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Column: Flowers and your bucket list

Posted: March 12, 2018 2:29 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.

This story is one of “small-towner” visits the “big city.”

Have you ever reunited with an old military buddy or a childhood friend?

Did you know that a Bethune family has a big impact at the Rose Bowl?

Forty-eight years ago, in the fall of 1969, on our first day at an army basic school, Mark, who was from Los Angeles, and I just happened to sit beside each other. We became buddies. There were about 80 of us in this class and we all hailed from somewhere else. We were mostly in our early 20s in age and no one knew anyone else. Little did we know that we would become part of history.

As in most social situations like this one, we eventually formed informal groups and quickly identified and shunned the jerks and know-it-alls. There was some great elbow bending done, and although we did not drink all the beer in the world, we did have the breweries working a second shift. As anyone who has had the adventure of meeting common-age people from all over the U.S., your appreciation of this fine country grows immensely. Ribald and coming-of-age stories told by individuals from Boston, California, Kansas, Texas, Ohio and other locales were hugely entertaining.

We were given the option by the army to sign up for an additional year and choose our destination, or take our chances and head to Vietnam in nine months. Most of the guys with whom we hung around decided to roll the dice. We lost.

Through the magic of artificial intelligence, Mark and I were able to make contact several years ago. We are both longtime fans of college football, not only our respective alma maters, but also the history and the pageantry of the game. Mark is a University of Washington fan and is quite versed in Pac-12 football.

Mark and his lovely wife, Gloria, extended Kathy and me an invitation to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl game and parade. They live in the hills above the Rose Bowl, so we were able to easily walk to and from the game.

If you like flowers, then the Rose Bowl parade needs to be on your bucket list. All of the floats have to be decorated with flowers or organic substance. The cost per float is between $125,000 and $200,000 and features tons of colors and flowers -- and the floats also have to be driven by hidden, unseen vehicles. The parade is more than five miles in length and has close to a million spectators. You can almost burn out your camera taking pictures.

The Rose Bowl itself is a classic old stadium and actually in a bowl. The game is the oldest college bowl game. For many years, it featured the best team in the west hosting the best eastern team. The turnstiles you see are on ground level. If you are a sports fan, then this stadium is like Fenway Park, Los Angeles Coliseum and Wrigley Field as an appreciated part of our nation’s historic fabric. And when they say 90,000 are packed into the stands, they are not kidding. Any trip to the rest room will have you stepping on people’s toes.

There is an interesting local Kershaw County connection to the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is located in a very affluent neighborhood and the stadium is located in an arroyo which is surrounded by mountains and million dollar homes and a beautiful 27-hole golf course -- which is managed by a family with Bethune ties. This golf course is the parking lot for the stadium and they float large balloons so that people can locate their cars.

The daughter of the former Ruth Price from Bethune, Angela and her husband, Mike, manage the course and pro shop. Angela is the niece of Rose Merry Williams and Merry Rose Radford and Richard, Joe and Tom Price. If you are ever in Pasadena, you can drop the Kershaw County name and play on one of the finest courses in America.

Mark and Gloria were the most gracious hosts and we were able to check off a lot of boxes on our bucket list, such as Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, USC, the LA Coliseum, Dodger and Angels Stadium, San Diego and Santa Anita. A good time was had by all.

The traffic is as bad as what you have heard and L.A. is, as the song says, “a great big freeway.”

Thank you for your attention.


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