August 30, 2015

Long run today, I was thinking about Hot Dog Plus

One of my first jobs I ever had was working at Sammy Skobel’s Hot Dog Plus. This was almost 40 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. My hometown had a very small storefront that sold Chicago style hot dogs, beef sandwiches and Simplot Krinkle Fries. This small little shop was big in my little town. Every kid and adult knew of this place. To me it was the place that brought everyone together to a unanimous opinion. The food was the best. As a kid, I thought this was fine dining. I could go in, and purchase a hot dog with the works, a pile of fries and a coke for a buck and a half. They would wrap the Hot Dog and fries in paper if you ordered to go. Sammy’s wife would wrap mine to go even if I was staying because it tasted better that way. As a swimmer, I was constantly in search of calories and Sammy’s filled the bill. As soon as I was old enough, I went in and applied for a job. I figured I would get a free hot dog every once in a while, but what I really got was so much more. There are experiences in life that are life-changing and this experience came with valuable lessons. Working at Sammy’s was filled with great lessons. I was a mediocre swimmer when I met Sammy and his wife and I would be captain of the team not too much later.  You see, Sammy was the most inspiring person I ever met. He is legally blind, a top-notch athlete, and would never dream of taking no for an answer. He also has the most positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. He taught me to see the world the way he views the world. There would never be a challenge that was too great after I met Sammy. I remember on his soda cups was a saying that, at the time, I had never heard before. “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits”. I adopted this as my mantra. I teach it to my own son, who is the same age as I was when I worked with Sammy. When I worked at Sammy Skobel’s Hot Dog Plus, JPD started running races on the weekends. Sammy got wind that my dad was running races and Sammy wanted in. He needed a guide and my father happily agreed. Sammy would proudly tell me his exploits as a roller-skater. He once held the record for roller skating a mile and skated professionally when roller skating was a big deal. Pictures all over the shop proved his point. The Chicago Distance Classic 20K proved to be no problem for this “fit as a fiddle” athlete. Me, I barely finished. Dad and Sammy had a great race and continued their success in subsequent races. Sammy would ski the slopes in Colorado and introduced me to the place that I now live with pictures of him and his son on great mountains. He always told me that I could choose my own path. That was new to this 15 year old. He always led by example and made me crave the positive mental attitude that he taught me every day. I went back to my hometown and saw him one day, 30 years after I worked for him. He immediately recognized my voice and wanted to know everything he had missed in the last 30 years since he had “seen“ me last. I told him that I had succeeded in my life because of the great lessons he taught me when I was 15 years old. I heard he was sick and I want to wish him the best. God bless you, Sammy Skobel!

Sun comes up, moon goes down. Favorite song today: 44 Blues performed by Memphis Slim.

Sun comes up.

Sun comes up in the east.

Moon goes down in the west.

Moon goes down in the west.

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