Sunday, May 28, 2006
Not triathlon related, but I just had to post about it. We were watching CNN Headline News yesterday, and who do we see but Baton Bob! Those of you in St. Louis may remember this guy--very well-muscled black guy who dressed from head-to-toy in ornate costumes--a St. Louis Cardinal, wedding dress, very risque Easter Bunny, you name it. Every time of the year, every occassion, he had a costume. He would march down the street, blowing his whistle, whirling his baton, and putting smiles on all of us trudging the daily, boring route to work. Just for a moment, we would forget the day's tedious drudgery, look up, and laugh, which was exactly why he did it.
After 9/11 James Jamerson (Baton Bob), felt a calling. He realized how much tragedy and destruction was going on in the world around him and set out to change it, one step (and baton twirl) at a time. We all loved him. I cheered him on many a time as he marched in the Central West End, near Washington University's Medical School as I paused to grab a latte. Sometimes, I would see him working out along the trail in Forest Park. He became a local fixture of the community. Something that made living in St. Louis special. Unique. Something I felt proud to be a part of.
Unfortunately, some of St. Louis' conservative community did not support the baton-twirling, black man in drag, and prevented him from marching in several parades, as well as fueling many senesless arrests. I witnessed his arrest at a John Kerry rally in downtown St. Louis in October, 2004. He was also barred from marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Fed up with the conservative red-tape, Jamerson moved to Atlanta a few years ago, where he could be more accepted. It was good to hear he's still marching to the beat of his own drummer, bringing smiles and laughter to those all around him.