Friday, November 30, 2007

A man who never jumped the shark

It looks like hepatitis and pulmonary fibrosis have done what gravity, fire and the Snake River canyon couldn't. Evel Knievel is dead at 69.

What y'all may not know is that Robert Craig Knievel got his start right here in Moses Lake in 1965, trying to jump over a box of rattlers. He missed that time, but I've talked with people who remember seeing him do practice jumps over a narrow spot in the lake, just down the road from my office.

He fueled a million boys' stupidity in the 70s, with his jumps and stunts. Boys will do dumb, dangerous things anyway, but he gave us a role model. We used to pretend to be him when we jumped our bikes and hurled ourselves off roofs and things like that, imagining ourselves going through flaming hoops in a gaudy star-spangled suit. Rumor had it that one pinky was the only bone he'd never broken. Nobody, but nobody, was cooler than Evel Knievel. Even the Fonz was only a pale imitation.

I'm really glad it was natural causes that got him in the end, and not a crash. He may be dead, but by gum, he went out undefeated.

Update: I just ran across this (completely at random, in fact), and it seems like a fitting way to remember Evel.

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