The Golden Bear

by Jay Nordlinger

My column today is called “Cruising Speed, Part II.” This is the second (obviously) and last (less obviously) installment of a cruise journal — a journal about the cruise that NR has just had. If you’re interested, go here.

In Part II, I have a little item about Jack Nicklaus. One of our cruise passengers, knowing I was a Nicklaus nut, brought a high-school photo of him. She and he went to school together: Upper Arlington High (in the Columbus, Ohio, area). He wrote a sweet, playful, amusing note to her on the back of the photo. The teenage Jack had excellent penmanship, too. As I say in my journal, he almost wrote like a girl. Although he didn’t play golf, football, or basketball like a girl, for sure.

That’s what I wrote in my journal: golf, football, and basketball. But I forgot something, important. A reader writes me,

“I thought that you might enjoy knowing, if you didn’t already, that he also played baseball very well. I remember watching a Cubs-Reds baseball game in, I think, 1961. Johnny Edwards, in his rookie season, was catching for the Reds. One of the announcers (may have been Jack Brickhouse; this was a WGN broadcast) said that, in high school, Edwards wasn’t the all-city catcher; ‘a fellow named Jack Nicklaus, who’s been having some pretty good success as a golfer, was.’”

That’s my boy: the best at everything he touched.

Another reader writes,

“I also grew up in Upper Arlington. Jack would have been about nine years ahead of me at Upper Arlington HS. (Go Golden Bears!) Anyway, more important to us was his dad’s drugstore, Nicklaus Drugs. It was our after-school meeting place. Cherry Cokes and (crinkly cut) French fries. The Cokes were served in the paper cones with the grey metal holders. Talk about old-school. Lileks would have loved the place. Drugstores with lunch counters. Are there any left?”

Probably so. Okay, this is about enough Nicklaus nostalgia for one day. Once I get going on Nicklaus, I pretty much won’t shut up about anything else — including the Tea Party, music, and Nork nukes.

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