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Sixty years and Still a Champion: The Story of the Drake Relays Champion Watch

A story about POW Ralph Baggett, whom my father interviewed at length for his book, Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam.
















From a note dated June 27, 2002.

My father once told me that “your world is only 500 people.” Many people come in and out of one’s life... the butcher, the baker, the bus driver, friends, school mates, family... all a special part at the time but never more than 500 at any one time. In fact, it may be rare to approach even that number. Try writing a list and you will see how hard it is after 100 names. I’ve often thought it was some sort of Irish proverb but I’ve never heard it from others so it must be his own formula for living. “The idea,” he said, “is to keep the good ones as they enter the house that is your life and let the others slide right out through the back door.” The trouble, I discovered all too often, was that I could not always recognize the difference.

The poet John Thompson once wrote that we lose our friends because we become to busy... too busy to keep in contact. “Around the corner I have a friend in this great city that has no end. Yet days pass by and weeks pass on and before I know it, a year is gone and I never see my old friend’s face for life is a fast and furious race.” As the time lengthens from the last contact, we become embarrassed to write, hesitant to call on the phone or even make contact with a brief e-mail. The longer the interval, the deeper the embarrassment and the friendship soon fades like the smoke of an abandoned campfire.

“Can I resurrect this friendship?” I’ve asked myself time and again. For years, the answer was a self conscious “No” for I lacked the courage to say I miss my old friends and I pray they miss me as well for I so treasured their companionship. I have seen my reversion to a child like manner, fraught with the angst of a fifteen year old boy asking for his first date. The eternal fear that the girl of my dreams would look at me, laugh, and say, “You? You have to be out of your mind.” It is part of the horrible process of growing up and learning that the world cares little about anyone in particular. Only with age and experience do we learn that life is a process of making decisions and, when things go awry, new decisions and directions must be taken.