The Los Angeles Olympics…come on in!
The phone rang very early that morning. It was my sister in law Lisa asking if we would like to attend a track and field event at the Los Angeles coliseum. It was August, 1984
and the summer Olympics were underway. Her dad, who was the current supervisor of Ventura County, had been given a complimetary set of tickets, but was unable use them. Lisa hated to see them go to waste, so with very short notice, she called to see if we were interested.
My husband Doug was a cross country runner in high school and college. He was thrilled! I wasn't so sure I wanted to sit on hard bleachers all day in the hot sun watching track and field, but my mom volunteered to watch our two year old son, so I agreed to go. It was a 45 minute drive from Thousand Oaks to the 8 am event. We found parking a few blocks away and followed the signs to the front gate. The Coliseum was decked out with colorful banners and Olympic rings. There were swarms of people everywhere with cameras around their necks and programs in their hands. The air was electric!
When we enter the grounds, we showed our tickets to the guards at the front gates and asked them if they knew where our seats were. They shrugged their shoulders and pointed us to another set of guards. We felt like two dumb tourist trying to make sense of these "free tickets!" No one seemed to know where our seats were.
"Great" I was thinking. "We're probably at the wrong event!"
Finally after several attempts we found someone who looked at our tickets and grinned. He took us to a concrete area under the bleachers. I thought we were going to be ushered out to the parking lot or assaulted! But instead he pointed ahead and said "Use that elevator over there. It goes to the Presidential box."
We looked at each other? Huh? Still not sure where we were going.
"Take the elevator to the top," he assured us. "Some one will be there to show you to your seats."
We stepped into the elevator and Doug pushed the only button that went up. Ding, ding. Up went the elevator and then stopped. Ding, ding. The doors opened and we stepped out into a curtain lined corridor. We were greeted by a friendly man wearing an unassuming uniform. He glanced at our tickets and said "Let me show you to your seats."
We followed him down the blue curtained corridor into a large, but narrow room with huge, long windows. There was a narrow bar under the windows with several empty padded chairs. Each chair had a separate viewing area with a close circuit TV for the close up action on the field. The windows hosted a spectacular view of the entire interior of the coliseum with it's red clay track and green grassy field. It looked like a view from a post card!
"Here are your seats." He gestured to two seats in the middle of the long span of windows. "Behind us is the open bar and buffet. Make your self at home. If you need anything please ask." He walked away.
Our mouths must have fallen open. I think we were dumbfounded. A few seats down from us was the ABC newscast filming the live sporting event from our prestigious press box seats.
The buffet table was filled with mounds of all kinds of fruits, meats, cheeses, and a variety of juices, coffee, teas and sweet rolls. We sat at the helm of our private viewing station nibbling fruit and before you knew it we were watching the Los Angeles Olympic relay races from our million dollar seats.
After a few hours of watching wheel chair races, long distance walking and running, I stood up to look for a restroom. Before I was on my feet the same nice gentleman was at my elbow.
"Can I show you to the bathroom?" he asked? and walked me over to a private door.
"Thank you," I replied, pretending this was all quite normal, and I disappeared behind the wooden door.
Once inside, I stood looking at myself in the mirror, shaking my fuzzy head. We had just returned to California after living two years in Turkey. Doug was in the US air force,but his enlistment time was up and we were now living with my parents while he looked for work. I had a $10 bill in my straw purse, no job or home. This experience was so far from our present reality. I was simply flabbergasted.
There was a little window near the bathroom sink, so I peeked out and saw tons of people in colorful shorts sitting on hard cement bleachers putting on their sun block, wearing visors and drinking coke out of large paper cups! The contrast was shocking! Here we were in the press box with our cushy seats, silverware and air conditioning, while those poor blokes were sitting on hot concrete risers!
It was a day we will never forget! That afternoon we watched Olympic metals being presented to the winners of various events; the nations anthems swelling with pride as we stood observing from our glass box. I have vivid memories of red blood streaming from the raw hands of a man lifting his arms in victory from his wheel chair, the winner of the wheel chair race. He struggled to his feet when the US anthem began to play and soon received his precious Olympic metal.
I still have those orange paper tickets displayed in a little glass frame on our book shelf. They are a reminder of the day we were treated like millionaires and ushered into the highest and most prestigious seats in the house. Seats we didn't even have to pay for! Seats we enjoyed because we showed up with the right tickets! Like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" we had the golden tickets!
When I think of that spectacular day it reminds me of what it means to be a child of the King. A King's Kid. Once we received salvation, our golden ticket, we have the privilege of walking straight into the presence of God in Holy of Holies. There is no longer a curtain of separation between us and God. We simply need to enter the room.
"Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need."