Here we are once again. The final Wild Bill column for 2021.
And what a year it has been.
A long haul back from a virtual shutdown of sports earlier this year due to COVID-19, to the resumption of games with fans in the stands. Plus, another twelve months of the Chief’s unexpected antics that led the staff on a perpetual roller coaster ride on everything from having to rescue him from a shady motel in Ft. Meyers, Florida to his announcement in late-summer that The Star would enter the civilian space race with its own StarCosmos CPR250K passenger rocket.
While the Chief’s push to sell tickets and assemble a staff had its initial bumps, things moved forward rapidly as potential passengers tested our patience with items like dealing with zero-gravity weightlessness on our on-board toilets and the expectations of top-shelf alcoholic beverage service, to one affluent passenger insisting on buying a ticket for her feline companion, Precious Princess Puss & Boots. The Chief eventually caved on the pussycat being aboard, rationalizing that dragging along a cat would help avoid dealing with mice.
Training flights took center stage in the summer off the Atlantic with our attractive Captain Caro heading up the Rescue and Reconnaissance Section. All was looking peachy until a fateful day in October when upon entering corporate headquarters, I was told we had a potential MAYDAY in progress and video footage was coming in on a possible crash-landing along an Atlantic beach. The staff looked on in horror as what appeared to be a StarCosmos auxiliary craft descending into the waters as beachgoers swam in waist-deep surf, looking helplessly skyward as the craft’s ditching attempt unfolded.
Video of the incident is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e14c_MhDwQ4
Our in-flight director, Babs, screamed, “It’s crashing into swimmers, why doesn’t The Chief blow the horn?” Another intern questioned, “Are you sure The Chief isn’t just flying low to pick up a few extra bucks by pulling one of those ‘All you can eat seafood buffet’ banners behind the plane?” A third proclaimed, “Puss & Boots may be on board and everyone knows that cats don’t like salt water, or even salt water taffy for that matter.”
Oh, brother…..I’m obviously going to have to put together a “Basics of Space Exploration” seminar this spring for the staff.
Regardless, it turned out to be a wayward craft not connected with our StarCosmos project, so all’s well that ends well. We’re temporarily grounded due to winter, although questions have risen since reports surfaced that The Chief is resting comfortably at his remote mountaintop estate, recovering from a knee operation; cause unknown. We’re only guessing that the knee crisis was not related to crashing them into the cockpit controls upon impact. We’ll known more by the end of the month after I send a couple of our Baywatch interns up to visit the ole boy and help him write out the staff’s year-end bonus checks. Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.
Until then, let’s get to some local sports including state champions and a look at a sports club’s lineup for the first months of 2022. Also, our annual recount of our popular Christmas ditty, “A Visit from St, Chief.”
Congratulations go out to several of our “Big-11” teams and individuals that won state championships this fall, plus the latest All-State selections from the VHSL:
Class-2 Cross-country girls individual state champion, Carly Wilkes (Glenvar).
Class-2 Cross-country boys individual state champion, Daniel Zearfoss (Glenvar).
Class-2 Volleyball state champions- Glenvar.
Class-3 Golf individual state champion, Ashton Harper (Lord Botetourt).
Class-3 Competition Cheer state champions- Cave Spring.
VISAA Division II Soccer state champions- North Cross.
Class-2 Girls All-State Volleyball First Team: Bailey Conner, Claire Griffith and Hannah Hylton (Glenvar).
Class-2 Girls Coach of the Year: Mark Rohrback (Glenvar).
Class-3 Girls All-State Volleyball First Team: Cam Davenport and Caleigh Ponn (Hidden Valley).
Class-5 Girls All-State Volleyball First Team: Marella Hudson (Patrick Henry).
Class-5 Girls All-State Volleyball Second Team: Reghan Dixon (Patrick Henry).
Next, the Roanoke Valley Sports Club has quite the lineup of guest speakers heading into 2022. After its annual media night in January, “Field of Dreams” nationally renowned baseball groundskeeper Murray Cook visits the Salem Civic Center on Monday, February 21, followed on March 21 by former Patrick Henry High School, college and NBA star George Lynch. Socials begin at 5:45 with dinner and the program to follow. Visits the club’s website at www.roanokevalleysportsclub.com to make required reservations.
Finally, our annual Christmas sendoff. The Chief once again gave the gang at corporate headquarters the green light for our celebratory Yuletide happy hour beginning promptly each afternoon at 5:00PM. It promotes camaraderie, teamwork and more than a few toasts to The Chief. This year things got slightly out of hand after an anonymous intern set the stately mantle clock in our lobby at 5, then removed the batteries. I’ve been making my list of suspects and checking it twice, but with all the singing going on by 6PM, who cares who’s been naughty or nice.
It’s a tradition at The Star, and without further ado, we celebrate Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 account of a jolly little guy arriving on Christmas Eve; with a few slight adjustments to gather a chuckle.
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the office,
Not a creature was stirring, from accomplished writer to novice;
The stockings were hung by the corporate fireplace with care,
In hopes that St. Chief soon would be there;
The interns were nestled all snug in their chairs,
While visions of a bonus danced by the pairs;
Wild Bill in his Loudmouth, staff with beverage in hand,
Never a doubt, the best scribes in the land.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I spang to the window to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and brief,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Chief.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, Mike! now Babs!, now, Melinda and Vixen!
On Scott! on, James! on, Caro and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!
So up to the corporate rooftop they flew,
With the sleigh full of bonuses, and St. Chief along too.
The prancing and pawing of each little boot,
And, our own flashy boss disguised in a red suit.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Chief came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of bonuses he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He had a calm face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly ole elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know, it was our Chief like I said.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Whether cash or computer, big screen TV or car,
I’m rewarding your hard work, here at The Star.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
Until next year, have a very happy holiday season and hopes for a prosperous new year!
Wild Bill Turner