I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I heard the news that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was banning golf because he considers it a “bourgeois” sport.

Word to Mr. Chavez. Revolutionaries play golf!
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna aka Che learned the trade as a kid in Alta Gracia, Argentina at the Hotel Sierras, a luxury resort. It’s now a Howard Johnsons. When I visited the Hotel in 2003, it was an abandoned squatters shell with a well-manicured lawn. Didn’t get a peek at the golf course. I hear they’ve re-opened the casino.

The photos on this post are from the famous golf game between Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in 1962. The game was intended to be a photo op sending a message to President John F. Kennedy that “President Castro challenges President Kennedy to a friendly Game of Golf.” That headline was nixed. Apparently, the game got very competitive. Che won. Fidel lost. Sources say the Cuban president was not happy about the outcome.

Eventually the two companeros had to swing it out on Fidel’s turf, the baseball field. The 1962 golf game was held at a private 9-hole course previously owned by U.S. tycoon Irénée du Pont . Cuba is trying to bring golf back slowly. To date there’s only one course left on the island at the Rovers Athletic Club founded in the 1920s by British ex-pats. Raul Castro obviously did not take his brother’s 1962 defeat to heart. Word to Mr. Chavez.

You can read about my travels ISO of Ernesto Che Guevara de la Serna here on The Root.

photo by David Lenz

Last year I attended a literacy breakfast at the National Press Club and shared a table with Timothy Shriver. I asked how his mother was. It just seemed natural to ask especially having grown up in DC. Like the neighbors who lived in the next block, we’d see the Shrivers and Kennedys as often in official Washington as our neighborhood DC hang outs.

There are some departures that leave me with feelings of gratitude. There’s no denying Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a full and meaningful life. I can’t say I ever encountered Eunice Shriver directly, but I always seemed to bump into one of her children.

I remember attending a Women In Film & Video reception honoring Maria Shriver (pre-Arnold). Maria and I chatted a bit in the reception line. Apparently, I worked in an office where she had many friends. Maria’s parents were there and her brothers. I was standing next to her family by accident. I was so very impressed and touched by their family support.

At Paul Simon’s Graceland concert at Merriweather Post Pavillion, my sister, her co-workers and I were on the second row– eye contact distance. Miriam Makeba performed from a wheel chair after spraining her ankle. We turned around to see the rest of the audience. Eunice, Sargent, a son or two and Ted Koppel were 3 or so rows behind. We may have been closer to the stage, but we all knew who had the backstage pass. One of the best concert nights of my lifetime.

Eunice was the sister of President John F. Kennedy, former attorney general and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, and Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy. Though she never held public office, there was always a chair for her at the table.

Motivated by the struggles of her sister Rosemary who was institutionalized after a lobotomy at age 23 , Eunice denounced the shame around the mentally disabled. She shared her sister’s story in an article she wrote for the Saturday Evening Post in 1962. It isn’t a surprise their father Joseph Kennedy wanted to keep Rosemary a family secret especially with his son John in the White House. She believed in being hands on about this cause. In 1968 she founded the Special Olympics and remained a tireless and determined champion for persons living with intellectual disabilities. (Rosemary Kennedy died in 2005.)

I remember Eunice Shriver smoking cigars, something she apparently gave up in later years. You may not see that in official biographies. Maybe it was a joke all along. She did things “true ladies” of a certain time didn’t do. Her commitment to service, like her siblings, was her liberation.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver died yesterday morning in Massachusetts after a series of strokes. Her family, including husband Sargent, daughter Maria, and sons Timothy, Anthony, Mark, and Sargent III, were present at the time of her transition. She was 88.

My sympathies to the Shriver and Kennedy families.

Credit: Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver by David Lenz