FAMILY MAN

He always knew the correct answers to questions that stumped me. I thought he knew more than my school teachers. I wanted to learn from him and, someday, know as much as he did.

He studied to be a contestant on a San Francisco radio quiz show among local newsmen. The subject was Abraham Lincoln. Daddy knew everything about Lincoln. Daddy was smart; I knew he would win.

At the appointed hour, Mom and I sat by the radio. Men answered the questions, but we didn’t hear Daddy’s voice at all.
“Is Daddy there?” I asked.
“Shh! Listen,” Mom said.
When he came home, Mom said, “I know you were there because the announcer introduced you.”
“Christ, I was so nervous I just froze.”

One winter weekend at Twain Harte, Daddy drove us above the snow line until he saw a “nice little slope” as he called it. He parked the car off the road and lifted the rental toboggan from the car.
“Let me try it first,” he said, “to make sure it’s safe.”
He pushed off down the slope and disappeared over a rise at the bottom. We waited for him to reappear. And waited. And waited.
I ran down the hill and over the rise. There he was, sitting on the toboggan in the middle of a shallow, icy stream.

Daddy planned more than one vacation a year: summer at the Russian River or southern California beaches, and the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl game New Year’s Day.

Mom & Lynne – Dad & Ransom, La Jolla Caves, 1948.

Dad and Mom, Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., 1948

Dad and Mom, Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., 1948

 

Mom, Dad, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, 1949

Mom & Dad on Ensenada beach, Baja California, Mexico.

I thought we enjoyed our times together.We never missed an episode of Hopalong Cassidy after Daddy bought our first black and white television set. For Christmas in1950, Daddy’s coworkers presented him with a Hopalong Cassidy doll.

Dad in office with Hopalong Cassidy doll presented by co-workers

Dad in office with Hopalong Cassidy doll presented by co-workers.

Daddy looks happy in all my album photos. Decades later, however, I heard that “his life was filled with unhappiness and frustration.”
He sure fooled us.

 

Additional excerpts from my memoir, His Daughter’s Remembrance, to follow . . .

 

 

 

 

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BASEBALL WITH FATHER, Part 3

Mom experienced increasing difficulty walking and felt too unsteady to travel east again with my father for his annual visit to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) convention in Washington, D.C. so he invited me to accompany him. It was my first trip east of the Rockies, and a grand one at that, but I never imagined it would be our final vacation together.

First stop was New York City where he showed me the historical spots, tourist attractions, restaurants and Broadway shows he had shown Mom.

MLB Programs

MLB programs, left to right: 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1950 New , 1950 New York Giants, 1948 Cleveland World Series, 1950 New York Yankees-Phillies World Series, and 1947 New York Yankees-Brooklyn Dodgers World Series

It could happen only in Brooklyn. At Ebbets Field to be exact. We were among the more than 25,000 in the stands for the opening game of the 1956 National League season. Drill teams, bands, marching units, and hundreds of youngsters paraded past home plate to congregate in center field. Dodgers and Philadelphia players stood at attention along the foul lines, and the crowd rose for the national anthem. The band began to play and then paused. Instead of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”, a voice over the loudspeaker asked, “Who’s going to raise the flag?”

Embarrassed officials had no one to raise the first ever World Champions flag to fly over Ebbets Field. A Marine Corps color guard rescued the ceremony.

After a thirty-six minute delayed start, the Phillies outscored the World Champion Dodgers 8-6.

When Ebbets Field opened in 1913, Brooklyn officials had not only forgotten the stars and stripes flag but also the key to open the ballpark. Only in Brooklyn.

MLB autographed team balls, left to right: 1950 New York Yankees, 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1950 New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, and 1948 Cleveland Indians, center front.

MLB autographed team balls, left to right: 1950 New York Yankees, 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1950 New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, and 1948 Cleveland Indians, center front.

 

Additional excerpts from my memoir, His Daughter’s Remembrance, to follow . . .

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BASEBALL WITH FATHER, PART 2

Continuing with excerpts from my memoir, His Daughter’s Remembrance, our family followed the Seals away games to Oakland and Sacramento and planned vacations around games in distant cities.

SF Seals pocket schedule

In August 1948 when we visited the Oregon Caves and Crater Lake on our way to Canada, we cheered for the Seals in a Pacific Coast League game against the Portland Beavers at Vaughn Street Park. We rooted for the Seals’ Yakima Washington farm team in Vancouver’s Capilano Stadium and watched another PCL game at Sick Stadium, home of the Seattle Rainiers.

The following summer, we drove south to see the Seals play the San Diego Padres at Lane Field, the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field, and the Hollywood Stars at Gilmore Field, where Mom was hit by a line-drive foul ball. Despite a severe headache, she insisted we stay in our seats above the third-base dugout until the end of the game.

PCL Ballparks

PCL Ballparks: top left to right, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Hollywood.

SF Seals lineup cards

SF Seals lineup cards signed by manager O’Doul for three games in May 1949 at Sacramento.

Every spring, Daddy assigned a photographer to Seals Stadium to shoot pictures of each player for publication during the season. In 1949, the photographer printed an extra set of 8×10 black-and-white glossies for me. Before each game, I stood with youngsters by the third-base dugout and asked each player to personalize his picture by signing “To Lynne”. Some of the players asked, “Where did you get these?”

When I explained that I wanted to hang them in our rumpus room, they eagerly obliged, most adding “Best Wishes” or “Good Luck”. I framed and hung the twenty pictures on the blank wall above the studio couch.

The following January, Daddy hosted a Hot Stove night in our rumpus room. Two of Daddy’s sports reporters swapped baseball anecdotes with chief Seals scout and former PCL umpire Al Fioresi, Joe Orengo, manager of the Seals’ Yakima, Washington farm club, pitcher Dick Larner, outfielder Brooks Holder, infielder Jim Moran, and Seals’ vice president Charlie Graham.

SF Seals Hot Stove Night

SF Seals Hot Stove Night

When they entered the room, someone said, “Oh, so it’s this rumpus room!”

Team members thought their autographed pictures were to hang in a popular bar they frequented on the Peninsula named The Rumpus Room.

Autographed PCL Baseballs

Autographed baseballs: Seals 1932 and 1947, Oaks 1949, and Hollywood Stars.

To be continued . . .

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BASEBALL WITH FATHER

The best times with my father were during baseball games at Seals Stadium in San Francisco in the late 1940s and early 1950s. We had great seats at ground level between home plate and the Seals’ third-base dugout.

Ransom’s interest in baseball consisted of staring through the bottom of an empty Coke bottle at fans in the stands. Mom feared he might receive another concussion.

“Keep your eyes on the ball,’ she said.

He turned around and focused his Coke bottle on the field.

Daddy’s strange pencil marks in the little squares in the program intrigued me. “What do those mean?”

“That’s how I keep score,” he said.

During the season, he taught me how to keep score and make those strange squiggles in the little squares. “Anyone can follow a football game,” he said. “Baseball is a thinking man’s game.”

Dad, Mom & Ransom in box seats

Dad, Mom & Ransom in box seats

Our box seats at Seals Stadium were near those of the club’s vice president, young Charlie Graham. One night, he said that because I attended every game, I might as well work there. Would I like to be an usherette? Well, who wouldn’t? But when Mr. Graham learned I was much younger than I looked, I had to wait another year to obtain a work permit before he hired me.

Seals Stadium was the first baseball park in the country to hire female ushers. We wore a gray blouse under a couturier-designed apple-green gabardine suit with a matching beret. For San Francisco’s fog-chilled night games, we added a brown topcoat with red epaulets, a red silk scarf and red kid gloves. I earned $1.25 an hour.

To be continued . . .

 

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FATHER’S DAY

Another Father’s Day has come and gone, but memories linger of a father I thought I knew well.

For two decades we were a happy family with Mom and my younger brother, Ransom, until the onset of Mom’s mysterious paralysis a few months after her hysterectomy performed by the family doctor. She believed his lack of skill during that specialized procedure caused her eventual debility.

As the family of a newspaper editor in the San Francisco Bay Area during World War II and the following decade, we lived a privileged life.

To be continued . . .

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REMEMBRANCE OF WORLD WAR II

Jeep

Jeep

The Army general purpose vehicle (GP pronounced Jeep) on display in the World War II exhibit at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, immediately caught our attention. In the late 1940s, Lee paid $500 for a war surplus Jeep. The Jeep displayed in the museum looks exactly like the one in which we neighbors anticipated weekend rides with Lee as he drove across rolling open space in the East Bay hills (now covered with homes) overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Comments from museum visitors in the model kitchen are as interesting as the exhibit. Seniors remember the chrome kitchen table and chairs. “This looks like (Grandma’s) (Mom’s) (our) kitchen.”  “My mother used those.”  “We had that.”
Younger visitors ask, “What’s this for?” (A manual egg beater.)
“What’s that?” (A glass dish with a knob in the center to manually squeeze fresh orange or lemon juice.)
“How do you use this?” (A manual can opener.)
Mine are all still dependable and never require batteries.

I remember victory gardens, curfews and blackouts, defense savings stamps and bonds and ration coupon books for groceries, gasoline and shoes on the home front. Lee remembers serving with the Navy in the South Pacific.

The parachute in the museum reminded me of the young sportswriter and amateur boxer my parents paid to babysit my younger brother and me when they spent an evening out to dinner and a movie or played cards with friends. When the U.S. entered the war, Dave enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to B-17 bombing missions over Germany. Mom wrote Dave regularly and mailed him packages of chewing gum, chocolate bars and cigarettes. Wartime slogans encouraged citizens not to discuss troop movements, ship sailings or war work. Dave’s letters always mentioned my younger brother’s age: “So Ransom just turned 12.” “Wish Ransom a happy 14th birthday for me.” “Guess you are all looking forward to Ransom’s 16th birthday.”
“Dave knows Ransom is younger than I am. Why does he write that?” I asked Mom.
“That’s his code for the number of missions he’s flown,” Mom said. “After 24 missions, he comes home.”

Nearing Dave’s twenty-something mission, Mom told me she awoke in the middle of the night to see Dave standing in the bedroom doorway. She wrote Dave and asked if that date meant anything to him.
“Yes,” he wrote. “We were hit by shrapnel. Our turret gunner was killed, and we limped back to base.”

After the war, Dave gave Mom his parachute from which she sewed a peasant-style blouse for me and lingerie for herself. She cut Dave’s uniform down to a suit for Ransom. And Dave gave me his lapel pin shaped in the form of gold wings.

 

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COMPUTERESE

When I turn on my computer, occasionally a question appears in the upper left corner: “Lynne, what is on your mind today?” Similar to few of my blog followers, it never responds.

I vent frustration about how differences in the English language and punctuation marks have changed from those my English teachers taught. For example, E-mail morphed into e-mail and now the correct word is email. E-book followed to e-book and now is it ebook?

Recently my name appeared on a list to evite. I thought it was a typo for invite, but my vintage dictionary defines “evite” as “to avoid or shun”. Really?  Hmm . . .

Computerese, and the use thereof, leaves me B-hinde in a-fogg.

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