There was a young colt born at Stoner Creek farm in Paris, Kentucky. He was sired by 1928 Kentucky Derby winner Reigh Count. He didn’t appear to be much in the eyes of his owner John Hertz, who was best known for his rental car company bearing his name. Hertz was intent on selling the colt, until he was convinced by Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Longden to keep him. In his three-year-old season in 1943, the little colt went on to do some great things. You know him by his given name of Count Fleet who went on to win the Triple Crown that year. Also, in the year of 1943 a baby was born in Covington, Kentucky. His life would also be filled with some incredible events. Most importantly as father, step-father, papaw, and husband. 1943 was a year for the record books, and one that my family is eternally grateful.
Breaking from the gate – August Edward Meyer was born on June 9, 1943. He was raised in the small river community of Ludlow, Kentucky. This has the sound of how many were reared at the time, but he was special. His quick wit and effervescent smile captured hearts, as he was raised in the home of his grandparents. He was the “king of the castle” on 45 Ash street, and his story was just beginning.
Many kids play sports today. Back then, it was either play ball or get into trouble. I think he did a little of both, as his sporting blood just started pumping. He excelled at baseball, basketball, and football. He had the action of a young colt just toying with his competitors. It came naturally for this young man. Oh, he would tell you countless stories of hard work and practice. But very few flowers can bloom as he did. He liked to use the quote of Dizzy Dean, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
Around the first turn – Most gamblers at one time were athletes, or frustrated athletes. The old man was good. He took his prowess to the college level, and played baseball at Eastern Kentucky University. Sometimes life gets in the way of what we are doing, and we find that time carries us in different directions. He put down the glove, and went to work. He married my mother, and in time my brother and I were added to the team. It was this way for many years, and he let that sporting blood out once again for me and Don. He was teacher and coach for my brother Don’s athletic endeavors, and we went to the track. Both of us were doing what we wanted, and these were some of the fondest times in my life.
Down the backside they run – He and my mother parted ways, and a new chapter was to be written in his life. He married his best friend and wife Sandy, and our family grew. There were two new additions to his life with my step-sisters Kim and Kelly. Things were fun, and he kept his time playing cards with his wife, and going to the track. We still made our treks to the track, and it just seems like yesterday when he went on his first date with Sandy. How do I remember? I was sitting on the front seat of his truck as we picked her up on the way to Latonia Race Course.
Rounding the far turn – The old man retired, and we added more to his life with his three grandchildren: Sean, Holly, and Gus. He did his handy work on all of our houses, gave us money, and cooked on the grill. He and Sandy have become tournament poker players, and he still plays the ponies. But now he loves to play from his “office” where he bets on his wagering account. I don’t know why he calls it an office. I guess he thinks an office is a place where you wager on-line and cuss while your horses are running…
The top of the stretch – He swings into the long homestretch doing what he loves. He and Sandy spend about two months of the year going to Florida, playing cards, betting horses, and still doing the handy work on all of our houses. His time is his own, and it is well deserved. As I look across the table, I see a man who has done it his way. He was not defined by a career or chasing money, as that would have taken away his most valuable asset – his time to spend with all of us…
He has taught me so many things, and here are a few that will stay with me forever: I learned the importance of spending time with those you love by walking our dog around the block a million times, fishing in the rain, jogging in to make the double, laughing more, being a good friend, playing horses who show speed, how not to burn the chicken on the grill, save a few bucks for tomorrow, make the average days great, enjoy the small things, and be happy everyday.
Happy 70th Birthday, Dad. Here is to many great starts and fantastic finishes!!