Memorial Day and Indy 500 race weekend always bring back so many memories. This year the race was shown live on television with no local telecast delay. The crowd at the Speedway was limited to 135,000 spectators due to the pandemic.
I have memories of seeing live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 by a local television station, WFBM-TV Channel 6. This was before it was connected to a national network and was shown all over the country. My memories include riding with my father on his country milk route on race day and watching the race on TV after stopping at farms to pick up large metal cans of milk to deliver to a local dairy.
I have always enjoyed the Indy 500 radio network broadcasts of the race. For many years, I enjoyed spending the day washing and waxing my car while listening to the race on the radio. I would drive my car into our backyard. I’d have a radio handy and stuff to eat and drink.
I knew one of the radio announcers, Tom Peden, who was part of the 500-radio network. The Peden family lived on the Southside and were customers at my father’s service station. Peden’s son, Mark, was a member of my senior class at Southport High School.
Speaking of my Southport High School class, I want to remember one of our classmates who lost his life while serving in the military. I think of him quite often but especially at Memorial Day. Stuart Ernhart lost his life while serving in Vietnam. I didn’t know Stuart very well while we were in school. I remembered him as being a very good chess player. His was a very quiet polite young man.
I believe that Stuart was the only member of the Class of 1960 that we lost in Vietnam. He has been gone since 1966. He only had six years after graduation. I have grown to celebrate Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day more and more every year. I have so many friends and classmates who served.
Our next-door neighbor is former military. We have exchanged a couple of stories about our time in the service. We tend to salute now from a distance when we spot each other in our yard or driveway. A couple of guys that he served with and their wives will visit with them in a couple of weeks.
This year’s race was fantastic. I think almost everyone was excited to see Helio Castroneves join the “Four Wins” group of drivers. It was fun to watch all of the people share their excitement with him. It was a very fast and safe race. It will be interesting to see if Helio will try to start a “Five Wins” gang of winners.
Don’t forget about the monthly car show Friday, June 4 on the parking lot of Beck’s Service Center at Madison and Edgewood avenues. Also please remember that there will be a “Drive-Thru Drop Off” that will help fill a wish list for The Southside Animal Shelter. This will happen at the same location just before the start of the car show.
Stuart and I are looking forward to seeing lots of our friends.