Blossom warms up with some putts before teeing off at Shoaff Park on Monday.
Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette George Blossom, 96, plays golf weekly at municipal courses with the Men’s Seniors Golf Association.
Thursday, December 03, 2015 4:03 am
Seniors still have swing
Steve Warden | The Journal Gazette
For being the first day of June, it was an unusually cool Monday morning that greeted the Men’s Seniors Golf Association on the first tee at Shoaff Park.
What made the day seem more disagreeable was the long, cold grass, still wet from the weekend’s rains. Although a few brave souls wore shorts, most of the golfers were in long pants. Many even wore jackets. George Blossom’s was yellow.
While he was more than an hour early for his 9:24 tee time, Blossom shuffled through the clubhouse’s back door and wasted no time in paying his $2 to association secretary Norm Moravec, who sat at a round table with 85-year-old Roy Schmidt, who was part of the 8 a.m. group. The extra money is just part of the little competition among the seniors. Whoever has the lowest gross score in their group wins a $2 coupon to buy merchandise at other courses. Plus the donation also goes to the end-of-the-year banquet.
Besides, Blossom says, "It looked like rain, so I left."
He took up golf, he says, when he was 36 years old. Maybe 37; he’s not certain. That would be 60 years ago, since George Blossom, a man with soft, blue eyes behind his trifocals, will turn 97 on Dec. 14.
It gets him out of his Trier Road house where he and his wife, Lucille, lived until she died at 85 in 2001. They were married 60 years, he recalls. They celebrated their 60th with a "sit-down dinner at the nursing home."
He was from Fort Wayne and she was from Lima, Ohio, and they met at the College of Music in Cincinnati, which is now the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He played oboe and returned to Fort Wayne to play 29 years with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. She played piano and taught fourth grade at Nebraska Elementary School.
As he recalled those days long ago, George smiled and, almost out of nowhere, asked who was that basketball player from Wisconsin this year?
Yeah, he said. Kaminsky. And then he smiled again.
"At the girls’ dormitory in Cincinnati, they had sort of a lounge," he begins. "All the girls were there. They had this one girl, and her name was Kaminsky. Beautiful girl. I took her for a walk a couple times. She was a beautiful girl, but she had a big nose. Other than that, she was beautiful. A nice gal. And every time I watched the ballgame, I’d think about her."
And what became of her? Did he ever walk with her again?
"I don’t know," George says. "I walked with several gals."
On this cold Monday, Blossom doesn’t walk much. He rides in the golf cart with playing companion Dave Habegger.
Blossom’s first shot off No. 1 scoots only a few yards, and Habegger gives him the OK to hit another. But this one also slides along the wet grass.
George’s second shot is about the same, as is the third.
"I can’t get it off the ground," Blossom complains. Eventually, he gets to the edge of the green, where he needs only a few putts to finish the hole.
But on the second tee, Blossom hits a good drive down the right side of the fairway.
"Nice ball!" Habegger shouts, and George seems pleased.
Because of his musical ability, Blossom says he spent World War II in Biloxi, Mississippi. He played oboe with the 502nd Air Force Band, which had a weekly show on WWL radio in New Orleans.
"I brought my wife down," he says. "She got a job at the Biloxi Hotel. And when Truman dropped the bomb, I dropped the bomb and decided to start our family."
Oh, how he laughed at saying that, and those blue eyes danced. Then he says, "Don’t print that." But it didn’t take much convincing for him to say it was OK to use the quote.
"I tell my son that," he says.
George said he’s never thought about being 96. He still drives. He still does all the cooking and grocery shopping. He stopped smoking about the same time he took up golf. He doesn’t eat sausage. "It has a lot of fat and a lot of salt." Or hot dogs. He eats vegetables. And he gets outdoors whenever he can.
"I used to ride my bicycle everywhere," he says. "About a year ago I went to this garage sale, and there was this bicycle there. I asked the girl, ‘Is this for sale?’ and she said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘I’ll buy it if I can ride it.’ I couldn’t ride it. I couldn’t get up on it. So that was the end of that."
An hour later, he’s in the golf cart on his way to the third hole. He’s driving, and he’s not slowing down.
Steve Warden is a features writer whose "Morning Observations" column appears monthly. Email him at email@example.com.