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 9  - Stepping Up To the Plate

Sometimes I am unaware of the influence on my life from friends and acquaintances until years pass and I look back.  If I ask myself, who am I, the answer has to be I am a composite of those family members who shaped my early life and the additions and corrections friends, teachers and other acquaintances have added through the years and continue to add even now.

At the conclusion of the CWF meetings, the women went downstairs to Fellowship Hall for eating and visiting.  I had seen Hattie at other meetings, but had not become acquainted with her.  She told me this was the first time she had driven by herself to a meeting.  She had just got her driver’s license.  As we talked, we discovered her daughter Julie was close in age to our daughter Ruth.  The girls were in the same Sunday School class.

When I met Hattie, we had lived in Milwaukee for more than six years.  We had lived in an apartment for five of those years.  Soon after our son was born, we moved to a house.  Midge had been my ride to CWF for two years.  Now in a new location, I needed to find other transportation.  I don’t remember how I got to the meeting, but Hattie offered to take me home.  Before the week was over, I decided to hire someone to teach me how to drive.  I knew my husband didn’t have the temperament for it and I knew taking a road test in Wisconsin was not the same as taking a test in the rural part of Illinois.

As soon as her girls left for school, Hattie was on the telephone.  We developed a habit of calling each other almost every morning.  We talked about church and problems with kids and school.  Hattie was an avid reader of The Milwaukee Journal.  Sometimes she read me entire newspaper articles to keep me updated on what was going on in the city.  We talked about recipes and husbands and how hard it was to participate “in front of the women” at CWF meetings.

As we got better acquainted, Hattie and I signed up to lead worship at one of the meetings.  She called me on Wednesday morning before the meeting that evening to “go over what we were going to do.”  As we talked about our nervousness I asked, “Why did we decide to do this?”  Hattie said, “Just remember, tomorrow morning tonight will be over and gone.”

As years went by and I became more involved in CWF, not only in Milwaukee but in other churches in other cities, Hattie’s introduction to presentations in front of women was the backbone of my volunteer career.  For me, working with women became a lifetime interest.

After six years in Milwaukee, I was still a stranger.  Thinking back, I believe others had sensed it and tried to help (or made me feel I was in the wrong place and should move).  Hattie had lived in Milwaukee all of her life.  It had not been easy for me to adjust to living in the city, much less, a multi-ethnic community like Milwaukee.  With Hattie as my coach, I began to feel more at ease.  It was she who made Milwaukee home.  When my husband gave me two tickets to see the Milwaukee Braves, it was Hattie I invited to go with me.

I was not aware of ice skating as a big sport in downstate Illinois.  There, winter weather was cold, the winds bitter, but after a few days a brief thaw melted some of the snow and ice.  Hattie suggested we meet at the park for ice skating.  When I took Ruth to meet Hattie and Julie at the pond in a park, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The ice was frozen to the bottom of the pond.  A park worker in a Jeep with a plow was driving on the ice, smoothing it.  Ruth was excited to try out her new ice skates.  With this introduction, every year we lived in Milwaukee, our kids got new skates.

Hattie’s husband, Tom was a people person with a capital “P.”  He enjoyed entertaining his friends with food and with his humor.  He knew lots of jokes and rarely said anything without a witty turn.  Tom decided we should learn to play bridge.  He enlisted five couples to make up, with him and Hattie, three tables for bridge.  We met regularly to play cards and became well acquainted with those couples.  Each time we met, we put money aside, then each year used the money to eat at one of Milwaukee’s best restaurants.  Becoming friends with those people made a lasting impact on our lives in Milwaukee and beyond.  Looking back, I am not sure any other people impacted our lives as a couple as much as Hattie and Tom.

When you step up to the plate, you can take four balls and walk to first, you can hit the ball and ground out, you can pop up, or you can get a base hit, a double or a triple.  Some batters hit a home run.