Page two Memories of 1984 Olympics

Equestrian consists of three disciplines: Jumping, Dressage and Eventing, better known as the Three-Day Event. Eventing may be excluded from future Olympic events because of cost.

Prince Philip was President of the Federation Equestrian International (F.E.I.) and served as judge at all events. Dressage was one event that I loved to watch.   I got several pictures of the event and Dressage medal ceremony.
And pictures of the jumping competition that included
Conrad Homfeld, and the horse that is called the greatest show jumping horse of all time, Abdullah.  The team jumping competition was won by the American team.  I was able to get to the team jumping ceremony also.  This is the procession that preceded the medal ceremony.

The last event of the Equestrian Event was Eventing or the Three-day Cross-country jumping event.  This was held near San Diego at Douglas Fairbanks Ranch.  I had been sent to San Diego once to Del Mar Racetrack by the Turf Club to deliver race tickets and was asked to use a police escort as these tickets were to be used the same day that I was to deliver them.
Sam The Eagle During the entire 16 days of the Olympics all inside passing lanes were restricted to official Olympic traffic by the Los Angeles Police Department.  We drove at whatever speed need to deliver officials or tickets to Olympic Events.  The trip to San Diego was with police escort but the San Diego highways were not restricted as the Los Angeles highways were so it called for some tricky maneuvering following a police car with flashing lights at speeds in excess of 100 mph.  We made it unscathed though and the race at Del Mar went off without a hitch.

Olympic Rings at Fairbanks I made many pictures during the days before the 3-day event and they can be seen here.
  Much of my time was spent shuttling judges and officials between Santa Anita and Fairbanks Ranch.  Other duties included looking over the course before the event and mainly letting anyone know by 2-way radio if anything look unusual.
When the event finally began I followed the American Team through its Gold Medal performance.  I managed a few pictures of the competition.
During the event celebrities were seen most every day.  I saw Robert Wagnor attending an Equestrian event at Santa Anita.  I drove several Officials to Bob Hope's home and sat most of the night in a large reception room that was built especially for chauffeur and drivers complete with hour devours.  Another driver and myself were able to walk around the grounds and up to the back of a large glassed in auditorium attached to Hope's house where movie stars galore were present.  I later saw Mr. Hope along with Cary Grant at Fairbanks Ranch during the 3 day event.  I actually met and shook hands with LAOOC President Peter Uberoth at Santa Anita along with the Sam The Eagle Mascot just after the announcement that this Olympics was one of the most successful ever held.  

Closing Ceremonies Closing Ceremony · Summer Olympics · 1984 
This photograph shows the final dress rehearsal for the Closing Ceremony. Just the night before, the field was being used for the track and field events. The set consisted of an orchestra pit, 3 dancing water pools and a multi-tiered stage complete with an elevator, Olympic logo light box, sound system, pyrotechnic launchers and miles of light boxes and laser fiber optics.


Closing Ceremonies Just as the Opening Ceremony set had to be struck in a hurry, the Closing Ceremony set had to be assembled in a hurry. The elements of the Closing Ceremony set were designed with this in mind. There was less than sixteen hours to assemble a multi-tiered stage that was roughly 1/3 the size of a football field. All pieces had to be small enough to be carried by four people or less, fork lifts were not allowed on the field. This photograph shows some of the many prefabricated elements waiting to be shipped to Los Angeles.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Los Angeles Style

The day before the closing ceremonies were to take place, my brother informed me that they needed me and one other security person to serve in a very important function.  He asked me to choose one other person to accompany him, the rest of the security detail and if the American Rider Joe Fargis on Touch of Class, won the Gold Medal that day in the final jumping competition at Santa Anita to the Coliseum the next afternoon, the Gold Medal winner himself.  I was very excited when Joe Fargis and Touch of Class won the Grand Prix jumping competition. Touch of Class lived a happy retirement at River Circle Farm in Franklin, Tennessee where she passed away on July 1, 2001. 

I had chosen a young lady who had worked very hard in the Operations Center at Santa Anita where all coordination for the Western Sector had occurred.  She had handled all dispatches for my brother George Payne who was in charge of that operation.  We were told to dress in our most festive Olympic celebration outfit which we agreed were our blue Olympic shorts and tee-shirts along with blue Olympic hats.  We knew that getting Mr. Fargis, his mount and ourselves from Arcadia to downtown L.A. among the traffic generated by the last day events and the ceremonies at the L.A. Coliseum must come off smoothly.   There were six of us loaded into the Mercury stationwagon at Santa Anita.  Joe Fargis was in our car along with a lady friend, myself and the girl I had chosen to accompany for the special assignment, my brother and the normal head of Security at Santa Anita.  On our way to the Coliseum there was a call come over the radio that there had been an accident on the Freeway leading to the Coliseum.  A helicopter had gone down and we were to not proceed further without knowing whether this was an accident or an act of terrorism.  There was about 30 minutes of very apprehensive discussion until we learned that it truly was an accident and it was safe to proceed.

Upon arriving at the Coliseum my companion and I were told to  accompany Mr. Fargis to the makeshift corals where his horse was being cared for.  He was a genuinely nice person and we were all caught up in the excitement of the moment.  He was the Gold Medal winner for the American Equestrian Team Individual Jumping Event and had just won it and here we are talking and laughing.  Once we were at the temporary corals my brother appeared with two large white canvas bags and two shovels and promptly handed them to the young lady and myself and informed of my duties for the night.  We were to follow Mr. Fargis from the time he left the coral and entered into the Coliseum onto the arena floor where he would be presented the Gold Medal by Lord Killanin - President of the International Olympic Committee 1972 - 1980, and should the horse defecate on the arena floor we were to scoop it up and put it into the bags.  Thence came my official name for the evening, "Official Poopy Scooper for the 1984 Olympics", that followed me around for years.  I managed a few pictures while standing at the corals and while on my way into the tunnel entering the Coliseum.

We advanced on to the opening of the arena and waited for Mr. Fargis to be presented to the packed Coliseum audience.  As he passed us in the tunnel my brother stopped us from following him onto the arena floor and I don't know if at that point I was disappointed or relieved.  As Mr. Fargis dismounted and proceeded up to the podium where Lord Killanin awaited to present him with his medal it seemed our services would not be required.  His horse had managed the entire trip without so much as passing gas.  Well, just as the medal was placed over his head, Touch of Class decided that was his queue to let go with his entire payload of grain from the time in his coral.  My brother quickly motioned to my partner and I to quickly proceed to the center of the arena and do what we intended to do.  This was our big chance.  We rushed onto the arena floor as Mr. Fargis was taking the long walk back to his horse from center stage and with the agility of two Olympic skaters whisk the poop from the arena floor.  I was so attuned to the job at hand that I had not heard the tremendous roar from the thousands seeing our important sojourn to center stage.  Nor had I realized that I was being captured on international television and the cameras had closed in on the ABC recording on YouTube video of the closing event. To the right is a 12 minute cut from that video where at 2 minutes you can see me and my partner, dressed in our blue and white caps and shorts moving along the back entrance wall as the Equestrians entered the Coliseum and then a 9 minutes 50 seconds we make our way onto the Coliseum floor to perform our important duties.

After the Medal presentation I made my way into the audience where I had someone waiting for me.  I had very good seats for the rest of the nights festivities that included Mr. Lional Ritchie and his singing of "All Night Long".  Below you will find a description of what became the most dynamic presentation ever presented at an Olympic or any other public viewed sports event.

Close Encounters Designer Times   "An audible gasp swept the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the closing ceremonies of the Twenty-Third Olympiad. Los Angeles and it's special entertainment folks were showing the world how to celebrate the most joyous games in Olympic history. As a blinding searchlight swept the 92,000 spectators, a dazzling flash of lights appeared out of the eastern sky. With a full moon as backdrop, an alien Spacecraft joined the Olympic celebrants.

A special stage in the Olympic playing field sent landing instructions via unique lighting patterns accompanied by space music from John Williams. Recognizing friendly invitation from the Olympians, the Spacecraft returned the salute with it's own music and even more dazzling light effects. Each new flash was echoed by more gasps and screams from those lucky enough to witness the first alien Spacecraft landing in modern times....a real Close Encounters of The Third Kind.

Amid a brilliant red glow and plumes of white smoke, the Spacecraft descended. Seconds later, an alien giant appeared on the peristyle where only minutes before, the Olympic flame was extinguished, signaling the end of the the XXIII Olympiad at Los Angeles.

Was it real? Some of the 92,000 onlookers certainly thought so. Millions of world wide TV viewers stared in amazement....was this really happening? Or just more of what the entertainment capital of the world does for everyday life. Two unique onlookers, David L. Wolper and Tommy Walker, knew more than anyone just how real it all was. And just how miraculously it actually appeared, especially to them. They conceived and produced the Opening and Closing Olympic Ceremonies. One of the many show features was the alien Spacecraft."  For more on the Closing Ceremonies Spacecraft click on the video.

President Juan Antonio Samaranch President Juan Antonio Samaranch

Los Angeles 1984. Visit by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch to the Olympic Village. Presentation to the Spanish athletes.
During his tenure the IOC has had to deal with the Eastern Bloc boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, controversy over drug use among athletes, and scandals involving generous handouts to Olympic committee members from cities aspiring to host the Olympic games. But generally, he is recognized as the man who plucked the ailing IOC from the brink of bankruptcy and turned the Games into a profitable business as well as a truly planet-embracing event.

After the terrorist attack in Munich in 1972 and the financial disaster of 1976, only Los Angeles bid for the right to host the 1984 Olympic Games. As the Los Angeles Games were the first since 1896 to be staged without government financing, the organizers depended heavily on existing facilities and corporate sponsors. Although criticized at the time, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games became the model for future Games, particularly after it was revealed that they had produced a profit of US$ 223 million.


My Trip Back to Tennessee

Let me explain how I managed to fly out to LA and drive back.  While working with the volunteer drivers at Santa Anita I met a beautiful lady.  She was a lawyer with the Civil Rights Commission and lived in South Pasadena.  I found that people living in South Pasadena do not like to be compared to those in Pasadena or North Pasadena.  South Pasadena is completely "cool", way "too cool".  Well, Lori got all the special trips to LAX Airport and pick of her time to work since I was her "Manager".  Now I don't normally play favorites but Lori was dating a movie star and I thought she was a person I would like to know.  I asked Lori to a "Prince's Ball" held at Santa Anita during the events and after that it was love at first sight.  The movie star was Morgan Woodward who was playing Punk on the "Dallas" TV series.  He was Jock Ewing's best friend and a character actor in many many western TV movies.  Lori stopped dating him and started dating me.  When the Olympics were over I drove back to Tennessee with my nephew David who had been working at the Water Polo Event at Pepperdine University.  Within a day or two Lori had convinced me to drive back out and stay a while longer.  That is when I decided to gas up the Mustang.

I stayed in LA for two weeks before I found that there were not that many jobs to be had and the hills of home were beckoning me.  My trip back to Tennessee was relaxing and very very long.  I chose to take the northern route through Nevada, Utah, the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska, then down through Arkansas and straight across the bottom of Tennessee stopping in Lynchburg and the Bufford Pusser Museum in McNairy County. 

I stopped in such places as the Grand Cannon, Death Valley, camped on the Continential Divide, Las Vegas for a short time,  Dodge City, where I visited Boot Hill, Missouri and the home of Mark Twain.  All that before getting to Tennessee.  I took pictures but am only going to show you my pictures across the desert in my 1972 Mustang Coupe.  I hope you have enjoyed my memories and pictures of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. (click on image for more pictures)

  • Official IOC pictures of Closing Ceremony.  (PDF Format)
  • 25 Year Olympics Anniversary in Arcadia -

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