I wrestled in high school at South Miami Senior High in the 118-pound class. My normal weight fluctuated from 128 – 132. Most matches required me to take drastic measures to lose weight. My coach was Mr. Walt Allison, a teacher of mine for many years – Junior to Senior HS. Mr. Allison was a great mentor, teacher, disciplinarian and believed in uniforms. Almost military in his requirements dressing out for gym class.
One particular match was against South Dade High School, over an hour drive. I weighed in at the school prior to departing for Homestead, FL – 1 pound over-weight! Now, for many, 1 pound doesn’t seem like much, but when you’ve dieted and worked out all week…there wasn’t much to give. One pound is like losing 10!
We hopped in Mr. Allison’s truck, this skinny wrestler wrapped up to his ears in black trash can liners, the heavy mil type!!! Coach Allison, as I called him, turn on the truck heater and headed down US Highway 1. He suffered with me, enduring the intense heat from that trucks heater.
So, insert poetry…….we ‘Drove the Chevy to the……….’ match! The song by Don McLean ‘American Pie’ came on his 8-track, we heard it several times on the drive down, learning and singing every word by the end. It was a great diversion from my pain and suffering and no doubt for Coach Allison. I made weight, a few grams over, and lost the match. Not much gas in my tank at that point. So, to this day, I have always drifted back into time, 1972, when I hear ‘American Pie’.
Yesterday, I had the honor to meet Don McLean and tell him my story. Was a great moment for me too! As a photographer covering the festival, I had to put my camera on my shoulder and once again, as American Pie played (live by Don McLean!!!), I transported back to 1972 in that truck, wrapped in bags!
I wonder where Coach Allison is today, heard he was on the west coast of Florida…probably in his mid to late 70’s.
#DonMcLean #AmericanPie #ChevyToTheLevy #Wrestling #HighSchool #SMSH #Cobras #SouthMiami