Then Again, I Saw The Footch Win A Belly Flop Contest In Daytona Beach
I never went to Spring Break in college.
Instead, I went home. Drove six hours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Knoxville, Tennessee, and worked whatever job I could find for the week or so in order to earn a few precious dollars for my social activities on and around campus.
I never had enough money on my own to head to the “Redneck Riviera” – Panama City Beach – with the other students, let alone to fly to a place like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas. My dad was kind enough to pay for my schooling – including the hefty out-of-state tuition – so I was not going to hit him up for more funds to go get hammered on a beach.
So I’ve always been a bit jealous of college students who can go on Spring Break. It sure beat mowing lawns in the neighborhood or washing dishes in a restaurant, two of the jobs I had while my classmates were making a wreck of themselves at the Spinnaker bar in PCB.
This is not to say I have never experienced Spring Break. I have, just a few years after college.
When I worked at the newspaper in Savannah, GA, I was only three and a half hours from Daytona Beach. So a few times, I would drive I-95 – which I named “The Highway To Hell” because I blasted that AC/DC song while driving – and hit Daytona. Once I was with a big group because a co-worker’s parents had a condo in nearby Ormond Beach. – a free place to stay! – a couple of other times I was with a great friend (one year, on the way back north, we got sidetracked to Ocala, an hour to the east), and on yet another occasion I met a couple former sportswriters from the paper.
And each time, I thought, “man this is AWESOME!”
Daytona was especially great because in addition to the beach, all the hotels had pools. And those pools were packed with people partying, DJs playing and emcees encouraging fools to do silly things like belly flops into the pool.
I’ll never forget one belly flop contest when the emcee starting calling out for one contestant in particular. His name was Footch.
The emcee called out for him: “Where’s The Footch!?”
Soon hundreds were yelling “Footch! Footch! Footch!”
And out of the crowd, as if emerging from the locker room like Rocky Balboa at a heavyweight title fight, came a big guy with pure white skin and the kind of beer belly that looked as if could hold half a keg. Pretty impressive for a college student; wonder what it’s like now! The crowd erupted in cheers.
The Footch stepped onto the diving platform, did a little acknowledgement to his admirers to build the excitement, then plunged face and belly first into the pool. You could hear the SMACK when he hit the water.
The splash was like a geyser. And the crowd went nuts.
From that point forward, the rest of the trip was pretty much a blur, though my friend and I did wind up in the room of a pair of girls from Indiana that brings a smile to my fact to this day. After that trip, we called each other Footch and i even put it on m first California license plate.
I have many more from Daytona Beach but they pale in comparison to what a high school friend later told me happened down the coast in Ft. Lauderdale. He was the head manager at Penrod’s THE Spring Break party place in the entire Eastern United States at the time.
And after hearing hist takes, I’m jealous of him at Spring Break!
Hmm. That’s a lot of jealousy associated with Spring Break. But mention the words “Spring Break” to me and a bit smile will come to my face. I’ll also start laughing at my own experiences starting, of course, with The Footch.