Louise Mead Tricard, 1936 – 2008 was a dear friend who succumbed to cancer. She devoted her life to woman’s track and field, and wrote the only two definitive books on the history of USA Woman’s Track and Field. Louise was born and raised in Pelham NY, then moved to the Bronx, NYC near an elevated subway line. She attended Pelham Memorial High School, finally ending up at the Bronx division of NYC’s Hunter College. Later she earned a M.Ed. from Columbia University.
I met her in first year German class in 1955 at Hunter. She was the one with the skin tight faded jeans. I never could figure out how she got into them, and neither could all the other guys in class. Louise and I had much in common and became friends. We flunked German together, competed in track, and thought we knew what was wrong with the world.
She was one of the first stars of woman’s track (held several sprint records) and competed for the NYC Police Athletic League. I often cheered her on from the balcony of Madison Square Garden, and so did the crowd. Louise was the very first woman to wear abbreviated skin-tight running shorts like are commonly worn today while everyone else wore the modest baggy shorts of yesteryear. Everyone noticed her in the 1950s and 60s. Her achievements and awards were many. Check them out on the Internet.
Louise taught elementary school, Physical Ed. and Guidance Counseling, for most of her life. She inspired, guided and coached many young girls. We briefly dated in the 1960s while I was in graduate school but then lost touch again. Years later, my wife and I bought a condo in Cocoa Beach, Florida where Louise was retired, living with her husband. It was then she undertook the task of researching and compiling the ultimate two volume set of The History of Woman’s Track and Field in America. I highly recommend it for those doing research or who are just interested in this subject.
She fought off cancer for many years, competing in Master’s track competition between chemo sessions, but finally lost her last race. She was a great lady who deserves to be remembered as a sweet lady and track legend, especially by all the women whose lives she touched.
I wrote this poem for her before she died. It was intended to be used as an encouragement to young underprivileged girls competing in the sport.
Life is not a Straightaway
Life is not a straightaway; they’re always are some turns.
And turns can be your downfall as competitors soon learn.
Life is not just another race you can afford to lose
‘cause there’s no tomorrow and another race to choose.
To be a runner on life’s track was not your conscious choice,
but once the race has started you really have no voice.
A fast start is helpful, or so we have been told,
but it’s no guarantee that you will win the gold.
Even if you’re the first one out, you have to run the turns,
and turns in life, like on the track, are lessons to be learned.
Turns can slow you up and force you to outside lanes.
They make you run a longer race so it’s hard to gain.
But if you bide your time, and run a well-paced race,
you’ll come off a crowded turn without a loss of pace.
Come prepared to finish strong and make up for lost ground.
Take the lead off the turn and hear the cheering sound.
And if you finish life’s long race in the top three places,
remember others not so fortunate, who have lost their races.
Run your race, take the turns, finish as best you can.
Remember that you are a winner just because you ran.
(One last poem I never sent to her)
The campfire sputtered in the night and finally flickered out.
With drier wood it could have burned through the night no doubt.
Ashes lay where once there was a cozy little fire
that warmed two hearts huddled close for just a little while.
But, a fire must be tended to keep alive the flame,
or else it will be extinguished and never be the same.
The warmth of glowing embers linger only an hour or so,
but ashes stay like memories even without their glow.
Friendship can survive the night without the heat and smoke,
living on the fuel that memories do evoke.
Sifting through the ashes of a campfire from the past
bring to mind the memories that make our friendship last.