CELEBRATING TOMMY LEONARD’S 85TH BIRTHDAY

As we come up upon the 46th New Balance Falmouth Road Race weekend, we also celebrate the 85th birthday of race founder Tommy Leonard. In honor of TL , here’s a little verse recalling that other great running institution associated with TL, Boston’s Eliot Lounge.  Happy birthday, TL.  See you soon.
Tommy Leonard his ownself

 

For this is where we runners met,
The bar we called our own,
Hard along the marathon course,
Just a half a mile from home,
*
On the corner of Mass. and Commonwealth Aves.,
In Boston’s old Back Bay,
Where we came to recover from training,
And put PRs on display.
*
With Tommy Leonard tending taps,
The guru in his lair,
Every runner’s true best friend,
With a heart big enough to share.
*
And Coach Squires in his corner,
The Wack in classic form,
Holding court, as usual,
Untranslatable being the norm.
*
With walls festooned with photos,
Of racers in their glory,
Posters, banners, flags, as well,
Each one with a telling story.
*
It’s where Rodgers came to assuage a loss,
Or celebrate a record run,
And Joanie nipped with barracudas,
A champion, not a nun.
*
With footprints of the running stars,
Pressed out front in wet cement,
Course Tommy mixed the formula wrong,
So the prints didn’t quite indent.
*
And remember the night the horse clopped in,
Or the Stanford marching band,
And Heidi singing in those tight blue jeans,
They and the joint absolutely crammed.
*
‘Twas a clubhouse for every iconoclast,
Be they runner, writer, or pol,
And while few considered themselves joiners,
To the Eliot they came one and all,
*
When running meant more than simple fitness,
Or a bucket–list item for the masses,
But instead formed a band of close brothers,
Before our youth and speed finally passed us.
*
Yes, those days are fondly remembered,
When the lines did snake around the block,
But we knew the secret back entrance,
Sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock.
*
When time was the measure of excellence,
And Greater Boston the club above all,
When speed was the currency in issue,
But a good time was at night at Fall Call.
*
Still, if running has taught us any lesson,
It’s that time stands still for no man,
No matter how hard we might wish it,
It’s to the future we must look to and plan.
*
Knowing our memories are ones that still carry,
Those times that were ours once alone,
When speed and endurance were in abundance,
And we called the Eliot our home.
*
Sadly, its doors were forced to shutter,
After the hundredth Marathon was through,
But the friendships we made there still linger,
How fortunate, how lucky, we few,
*
Who experienced the sport when it was booming,
When its flower was still in first bloom,
When Tommy was our lovable guru,
And the Eliot our nurturing womb.
*
So thanks to all who have joined us,
To salute Tommy on his 85 years,
But just consider the man’s constitution,
Good God, it should bring us all to tears.
END
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8 thoughts on “CELEBRATING TOMMY LEONARD’S 85TH BIRTHDAY

  1. Wasn’t able to meet Tommy this year, my FIRST in Falmouth….I even went to the Quarterdeck Restaurant to look for him-though I had a nice dinner…Ever since I was 14 yrs old in 1980, I heard about this man, and this legendary race…Growing up in Montreal, Falmouth Road Race was the OLYMPICS in my eyes, and vowed to one day run it….I did this year, and though my trip and race was incredible, I still wish I could have met the man, shake his hand – and let him know he was a RUNspiration of mine…Long May We Run, and salute Mr. Leonard.

  2. brillant Poem Toni! a great salute to one of road racings true Heroes and Leaders;Tommy Leonard!
    thak you Tommy for invitingme to Race Falmouth in 1974…happy birthday for sure!
    bill rodgers

  3. What a great tribute to a great legend! I love how you wove other legends into to verse as well.
    Happy Birthday, Tommy!! I appreciate the influence you have had on my life!!🎉🎂💗

    1. That’s great….Tommy and the Eliot…what great memories in the 1980s….had quite a few chats with Coach Squires in the corner…

      Sigh….

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