The first time I arrived in Toledo was by thumb and freight as a National Champion in the early 1970s, before it became a money sport. There was a big tournament at the Toledo YMCA.in the dead of winter.

It’s bracing to step from a chilled auto or boxcar into a hot racquetball court, and after winning three preliminary matches, to step back out the door into the biting cold and walk the streets for a place to sleep. After the matches on the first tournament night, I exited the YMCA back door into the alley, cracked it with a pebble, and walked loops until the janitor left.

I returned into the building to sleep. But where? I felt along the darkened halls without a flashlight, and up a flight of stairs, pushed open the first door, and knew immediately by the odor that it was a woman’s john.  It was a confirmed female by a perimeter search that found no urinals. I sat down on a white throne and slept warm for six hours.

The next morning, I strolled out onto a red carp to the championship court and won the Toledo Open..

Once a tramp, now a champ.