Sam Lacy was a sports editor and columnist for the Afro-American Newspapers. (Courtesy Photo)

If not for trains, planes and taxis, most of you wouldn’t know Sam Lacy. There wouldn’t have been a Hall of Fame writing career because Sam would still be driving around looking for his destination.

As a youngster, I was lucky enough to go to camp in the summer. These were experiences I will never forget, and Sam remembered until the day he died.

My first experience was at Camp Atwater. There was no pool, but we had a lake.  Swimmers were ranked with colored swim caps. Non-swimmers wore red caps. Those who could swim from pier to pier wore blue caps, and those who could swim to an island about a half mile away wore white caps.

My pride and ego got me out of that red cap and between Atwater and the YMCA I was able to pass the Red Cross Life Guard exams.

There was Emlen summer camp in between, but this story is built around Downingtown. Downingtown was just outside Philadelphia, and Sam and I shared some quality time while he drove me to camp. While at camp, Sam would come up and spend some Saturdays with me.  The only problem was Sam and his sense of direction.  He swore if he made that trip 100 times, he never came the same way twice. This story sounded a little far-fetched, but in later years I came to understand what he was talking about.

Mickey Rooney built a hotel outside the city of Downingtown, and the advertisement made it sound like an ideal place for a family vacation.  This was familiar turf, so we loaded up Sam, my mother-in-law, my wife and I.  As we closed in on our destination, there were no more road signs and I began to experience déjà vu.  The amusing part of this lost safari was Sam trying to give instructions from the back seat. I didn’t want to disrespect the old man, but it was obvious that his directions would have led me to a point somewhere outside Albany.

As we wandered around the roads of Pennsylvania, I couldn’t help but think, “I am my father.”