100th Olympic Games
Mom won Olympics baseball tickets from a Georgia lottery scratch-off ticket the November before when we were on vacation with Pop. The fact that they just happened to be baseball tickets she won seemed almost supernatural and of course, she sent the lottery ticket in to get her Olympics tickets! She said she wanted them as a souvenir of the Olympics in America.
So she sent in her lottery ticket and the tickets for Olympic Baseball came back. The game was on the opening weekend of the games on Saturday. Now there are a few points to note about that. First off how cool to win tickets on a weekend? I mean a game Saturday afternoon is totally doable for Joe or Josi Average. Watching prices rise in Atlanta for a few years leading up to The Olympics, we were definitely Josis Average! But the date of that Saturday; July 20; Mom’s birthday. The kismet of baseball on the scratch-off didn’t seem so crazy now! Mom had some “mad money” she’d been saving and asked me if I’d like to go to The Olympics with her. Wide-eyed and with a shocked smile I told her I would absolutely love to go to the Olympics with her!
Mom’s mad money wasn’t quite mad enough for the prices on Atlanta hotels during the Olympics, so our day in the Olympic city to soak in the whole atmosphere was going to be just that; a day. It was Mom who brought up the idea of “stopping” someplace else on the way home. We were traveling anyway, we were flying anyway, where else could we see baseball? You see that my baseball habit is totally heredity. Watch too much baseball when you’re pregnant and the baby is born hooked. And they didn’t even make baseball onsies in 1966; I was totally prenatal-influenced!
A week before the Olympics, Fruit of the Loom was hosting a free country music festival in Atlanta. To get tickets you sent in a request and they were sending tickets on a first come first served basis. Heather and I both sent in requests. We were the producer and associate producer team for public access and sports but July was our slow month and we could manage a Friday/Monday off and use the tickets we both got! One of our interns, Thad, went with us too. We drove down on Friday. We went to the festival Saturday, caught a Braves game and visited Olympic Park on Sunday. There was a ticket window near one of the subway stops with Olympics tickets. There were still mens gymnastics tickets available for next Saturday? They weren’t cheap, but they weren’t unaffordable. Heather was crunching numbers and figuring out frequent flyer miles. I was looking at starting times and how well they matched the flight Mom and I were already on. Our souvenir from the Music Festival weekend was 3 tickets to mens gymnastics Saturday morning!
We met up at the airport in Atlanta after our flights from Detroit got in. Since Mom and I were out for the weekend, we had bags to put in lockers. It was at the lockers that I had my cool very Olympic experience! The Olympics; can you imagine how many languages were being spoken at the very busy airport in Atlanta? When I was getting a locker for our bags there was a man, from his appearance I guessed Eastern, maybe Japanese? I couldn’t ask him because I don’t speak or understand a word of any Eastern languages and he didn’t speak or understand a word of English. But his dilemma was with our language and our money. He had a fist full of coins and directions and a price for renting a locker in English. He smiled at me and had a look of “please help me” in his eyes. Through pointing, nodding and facial expressions we were able to communicate and I helped him choose the right size locker and the right coins to pay for it. Okay, it may not sound like a huge International PR thing, but it felt VERY COOL! It’s a communications challenge I’ve never since experienced.
Mom, Heather and I headed out to the Georgia Dome for the morning gymnastics event. It was muggy and the line to get in was long and slow. Bags were thoroughly searched and people went through a metal detector on their way in. In 1996, before 9/11 and before the bomb the very next week, the security was a little annoying and seemed a bit overkill. Who knew it was the shape of things to come?
Our original plan was to grab lunch after gymnastics and see Heather off at the airport before going to Fulton County Stadium for the baseball game. But the reality of a day on “Olympics time” changed that plan! After finally squeezing on to the packed fourth or fifth subway train, Heather decided to go back to the airport on her own so we could get in line for security check at the baseball game. She’d eat at the airport and we’d eat at the ballpark.
It was all so busy, so exciting. There so many people, so many different people, different languages, styles and customs. And the whole city felt like a giant carnival, but a huge carnival, it felt big. It’s hard to express the feeling of being part of something that huge. We saw Cuba and Australia. Cuba beat Australia; I looked it up, 19-8. Those are details you have to look up because, like a wedding day, the day, the moment is such an experience itself that you have to have the photos and written stories to remember it all!
The game had a short rain delay that only made the park, the whole city, muggier. The Olympics was the first place I’d seen those walk-through misters. I didn’t go through them, but I think Mom and Heather did. I didn’t want to mist the huge glasses I wore at the time! But when the rain chased us into the concourse it washed my glasses anyway!
We went to the airport deciding to get food at our destination where the lines would likely be shorter to get in. Mom and I had cappuccino and a snack while we waited for our plane. The evening was much quieter than the airport had been when we got in on the early flight. When we boarded the plane, there was hardly anyone on it! Just not a lot of people flying out of Atlanta on a Saturday night, the second day of The Games. A flight attendant made an announcement asking if there was anyone with a connecting flight or a reason they absolutely needed to be on time when we landed. There had been a delay for a flight coming in from another city with people connecting to our flight and if there were no objections we’d wait for that flight. That was okay with the ten or so of us. I think I recall that we got a free drink or premium snack from the cart for our trouble. Our flight about doubled with those people from the other plane!
Next stop St Louis!
Mom, Heather and Me at Mens Gymnastics