Reflections on a pandemic Plus, celebrating John Campbell’s 65th birthday.

Reflections on a pandemic

April 5, 2020

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Plus, celebrating John Campbell’s 65th birthday.

by Bob Heyden

Today, words like re-infection and autumn surges are not part of our everyday life — yet. Things are just underway regardless of how extreme the adjustment has been.

Re-priorization, living alone, reassurance — these are all now issues. Maybe later, too. It does no good to complain — or worse: flout the rules. We may not be grinning but we ARE bearing it.

We are currently in a marriage of unsettling dreams and reality. Turbulence. Silent scrambling. Every clearing of the throat is magnified. No one is comfortable, few are working. Tom Joad is no longer a mythical character.

The days are sticking together like a moldy calendar in the attic. Kids got tsunami’d without even going to the beach. Perspectives have changed. Home schooling is no longer a curiosity.

I remember at around age 11 watching Frank Blair and the Today Show every Friday give the weekly casualty count from Vietnam. Five hundred plus was a terrible week. Recently, that has been an average half day.

Fasten up folks, we are already at 35,000 feet and that shaking you just felt, well…… That bobble you just made is now an extended break.

THIS is where we are. The past doesn’t matter a whole lot now, not while we are taking on all this water. There’s a saying that goes, “When you throw a rock over the fence, it’s the hit dog who yelps.” Open your window, that’s all of us.

Sports, concerts, plays all seem inconsequential at the moment. We are on 24/7 crisis management. Misinformation abounds. The black cloud of 9/11 dissipated after a couple of long weeks. Ours of 2020 is just forming. Used-to-be inconveniences are now full-time regularities.

This is not going away or getting better any time soon. No matter what you wish or what tracks put out condition sheets.

I recently saw a documentary on Dwight Eisenhower, and a comment he said about his childhood that I think pertains to today’s crisis. “I didn’t know I grew up poor until I read about it later on.”

Charities are still charities and the elderly are still seniors. Let’s remember that in a world of separation anxiety, refrigerated trucks, full turn out farms and SRO waiting rooms. We can all do our own small part. A consolation call, a few scratch-offs in the mail, a text or three, or a plant dropped off on a porch. It’s okay for our minds to wander; uncertainty has a way of bringing that on. It’s just that right now it’s time to settle in. Added anxiety is like complaining to the flight attendant about five extra minutes of taxiing on your flight to New Zealand.

Celebrating John Campbell as he turns 65

In celebration of John Campbell’s 65th birthday on Wednesday (April 8), let’s take a look at some of amazing firsts and lasts of his Hall of Fame career:


• The first driver to lead the nation in earnings in four different decades. 1979 through 2002.
• The first — and only— driver to win seven straight in Meadowlands history (February, 1983).
• The first driver to win at the Meadowlands with a trotter in sub-1:50 (J L Cruze 1:49.4. (2015)).
• The first driver to win with a female in sub 1:50 (June 27, 1998 Armbro Romance in 1:49.4 in the Ladyship Stakes for Brett Pelling).
• The first driver to win with a mare in sub-1:50 (1998 Jays Table in 1:49.3 for trainer Bill Robinson in the Open Mare Pace Breeders Crown).
• The first driver to earn $11-$12-$13-$14 million in a single season.
• The first driver to win the national earnings title 16 times.
• The first driver to win the Meadowlands driving title 16 times.
• The first driver to win any Triple Crown race eight times (Messenger Stakes).
• The first driver to win a Breeders Crown race in his 20s-30s-40s-50s and 60s.
• The first driver to win with a 3YOPC in 1:48 (2000 — P B Bullville at Red Mile).
• The first driver to go into the Hall Of Fame at 35 years 3 months (the youngest ever) in 1990.
• The first catch driver to win any million-dollar race (1982 Meadowlands Pace with Hilarion).
• The first driver to win a Breeders Crown race 15 straight years (1984-1998).
• The first driver to time trial a trotter in 1:51 flat (Pine Chip in 1994).
• The first driver to defeat Cam Fella with a female (April, 1983 at Freehold with Jefs Eternity).
• The first driver in Meadowlands history to win the Hambletonian three times in a four-year period (1987, 1988 and 1990 with Mack Lobell, Armbro Goal and Harmonious, respectively).
• The first driver to win the same million-dollar race six times in a single decade, the North America Cup in the 1990s (1991 Precious Bunny, 1994 Cams Card Shark, 1995 Davids Pass, 1996 Arizona Jack, 1997 Gothic Dream and 1999 The Panderosa).
• Last Hambletonian drive was His Royal Harry in 2016 (finished 9that 87-1).
• Last Hambletonian on the board finish was a second in 2014 with Nuncio.
• Last Hambletonian favorite was in 2010 when he finished second with 3-2 choice Lucky Chucky.
• Last Meadowlands Pace win was in 2002 with Mach Three.
• Last Hambletonian win was in 2006 with Glidemaster (in then stakes best 1:51.1).
• Last time any driver won the Hambletonian back to back? 1987-1988 John Campbell with Mack Lobell and Armbro Goal.
• Last time any trotter won the Breeders Crown three straight years was Mack Lobell in 1986-1987-1988 with John Campbell.
• Last time a driver won the Jug, the North America Cup, the Meadowlands Pace and the Hambletonian in the same year was 1995 when Campbell won the Jug with Nicks Fantasy, the NA Cup and Meadowlands Pace with Davids Pass and the Hambletonian with Tagliabue.

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