Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Tribute to The Juice…

Honoring Coach Dube, August 4th, 2012

Just about thirty minutes prior to the grand gathering at Mountain Brook Road in Sturbridge, MA, I was still at home, contemplating the afternoon ahead, wondering who in their right mind would attend such a strange, surreal, and ‘ancient history’ event.

This gathering was in honor of the 35th anniversary of Tantasqua winning the State Championship in baseball. We already had a 30 Year reunion, and after a passage of five years, I did have reservations about how many folk would indeed partake in this latest extravaganza.

As it turned out, not many. But those that did had a wonderful time, as Mike Dube and his lovely wife, Catherine, put on a splendid affair, replete with fine foods, a tent, plenty of beer, and great ambiance.

The photo above was taken from the 1977 yearbook, the year we won the championship. My brother Jim was a star pitcher on the team, and I was the catcher to his extraordinary repertoire of pitches. Others who attended were, Beth, our scorekeeper and comrade in every game, and it was great to have her there. Nick and his wife, Paula; ‘Kip’ as he was known, or Brian;  Dan and his wife, Amber; John and his wife, Vicki, and their daughter Zoe; my brother Jim and his wife, Edna, and their son Jimmy; Bob, and a late edition to the party, Hutch, an old friend who I haven’t seen in all these intervening years. Rounding out the cast one cannot leave out Coach Al Walker, a pillar of calm and strength during all those trying playoff games. The Matthews were there too, enjoying the pleasing environs, and the entire affair was one of camaraderie and comfort.

But this blog is about the man, Coach Dube, The Juice. It is about his tenacity, his drive, his vision and dream, his belief in a scraggly bedraggled bunch of ballplayers that we could, actually, become…Champions!

This was Dube’s very first year as Varsity baseball coach, and he took us on quite a ride. Right into the finals and a fantastic win in North Adams. It was quite a heady experience for all of us, and we were thrilled and excited to be the best of the best.

And the only reason we were number one was because of this man. He believed in us; he knew we had talent; he instilled in us the drive to never quit, to keep going, to believe in our abilities. And we did it.

So this tiny gathering of people, with only a smattering of former players in attendance, sat there on this perfectly comfortable and inviting summer afternoon, and reminisced upon those former glory days.

Amongst the food and beverages and conversations, there was a ‘connect’, a wonderful bonding between all who partook in this festive cookout, this group of folk three decades + later, all laughing and telling stories and having a fine time.

And it was all made possible by our coach, a man who still loves his ballplayers, a man who cherishes that spectacular moment of sheer elation, of joy, of excitement, and what better way to honor such a heroic year of sports than to once again indulge our spirits in all things grand and fabulous.

Even though not too many people deigned to show, it did turn out to be an unforgettable afternoon. Coach Dube, with his love and drive and indomitable soul still loves his boys of summer, allowing one and all to come relax, have a good time, and enjoy each others’ company.

To you, Coach, may many more years of health and happiness be yours, and to your lovely bride, Catherine.

I think we can all thank you, not only for these past gatherings, but for instilling the power and intensity that you brought to the game and to our own collective spirit. I, for one, am very grateful.
Thank you, Coach. We all love you!

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Saunderstown and Beyond…

We stayed at the ‘Pink House’, as we affectionately call our friend Beth’s house. Julie and I, and the boys, stayed overnight with her and her husband, Jos, and in the morning we were gone. But it was very nice of them to allow all four of us to encroach upon their own getaway weekend to this special cottage by the sea.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, after taking in a nice bike ride along the East Bay Bike Path, from Colt State Park, to Barrington, where at ride’s conclusion we treated ourselves to a delicious ice cream at the Daily Scoop.

Well, it was only the first leg of our ride as we did have to return to the car at Colt State Park. The boys appeared to enjoy the scenery along the way, and after our morning trip we packed up the bikes and headed to Brenton Point in Newport, a place we are all fond of.

After fighting immense traffic on Bellevue Avenue, we found plenty of parking along the shore, and after securing the bikes we carried our lunches and chairs to a spot below the sea wall. We climbed down a ladder and sought a semblance of shelter from the wind, nestling behind a sea wall that jutted out briefly towards the ocean. It was much cooler here, closer to water’s edge, and we huddled on the rocks, with draped towels and blankets. We ate in silence, marveling at the expanse of ocean before us, with nothing but rugged rocks and waves and sky to see.  No one else was around.

But that was short-lived, as a bevy of folk deigned to descend the ladder; a family all wearing inappropriate footwear for the slippery rocks, a gaggle of teenagers (one with a bike!), and a Chinese couple who carried enormous cameras around their necks.

It was quiet at one point.

It never ceases to amaze me how people seem the need to yell and make noise while clambering along the rocks. What is wrong with just staring silently out into the blue beyond, soaking up the soothing scene in quietude?

After lunch I built a cairn and we tried knocking it over by tossing pebbles at it but I built it solidly and so we left it as it stood. It’s always a pleasure to witness smiles on the boys’ faces as we packed up to go, our next leg of the journey to Beavertail at the southern tip of Jamestown.

We crossed the Clairborne Pell Bridge (better known as the Newport Bridge) and after the tolls, wended our way through Jamestown Center and kept going along Conanicus Avenue until we took a right onto Hamilton Avenue, leading to Beavertail.

If you have never experienced this particular part of Rhode Island, you are in for a treat. Beavertail juts out into Rhode Island Sound, and as you circle around Beavertail Lighthouse, the scenery is expansive and spectacular; rugged coastline, similar to Maine, and tremendous swells and spray. Sailboats come and go and there is always a pleasant onshore breeze. We stayed a bit and then backtracked to Hamilton Ave., banged a right onto Walcott Ave to Fort Wetherill, yet another fabulous destination on Jamestown.

Here, we showed the boys the eerie, long-abandoned fort and after crawling about the grounds and cliffs, set up chairs near West Cove. I braved a swim and the water was incredibly frigid. But the sun was warm, we were sheltered from the breeze, and it made for a pleasant respite before the next leg of our journey.

Crossing the Verrazano Bridge (Jamestown Bridge) we took the Narragansett exit and traveled along Boston Neck Road, stopping for pizza at Kingstown Pizza, and then proceeded to see the sunset at Galilee. It suddenly became very chilly and as we sped along route 1, a dense fog started rolling in with tremendous speed. It reminded me of Stephen King’s horror novella, ‘The Mist’.  The visibility was practically nil.

We were laughing because just a few moments ago there was brilliant sunshine, and now the fog overtook everything in its path. Beth and Jos elected to watch the sunset from Beavertail, and we wondered if they, too, had the same fog bank enveloping them.

We finally arrived at Galilee, managed to find a parking space in the thicket of fog, and stood near the railing to the channel, valiantly searching the heavens for a mere glimpse of sun. It was not to be. We sat at the picnic table, ate our cooled pizza, and huddled against the coastal chill, marveling at how quickly the fog shrouded everything. The world simply disappeared. We took pictures anyway, and you can barely make out the boys in the photo, it was so pervasive.

We piled into the car, headed back home on Route 1, and as we approached 138, we noticed the fog had lifted and shreds of blue sky were visible. Once on the highway, sunglasses were again necessary, as a blinding sun appeared from behind the last vestiges of fog.

All in all a most enjoyable two days, and we managed to pack in quite a bit. These are the kind of summer days well spent, without any form of media to distract your senses. Even the boys didn’t seem to mind the lack of iPods or phones.

While I drove, the other three fell asleep, and I felt quite content, transporting loved ones back home in silence and fading sunlight.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.