As Sam Sees It

This should be a very busy weekend for me and my family. The Winslow High School baseball and softball teams will be playing in the first round of the Arizona State 3A Championship Tournaments on Friday and, hopefully, again on Saturday. If all goes well, those teams will not end their seasons until the following weekend when they hope to walk off the field with the championship trophy.

My granddaughter, Juliet Sullenberger, is an outstanding player for the Lady Bulldogs. We will be in the stands at Rose Mofford Sports Complex rooting for her and her teammates as long as the team remains in the tournament. We were privileged to see her Winslow Senior Little League Girls All Star Team win the state tournament for that age group in Tucson last summer. Many of the same girls are members of this yearÕs Lady Bulldogs. Hopefully, that experience will help them achieve yet another lofty goal.

The Winslow baseball team will be playing at the Peoria Sports Complex on the same dates. When there is not a conflict of schedules, I will be there rooting for these fine young men to bring home a state championship for long-time friend Art Griffith.

There wonÕt be time to rest after the first round of state championship games. On Sunday, members of my 1954-55 USAF Syracuse University Russian language class will meet in Mesa for our annual reunion.

We are expected approximately 20 former airmen and their wives to attend. This group has been meeting yearly since the early 90Õs at such differing locales as Syracuse, New York; San Antonio, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada: New Orleans, Louisiana; Orlando, Florida; Washington, D. C.; Branson, Missouri; San Francisco, California and Pigeon Force, Tennessee.

Some of our time will be spent touring such facilities as the Pinal Air Museum and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. On Tuesday, we will attend the Arizona Diamondbacks-New York Mets baseball game. We will also visit many of the attractions around the Phoenix area.

Members of this group come from all parts of the United States. Three of us live in Arizona. One couple comes from Nevada. Another hails from Minnesota. Four live in Texas, although only one is expected to attend this year. Others hail from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, California and Louisiana. Two are from Florida.

Of the original 23 in this group, two were dead before the reunions began and two have never been located. We lost our first member since the reunions started earlier this year. My friend and roommate at Syracuse, Pete Dowling, was from Philadelphia originally, but living in Florida when he died.

He was a genuine hero, credited with saving a number of lives during a barracks fire at Syracuse when he went back for a refresher course years after my service time was over. He later taught Russian at the college, high school and junior high school levels.

We all have some great memories of Pete, a man who marched to a different drummer and lived life to its fullest. He will be missed, but we are all better for having known him. He will, undoubtedly, be the subject of what we do most and best at these reunion: tell the same old stories of our youth over and over again.

It should be a fun week plus of sports and reunions. It may take at least that long to recover from the experiences.

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