Red Cape, Blue Collar
By Don Barone
“Take ‘em away,
take ‘em away, Lord…”
Dateline: Behind the Mirror
Childhood dreams never leave you. Least they have never left me.
As a child I dreamed of being as fast as a speeding bullet.
But knew I couldn’t.
As a child I dreamed of being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
But knew I couldn’t.
As a child I dreamed of flying like a bird, or a plane, or Superman.
I have always wanted to be Superman.
Because as a child, I didn’t want to be me.
Me…the little boy locked up in a cast from the tips of my toes to the tops of my armpits.
From the time I was born until I was at least 3 years old, I was encased in plaster.
A mummy child.
Fast as a speeding bullet…no chance, I couldn’t move unless someone picked me up and carried me.
Leap…I didn’t even understand what it was like to leave the ground by your own will.
Fly…up until the full body cast came off…I never moved an INCH on my own.
But as I laid there on the floor, or on the couch and watched my parents B/W TV…I saw a world in movement…a world with legs…a world free to go where they wanted to go when they wanted to.
A world…except for me.
So let me ask you, growing up like that, at such a formative age, who would you rather have been.
“…take away these chains from me…”
They carried their dreams in a brown paper bag. I grew up on a lunch pail block.
First, second, or third shift factory guys.
Sixty hour work week guys who schlepped through snow, illness, good weeks, bad weeks, schlepped through it all for one simple reason…family.
Punch in, punch out.
You showed up, you did your job, wasn’t about you, was about your family, was about your wife, was about the kids, never you.
Every tick of the time clock was about doing the right thing…raising the kids right.
Every tick of the time clock, every baloney sandwich in the lunch pail or brown bag was about doing the right thing, the only thing that mattered…opportunity.
The Land of Opportunity was carried on the backs of my block.
And no one had a bigger back than the dad who lived in my house.
Donald L Barone Sr.
A World War II Army grunt…spent years island hopping the war in the Pacific Theater.
It’s the grunts, it’s the infantry guys, it’s the nameless soldier who brought us the Land of Opportunity, not the suits giving speeches about it.
Donald L Barone Sr.
After the war, one day he just walked up the driveway, no fanfare, no parades, he just walked up the driveway to an upper and lower flat house on Prospect Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y.
Began driving a trolley, met my mother while he was driving and she was a passenger, got married, spent most of the next 30 some years, trying to get ahead.
Not ahead for him…ahead for me…ahead for my two sisters, Melissa and Cheryl.
I grew up in a home where dreams came wrapped in brown paper bags.
A no-excuses home, you wanted something, you worked for it, you didn’t get it, you worked harder the next time your brown paper bag dream came around.
The Land of Opportunity came one tick at a time on the time clock.
The my block, work ethic.
“…my heart is broken ‘cause my spirit’s not free…”
Now you know.
Now you know why I WILL BE AT THE NEXT ELITE TOURNAMENT.
At Many, Louisiana.
On Toledo Bend.
It is my turn to punch the clock.
It is my turn to load the brown paper bag, to drop the Thermos into the lunch pail.
It is my turn to lift the Land of Opportunity onto my back.
I’m going, because, it is my job.
I’m going, because it’s about raising the children to value the work ethic, because someday it will be on their backs to carry the Land of Opportunity.
And they better get used to the weight now.
I’m going, because I’ve committed to be there.
Committed to the 99 Elite anglers, and their families.
Committed to them to write the best stories I can, committed to them to get their stories out there.
Committed to them, to answer the bell, just as they do, no matter what.
I signed up to play, and play this game, take to this field, I will.
No matter what.
“…Lord take away these chains from me…”
Respect for being given, Opportunity.
Respect for passing Opportunity on.
Respect for doing the right thing even though it might not be the best thing for yourself.
I will never stop, because I was born stopped.
To me, every step I take is precious. Every blade of grass between my toes is a miracle. To be able to look up and see sky, and not ceiling, is magical.
I will never in my life be confined, again.
I am most at rest, while in motion.
I feel best, moving.
My red cape is tied around my blue collar.
I’m the next line of grunts.
My time, my back.
The Land of.
My opportunity came through the sweat of my block.
And it is for them.
And it is for my children.
And it is for the work ethic.
That when it comes to the Toledo Bend Battle in Many, Louisiana, I will be there.
To punch in.
“Some birds’ feathers are too bright to be caged
I know I’m not that colorful but a bird just the same
Open up your gate now, let me put down my load
So I can feel at ease and go back to my home.”
“Take ’em Away”
Old Crow Medicine Show