Column #HR102 Give thanks to John Lowe this Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Column HR102
Give thanks to John Lowe this Thanksgiving

“Darts… darts… darts… nothing but bloody darts” rang the words of Jim “The Bizz” Aspin – a longtime pal of the Old Dart Coach – back when “The Bizz” was mixing drinks and drawing lagers at a private “drinkery” on the banks of the Thames in merry old London.

Those familiar with American history know that the Mayflower landed on the shores of New England. What some don’t know is that Mr. John Lowe was a passenger carrying a suitcase full of darts. The “natives” took to the game with unfound glee. In so doing they supplanted “poke in the eye with a stick” as their favorite pastime. Lowe sold his Unicorn darts, which the natives called “dahts,” like Ms. SSK, for the equivalent of $13.00. At the time, for a few more dollars and some beads Lowe could have bought Manhattan.

At rallies throughout the land echoed the cry “give us liberty and give us dahts.” The new country got both. As the nation grew it begot “dahting events” throughout the land where local spirits were consumed and good fellowship abounded (well, until the top 4 and then a lot of “F Bombs” and questions about one’s parents were tossed about).

A popular event became the Choo Choo Classic in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The ODC ventured there a couple of times, staying with a local family that just happened to have an attractive darting daughter.

The ODC once played her in a best of three “affair” at the Mayo Clinic, a local watering hole where hometown characters flourished alongside darting folk. The ODC won before a crowd of cheering Mayo regulars. The win slightly tilted the Queen’s crown, garnered a free beer and a loser’s one finger salute.

The ODC and the “Darting Queen” were a pair to behold. They attended the Friday night Choo Choo blind draw. They didn’t enter. Instead they finished first and second (no one else was close) at the portable bar in the hallway. Having borrowed Mommy’s car for the evening, they accepted an invite to an “after” party.

Being local, the Dart Queen drove, taking them on what proved to be a rather circuitous route. The trip included a visit to the Chattanooga “projects” – which was child’s play compared to finding themselves skidding passenger side down in a ditch going 50 miles per hour. The ODC spilled nary a drop of his wax cup of beer.

Compared to the trip the party was ordinary.

They arrived home in the early morning hours, quiet as church mice. After parking the car they tip-toed into the house with the stealth of ninjas.

At the morning’s sumptuous southern breakfast the head of the house, the Dart Queen’s father – called The Reverend by the ODC – glared steely-eyed as he asked, “How could you let her drive her mother’s car when she was in that condition? I would expect better of you.”

A very contrite ODC replied, “You’re right. I’m ashamed of myself. I let her drive because she knew the way – although the projects and the ditch were probably a surprise to her also. I wouldn’t have driven into the ditch but then I wouldn’t have been able to drive out of the ditch either at 50 miles per hour. When we got home we were quiet. How did you find out?”

“You made enough noise to wake the dead, laughing and giggling like two little kids. Then, this morning the neighbors called to see if we were okay when they saw our car parked in the middle of the front lawn with a beer cup on the roof.”

“I wondered what happened to my beer.”

For the rest of the Choo Choo the Dangerous Duo where driven to and fro by said Dart Queen’s mother.

“You ready to leave? I’ll call my Mom.”

Oh, the shame of it all.

The Choo Choo is still going strong at 30 years old. The Dart Queen has retired to have children while the ODC is still causing trouble with glee. The darting scene has changed dramatically since then with more money and more events but probably less opportunity to make a living, although that may be changing…

Where players once looked to the ADO for leadership and innovation they’ve taken on the entrepreneur spirit themselves. Today’s promoters follow in the footsteps of Jimmy Seals and Ed Oliver. Back in the day they were the pioneers. The two men had a lot in common. Neither was perfect, both worked with the ODC and most of all they tried.

In the words of Bob Mehoff, brother of Jack, “CAN’T ain’t never done nothing.”

Both men had to battle national and international organizations which treated dart players, then like now, like indentured servants. Both, though mostly Seals, suggested that the ADO/WDF and their rules “go far away and multiply.” Players in the Colonies should thank them for their efforts.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving our darting brothers in England should also be giving thanks. If (as suggested by the late Barry Twomlow) getting rid of the colonists isn’t enough to celebrate, the Brits should also be thankful for the brave pioneers of the PDC who originally championed the cause of darters. John Lowe selling darts to natives was nothing compared to what the PDC pioneers had to face. They played “freeze out” against a stacked deck and won.

The latest result of their efforts was the Coral Masters, which is just one more example of sticking an arrow in the eye of the BDO/WDF. In a scenario that is all too familiar, Phil Taylor reigned supreme. He went through a field of quality players, the world’s top 16, like corn through a seagull. He garnered £50,000 by taking down James Wade in the semis and Adrian Lewis in the final, each by a score of 10-1. In Taylor’s last 4 matches he went 34-7.

“Darts… darts… darts… bloody darts” – an addiction for which no 12-step program has yet been developed. There’s no 800 number to call, no group intervention and no vaccine. It’s a virus that attacks even those that aren’t a bubble off center. Darters look at life a little different than “other people.”

One Thanksgiving the ODC had eight darters to dinner. All pitched in with turkey prep, beverage serving, potato mashing and gravy making. They did this while at the same time running a darts tournament in the front room. As dinner was about ready the gravy maker was in the finals against the ODC. The gravy maker won but alas the gravy lost as it turned out the consistency of paste or wall paper glue.

At Thanksgiving dinner you might hear, “Lord we thank you for this bountiful meal we are about to share with our darting friends. We thank you for the doubles and triples you blessed us with this year. But most of all we thank you for sending John Lowe to our shores to sell darts to the natives.”

Oh yes. HAPPY THANKSGIVNG and…

Stay thirsty my friends..

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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