Thursday, May 26, 2011

And Palms Before My Feet: Leo Boxers Eat With George Foreman

This donkey needs a shave, a shower and a financial bail-out - too blessed to fail.

Where do I begin? Hours ago!

It was a stormy day outside of Leo High School. Within it was cheery and warm with anticipation of the upcoming evening's fete at Harry Caray's on Kinzie with two-time Heavyweight Boxing Champ, 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist, Minister of Christ, Entrepreneur, and philanthropist George Foreman.

While winds and rain buffeted 79th Street, Leo High School was warm with academic, athletic shoulders to the wheel and much anticipation. The Big Shoulders Fund and the Boxing Brokers invited Mike Joyce's Leo Boxing Team to share steaks with George Foreman at Harry Caray's. Not only that, but the Track Team was heading down to the State Meet.

Leo's track team departed for the IHSA State Track meet at 11:30 AM. Track coach and Leo AD Ed Adams handed me a key to a vehicle. Off they went with shouts of beefy good-fellowship and God Speed.

At 5 PM, Asst. Boxing Coach Marquis Ball arrived and we inspected the nicely decked-out squad of boxers - Shirts and Ties all. Marquis offered to drive and I handed him the key. Me and the boxers followed the big Leo Alumnus and future Chicago Police Officer out to the motor pool. The vans were gone. There was one of a trio of 22 passenger bus into which this key fit and worked - it was a real pig -last used by the track team in April. With a cloud of white smoke, we wandered away from the warmth of Leo High School toward cold steel and glass of the Loop. Nice ride on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Marquis pulled in front of Harry Caray's and handed the key to the young Mexican American Valet. We were greeted and directed up to the George Foreman Event. This dinner is prelude to tonight's charity boxing night at Chicago's House of Blues -BBF The Broker Boxing Foundation.

George Foreman charged up to greet us and warmly pressed the flesh with the Leo Boxers. "Come on up and let's get our pictures taken!" We all all got into the ring with the most menacing and happy man on the planet. I put my tiny dukes up with the Champ and the camera man, Mr. Nixon the event's chairman, snapped a shot.

No sooner had I stepped away, than the sober and serious baby-faced Marquis Ball, a man in the image and likeness of George Foreman softly whispered "Transmission's shot.The bus is stuck."

I went down to the lobby and the manager told me, "The bus will not move."

Thanks be to God! We were here anyway. Think Mule. Call for a tow. I did. Call for a limo to get the guys back to Leo. The manager contacted a service. Done. Hickey you are one get-it-done Donkey. Steak Time!

Nope. No sooner had I eyed the fried ravioli cascading over Marquis Ball's plate, than I got a call from the Towing Service. " I'll be there at 7:30 you gotta ride with me - Oh, and it's cash only because my boss has the truck with the card swipe."

No Sweat! I went down to the Harry Caray ATM and took out . . . limited to $ 200. The tow was going to cost $ 245 minimum it will be more believe it Esse. Well I had close to a yard on me - $ 84 and change.

The manager again. " Mr. Hickey, the limo will cost $ 145 minimum in cash." Do the math, Mule. Back to the ATM - command;English;Yes to $2.00 Fee; Receipt? You Bet! Mercifully, the ATM though limited to maximum take-out of $ 200 allowed me to extract another two yards from my checking account and there was enough in the balance thanks to my modest 2010 Tax Return.

Another phone call. "Mr. Hickey, you gotta come along with me in the tow to tell me where to place the bus. I'll be there soon."

Marquis and the boxers would return to Leo, having sated themselves with steak and spoon vitals, and take the limo home.

At 7:35 the tow truck arrived and shook hands with my shipmate Rico, a Puerto Rican kid from Pilsen who now lives in Evanston and drives for a towing company in Skokie.

We had a great talk on the way south about boxing, being a kid, Roberto Clemente High School, Leo High School, and thanking God that at least the bus arrived in front of Harry Caray's.

We put the bus in the lot north of 79th Street, because it was pouring rain and there were no other vehicles in the lot. I paid Rico and duked him $25. I was getting soaked . . .by the rain. The tow was more than fair.

I opened the padlock on the gate of the faculty lot on Sangamon, crossed over to Leo and went around to east entrance and let my self into the school vestibule and waited. By the time the Limo with the kids and Marquis arrived, it was 9:45 PM.

The kids all had autographed pictures of themselves with George Foreman. I got a hot one of the team with George and the actor Martin Klebba - he is the dwarf from Pirates of the Caribbean. This one will belong to the school.

God is good.

This donkey knows.

G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

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