Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The a Summer Of '42

It was the summer of '42. One of the neighborhood guys from Lawrenceville, Alan Stutsman worked for the Pirates as the locker room manager and offered my father and his friend Biggie Fisher summer jobs.  My dad never actually told me how he felt getting that job, but if you know him,  you probably have firsthand knowledge of his emotional outbursts along with his passion for sports, so its a safe bet to say he was ecstatic.
At the beginning of every Pirate season he would remind us of that summer of '42. And what a time they had!  He would tell us how Biggie Fisher had a ball signed by every visiting team that year and he wished he had done the same thing because they were now worth a small fortune.
About a year ago, he told me a story I'd never heard before.  My grandfather passed away when his youngest sister was just 5 days old, leaving his mother to raise 7 of them herself. To say they were poor, just doesn't do their childhood justice. But somehow they got by through from the kindness of the nuns from St Frances Hospital and the Fireman from Station #6 next door.  Needless to say, he wasn't showing up for work looking like he stepped out of GQ Magazine. The soles of his shoes were worn through from him and his brother before him and their constant use. (They were used shoes to begin with. Bought at Kaufman's 34th St aka The Goodwill!) He would stuff cardboard to cover the holes in the shoes and tape them up to hold them all together.
After one particular game, he was cleaning up and a Pitcher by the name Luke Hamlin  tossed him a box. He opened it and it was a brand new pair of Florsheim shoes. My dad never owned a pair of new shoes in his entire life!! Luke said something like he bought the wrong size so as not to make him feel bad. But my dad knew the truth. He did something nice for a kid for no other reason but for the kindness in his heart.
What brought this up tonight? Through the kindness of a friend, my father and I will be watching the Pirates play their first post season game in 21 years........from the comfort of a luxury suite. At least ten lifetimes away from the boy with the taped up shoes. He can drink all the coffee he wants for free. He will be in his glory!!! And despite me buying him a few pairs of shoes a year, I'm sure he'll be wearing 20 year old shoes, yelling at me that they still have a few years of life left in them. Just like him!!
And win or lose tomorrow, the Bucco's made one old man very happy because they made it to the post season "while he's still here!"

*The job lasted only for that summer. A mere three months later, on Christmas Day, 1942, Alan Stutsman was killed when his plane was shot down somewhere over Germany putting an abrupt end to the Lawrenceville boys "in" with the Pirates.  And by opening day 1943,  my dad was somewhere in Utah getting ready to be shipped to Italy to fight in WWII.  He was 17. I often wonder if they could ever in their wildest dreams have imagined how their lives would change in one mere Pirate off-season. 

Since writing this post, you know that Dad's beloved Pirates won that game! Maybe it had something to do with him saying just one more Hail Mary before the final out(See picture below)!!!  While driving home he told me that was the best time he's had in a long, long time. He was in his glory......and so was I!!! Thank You Bucco's for letting this old man have at least one more perfect day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Written as only you can do Eileen!!! Love this...Beat em Bucs and enjoy the game Bud!!!