Friday, May 01, 2009


There are few sporting events that rival the Kentucky Derby in my mind for excitement and today is the big day! It seems strange to me that I trace my love for the Derby back to my Grandma McCuen of all people. Lucy McCuen was many things, but a sports fan she was not. She seemed to love the derby though. I can still remember the first derby I watched when my Grandma ushered us unto the living room of her rented home in Benson (The Kentucky Derby and Jeopardy were the only times she ever encouraged me to watch TV). The couch and chairs in her living room were arranged for conversation, not for TV viewing, so I slid behind Grandpa's electric recliner and stood with my back against the wall where I had an unobstructed view. I had to admit that there was something thrilling about the race, and when it was all over Grandma McCuen walked stiffly over to her little table by the east window and dutifully recorded the year and the winner in the back of her big dictionary.

Speaking of Jeopardy, when Grandma McCuen's health began to fail and she moved in with us I used to play a joke on her. She watched Jeopardy every night at 7:30, but what she didn't know was that the same episode was aired on a different channel at 7:00. I would watch that episode in a different room, and then settle in next to Grandma for the 7:30 viewing.

"The last reigning Monarch of Hawaii," asked Alex Trebek.

"Oh, that's easy... Queen Liliuokalani," I said.

"Who is Queen Liliuokalani?" said the contestant.

"Hey you got it right! That's very good, Josh!" said Grandma.

Pretty good racket, right?

For a while she thought I was some sort of genius I think. I got greedy one night though when I guessed the final answer before they even announced the topic. She knew something was amiss then and I had to confess, but she got a good laugh out of it.

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