(WSAU) TRAIN BLOG – Jimmy seemed like a nice enough guy. He was the owner of Jimmy’s Record World, back in the days were there were record stores. 45s or LPs, Jimmy had ‘em at his small store on Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield. He'd take the time to talk to his younger, teenage customers like me. If he didn't have something, he'd special-order it.
Jimmy was also a licensed TicketTron outlet. He had one of those giant yellow computer terminals on his store counter. For a service charge plus face-value, you could buy tickets to rock concerts and sporting events right there. My friend Mike and I really wanted to see the New York Mets play on opening day at Shea Stadium. We were willing to skip school if we could get tickets.
March 1st was the day the Mets box office opened for the season, and we already knew that going to the ballpark and waiting on line was impractical. We were 16 years old, and getting opening day tickets in New York involved camping out. Our parents wouldn’t allow it. But we could probably get tickets at Jimmy’s Record Store. We’d have to be there at 8am and be among the first customers in line at the TicketTron machine. If we weren't near the front, we'd be shut-out… opening day would probably sell out in a few minutes.
The big day came, and we were up bright and early waiting for Jimmy’s to open. A few other people had the same idea, and a group of 10 or so gathered outside the door. 8am came. But the store didn’t open. Jimmy kept his store lights off, but we could see him through the window. He sat down at his TicketTron terminal and began printing out tickets… for himself. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed as Jimmy’s computer terminal hummed away. Then he got up and posted a small sign in his window. “Mets sold out.”
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It was a big honor for a high school senior to be picked to attend the Columbia University Journalism Conference. Students from around the country were invited to Columbia’s campus in upper Manhattan. Their writings for their high school newspapers would be reviewed and analyzed by college professors and newspaper professionals. Ben Bradlee, the iconic editor of The Washington Post, was one of the featured speakers. Humorist Dave Barry was there. Sometimes a tv news anchor would speak. It was a once-in-a-lifetime honor. It was also the second-game-of-the season for the Mets, the game people went to when they didn’t get opening day tickets.
Mrs. Santillo, my English teacher, chaperoned the trip to New York City. She gave us the standard warnings, stay in a group, don’t wander off campus, ask lots of questions and be polite. Remember, you're representing your school. The best, brightest aspiring young journalists boarded the school bus in Connecticut as we headed to New York.
Mike and I attended the keynote address. We sat next to Mrs. Santillo. We listened attentively, and even asked a question or two. “What session are you two young men going to next?” she asked. It was in one of the other buildings… we’d meet up around 5:30 to head home.
And then off we went to the 145th Street subway station.
The train ride to Shea Stadium was easy. Take the IRT to Times Square. Down the escalator to the lower level for the Flushing Line and the long ride to the ballpark. We walked up and bought our tickets. We settled into our $6 seats in the upper deck in time for batting practice. We watched the Mets beat the Pirates, and then back to the subway to return to Columbia. We were back in plenty of time.
“Did you boys have a good day?” Mrs. Santillo asked.
It couldn’t have been better.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau