My Religion Is a Lot Like the Game of Baseball

Chapters Chapter 1 Early Years Chapter 2 Patty Chapter 3 1-room School
Chapter 4 Friends Chapter 5 High School Chapter 6 Grandpa
Chapter 7 Marianne Chapter 8 Rookie Chapter 9 At the Plate

Chapter 4 - Developing Friendship

My favorite movies were Westerns.  My favorite radio program was The Lone Ranger.  If I listened to music, it was Country/Western.  A music teacher came to Mound school once a week.  She led “teaching games” in Music Appreciation.  I didn’t realize the thrilling theme music for The Lone Ranger was Rossini’s William Tell Overture or the music that called up pictures of dust clouds around horse’s hoofs was from Liszt’s Les Preludes.  The teacher brought recordings of music by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms (The Three “B’s).  She used games as a way to help us identify and remember what we were hearing.

Maybe she sensed our boredom, because one day she led a game on contemporary music.  We were supposed to think of titles of songs having to do with seasons, children, flowers, etc. When the music teacher announced the subject, “trains,” I spouted off, “Wabash Cannon Ball, and heard giggles and titters as a response.  Joann gave the correct answer, “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”  Joann knew the latest songs because her sister, Doris, was in high school and could play them on piano.  I began listening to Your Hit Parade on radio and bought the magazine with all of the printed words to the songs.  It didn’t take long to find the words to Chattanooga Choo Choo.

People listened to the radio in those days the way people watch TV now.  I don’t remember which night Your Hit Parade came on.  I couldn’t wait to get home from school to listen to The Lone Ranger.  Joann told me about Lum and Abner, and I became a devoted follower of that program.  On Sunday evenings many families gathered around the radio to listen to their favorite programs.  My dad had some hearing loss, so he usually read the newspaper or calculated lumber estimates while my mother and I listened.  That is what we were doing on Sunday evening, December 7 when all programs were interrupted for President Roosevelt’s announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  We turned up the volume so my dad could hear.  A few weeks later my brother, Ben, was sent to New Guinea.

Our school music teacher also planned the Christmas program.  She decided Joann and I had voices that blended and we could sing a song in the program.  We began our practice on the way home on our bicycles.  As we sang, Joann found places I sang do re when it should have been re do.

The school was filled to overflowing with families and neighbors the night of the Christmas program.  People were sitting in the entrance where we hung our coats and our tin drinking cups.  Besides singing the song with Joann, I had a lead role with Claudie in the play.

Claudie, Joann, Lois (a girl who had started first grade at the same time as Joann), Kenneth (who had a brother and sister in the school), Lloyd and I were in the sixth grade.  Six of us.  We were the largest class.  One day when we were reading our history lesson, the name, Juan Ponce de Leon, struck me as having a wonderful meter.  I had written poetry in third grade in the other school and that teacher had sent one of my poems to Wee Wisdom Magazine.  I put the story of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the “Fountain of Youth” into a poem and turned it in with my lesson.  The teacher read it for all to hear and I became the school poet.

The study of poetry came up in our Language class.  The poem Joann wrote for that assignment was better than any poem I had ever written.  I was proud and happy.

When Dusty Baker managed the Chicago Cubs in 2003, he had Slammin’ Sammy Sosa bat 3rd and the dependable hitter, Moises Alou bat 4th (cleanup).  The strategy did a lot toward getting the Cubs in the playoffs.  Had Sammy batted 4th, the opposing pitcher would have walked him any time there were men on base.  Batting 3rd, Sammy still got his share of walks, but his hitting seemed to improve.  He still hit home runs, but he also got more base hits.  The pitchers soon recognized that Moises, a good hitter, was a better hitter with men on base.  It didn’t work out to walk Sammy to get to Moises.  Sometimes I watched and wondered if Sammy’s own home runs made him any happier than to score on Moises’ homer, then wait at home plate to greet Moises as he came around to score.

When Joann’s mom and dad took her to movies, I was invited to go with them.  My mother always sent me with money to pay my way, but I never did.  After the movie, Joann’s dad would suggest we go for ice cream.  My mother intended for me to pay for that, too.  But I couldn’t do it.  I remember the uneasy feeling as I carried that money back home in my purse.  But I was Joann’s friend.  For my 11th birthday she gave me a framed poem by an anonymous writer.  Except for my years in a dorm room, it has hung on a wall wherever I have lived in all the years since.

Friendship

There’s a cozy little corner in my heart all tucked away,
Warmed by the light of friendship’s smile and song and laughter gay.
A sacred little nook I keep for just a favored few…
And there is always “open house” within that place for You!
 

In the four years I attended Mound School, I may have gone to church 10 times.  Dean’s grandfather held church in his house.  Joann and her parents went there and they asked me to go with them.  Grandfather Negley did the preaching in the living room and his daughter-in-law, Dean’s mother, taught a Sunday School class for kids about my age.  Dean’s mother was a woman of love and tenderness.  I liked going, but Sunday was family day at our house.  My older brother and my sisters had children—some nearly my age.  With Ben in New Guinea, I am sure they wanted to be with my mother and dad whenever possible.

One summer I spent a month with my older brother, Charlie.  Charlie went to church every Sunday, so while I was staying at his house, I went to church and Sunday School.  I did not like Sunday School because the kids knew all the answers.  They got pins and other prizes for regular attendance.  I don’t remember the preacher or any of the sermons.  I liked the singing because I recognized the hymns.  My brother believed in following rules, so his religion had “shoulds and oughts” that applied to him and others under his supervision.  He told me baseball was “worldly” and that I should get my mind on something else.

It wasn’t baseball that caused me to do something I am shamed and sorry about.  One Halloween Kenneth, a boy in my class at school, and his brother and some of their friends out of our school district decided to go out and do tricks.  Those were the days before “Trick or Treat.”  Young people went out and did tricks without asking for treats.  We were out on our bicycles and rode past Grandfather Negley’s farm.  He and his wife were not home.  It was just beginning to get dark, but we had enough light to see to take off the gate to the yard, turn over some containers and leave some general “cleanup” for two old people who were extremely neat (and kind).  The next day Joann said, “Why did you do tricks at Negleys?”

Of course, I denied it.

Bev with her bike and friend