Memorial Day growing up

Memorial Day was my favorite holiday when I was a youngster growing up in Illinois. It was a long weekend full of relatives, great food, and, of course, The Indianapolis 500 automobile race.

Memorial Day marked the first family reunion of the summer. Family reunions used to be a big deal all those years ago. They were held in a church hall of tiny Lena, Illinois and a couple of hundred close relatives always stopped by toting great home cooked food and drink and stories of all that had transpired since Labor Day of the previous year. Food, baseball and lies took care of Memorial Day Sunday. Graves had been decorated the previous day. Monday was reserved for the 500, the greatest spectacle in racing.

Indy car racing was a big deal in the mid west when I was a kid, and my hero was Bill Vukovich. The thing I remember about the 500 was how tired you would get waiting for the race to start. But once those engines started roaring to life it was the most exciting thing ever. My last Indy 500 when I still lived in Illinois was in 1953. Bill Vukovich won the race that year and repeated as the champ in 1954 when I had moved West. He was killed in the race in 1955, going for a three peat. The race has never been the same for me since, although I love to watch it annually.

Memorial Day is not the same either with the Schneider family spread all over the country. But the fond memories of those reunions still makes me smile. Take some time this weekend and remember those who have gone before you. Slow down and think about where you came from, and who preceded  you.

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