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2016 Jay Hathaway Memorial Paddle Fun DayBy Patrick McGuire
December 7, 2016
A fabulous crowd of Dorset Field Club Paddlers showed up on Saturday Dec. 3rd to celebrate the 6th annual Jay Hathaway Memorial Paddle Fun Day. Jay was our unofficial mayor of Dorset and an avid, enthusiastic and ardent advocate of paddle. He singlehandedly managed to get our 3rd court in place almost 20 years ago. Sadly Jay left us 8 years ago and to vigorously keep his paddle memory alive we gather every first weekend in December to play paddle and host a chili-cook off.
This year’s Hathaway Day was also dedicated to the memory of two senior paddlers we lost this past year, John Pless and Charlie Ams. These two charming and beloved senior paddle players were featured in Camille Thoman and Elizabeth Wong’s splendid documentary “The Longest Game” which featured a group of DFC paddle seniors who played paddle together almost every day for over 25 years. We will miss them both.
The day was ideal, slightly overcast, temps in the high 30’s and low 40’s and windless. The crowd started to filter or stagger (depending on Friday night’s activities!) in around 10 am for coffee and festively decorated donuts. A lot of things can be said of our paddle community and one of them is they’re not shy about food. Loads of fabulous pot luck delicacies were delivered. We had three entries for the annual Chili Cook-off, one of the lighter years of late. Paul Wheeler, Three-peat winner graciously elected not to participate so others might have a chance of claiming the Chili Crown. Sadly, Steve “Gumbo” Holman, another winner and fierce competitor, was out of the contest this year. Chili was bubbling, cornbread, salads, brownies, pies and cookies were all out on display and the paddlers were working up a hunger and a thirst all morning long.
A lot of vigorous and fun paddle was played. New members playing with older seasoned players. New partnerships and friendships forged, new teams built and a lot of laughter on the courts. Our little hut was brimming with members and the tangy aroma of award winning chili. Finally the voting was in and new contestant Mary Rita “Reets” Manley, narrowly nudged out Bill “Hall of Famer” Childs, who was our first ever Chili Champion. Reets’ closely held family recipe had a sweet tangy spicy flavor to it, and a robust consistency — kind of thick and chunky, while Bill’s was more the classic soupier chili style. One voter combined the both and found that was the perfect combo! In any case, Mary Rita Manley took home the chili cook-off crown for the year and her name will be placed on the plaque. People worked off the lunch for another few hours and started to head home for football and Advil. A few diehards stuck around and played a few more sets and washed down the chili with the requisite beer. A good time had by all. As Jay would always say “How Cool is that?” And always remember paddle players have more fun!