- A Sea Day - Apr. 28 ‘11
Yesterday evening I was playing some Blackjack in the casino next to an already man, who’s name I learned was Warren. Warren was 90 years old, and appeared to be very “with it” for a man his age.
He seemed to know how to play “basics” (something that requires a bit of experience), and he was very social, joking, and even flirting with some of the female dealers.
Warren and I got to talking and I learned he was from Arizona. Then I explained I had a winter condo there, knew the area pretty well, and asked him where he lived. He couldn’t remember. At first he was frustrated by not being able to recall the name of the town he’d live in since 1974, but quickly turned his attention back to the gambling and socializing.
Some might view this as a sad story, but I thought the entire scenario was very cute and sweet. Here was a fellow, 90 years old, appearing to be in reasonably good health, enjoying what he enjoys, cruising on Crystal, even if he does have the odd memory lapse. Bless him for being able to do so.
Warren, along with the other passengers on Crystal have obviously enjoyed some past successes, or they wouldn’t be sailing on a luxury line like Crystal. It’s not likely anyone onboard is overloading their credit cards, and driving themselves into debt, to be here. Yet, I haven’t met a single person who I would say is pretentious. Some may strike you that way initially, but take the opportunity to talk with them more, and that impression quickly fades. It falls under the proverb; don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
The ship itself is similar. Other than the grace and a real “wow factor” of the lobby/atrium, the remainder of the ship, from public rooms to cabins and suites, is understated, with abundant use of granite, marble, wood, brass and quality fabrics, there’s no part of the ship that stands up and yells “look at me, I’m something special”. That gives the entire ship a nice, unpretentious, relaxed feel.
Sunshine, and beautiful temperatures were the order of the day. Days like this, at sea, are the reason many of us choose to cruise, and days like this are often what keeps us coming back for more.
Today’s lunch buffet was a Nuevo Latino theme. I didn’t lunch there, but the dishes looked outstanding, and even featured a Churrascaria Grill Station.
I spent a good part of the afternoon interviewing Ken Venturi and his wife Kathleen. Going in I was busy trying to think of some good questions, so we wouldn’t end up just sitting there staring at each other. But, I had no need to be concerned. Say hello, and the story telling begins and flows like a fast river.
For those who may not know Ken Venturi was a world famous, and most highly regarded professional golfer from the mid 50s, until at age 33 hand surgery ended his career. He later became a multi-award winning golf analyst on television for CBS Sports golf coverage, and that career spanned 35 years.
But his is a story that truly transcends the sport of golf, and his amazing television career.
Now in his 80s, his ability to recall, and spin stories of his life, with no notes to refresh his memories, is amazing enough. But the stories themselves are absolutely mesmerizing, and enchanting.
His is a story which moves from great successes, to significant human problems, tragedies, and illnesses, and physical issues, and back to great successes, several times.
As I sat listening to the stories, my own emotions ran the gamut, feeling sadness at one moment, laughing at many others, and actually feeling goose bumps rise on my arms at others.
I am going to write about this afternoon’s interview in much more detail at a later day. In my view their life story is crying out (or even yelling out) to made into what I believe would be a blockbuster movie.
As Ken said “If I were to choose someone who would live the life I’ve led, it would me”.
I’m going to give you some tidbits now to wet your appetite for the many, many stories to follow later.
Ken’s wife Kathleen is a “lady” in the most complimentary sense of the word. They had each lost their spouses in 1997. Neither had been dating since that time, when they met at a restaurant belonging to mutual friends in 2001.
At the time Ken was already a renowned television golf analyst. Kathleen know nothing about the game of golf. Ken was in town because he’d learned he had Prostate Cancer, and was enduring Proton treatments for the disease at Loma Linda Medical Center. At the time only his son, and Jim Nance (his broadcasting partner) knew he had the disease, and was seeking treatment.
Ken claims he wasn’t “looking for anything”, but during the evening he asked his restaurateur friend “ who is that girl?”. “Would you like to be introduced?” was the response. They had lunch the next day, and dinner the next evening, and lunch again the day after.
The next day was Super Bowl Sunday, and a friend was having a Super Bowl Party, and both were invited to attend.
At the party Kathleen asked Ken what he was doing in town, and Ken decided to tell her about the Prostate Cancer and the treatments he was having. He was having another treatment the next day, and Kathleen asked if he’d like some company going to the hospital. She went with him the next day and to each and every one of his next 35 treatments.
Now that story took place in 2001. The rest of the story, equally gripping and enchanting, began in the 1950s, and spans the decade since their 2001 meeting.
I’ll be sharing more of their stories in a future article.
If my tease leaves you wanting more now, there is a book by Ken Venturi, titled Up & Down- My 60 years in Golf, which I’ve graciously been given an autographed copy of, that tells many of the stories.
Or hopefully Crystal Cruise Line will continue to feature Ken Venturi in their Enrichment Lectures, and you’ll get to hear them in person. This is Mr. Venturi’s second time doing a presentation on a Crystal ship. I highly recommend they book him for many more, even if it’s not on a golf themed cruise.
This evening (at midnight ship’s time) was the Royal wedding. Only a dozen or so were watching it on the big screen in the Hollywood Theater, but I’m assuming people were in their cabins watching, because in the public rooms, the evening show in the Galaxy Lounge, and the casino, there was a dearth of guests.
We gain our last hour on a time change tonight, and tomorrow is our first port of call in Hilo.