same way Collins did for Armstrong and Aldrin during Apollo 11, and Gordon for Bean and Conrad during Apollo 12), to fly back to earth.

Lovell had to figure out how to guide the lunar module with the service module attached, a totally different animal compared to what he and Haise would have experieneced landing on the moon.

As the trio neared earth on 17 April, they moved back into the damaged service module to prepare for splashdown. Originally, it was believed it would splash down in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Australia, but the trajectory was improved and it splashed at the original destination in the south Pacific.

I learned about Apollo 13 in sixth grade science. Two years later, an episode of ABC’s “The Wonder Years” featured the Apollo 13 crisis as a central plot point. Norma Arnold (Alley Mills) is up late after husband Jack (Dan Lauria) and children Karen (Olivia d’Abo), Wayne (Jason Hervey) and Kevin (Fred Savage) had gone to bed. Just as Kevin walks into the kitchen where Norma is watching television, and Frank Reynolds pops onto the screen with a “special report”. Later in the week, Kevin enters a church and finds Norma praying for the astronauts. The astronauts’ safe return also seemingly eases any tension between Norma and Jack. Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) sat out this episode.

The three men aboard Apollo 13 never returned to space. The Apollo program ended in December 1972, and it would be over eight years before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.

Lovell, still alive and well at 92, retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy shortly after Apollo 13. His book “Lost Moon” served as the script for the 1995 blockbuster film “Apollo 13”, with Tom Hanks portraying Lovell.

I know of a few people who are not enamored with Lovell.

In August 1999, Lovell was as guest of the Chicago Cubs during a nationally televised game vs. the Houston Astros. Lovell harshly criticized a group of umpires who lost their jobs when they followed Richie Phillips’ dreadful strategy to resign the previous month. The interview, conducted by ESPN announcers John Miller and Joe Morgan, was seen by millions from coast to coast.

Two of the umpires working that night’s game, the infamous Eric Gregg and Paul Nauert, lost their jobs three and a half weeks later. Jerry Crawford, the crew chief for that night’s game, didn’t lose his job, but he was Richie Phillips’ best friend, and I’m certain he won’t shed a tear when Lovell finally slips the surly bonds of this earth and touches the face of God, as Ronald Reagan once put it.

Haise, still alive at 86, was scheduled to fly on Apollo 19, but his number didn’t come up, since Apollo 17 was the last. He was recruited for the space shuttle program, but he got tired of the delays.

Swigert turned to politics in the late 1970s after leaving NASA. His first run for office failed, as he lost the 1978 Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Colorado to U.S. Rep. Bill Armstrong, who went on to win the general election and serve two terms.

In early 1982, Swigert announced he would run for U.S. Representative from Colorado’s 6th district, a seat which the Centennial State gained from reapportionment following the 1980 census.

Before Swigert could worry about winning in November, he had to beat cancer, which manifested itself in a tumor in his right nasal passage. He finished radiation treatment in June 1982, but two months later, cancer came back in his bone marrow.

Swigert stayed in the election and won with 64 percent of the vote, becoming the third ex-astronaut to win election to Congress, with the others serving in the Senate.

The first was John Glenn, the living legend who represented Ohio from 1975-1998; the second was Harrison Schmitt, who represented New Mexico from 1977-82. Ironically, the same day Swigert was elected, Schmitt lost his seat to Jeff Bingaman.

Sadly for Swigert, he never took the oath on Capitol Hill. He died 27 December in the same wing of Georgetown University Hospital where Vince Lombardi succumbed to colon cancer 12 years earlier. Swigert was only 51.

Apollo 13 may never have reached its intended destination. However, the courage demonstrated by James Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert will continue to serve as a beacon of hope, especially poignant given what’s happening right now, 50 years after Lovell radioed Houston.

Hays’ toilet paper supply in the toilet

The 30 rolls of toilet paper I purchased in Salina Tuesday were exactly 30 more than I found in any store in Hays Wednesday.

ZERO. ZILCH. NADA.

Dillons on Vine, Walgreens and Walmart did not have a single roll for sale. No Charmin Ultra Soft, no Charmin Ultra Strong, no Angel Soft, no Cottonelle…not even one-play crap you find in rest stops.

I looked because my mother wanted Cottonelle. Tuesday, I was limited to the one (giant) pack of Charmin I bought, and I wasn’t greedy enough to even try to fight it.

I was flabbergasted to find Hays completely out of “TP”. People hoarding toilet paper was a popular sight on news broadcasts throughout March, but I figured if there was some in Salina, there would be some in Hays.

Wrong.

I admit I probably overdid it by buying the 30-roll pack, but it wasn’t the last one. My parents don’t use Charmin, but if they run low, they can have a roll or two. I offered Crista a couple of rolls, but she politely declined, hoping some will be in stock Friday.

There were haircutting sets avaialable at the Hays Walmart. There was also a full stock of razors, simply because most men in northwest Kansas not named David Steinle don’t shave. My father doesn’t need to shave. He couldn’t grow a beard if he went a whole year without shaving. He briefly grew a terrible mustache when I was a month old. I will never let him live that down.

As bad as hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes and other cleaning supplies is, people hoarding masks is criminal.

Too bad the federal government can’t go through every person’s credit card records and determine who hoarded masks. Once the jerks were found, the feds could raid their residences and confiscate the masks, citing a national emergency.

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this? Medical personnel are risking their lives even more so than normal because they don’t have masks, gloves and other NECESSARY items just because a handful of a-holes went all Howard Hughes and became deathly afraid of germs?

Worse than the hoarding, some lowlife scumbags were selling the masks at markups of over 1,000% before Amazon and other online retailers put a stop to this. Medical masks costing more than a new iPhone. Disgusting.

I get it. COVID-19 is the nastiest virus we have experienced in our lifetime. Yet like the Spanish flu of 1918-19, the H1N1 flu of 2009 and other communicable diseases, most people are not going to die from it.

Unfortunately, nobody is showing leadership. Dumbass Trump doesn’t know when to shut up and let the experts take over, while Crazy Bernie thinks 20 million will die and it’s all because the US doesn’t have a single-payer health care system.

The number one mask hoarder: Baruch Feldheim, 43, of NYC, who stashed EIGHTY THOUSAND masks in a New Jersey warehouse.

EIGHTY THOUSAND. Not a typo.

Feldheim was arrested Wednesday, then coughed all over FBI agents. What a real SHITHEAD. Sorry for using that langauge, but calling Feldheim a SHITHEAD is too nice.

There’s a special ring of hell awaiting you, Baruch Feldheim.

I read where Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor was pretty darn upset with the newest expert on coronavirus.

Taylor told a Manhattan (Kansas, not NYC) radio station he wishes Kirk Herbstreit would have kept his mouth shut instead of declaring sports are dead for at least another year.

Bravo, Gene. Someone needs to tell Herbstreit to let the doctors handle it and for him to worry about his own family and (hopefully) the games which will start in September.

I’m getting worked up, and 01:05 is NOT the time to get worked up. I’m getting out of here while I can.

Remember…BARUCH FELDHEIM IS PUBLIC ENEMY #1.

A bad March transitions into (probably) a worse April

The worst month many of us have experienced is over.

What may become the worst month many of us will experience is now upon us.

Life without sports will continue throughout April, and probably May. If there are any games played before Fathers Day (June 21), it will be a Biblical miracle. If there are any before America’s Independence Day, it will be a major miracle. If the college and professional football seasons kick off on time in September, it will be a minor miracle.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit scared the living crap out of every coach, player and fan last week, stating he didn’t believe there would be any more sports, period, until a vaccine for coronavirus was available.

Yikes.

College football’s resident coronavirus expert, Ed Orgeron, believes there will be “no disruption” to the college football season, which is scheduled to begin August 29 with the Notre Dame-Navy game in Ireland.

I’m naturally pessimistic, and I’m tending to believe Herbstreit might be right. I’m not scared. I’m downright terrified.

My native state is in one of its biggest crises since Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803.

The banner on the top of The Advocate’s home page is grim indeed: 5,237 cases, 239 dead, 1,355 in the hospital.

For perspective, the coronavirus has killed three times as many Louisiana residents as Hurricane Betsy, which claimed 76 lives in the Bayou State (plus five in Florida) in September 1965.

The toll is only 17 short of the total number of people who perished in Hurricane Camille, the Category 5 monster which plowed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same weekend as Woodstock in 1969. The total of 256 was spread over Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia and West Virginia; the latter two states experienced flash flooding in the Blue Ridge mountains two days after landfall.

Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 in Louisiana in 2005. If the coronavirus comes anywhere close to reaching that figure, it will be just as catastrophic, maybe more so. I’m certain it will surpass the 550 who died when Hurricane Audrey roared into southwest Louisiana in June 1957.

Kansas has “only” 428 cases as of this minute. Barton County, due south of Russell County, reported its first case yesterday.

For the second consecutive Tuesday, I ventured to Salina to pick up food and other necessities. It was a complete success, as I picked up five dozen eggs, plus the sausages and other things I like.

Target had two surprises for me.

One, TOILET PAPER. And not just any toilet paper, the Charmin Ultra Soft I have used for most of the past 25 years. I first used it when I went to LSU, and I kept on using it living in Baton Rouge following graduation. I did not use it when I moved home from April 2004 through August 2005, but once I got to Russell, I started using it again.

I have 19 mega rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft in the utility closet next to my bathroom, but 30 mega rolls for $30 was just too good to pass up. I’m set for the rest of this year, and probably most of next year.

There were ZERO packages of toilet paper available the previous Tuesday in the same store.

I was also happy to find Bounty paper towels. Bounty and Brawny are head and shoulders above all other brands. They may be more expensive, but as they say, you get what you pay for.

The second surprise: Target’s stock of home haircutting kits was completely sold out.

I was stunned, but then I realized barber shops and salons were forced to close by the statewide stay-at-home order which took effect Monday. This is going to force parents to cut their children’s hair, although there are no grooming regulations to worry about since nobody will be attending school in a building until at least August.

Fortunately, I bought a haircut set at a Walmart in Topeka in 2007. It sat unused until November, when I elected to cut my own hair to save money.

Walmart did not have haircut sets, either. Bed, Bath and Beyond, whose stores are closed through at least Friday and longer in many states due to stay-at-home orders, is sold out online. Amazon’s supplies are low.

Speaking of Salina and haircuts, I miss Amber.

Chick-Fil-A was again my meal of choice. I hadn’t eaten since the previous night so I devoured a chicken sandwich and eight strips. I think their strips are just as good as Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s, although they aren’t hyped as much as the sandwiches.

I have seriously lost track of time. I sat down to play Buzztime at 22:00, and now it’s 02:10. I’m surprised Buzztime hasn’t kicked me off the system, which it used to after 02:00.

Just posted my first perfect Late Shift of the night. On my 17th try. Usually I can get it quicker than that.

I’d better get to bed, or I’ll sleep through my appointment with Crista at 16:00, although I don’t have to drive to Hays. We’re doing it via Zoom, which was the case last week.