Lessons on the Mis-shapened Baseball Diamond

A baseball field drawn roughly to scale

A baseball field drawn roughly to scale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spring time is baseball time.  That’s the way it is now, and that’s the way it was when I was a little girl.  As soon as the ground was dry enough, sometimes before, we were all out tossing the ball around, choosing teams, and swinging the bat.  We had just our own organization.  Parents only got involved if we played at a picnic or a re-union.  Then, of course, all the uncles got a chance to play.  Dad and his brothers loved to play just about any game a kid liked to play.


My friend Mike and his big brother Bobby and his big sister Diana from down the road, and my sisters Deanna and Bonita and Vickie, and Tom and Cathy from next door and Nancy and Doug from across the road all got together and tramped down the grass and weeds in the pasture to make a ball.  Whatever we could find, we used for bases: big sticks, old gunny sacks, or scraps of cardboard worked for us.  Sometimes we used ant hills for bases; after a lot of frantic scurrying at the beginning of the game the ants went underground until the game was over.  The distance between bases changed a lot, depending on who played, how many played, and where the ant’s tried to make their home.  The Queen Anne’s lace looked like sad skeletons sticking every which way, so we stamped it down, otherwise we got poked when we fell down.  Falling down and grass stains were part of baseball.  Bobby was way better at baseball than anyone else, so he batted left-handed and only got one strike; Vickie was almost a Little Kid, so she had unlimited strikes until she finally hit something.  That way everything fair. Continue reading

Shyness Stings Like a Jellyfish

Sometimes there’s no explaining what makes someone put down all her self-confidence and suddenly cower in the back seat.  That’s how I got when I started to grow up and leave my little girl years behind.  All that talk-to-much candor went mute.  I have my brother Frankie to thank for snapping me out of it.  The cure was a little like the home remedy for a jelly-fish sting.

Most of the time, Mom took all us Magpies with her wherever she went.  Except for grocery shopping.  That was special, she only took one kid with her for grocery shopping.  Everybody else stayed home and cleaned the house, or babysat, mowed the lawn, or helped out in the field or the barn.  Unless you were one of the Little Kids;

Little Kids and Loren Dee-Dee-Bopper

Little Kids just played all day long.  Big kids had to Continue reading

Extinction of the Shivaree

A tradition came to an end, after I was grown and had a few Little Kids of my own.  I lived  in the Upper Peninsula, or maybe I was over in The Thumb; I only heard this story, it belongs to the Little Kids.  They were, well, still little girls (and boys).  The tradition is the Shivaree.  To those readers who are unfamiliar with Shivaree it is a surprise party, in the middle of the night, at a newlywed couple’s home.  Neighbors, friends, and relatives get together outside the unsuspecting bride’s and groom’s home, bang pans, blow trumpet and raise a hullabaloo, until the sleepy couple let the revelers into their home.  Great fun, until Aunt Annie and her new husband, Dave put an end to the fun.

When Deanna was a new bride, she and her husband, Mike, lived in an apartment near the city.  That didn’t stop us.  I gave Bonita a leg up unto the balcony and she pulled me up, while I stood on Julie’s thigh; together we pulled Julie, then Johnny up.  The rest of the family and friends hung around below the balcony or took the inside stairs to Deanna’s apartment to bang on the door and walls.  Bonita blew her trumpet, and I banged on the sliding glass door, shouting “Shivaree!  Shivaree!”

Apartment lights popped on all around Deanna’s place until at last, Continue reading

The Naked Truth, From My Perpective

Sometimes memories are clear as a bell, sometimes cloudy.  Most the time memories are different depending on who’s they are.  One such memory as vivid as if it happened yesterday for me and two of my brothers.  Oh how different our memories are:  the facts are the same, but the emotion is completely different.  This is a summer story.  Still, it’s on my mind because both Loren and Frank shared their version with me this past year.

I told you before about our camping trips.  All eleven of us slept and changed in one big army tent with wooden poles and canvas army cots.  Man-o-man, those cots and that tent were so hard to set up, but nobody did anything until camp was tidy and neat.  The only time we went in the tent were:  To change clothes, to sleep, to put things away after clean-up.  That last one is the one that got me into trouble.

When I was a little girl, taking turns was part of everyday life, like breathing.  Especially with work.  Even on vacation I had jobs; only I liked the jobs better ’cause everything was outside.  I liked to stay in my bathing suit all day long, but most mornings the first week of August it was too cold, so  I wore jeans, and a sweatshirt.  Sometimes I wore the sweatshirt inside out, ’cause the right side was dirty. I only had one small box for clothes, so I get inventive, ’cause I was messy and Mom hated messy, even if it was an inside-out kind of neat.  She said even poor people could afford soap, so there’s no excuse for being dirty.

Anyways, I had to do dishes after lunch, just my turn that’s all, and I was in a hurry, ’cause the rain clouds broke up, and the sun was shining down, and well, pretty soon I was going to be hotter than blazes.  I had the dishes to put away, which got stored in the tent.  So of course I marched myself right in there, lickety-split, and was marching myself right out again when I heard my name called out in an angry voice. Uh-oh, how could I be in trouble for putting things tidy and neat.  Still, that happened to me more than I liked to say, ’cause some times, just when I thought I was doing a good job, blammo, trouble came knocking.

“What are you doing?”  Dad said.  Yup.  That was his angry voice, all right enough. Continue reading

What Was That You Said?

One thing I could count on with my Mom when I was a little girl:  she meant what she said.  And Mom always carried through when she meted out punishment.  Of course some things she let go, and some threats she exaggerated.  I asked her once how she got so many kids to behave so well.  She put her finger on her chin, raised one eyebrow, and said, “You know, I guess I was just blessed with good kids.”  That’s revisionist history, if you ask me.

“I’ll  beat you to a pulp,” Mom told me more than once.  She never did, although she did give me a spanking with a rope Bonita kept tied around her waist as a lasso, ’cause ‘Cowboys and Indians’ was our favorite make-believe game. My friend, Diann said she wondered how I kept from laughing because of the things that came out of my Mom mouth.  “Laughing’d be the last thing on your mind, if you were me.” I told her, which made Diann throw her head right back and laugh so hard she held her sides and begged me to stop clowning around.  Diann had big brothers and not one single sister.  She was born on  April Fools Day; I said she was practical  joke on her family.  She sure liked to laugh a lot.  Anyways, I realized Diann Continue reading