Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Race - Part II

Back in the early 1960’s, the age of about 11, my brother Mark and I were in a hitchhiking race from Crookston, MN to our home in Fridley. Halfway home, we both ended up in the same car, which changed the dynamics of the race significantly.

After a long ride, the Plymouth finally pulled to the shoulder of Hwy. 65 at Mississippi Street in our hometown of Fridley. We were both so keyed-up and jumpy we could hardly stand it. Before the car was completely stopped, both the back doors of the Plymouth blew open and we both flew out out of the car at a dead run, each of us carrying our dirty clothes and moist swimming suits in our brown paper grocery bags. We lived a mile and a half away from the intersection and we were both great runners with lots of races behind us. But this one was different – our biggest race ever.

We were neck and neck, running as fast as our young legs could carry us. My legs began burning and my lungs were bursting, but I couldn’t let my little brother beat me. I pushed even harder, dredging up every last bit of strength I could muster as I pounded down the pot-holed pavement. Mark was doing the same. Our young heart’s were pumping harder than they had ever pumped before. Sweat kept running into our eyes, blurring our vision and burning as we wiped it off with our already bare, wet forearms. Block after block we ran through total exhaustion. Can you picture this scene? When was the last time you saw anything like this in your neighborhood?

The last two blocks of the race were unpaved – the streets were still just sand and gravel. As we rounded the final corner into our street we left a little trail of sandy dust, and I could see our house. I had an idea of dropping my paper bag as soon as we got to our yard to lighten the load - certain that this would help me win. Mark had the same idea and he dropped his bag too. As we raced up the gently sloping yard, I thought my legs would give out, but we both kept running as fast and hard as we could.

My last idea was that I wouldn’t actually climb up the front steps; I would jump across the steps to get just a half second advantage and touch the front door before Mark did. My timing was perfect, and at the base of the steps, I jumped as hard and long as I could, reached my arm out, and touched the door with just the tips of my fingers.

At that exact moment of glory, I looked to my right and Mark had done the same thing. We both had touched the door at the exact, same, precise moment! Unbelievable; the race had begun hours before, hundreds miles away, and had ended in an exact tie! We were both kinda scrapped up from our skid across the concrete steps and completely out of breath, the muscles in our legs were screaming and our lungs were bursting. But as we laid there we started to giggle – and the giggles turned into laughs, and the laughs kept up until our sides hurt too.

That is the last footrace I remember having with my brother Mark.

There is nothing else like brothers growing up together. Sometimes ‘partners in crime’ when something goes wrong, they are ferocious competitors when the opportunity arises. But, brothers are first of all best friends, discovering their world together with all of its wonder and adventure, developing passion’s and camaraderie’s that will be shared through a lifetime. I’m so glad my brothers and I shared those years together so long ago. I would not be the man I am today without them.

John Mickman 

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