It's Dad Vail Regatta weekend.

The springtime Schuylkill boatfest is one of the country's most visually pleasing events.

And yet I can't bear to watch. The memory it dredges up is still too painful.

It was the spring of 1971, and I was a Temple journalism student interning at the Evening Bulletin.

A crusty but kindhearted editor - perhaps as a reward for all the coffee, cigarettes and fried-egg sandwiches I'd fetched him - assigned me a story.

"The Dad Vail Regatta's coming up," he growled. "Go interview Temple's rowing coach. He's a hell of an interesting guy."

Tom "The Bear" Curran was indeed that. In an era when tastes and rules were flipping over as fast as fruit in a slot-machine window, he was a Calvinist throwback.

Anyway, I walked from Center City to Temple's distant Schuylkill boathouse. I introduced myself to Curran, who motioned for me to join him in the motorboat that was his practice vantage point.

For the next hour, interspersed with barks at his oarsmen, I heard his stories, observed his idiosyncracies, listened to his philosophies on coaching and life.

"The Bear" was no fan of change. The radical upheaval of the 1960s infuriated him. He had to take a stand. So, he told me, the young men who rowed for Temple would never, ever have long hair.

Sounded like a lead to me. I can still recall the first words I wrote that were destined to appear in a daily newspaper:

"Tom Curran is not about to let the hair atop the skulls of the men atop the sculls of Temple get any longer."

A little corny but not bad for a first effort.

My editor agreed. He told me it would appear whenever space allowed.

Thus began a daily routine. I'd rush to a newsstand or drug store as soon as the Bulletin hit the street. Home delivery was too slow for my mania. Day after day, I perused the paper in a futile search for the story.

Coincidentally, I'd just started dating a Wilmington teacher. Of course, I'd bragged to her about my pending debut in a major metropolitan daily. She had her father buy a Bulletin each day.

Eventually, her father began to suspect she was dating a faker.

(The fact that I was a college senior and didn't drive also struck him as suspicious. "He is 16, isn't he?" he asked her.)

Day after day, the ritual and the frustration continued.

Finally, the editor called me aside. He hadn't realized that day side was planning a spring sports section. One of the full-time writers, Frank Brady, had also been assigned a story on Curran. His got priority over an intern's.

So my first story never appeared.

The girl married me anyway.

But the disappointment lingers.

About my aborted debut, not the girl.

Please go away. Forget steroids, egos, tainted records and showboating stars, there's no more obnoxious figure in baseball than Roger Clemens.

NASCAR note of the week. Three of the companies vying for a sponsorship vacancy in NASCAR's Busch series are Subway, KFC and Dunkin' Donuts.

One suspects it might be hard to find good foie gras at Talladega.

Bigmouth blog. Curt Schilling apologized on his blog for stupid remarks he made about Barry Bonds on a radio show.

Which leads to one major question:

Schilling has a blog?

That's like giving John Goodman a gift card to Tony Luke's.

I must have missed it. When did Donovan McNabb become a Russian Orthodox priest?

That's what the Eagles QB resembled this week when he showed up for a news conference with a scraggly beard, a black shirt and a strange crucifix hanging from his neck.

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.