Midwest Trip: Not Just a Check-list

Munster’s Finest

Two goals down and one in site. Last weekend I trekked to Indiana with my dad for the Indy 500 and a Cubs/Padres game. Every time I visit the Midwest I think of what could have been. I’m thankful my parents moved to San Diego, but as I’ve gotten older my family’s ‘roots’ have grown increasingly important (more on that later). Here are the highlights of the trip:

Three Floyd’s BreweryThere is a world-class craft brewery blocks from where my mom grew up. I knew it was in the same town (Munster), but had no idea how close it was. Dad and I visited twice and everything we tried was excellent. My mom and sister don’t know this yet, but when they go back in a few weeks they’ll be bringing back a couple of bottles…

The Indy 500. The first goal knocked off my list.  It was great to be there with my dad. He was in his element and I got to peak into another piece of his childhood. He lit up during the pre-race festivities (which started the day before with a parade and museum visit)  and didn’t wipe the smile off his face till the race ended.

Dad got giddy when the Purdue band led out the Indy 500 parade.

Wrigley. List item #2. My grandpa (mom’s dad) was a big Cubs fan; I vaguely remember driving by Wrigley when I was a kid, but I had never been inside the ballpark. The Padres are terrible and the Cubs equally miserable, but Wrigley is unreal. The two worst teams in the NL playing and the place still sells out. We picked up the train about an hour outside of Chicago and it was full of fans decked out in Cubs gear. Real Fans. We went with our good family friend’s, Chris and Rusty, and sat in the shade about 25 rows behind home plate (thankfully in the shade). I’ve now been to Wrigley, Fenway, old Yankee stadium, Double Day Field, Angels Stadium, Dodger’s Stadium, AT&T (or whatever the Giants stadium is called) and Petco. Wrigley is definitely in my top three. There was only one downside to the entire experience, the face-to-face troughs in the men’s  bathrooms. It’s awkward enough standing right next to another guy while using an open communal bucket toilet, but there is something completly wrong about looking into someone else’s eyes while doing so. I know Wrigley has always been known for it’s adherence to tradition (there isn’t a jumbotron, very few advertisments and half the fans flipped when they got lights in 1988), but sometimes change is a good thing.

View from our seats

Meeting Uncle Clint/The Tuck Family. When I went to Indiana three years ago, I visited my grandfather Kiff’s grave (he died before I was born) and tried to see some of my dad’s old stomping grounds. I’ve always known a lot about my mom’s side of the family, but less about my dad’s. My dad has a twin who I had never met. I’m not going to get into details here, but spending time with my uncle helped to piece together quite a few things. We also visited my dad’s childhood next door neighbors, who still live in the same house. Mr. Tuck turns 100 this July. He fought in the Battle of the Buldge in WWII; I can’t imagine the stories he could share. Mrs. Tuck told all sorts of tales about my dad and the kids in the neighborhood. They talked about the time my dad had fallen behind the house, hit his head and needed stiches, about “hoop tennis” (a game I think they made up, but one that the Tuck’s still had the homemade equipment for in the garage) and the rides Mr. Tuck would give up and down the street with the kids hanging off the open tailgate.

I love my dad, but we are so incredibly different. He talks a ton, but rarely about his childhood.  This trip wasn’t just about checking things of a list, it was about exploring, digging into and learning about my dad’s (and our family’s) story.

Here’s a few more photos:

Radios & Cars: Pretty much sums up my dad.
Outside of Wrigley