Well, it is with a fair amount of fear and trepidation that I’d like to make an announcement.
Before your mind starts to wander too far, I am not pregnant. That would cause mind-boggling fear and trepidation, and would, in fact, be a miracle.
This is “Not That Big a Deal” which is also the name of my new blog. Yes, friends I have “bitten the bullet, jumped in with both feet, leaped into the breach” and it scares the crumbs out of me. But, I enjoy making people smile and laugh and forget, even if just for a little while, their troubles. I think it’s something we all need now and then. I really do believe that “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” So, here I go…
My blog link will be posted on facebook and twitter tomorrow and, hopefully, every Friday after that. I hope it does its job. I hope it makes you smile.
Our dog journey started when our youngest daughter was 4. Our youngest daughter is now almost 35. I am currently reading through the Bible and have discovered that our list of dogs is almost like a biblical genealogy. It goes like this…
Hello, my friends ~ It’s been a heck-of-a week, but that’s another post for another time. Suffice to say, I am recycling a blog from days gone by. A blog of another week, that was a heck-of-a week. I hope you like it. I hope it makes you smile. I hope it makes your week, just a little bit better!
You know that kid? The one who is never quite paying attention to things. The daydreamer in school. The one that’s told to go to the kitchen and get the salt at dinner and they comes back with a glass of water? You know the type. Well, it may or may not surprise you to know that I was that kid. I am grateful to say, I’m not quite that bad anymore, the Lord made sure I married a practical man; one that I love with all my heart, who truly is my saving grace. But, before he came along there was a week, “the week”. Continue reading →
There’s nothing like company coming to get projects done around the house. We have two rooms that desperately needed a fresh coat of paint and a nephew coming to visit in a few weeks. So, we painted. Two rooms. About 6 hours. Done. Since I’m fairly cheap, I chose a color I like (which is actually already in three rooms upstairs) and bought a 5 gallon bucket of it on sale. It’s called Silver Drop by Behr. It’s the prettiest color grey I’ve ever seen, which sounds like an oxymoron even to me, but it is.
I used to like to think that we were decent painters. I don’t think that anymore. We do work well as a team. I cut in. Cliff rolls. I start in one corner. He starts in the opposite corner and serenades me with his favorite painting song, “I’m working my way back to you, Babe” by the Spinners. Of course, that is the only line he knows. So, he sings it over and over until he actually does work his way back to me. I don’t mind. I love the man and his goofy songs.
I also love that he can paint an entire room with nary a spot of paint on him. Unfortunately, he’s not real good on coverage. It’s not the paint, because I always buy the one that is like a good pair of old lady underwear, full coverage. He just somehow misses big spots of wall that have “some” paint on them, but not nearly enough. Evidently, I do that, too and I am very messy. I wear more paint than I paint and I end up having to use a dish scrubby to get it all off of me. I also have an uncanny way of getting paint in odd places. Unmentionable kind of places, if you know what I mean. I have no idea how it gets there. It just does.
Like most people, we have friends. One of our dearest and oldest friends, George, can paint an entire room in his street clothes and go out to eat in the same clothes immediately afterwards without even washing up. No paint on his clothes, no paint on his hands, no paint anywhere but the intended wall, AND, he is a great full coverage roller! There’s an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. I don’t think that’s true but; I’m fairly certain that familiarity does not breed capability, otherwise we’d be able to paint like George.
About twenty years ago or so, Cliff and I were in the process of painting our entire downstairs, about 1700 square feet total. Cliff was at work and I was finishing up. I was tired and had decided to let the paint dry and then touch up the spots that were less-than-full-coverage with a brush when George walked in.
The walls were Champagne Gold which is a fancy name for pale yellow. George was wearing a red and white striped shirt, like Waldo. You know, the guy who is perpetually lost. He told me he liked the paint color and then, as I was about to take my roller off to clean it, asked what I was doing. When I told him I was done. He just looked at me, took my roller, and began painting. Guessing that he’d seen my less-than-full-coverage touch up spots. I told him I’d just get the spots with a brush later. He didn’t listen. When he was done, in less than an hour with not a spot on him and full coverage on my walls, he cleaned up my paint roller and left.
I’ve never forgotten that day. We all need friends like George, full coverage friends, the kind that step in and step up when we’re tired. The kind that can clean up our messes without getting anything on themselves. Full coverage friends, they’re a very big deal!
Post Script ~
These are my painting clothes from our most recent endeavor. Now, in my defense, I did not accomplish this in just one painting day. Except for the pants. The pants I did in one day. My top is an accumulation of painting days. Not many but, not just one.
In the past, I have made a concerted effort to write my posts with as little controversy as possible. However, I have a bone to pick, an ax to grind, a score to settle, a crow to pluck, call it what you will…I have a theory to ‘unmask’.
I think we can all agree that 2020 was an ‘odd’ year. When, in all of our lives to that point, did we ever think we’d be pondering about how cute a mask was, what mask went best with our outfit, or what mask we should wear for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, or Easter? The answer is easy. Never. We NEVER thought about wearing a mask before except maybe for Halloween.
Hopefully, the day is soon approaching when we will all be unmasked and what a lovely day that will be! But, in the meantime, here is a thought.
When we enter a store, we wear a mask for as long as we’re walking around in the store. I do this mostly out of consideration for others, not because I think I need it. When I go into any public building, I also wear a mask for the same reason. However, when I go into a restaurant, I only have to wear a mask as I walk the path to my table. Once I am seated, I’m allowed to remove my mask. Now, while I am seated, I am talking, I am laughing, I am sometimes coughing because something went down the wrong pipe. I am spreading a ton of germs when I am seated, but somehow, I am magically not contagious while sitting in a restaurant. So, here is my theory.
Covid is only contagious in the higher atmospheres, when people are walking and at their full height. Therefore, it stands to reason that Covid is, obviously, only contagious the higher you are in the atmosphere. I think restaurants already know this. And so, my feelings are that short people, who when standing are the height of most people that are sitting, should not have to wear a mask. We never touch the higher, germ-filled, atmosphere. We dwell in the lower, germ-free, spaces. Even the people at Disney, who are experts in all things masks and physical distancing, say that while sitting you can remove your mask. Of course, you’re supposed to be eating or drinking, but they have areas where you can be doing neither and still remove your masks. Maybe it’s the act of sitting that renders one free of contagion? Maybe the air is just cleaner down here? The world may never know and though it’s fun to think about, it’s really not that big a deal!
When I was a little girl, the boogeyman was real. Scary movies convinced me that he was lurking under my bed making me even more afraid of the dark than I already was. When I went to sleep, I would make sure that all parts of my body were well covered, including my head and eyes, excluding my nose and mouth. Fortunately, even as a little girl I knew I had to breathe. I had the same recurring nightmare of a huge, black, faceless rabbit with a long tale that would chase me. Thankfully, when I became a Christian at 17, the rabbit went away. So did the boogeyman and most of my fears. Of course, none of my fears were real except to me. But, to me, they were very real. I was reminded of how real fear can seem to some and not to others recently while at the beach.
My sister and I planned a beach day. We do that now and then to reconnect and decompress. Now, normally, one would think there is little to fear at the beach except for maybe sharks, but we don’t go into the ocean; or jellyfish, but I’m told a little bit of pee can help that. Being a ghostly-white redhead, the sun is my very scary factor. I still have memories of blisters on my shoulders and back and my whole body in pain except for the areas covered by my bathing suit, which wasn’t much back then. I would sleep with only three points of burnless contact. The first point of contact were the bottoms of my feet which would be flat on my bed, my knees bent every so slightly so as not to have skin touching skin, thus avoiding it being stuck together in the morning. The second point of contact would be my rear, I am forever grateful that full coverage bottoms were the style back then. Finally, the back of my head would rest on a pillow that was not allowed to touch my back or shoulders and that is how I slept. To this day I can, literally, sleep anywhere and in almost any position. It is a gift. But, as usual, I digress, …
My sister and I planned a beach day…It was a glorious beach day, with bright sunshine, a beautiful breeze, and low humidity! A Mary Poppins beach day, “Practically perfect in every way!” My sister brought a small canopy to ward off the sun’s beautiful, but burning rays, I had a good book, we both had snacks, and the bathroom with real flush toilets was close by…perfect!
On one of our trips to the bathroom, we passed two young guys walking towards the beach, laughing. On our quest for relief, we ignored them and kept walking somewhat oblivious to anything that may have been on the railing. On our return trip we encountered two older women who were plastered against one railing and paralyzed in fear of the other railing. What we hadn’t noticed while walking out was some sort of ‘thing’ perched on the railing. It looked like some kind of giant bug, which is not uncommon in Florida. It was brown, and its four legs were straight, hoisting it to its full height. It was perfectly still, the kind of still that things do right before the leap. The kind of still that scares people.
The ladies stood planted and refused to pass it. They asked us if we thought it was real. My sister and I looked a little closer and, honestly, couldn’t tell. The older woman was going to poke it with her cane, the other was yelling at her not to touch it, and then we saw the two young guys again. I asked them if they knew if the ‘thing’ on the railing was real. One of them confessed that he ran and screamed when he saw it, but it wasn’t real. We had a good laugh and continued back to our beach spot, and left the two older ladies, evidently unconvinced, still deciding if they believed the guys and if the beauty of the beach was really worth the risk. I could have told them it was worth it, but I’m not sure they would have believed me.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt once told a nation in the midst of the Great Depression that,”The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt was right.
Fear. It’s what we perceive to be real. What our minds tell us is true, which many times may not be real afterall. And maybe, if we think about it, it’s really not that big a deal.
” I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:4
…Some have changed a lot. Fortunately, we still have some men and women from the Greatest Generation to remind us of what was important then. To remind us what is still important now. They are the men and women that give us a definition of what has come to be one of my favorite words, perspective. They are men like Mr. Harland.
My week began on Monday. I know that Sunday is supposed to be the beginning of the week, but somehow, for me, Sunday is always the sweeping grand finale full of church and family and relaxing afternoons and the beginning of the week is Monday. Most Mondays I am distracted with thoughts of school preparations and what I will teach those eager little minds that have been put in my charge. Okay, maybe not so eager, but still my responsibility, and so my thoughts are full of students and classes on Mondays which, at my age, can be pretty distracting.
This particular Monday, was the beginning of a very busy week. Aside from school preparations and classes, we were hosting two luncheons, one birthday party for my 86 year old Dad, and attending a “Faces in History” school presentation in which our grandson, Sawyer, was to be George W. Bush. A busy week, I realized maybe a little too busy when on that Monday morning while thinking of all that would be happening, I put a scoop of my dog’s canned dog food into my breakfast smoothie. It was disgusting. Fortunately, I did not drink it. Not a good beginning, but I knew Mr. Harland was coming to class that Tuesday and that thought made everything better!
Mr. Harland is the grandfather of, D, one of my middle school history students. D introduced me to Mr. Harland through his Genealogy Project paper, a 3 – 4 page paper that he got a little carried away with. D’s “paper” ended up being a small “book” at about 50 pages. When I read it, I understood why. It was the story of of D’s history and that included his grandfather, Mr. Harland. After reading D’s “paper,” I asked if Mr. Harland could come share with our middle school history class. He did. He was so good, I asked him to come to my high school history class. I admit I read them the riot act before he came, but soon realized I didn’t have to.
Mr. Harland is almost 84 and stands as straight as an arrow. He began with perspective. He was born in 1937, that meant that when he was a boy, some Civil War veterans and Orville Wright (of the Wright Brothers) were still alive. My students were intrigued. When he brought out some of the toys from his childhood, he had a captive audience.
He had a few of his toys from before WWII. A motorcycle that was made of cast iron that landed on my desk with a thud. A sturdy metal car made with rubber wheels that was still perfectly intact despite its age.Then he brought out a toy car made during the war. It was a tinny little car with wheels made of cardboard because all of the rubber and good metal went to the war. He spoke to my pandemic era students of lives being changed by rationing and everybody doing their part for the war effort. He shared about his days of being let loose in a neighborhood where everybody knew and looked out for everybody else. Days when moms were home all day and communicated to their children by blowing a whistle, each mom having her own unique signal and every kid knowing what each mom’s signal was. He shared his special decoder rings that he’d sent away for and the stock from his Red Rider BB gun. He shared his life.
Personally, my favorite part of his story was the story of where he lived. Mr. Harland grew up in a two story home. His aunt and his grandfather lived on the second floor. His parents and their seven children, one of which was Mr. Harland, lived on the first floor. Both floors had one bathroom and two bedrooms. One bathroom, two bedrooms, nine people. And then he asked the obvious question. “Where did we all sleep?” His parents had one bedroom, some siblings had the other, a few of his siblings slept in the attic, and that left Mr. Harland. His “bedroom” was a roll-away cot in the living room that was folded and stored each day in his parents bedroom. And then he shared my favorite part, he went to sleep every night with his Dad sitting six feet away from him, reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. It was nostalgic and my kids, whose minds I am always eager to fill, loved every minute of it. He ended with some of the best advice, enjoy your childhood, do everything with passion, and realize that choices made now will determine how you live later.
I often think about the times and places that I remember. Life, even a life born well after WWII, seems very different compared to life now. And though I sometimes think it, not once did Mr. Harland say that those were the “good old days.” Not once did he give any indication that he thought those days were better, only that they were different. Perspective. It can be a wonderful thing. It is a very big deal!
Recently, my husband and I went “home” again. Not the home we share “now,” we go there everyday. This is the home we shared “then”…
After a brief apartment stay, this was the home we first lived in after we were married. The home we bought with Cliff’s sister and brother-in-law, because neither of us could afford one on our own. The home we brought our babies home to and the home we raised them in until they were almost all teenagers. The home our children shared with their 6 cousins, three of them the same age as they were. The home of movie nights, maze tag, Grandpa Howard days, and long hikes up to the top of Tourne Mountain. The home of 13 people, 2 bathrooms, a dog, a cat, some hamsters that could eat their way through glass, and a couple of bedrooms with no closets. The home where all the neighbors knew there were 9 children living in that house and none of them went to school. They had no idea who belonged to who, but welcomed us to their close-knit, mostly-related, neighborhood just the same.
Cliff’s sister, husband and 6 children lived upstairs with a mudroom downstairs and the closed in porch. We lived in the rest of the downstairs. Now, they live in the whole house having bought it from us when we decided to move to Florida. There are only 4 people living in it now. Much of it is different, but much of it is the same. The home is no longer “ours,” but the memories will always belong to us. Precious memories never really go away. They settle in the recesses of our mind until they are recalled by a certain smell, a particular song, or in our case, a visit.
Now, before I become overwhelmingly nostalgic, let me say that going “home” can also lead to other things, like not realizing how much or in what way certain things have changed. Aside from visiting and staying with family, we also made plans to share a dinner with some old friends. I set everything up for them to meet us in Boonton since we had to borrow a car. I’d Googled and found that the old Boonton Train Station, a place we had driven by on numerous occasions had been renovated into a restaurant. It was close to where we were, had a good menu, and looked like a nice place. So, I asked our friends to meet us there that Friday night and they agreed. When we arrived at my sister-in-law’s I, very fortunately, mentioned that we’d be eating out on Friday and then I told her where. She was quiet for a moment, almost contemplative as she told us, “I think that’s a gay bar.”
I guess it’s kind of weird, but I almost thought of not telling our friends and meeting them there anyway. I thought it might be kind of exciting and really funny. After all, I’d never been to a gay bar and my sister-in-law did say, “it may have changed.” But, my conscience got the better of me and so, I turned to Google. Google confirmed that it was indeed a gay bar, in fact, it is the only gay bar outside of Bergen County or New York City! And, of course, I found it. I texted our friends and told them we should probably change our venue. They laughed and agreed. We met at a very nice restaurant; the type that New Jersey is famous for, the quintessential New Jersey Diner. It was a wonderful time of catching up and, for at least two of us, an opportunity to compare hearing aids. You know you’re old when you have a good time comparing hearing aids. Strangely enough, the two of us that wear them, are the two loudest in the group. I’m thinking we probably made ourselves deaf.
The following day we thought we would walk up Tourne Mountain for old times sake, that is until I realized that where we live in Florida is mostly flat and I was fairly certain that my dear husband, though he loves me, would not want to carry me piggy-back up a mountain for a mile. Especially since, as he says, we are in the same wrestling weight class. Not that we wrestle, but that’s what he says. And so, we walked “through” the park without walking “up” the mountain. That night was spent with all of my sister-in-laws family. Five of the six kids, three of those with spouses, and a few children thrown in for good measure. No worry of our location and what we might encounter, as it was their dining room. Good food, good fellowship, great family. The stuff that life is made of, always. Because everything else is just really not that big a deal!
We’ve now been living in the world of CoVid for approximately 357 days OR 51 weeks OR 11 months and 23 days. Not that I’m counting or anything; but, that’s a long time. You can learn a lot in all of that time, especially when, for a good portion of that time, you aren’t really going anywhere. Here are some things that I have learned…
Crocheting can be hazardous to your health.
There is, of course, the ever present danger of sitting on your crochet hook, which I can tell you from experience may not be “hazardous” but it is certainly not comfortable. My crocheting began with an epiphany of sorts that all of those young couples in our church, with not much else to do, would be “busy.” And so, I made baby blankets. Then, I discovered velvet yarn and decided to make Christmas presents for my daughters. And then, one of my grandson’s saw one of the Christmas presents and he wanted a blanket, too. And, as any good Nana knows, if you make it for one you have to make it for all. There are seven of them. I ended up making a total of approximately 25 blankets. That’s a lot of crocheting. In fact that is so much crocheting that I may have injured my shoulder…Okay, I did injure my shoulder. I may also have given myself Carpal Tunnel, though my Chiropractor seems to have that part under control. The shoulder is still a bit of a problem. Why have I been crocheting so much?
British Detective Shows are intriguing.
It seems that British people are fairly fond of murder. Their murders are different from ours. Ours are usually gory, psychopathic murders. Theirs are usually accidental where, in some cases, you actually feel kind of sorry for the murderer. Endeavour, Broadchurch, Grantchester, DCI Banks, New Tricks…we’ve seen them all. We are currently watching one called Unforgotten. We’ve learned a lot from these shows. We’ve learned that a DCI is a Detective Chief Inspector. A DS is a Detective Sergeant and a DSU is a Detective Superintendent. The “Met” is not the Metropolitan Opera for Brits. The “Met” is the Metropolitan Police. CID is their Crime Investigation Department. And the phrase, “Any joy?” is a way of asking if someone has heard any good news. If someone “tops” themselves, they’ve committed suicide. Who knew? We’ve also decided that the Brits spend an awful lot of time in Pubs and they seem to be very fond of their “pints” and wine. I guess with all of that murder they need an outlet.
Refined sugar, coffee, and regular milk are no longer my friends.
This has been difficult. What can be worse than being in the middle of a pandemic and realizing that the three ingredients of your favorite morning beverage are no longer friends with your insides? Not much. Even worse, I can’t even have them as individuals and refined sugar is one of my favorite ingredients in almost any food. There has been some “joy” (see above for translation) in all of this. I lost 12 pounds. I’m not sure where it went, but I’m pretty sure I don’t care. Life goes on. I now drink tea with honey and Lactaid milk. It’s my lot in life and as Phyllis Diller once said, “It’s not a lot, but it’s my life.”
I can now cut hair, trim a beard, and the cut funny little hairs that grow out of an old man’s ears.
Let’s face it, Italians tend to be hairy people. When your father is an old Italian and can no longer go to his even older Italian barber, his semi-Italian daughter needs to step up and learn a few things; especially when the funny little ear hairs have grown long enough to be a part of his beard and, quite possibly, are interfering with his already diminished ability to hear. How did I learn to trim a beard you might ask? And I might tell you…YouTube. It was actually kind of interesting and Dad seems pleased with the results! So, all is well and maybe, I have the beginnings of a new career as an ear hair remover!
Finally, I have learned that living through history-making times is difficult. I think it always has been. But, if we look back at others that have lived through historic times, I’m pretty sure we, like them, will be okay…Because in the light of all eternity, it’s really not that big a deal!
Throughout the course of my life, I have been blessed with not having to face many challenges. At least none that I paid much attention to.
I was born in 1959. My generation all played outside pretty much everyday. We drank out of the hose and swam in pools and lakes. We played in the woods and played on swings and ran through the poisonous fog of the mosquito sprayers. There were days that we slept with our front door open and only our screen door closed to let in any breezes at night. Our windows were always open. We walked to school and to the candy store. We rode bikes and played Little Kiddles. We were kids.
We were in the midst of the Cold War and later Vietnam, but most of us were really too young to understand and didn’t face those challenges directly. We faced the normal challenges of childhood, making new friends, attending a new school, learning math concepts that we didn’t want to learn from teachers that we didn’t really like. These were our challenges.
Recently, life has been challenging. Pandemics will do that. But, we can see an end and through it all, life has not been that bad. Though the pandemic has touched us all and caused some of us tremendous loss, it will be over some day. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
We are currently in the midst of Black History Month. Every year at school, my history classes participate in a Tournament to see who is The Most Fascinating Person in American History. Students choose a name out of a hat, give a presentation to the class, and they vote. The winner moves on on a Tournament Board, similar to College Basketball’s March Madness. The kids love it and they’re learning about people in history that they might otherwise have never known. We have winners for the First and Second Semester and then students vote between the two. There have been various winners over the years, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, FDR, to name a few. This year was different though. This year the winner of our First Semester board was Jackie Robinson. When his name was chosen, they didn’t really know who he was or what he’d done. They do now. They know the challenges that this man fought for himself, for his race, for a sport, and really for us all. It’s good to read about people that have faced challenges. It gives us perspective.
The following is an article posted by Guideposts. If we allow ourselves to really think about all this man went through, I think we will all understand what being challenged really means. I hope you enjoy this…
Guideposts Classics: Jackie Robinson on Facing Challenges
In this story from August 1948, Hall of Famer and American hero Jackie Robinson recalls the challenges he faced in breaking baseball’s color barrier.
by Jackie Robinson
I’ll never forget the day Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, asked me to join his baseball organization, I would be the first Negro to play in organized baseball—that is, if I were good enough to make the grade.
Mr. Rickey’s office was large and simply furnished. There were four framed pictures on the wall. One was a kodachrome snapshot of Leo Durocher, the field manager of the Dodgers. Another was a portrait of the late Charlie Barrett, one of the greatest scouts in the game. A third was of General Chennault. And the fourth and largest smiled down one me with calm reassurance, the portrait of the sad, trusting Abraham Lincoln who had pleaded for malice toward none…
This was the never-to-be-forgotten day when our Marines landed on the soil of Japan, August 29, 1945. It was a hot day with venetian blinds shutting out the sun, and the Brooklyn clamor of Montague Street mingled with the noisy traffic around Borough Hall.
From behind his desk the big, powerful, bushy-browed Branch Rickey, who seemed a combination of father and boss, mapped out to me his daring strategy to break the color line in Major League Baseball.
I was excited at the opportunity. It was a tremendous challenge. But was I good enough?
“Mr. Rickey,” I said, “it sounds like a dream come true—not only for me but for my race. For 70 years there has been racial exclusion in Big League Baseball. There will be trouble ahead—for you, for me, for my people and for baseball.”
“Trouble ahead,” Rickey rolled the phrase over his lips as though he liked the sound. “You know, Jackie, I was a small boy when I took my first train ride. On the same train was an old couple, also riding for the first time. We were going through the Rocky Mountains. The old man sitting by the window looked forward and said to his wife, ‘Trouble ahead, Ma! We’re high up over a precipice and we’re gonna run right off.’
“To my boyish ears the noise of the wheels repeated ‘Trouble-a-head-trouble-ahead…’ I never hear train wheels to this day but what I think of this. But our train course bent into a tunnel right after the old man spoke, and we came out on the other side of the mountain. That’s the way it is with most trouble ahead in this world, Jackie—if we use the common sense and courage God gave us. But you’ve got to study the hazards and build wisely.”
I’ve never forgotten that little story. It helped me through many of the rough moments I was to face in the future. I signed my contract that day with a humble feeling of great responsibility. I prayed that I would be equal to the test.
“God is with us in this, Jackie,” Mr. Rickey said quietly. “You know your Bible. It’s good, simple Christianity for us to face realities and to recognize what we’re up against. We can’t go out and preach and crusade and bust our heads against a wall. We’ve got to fight out our problems together with tact and common sense.”
To give me experience and seasoning, Mr. Rickey sent me the first year to play with the Montreal Royals, a farm club for the Brooklyn organization. I was the cause of trouble from the start—but we expected it. Pre-season exhibition games were cancelled because of “mixed athletes”, although the official reason was always different.
Some of my teammates may have resented me. If so, I didn’t blame them. They had problems enough playing ball without being a part of a racial issue. I tried hard not to develop “rabbit ears”, a malady picked up by all athletes who are sensitive to abuse and criticism shouted from the fans.
One of my top thrills was my opening game for Montreal at Jersey City. The pressure was on and I was very nervous. But during that contest I slapped out four hits, including a home run. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better start.
But as the season began to unroll game after game, my play grew erratic. I was trying too hard. I knew I had to keep my temper bridled at every turn. Guarding so carefully against outbursts can put a damper on one’s competitive spirit.
Every athlete at some time or other likes “to blow his top.” It seldom does any harm and acts like a safety valve. A hitter in a slump may drive the ball deep to the infield, then leg it to first sure that he has beaten the throw. The umpire calls him out. With this the frustrated athlete jerks off his cap, slams it on the ground and thunders all his pent-up irritations at the umpire. The crowd roars its approval or dislike depending on whether the player is on the home or visiting team. The umpire merely turns his back, and the ball player after giving vent to his unhappiness, trots back to the bench feeling much better. It’s all a part of the game.
But I didn’t dare let loose this way. Many would have dubbed me a “hothead” and point to my outburst as a reason why Negroes should not play in organized baseball. This was one of the hardest problems I had to face.
As the season rolled along, however, the players became accustomed to me. My play improved. When the season ended, Montreal had won the Junior World Series. I admit proudly to winning the batting championship of the league with an average .349.
On April 10, 1947, Branch Rickey made the announcement that gave me my greatest thrill. I was to join the Brooklyn Dodgers and become the first Negro to compete in the Major Leagues.
To add to my regular problems of bucking the expected publicity and criticism from the usual quarters, I was placed at a strange position—first base. At Montreal I had played second base.
It was Montreal all over again, only this time the pressure was much greater, the competition keener, and the stakes tremendous. It wasn’t a question so much of a colored athlete making good as a big leaguer, but whether the whole racial question would be advanced or retarded.
I prayed as I never had before.
As a first baseman I had many fielding shortcomings. I worked hard to iron them out and both fans and players by and large were rooting for me. This encouragement was a big factor in helping me improve my game.
Again I faced the same problems. An opposing player drove a hard grounder to the infield. When he crossed first base his spikes bit painfully into my foot. Accident or deliberate? Who can tell? But the first reaction of a competitive ball player is to double up fists and lash out. I saw a blinding red. It took every bit of my discipline to bridle my temper. But when my teammates rushed to my support in white hot anger, it gave me the warmest feeling I’ve ever felt. At that moment I belonged.
That year the Dodgers won the pennant. I was thrilled to know that my efforts were considered an important factor in winning. But I also cherished another triumph. Baseball as a whole had come to accept the Negro. From now on the colored ball player, to make the grade, will simply have to be a good enough player. As Mr. Rickey says, a champion is a champion in America, black or white.
This story first appeared in the August 1948 issue of Guideposts.
People are different. We come in different shapes and sizes. We come in different colors. We come with different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different ways of doing things. We’re different and that’s what makes life interesting.