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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves



TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


1970: The darkest year in college football


This week marks the 50th anniversary of the darkest six weeks in the history of college football. It began on October 2nd when a Martin 404 airliner carrying a traveling group of Wichita State football players, coaching staff and family crashed into Mount Trelease in Colorado. There were 40 people on the plane (including approximately half the football squad). A plane carrying the other half of the team took a far safer route to their Logan, Utah destination. Eight people survived the crash, and they and their teammates decided to continue the season in honor of their fallen teammates. Just six weeks later, on November 14th, a Southern Airways DC-9 charter from East Carolina University to Huntington, WV carrying the Marshall football squad, crashed just short of the Huntington Airport killing all 75 people on board. It remains the worst sports-related air tragedy in U.S. history. After great consideration, Marshall decided to resume their football program the next year using JV players and athletes from other sports and did manage to win two games in 1971 despite the obvious handicap. Today, it remains a strong member of Conference USA with an 8-5 record last season and an appearance in Tampa’s Gasparilla Bowl last December. As for Wichita State, sixteen years after the tragic crash (1986), the school discontinued their football program.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: From the late Justice Ginsburg – "There's nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being President in his last year,” Of course, this comment was made when Barack Obama was in the White House and tried to fill Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court just prior to the 2016 election.

2. It is going to be interesting how Democrats present their arguments against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett given her incredible resume. This time, they won’t have bogus frat party charges like they tried with Justice Kavanaugh. Biden is already railing that Judge Barrett was opposed to Obamacare like it was some sort of Holy Grail rather than the deeply flawed plan it was.

3. We know they mean well, but Presidents and other high-ranking officials should simply stay away from areas ravaged by fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Airport security and motorcades merely draw resources that need to be used in restoration. The best thing a President can do is phone a governor or mayor and ask “what can I send you?”

4. Sign of the times: In Louisville, two journalists for a conservative media outlet are arrested while covering the out of control demonstrations. In St. Pete, a couple is verbally assaulted by demonstrators, and we get some wimpy proclamation from the city’s ultra-liberal mayor – and no action by St. Pete police.

5. You gotta love Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s sidebar news conference in conjunction with Governor DeSantis’ crackdown on thuggery in Florida. He demonstrates through pictures a peaceful demonstration (folks carrying signs) and a not peaceful demonstration – a business being torched and another picture of looters rifling a store.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. This sports note: A-Rod and J-Lo have dropped their quest to buy the New York Mets in favor of a more promising investment – an Edsel franchise.

7. You can probably count on one hand the number of servicemen overseas who didn’t read Stars and Stripes at least occasionally. The newspaper, which dates back to the Civil War, was saved from a September 30 cessation of the paper by an executive order from President Trump. Good news for its millions of readers over the years and those of us fortunate enough to contribute to the paper during our military careers.

8. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walter Matthau. The prolific actor had dozens of film credits – among them Charade, The Odd Couple, Grumpy Old Men, Plaza Suite and The Fortune Cookie which won him an Academy Award.

9. Justin Verlander’s Tommy John surgery will most likely keep him from pitching in 2021 and could well prompt his retirement. If the man never throws another pitch, he’s a Hall of Famer – most likely first ballot.

10. With the MLB regular season just concluded, the LA Angels finished with the sixth worst record (and second highest payroll) in the American League. Apparently, Joe Maddon is no longer a genius.


Remembering: things we wish we had back


(Editor’s note: In each month’s final edition, we take a look back at the people, places and things that make the area what it is. Previous subjects have included Star Spectaculars, Spring Training, the Clearwater Bombers, High School Graduations, Clearwater’s WTAN, Howard the Trader and water front dining delights.)

In no particular order, rhyme or reason, here are a few dozen people and things, mostly in Pinellas County, we wish we had back: Maas Brothers; Hein’s/Merz Record Shop on Fort Harrison; the Philly Hoagie Shop on Cleveland; across the street – the original stores in Cleveland Plaza; Siple’s Garden Seat; Pontiac with its great cars like the Le Mans, Firebird and GTO; Robby’s Pancake House (you can tell we like to eat); the Gulf-to-Bay Drive In; Chief Charleys; the Carib Theater; two beautiful Bristol Cruiser charter boats at the Clearwater Marina – Capt. Bob Bestle’s Doolie Brook and Capt. Nick Lopez’ Flo Jo; the short-lived Krispy Kreme doughnut store on Gulf-to-Bay; the two-seater Ford Thunderbird – both the original and the retro models; Howard Johnson’s (later the Beach Diner) at the end of the causeway; Tampa’s Golden Gate Speedway; the Old Schoolhouse Restaurant on Alt. 19; Clearwater’s original putt-putt golf course and driving range on Gulf to Bay; the REM go cart track on NE Coachman Road where Walmart now sits; Gulf Discount on Drew Street where you could get an iron, a toaster or a razor fixed instead of throwing it away; The Clearwater Sun; Capt. Fred Price’s Rainbow party fishing boat; Clearwater Ten Pin Lanes; the Clearwater Beach Hotel; the bay area’s smooth jazz station, WSJT; Post Corner Pizza; Eckerd Drugs; the Marina Restaurant; The Sandy Book Store; Morrison’s Cafeteria; The Tampa Tribune; Glen Oaks Golf Course; Bob Edwards on NPR’s Morning Edition; the trampolines on Clearwater Beach; Ronald Reagan; Aunt Hattie’s; Woolworth’s and McCrory’s Five and Dimes on Cleveland Street; The Pelican Restaurant; the Clearwater Auditorium and the many dances it hosted; Wolfies on Central in St. Pete; the Little Big produce stand on S. Fort Harrison Ave.; Young’s BBQ; the four way red light at Cleveland and Fort Harrison; the Palm Garden Restaurant and, finally, full service gas stations.

Many thanks go to some long time Clearwater residents (our unofficial historian in particular) for helping jog our memory on some of these terrific items from our past.  


UP NEXT: Buying Florida votes; MLB season wrap up; Chicago



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