A Heart Attack At 20

My check arrived. It was the monthly stipend from the GI Bill of Rights that accompanied tuition and other college expenses.
Sixty five dollars had to go a long way. Most months I ran short and was fortunate to be able to borrow a little cash from
a friend who had a full time job at the post office. This month I owed him about ten dollars, which easily calculates to about
15 % of my income.

It was a warm afternoon and all the guys were hanging out in Avon Square. Someone, who likes and knows race horses and tracks
suggested we plan a trip to Suffolk Downs in Revere for a day at the races. I had never had the experience and I had
a few dollars so I thought I would take ten from my check and join the group. My plan was to place one two dollar bet
on the Daily Double and spend a few dollars on a beer, hot dog, admission and share of the gas for the trip.
I might even have a few dollars left over to bring home. 1940's money was so different from today that it is difficult
to make a comparison.

The Daily Double is a special pool where the bettor must pick the winners of the first two races. I studied the program
and asked the race enthusiast questions about the meaning of various notations. I was determined I wasn't going to let
the odds on the horses dictate my picks, but of course they were hard to completely ignore. After careful study
and consideration, I settled on a horse called Night Crawler because I liked to dig for them and slip them on my
fish hook when I tried winning the Isaac Walton gamble,so much for all the careful study of past performance.

I was torn between two horses in the second race ,Rampageous and Wise Brunette. I liked Rampageous because I could see
him violently running over all the other horses in the race. Then again, Wise Brunette might use her feminine wiles
to slip past the field. I went with the angry one because the odds were somewhat greater and would result in a higher payoff
than a win by the brunette.

Night Crawler won handily. I watched him lead the field at the gate and keep it to the wire.

I won! I won!

Wait a minute. I don't get anything unless my horse wins the second race.
The board showed the payoffs for Night Crawler and the place and show horses. I waited for the matchups of Night Crawler
with the horses in the second race. I couldn't believe my eyes. Night Crawler with Rampageous would pay very close to
two hundred dollars ,about $197 ! It didn't take long for me to realize that amount was about the equivalent of three
months pay. The matchup with Wise Brunette, the favorite, came in at about thirty dollars. Take a minute and calculate
three months pay or consider that the average teacher's salary for three months is about $12,000.
One hundred and ninety seven dollars was the equivalent of twelve thousand dollars in my life at the time.

All was hanging on the body of a riled-up horse who was eager to provide the cash.

As expected, when the horses were paraded around the track before the race, the handler for Rampageous had his work
cut out for him. My horse was up on his hind legs pulling on his rein and stomping the ground right and left.
I thought,that's good ,he's anxious to get going."

Wise Brunette looked sleek with her shiny dark coat and I swear she gave me a knowing glance as she passed in front.

They're off !

Rampageous jumped out in front. He was easy to follow because he was the lead horse. He held the lead at the far turn
and kept it coming into the stretch . My heart was in a rampage . My neck was straining with the muscles pulling my head
to the left. My adrenalin was gushing like a fire-hose throughout my body.I discovered the meaning of palpitations.

Good God! Am I going to have a heart attack at 20 years old ? The lead was closing. There were three or four horses in
front making the turn for the stretch drive. They looked like they were neck and neck.
At the eighth pole there were two. You guessed it's my horse Rampageous and that pesky filly , Wise Brunette.

They crossed the finish line together and in a matter of seconds the tote board lit up with the dreaded ,
but hopeful word PHOTO.

I have had some anxious moments in my long life but that afternoon at Suffolk Downs beat them all. Later in my life I waited
in the church vestry for the organ to start playing and for Gloria to walk down the aisle with her father.
Yes, I was anxious but not like Suffolk. After all, the outcome was pre-ordained , if you will pardon the expression.

Later in my life I had to wait three days for the results of a biopsy. That was an anxious time.
But not like the feelings of a 20 year-old who may come into a windfall. I waited four times to hear the news
after Gloria went into the delivery room. Anxious, yes! Sort of like the anxiety a kid feels the night before
Christmas. But no palpitations and adrenalin rush.

The lights on the board lit up with the results:

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Avon - mighty Rampageous has struck out.