Written by Bob Briggs—1994
Fear is a terrible thing, pure unadulterated fear is a mind numbing, limb freezing, feeling that turns your insides to water.
I wonder what kind of fear Scott Donner felt in San Antonio, Texas that day in 1993 when he let fear take control, and clambered back down the 10 meter platform from where he was to take his final dive. It was a moot point dive as he already had first place sewed up.
But Donner didn’t take the dive, he went into his pre-dive routine and performed a handstand prior to taking th plunge. The dive shouldn’t have taken over ten seconds, but Donner continued to remain there balanced on his hands 20 seconds, 30 seconds, like a statue.
Finally after about forty seconds, his legs wavered twice and Donner lowered his legs until he was standing straight upright on the platform. He then climbed slowly down to where his friends and family waited and wondered.
Donner said he suffered from post-traumatic-stress, a Vietnam-veteran disorder, but what he was really suffering from was not making it big on the endorsement trail. Donner said that he felt an immense feeling of relief when he walked off the platform. He didn’t need this. Donner had a fear that he would change his mind in the middle of a dive and hurt himself. He dove beautifully in the 1992 Olympics, he dove well enough to win a Silver Medal in the 10 meter platform. A 10 meter dive is like diving off the eaves of a two story house, or out the window of a three story apartment. You also have to cup your hands over your head, pushing a hole in the water with your hands before your head hits the water.
Donner says that he has seen many people get hurt in the platform dive. You are entering the water at 35 mph and to hit anything but a near perfect dive could be disastrous. So Donner came home from the Olympics with his Silver medal all ready to take on the corporate world. He admits he made mistakes when he didn’t hire an agent to make deals for him. He thought he could do it on his own. He didn’t realize that an Olympic Champion’s light burns hot and quick. If you don’t have some one out there in front singing your praises, you’re not going to do any selling on the market today.
So Donner started to eat an atrocious diet, he started to drink and smoke cigarettes, he started to drive fast on empty streets with no thought in mind except not getting arrested, in short he had turned into someone that I would have liked.
Donner wrecked his car on a rainslick Florida highway last spring, if you expect me to tell you that he was crippled in an accident, he wasn’t. He says that he may be back for the ’96 Olympics if he makes the team, but this time he won’t be fighting an unknown fear in his mind. So much for the story. I don’t know if I believe it or not, I do know some ‘Nam vets that should be kept in a box, but that’s another story.
Speaking of vets, I had a chance to hear Randy Crouch play the other night at a gathering of veterans and friends at the river for the annual Blue Note Festival.
Randy is the heart and soul of the band, the Flying Horse, a 3, 4, or five man combo that belts out rock, country or reggae at warp speed or whatever else that your ears can stand.
Randy’s main guitar player, Sparky Fisher, passed away this past summer and so whatever guitar player that’s available now can sit in with the band.
Randy is a fiddle player of par excellence, and when he drags that bow across those strings for a rendition of The Star Spangled it is worth traveling more than a few miles to hear.
I arrived at the campground where they were holding the Blue Note Festival at just about sundown and a lady cold jumped me at the gate for a buck’s donation to “cover expenses” of which I’m all for, I just don’t like surprises. Because most time when I go to the river, I don’t carry money with me, but this night knowing that I’d probably be seeing my brother among others, and not knowing what would transpire, I had a few extra dollars.
So paying my buck stipend I drove on into the party. I arrived just in time to see my brother playing a splendid rendition of Dan Garber’s or Doc Davis’ “Adair County”— and doing the song some decency.
You have to do some pretty deep research to find out the author of most of these original Green country songs, and the passage of years and the combination of many factors have dulled the senses of many of my friends and so their arguments continue.
Brother Goose did another song or two and then came down from the bandstand to howdy and shake with the many folks gathered there under the trees.
He likes to get his commitments over with as soon as possible so that he can say “yeah, I was at so and so’s party, and yeah I played.”
When in reality all he wants to do is get away from the office and toast a few with his friends. He figures the best way to accomplish that is to get his musical talents out of the way so that he can hang at the fringe of the crowd and check out all the new swim suit styles.
But back to The Flying Horse Band, there were some nights when the band could walk with the king, or anybody else for that matter. There were times when the band was the absolute best that you’d ever heard.
When Randy would stand there with fiddle in hand and an electic guitar slung around his neck fiddling with the volume and bass controls with his bare feet, while all the crowd got down with him on one of his patented songs.
Then some nights Randy gets just as rowdy and noisy as the others and always plays as smooth as unblemished silk.
But every now and then he gets it in his head to go out and dance with the big boys, and on those nights Randy Crouch is special and can make music with anybody. Go on, get one of his tapes that one of his friends have boot-legged, crank it up and stand back among the mainbeams and you’ll know what is was to hear some real men play some real rock and roll.