What I did on my summer vacation
Well I never thought I would get my chance to rewrite this after 50 + years and I seriously doubt whether it will raise my grade from a C+ to a B but we will give ‘er a go.
Being brought up in upstate NY in the hearty Adirondack Mountains I grew up with a healthy respect for hunting, fishing and the NY Yankees. Mickey Mantle and Cletus Boyer were big names revered by most children the names of DiMaggio and Ruth still resonated as though they seemed to still have a presence at the plate or the outfield. Another name that was always mentioned in the same breath with those greats was Ted Williams from that other team somewhere in the east. It seemed every time I got a Ted Williams card I was able to trade for three of any other Yankees. It seems my geographic local had dictated my team loyalty. Never could I imagine how dramatically that was about to change.
My mother, who was raised in Boston by the way, told me that we would leave for Boston next week to visit my aunt and uncle as we did every summer. I loved Boston, Filene’s basement, subways, trackless trolleys, Hay market square, Boston science museum and the Freedom Trail. The trip always began with a trip to a tiny airport in Glens Falls NY to board an old Mohawk Airline’s twin engine DC-3 converted to a passenger carrier after WW2. 1 ½ hr later my Aunt was picking us up at the Airport in Boston.
My aunt and Uncle lived in Chelsea high up on Bellingham hill. As soon as we would get settled I would rush to the back pantry of their apartment to look out the window to see the most beautiful panorama of Boston you could imagine. There was the mighty Mystic River Bridge that straddled from Boston to the North Shore, the giant eternal flame of Boston Gas and Electric and the ever famous CITGO sign flashing its colors in the distance. They all looked so close that you could almost reach out and touch them.
As always I was just happy to be in this exciting place however, this trip was about to be different than in the past. That evening at the dinner table my uncle announced “I have a surprise for you after dinner”. Like any 8 year old kid I was excited and raced through my meal still thinking when I was done it would be “after dinner”, alas, having to wait until the adults were finished I sat there fidgeting with childish anticipation and impatience. All right my uncle said no sense making you wait and he reached into his shirt pocket and produced a pair of tickets to Fenway Park. My face lit up like a cheap parlor lamp, I had never seen a real live ball player before. My only recognition was from baseball cards or on a Saturday news reel at the movies. I wanted so badly to call my friends Tommy, Paul, Bobby and Craig who I played catch, traded cards and talked baseball with and scream over the phone I’m going to a real live baseball game. Unfortunately back in the day long distance calls were operator assisted or made from a coin booth at great expense so that was not about to happen. I don’t think I got a lot of sleep that night.
I was out of bed, dressed and at the breakfast table at 6 AM making as much noise as I could make so that everyone would wake up and get breakfast out of the way. Now the shoe was on the other foot, instead of my Mom waking me up for school and trying to get me motivated it was me trying to get her up and moving. What seemed to take endless hours to prepare and consume breakfast was finally over and I sat on the floor crossed legged like an Indian chief so no one was getting in or out without me. FINALLY we left and walked down the big hill to the bus stop which took us to the subway station and to our destination. When we got out of the subway I turned 360 degrees and didn’t see the great Fenway, where could it be? I walked confidently holding my Mom’s hand as we walked a block and there it was down the narrow street. As we approached the entrance sign I thought I would burst I was so excited. We gave the attendant the tickets and he motioned for us to go to the left where another man eventually showed us where our seats where. My Mom said lets go here first and she ushered me over to a ramp that took us into the stadium, a walk I will never forget as we walked down the ramp the playing field rose up as if it were an elevating stage, then I saw heads with ball caps milling around on the field. We were on the first base side right near the dugout and there they were the Red Sox taking batting practice and doing drills. You couldn’t have knocked that smile off my face with a baseball bat. I managed to worm my way to the front by the rail through what seemed to be 20 or 30 other kids screaming their lungs out when one of them yells, “there he is” I looked over at the batting cage and saw the 9 on his back! My jaw dropped and those screaming kids seemed to go silent in the background. The great Ted Williams just finished his swings and was walking this way towards the dugout. Every kid was screaming, thrusting gloves, balls pieces of paper anything that could be written on trying desperately to get his attention…….all accept one. One little kid stood there at the rail dumb struck, mouth agape, arms by his side, eyes big as half dollars just glaring in disbelief. As the great one strode by he glanced over and out of all those screaming and must have noticed that one kid in that sea of screaming pint sized fan the one who just stood there stunned by the moment. Now the moment that changed my life forever as he glanced over I was sure I caught his eye and he reached up and in typical ball player fashion grabbed the tip of his cap in acknowledgement! He was right there in front of my eyes, not 6 feet away and he tipped his cap….TO ME! That was it I accepted what was inherent (my Mom being from Boston), I am a Red Sox fan! I begin my annual September suffering hence.
From that moment on everyone (and I mean everyone) for the next several years what was probably no more than a cap adjustment was embellished along the way into a pat on the back and a hand shake. After all it did feel as much as if it was. I’m not sure when in my adult life I accepted the reality of what took place, a mere cap adjustment? Maybe and then again maybe not. What I do know is there is an 8 year old that lives within that is still thoroughly convinced to this day that the greatest baseball player ever acknowledged him on a summer day in 1957.
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What I did on my summer vacation
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03-09-2011, 11:45 AM #1
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What I did on my summer vacation