Saturday, August 9, 2008

Memories of 1976 Olympics - George

With the 2008 Summer Olympics under way in Beijing, it brings back memories of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Younger brother John and I took in the second week of those games.

I sent in my ticket order form the day they became available. Even so, the basketball tickets were all sold out. I did get tickets for men's field hockey, women's volleyball, wrestling, two days of track and field and equestrian which was part of the closing ceremonies package. John didn't have tickets so we just decided to see what we could buy at the different events. To our surprise, we were able to get tickets for him at face value. There wasn't any real scalping going on. Until the closing ceremonies. John ended up sitting outside the stadium the entire time. He said one guy was still trying to sell his ticket at a highly inflated rate right up until the very last minute.

Montreal had set up a housing system that allowed us to stay in a room at a private residence for a very reasonable rate. We spent little time there because we would leave early to get to our events and wouldn't get back until late.

Track and field was held at the new Olympic Stadium, which hadn't been totally completed on time. Some of the upper roofing wasn't quite done. While I had a reserved seat, John got standing room only tickets. That left him with an aching back, so he had little sympathy for me when I complained of a headache afterwards. I don't have any real memories of any particular performances at the '76 Olympics, although I do remember having a seat close to some of Bruce Jenner's family. I had no idea at the time that he was from Graceland College in Iowa.

News reports had indicated that security was very tight after what had happened at the Munich Olympics in 1972. But, if that was true, we were unaware of any signs of it.

It was interesting to be among so many people from so many different places...all the different languages, everyone showing generally good sportsmanship except for a few "ugly Americans."

We drove John's car from South Dakota to Montreal, my first experience driving any distance with a clutch. Why anyone would drive like that all the time is beyond me. On the way home, we stopped at Niagara Falls and spent a night with a cousin in Buffalo, NY.

If you ever have the chance to attend the Olympics, I'd high recommend it.