I was not always a couch potato. As a child, I did all the things that most children of my time did. My first home was in an apartment building owned by my father’s aunt. It was a large 4 unit building with a HUGE yard that had a large wooded area next to it. This area was magical; it could be a war zone, a fort, a treasure land, a great place for hide and seek, and a sports field. It was anything our imagination made it be. It was a great place to run, climb, and get lost in the adventure.
When I started Kindergarten, a new world opened up. I started to read, do artwork, and sing songs. I still had afternoons and weekends to do outdoor stuff, but the school was great. In the blogs about “my mother the bigot” I talked about how television was also part of my early experience.
My life was playing, learning, and making sure I wouldn’t miss my favorite television shows. As a Kindergarten student, life was great. However, changes were looming in my future.
Seems everywhere I have lived someone comments how if you do not like the current weather, wait a minute. The truth in this statement is that weather changes. Summer does turn into Winter (oh I know there is autumn, but it seems these days our weather pattern eliminates any discernible autumn or spring). All that Pre-Kindergarten Thom had to worry about was keeping dry, now after Kindergarten I had to find time for reading, writing, coloring, and watching television. Let’s face it, warm and dry trumped playing outside that winter. AND, it seemed that activity moved from using my feet to run and play with sitting on my butt reading and watching!
In the winter of 1954 (mid first grade), we moved to Akron, Ohio. It did not take long to find friends, especially when there were a dozen kids my age within a five-house radius. Plus there were woods, a creek, and many areas to explore. With spring, there were baseball fields!
The school in Akron was more interesting than in Stow. By the end of first grade came one of those life-changing events. I tried out for Little League (the “real” program). I had no history with these teams. They let me try out, but it was obvious they had already decided on who was going to play. No organized baseball in the summer of 1955. You may have read in the blogs about my mother; she LOVED baseball, she LOVED the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe won the pennant in 1954 but lost the series to the (New York) Giants. I had a chance in 1955 to see the Indians play the New York Yankees. My father managed to get tickets behind home plate, so it was a fantastic day for me. It was on a workday for him, but he made the sacrifice. Bob Lemon pitched for the Tribe (thankfully Whitey Ford didn’t pitch). The Indians did not hit any home runs but won. I cheered the Indians. And I booed Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra (his catching and his single), booed Mickey Mantle’s single (and cheered his strikeout).