A Day at the Races During WWII

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 27, 2019 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>



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Memorial Day at the track was always a time where we honored those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice. – There would be free admission, free seating, and a free lunch. Among the sea of hats covered with WWII units, and places of service. They were older gents who would gather after the parades and wreath placings. – It was always neat to see the greatest generation. – It was a group of men who normally didn’t sit together, but on this day they would find another area to gather. -They played the races, talked, and laughed together. It was always a good day to be at the track.

Sam was usually quiet, but on one Memorial Day he opened up. – He told me about a special day. – He was stationed in Africa, and there was a festival with music, food, and horse races. – He was elated to see racing in another country. “It wasn’t the Kentucky Derby, but for a boy, thousands of miles away from home it was even better.”

After sampling some of the local cuisines and sharing laughs. He was front and center for five horse races. – They were young lads who rode ponies, workhorses, and the crowd would cheer as if it were Louisville, Kentucky. – There was nothing better for his R&R.

He walked slowly to the windows to make a wager and came back to tell me he met a young lady that day. – ” Just don’t tell my wife. We’ve been married 50 years and she would still kick my ass.” – I swore to hold my tongue. – It was an honor just to talk about his service and his special day at the races. A day where he was transported back to normalcy if even for five races.

We chatted during the day. – I have always enjoyed the company of older folks who hold a treasure of history. That’s the best part along with making a new friend. – At the end of the day, he used his cane to steady himself and we shook hands as friends. He made his way to the exit door and said he’d be back next week. – I really enjoyed meeting my new friend and thought about much it meant to him watching races on a hot African day during the festival.

Meeting people was the best part of working at the track. – The stories and the camaraderie were great. – I’ll leave you with his big win of the day. – One of the men worked for a bookie back in the states. He was taking bets, and the last race of the day had him reach deep into his pocket for a $5 bill. – He bet a horse who was ridden by a young lad wearing a purple sash. Purple was his wife’s favorite color. – As they thundered a half mile his horse won by a head. – He had one of the longer shots and made $30! – That made him a rich man who later bought a case of wine for him and his buddies to share. – He said he’s had plenty of nice winners over the years, but the night they swilled the local wine was one winner he’ll always remember.