Happiness is learning something new 6-12-2019

The front fender of the Chevy is first.  Third is Lincoln’s tree.  Two sewers is a homer.  Stickball on the street with a cut down broom stick with black tape on one end and a Pensie Pinkie.  Heaven right here on the street in front of our houses.  I was always a good hitter.  Even though the stick was thinner than a regular stick ball stick you could buy at the store it was free of the 50 cents a real one cost.  It was a bit harder to hit with especially if it was not perfectly straight.  I wonder how much less my mom paid for a new broom stick every time I cut down an old one?

The game was on the street which was wide enough for a car to be parked on either side and if  two cars wanted to pass in opposite directions usually one would pull over a bit where no cars were parked to let the other through, altough if they drove really slowly they probably could have squeeezed by each other.  I don’t think I ever saw that actually happen.  The reason this is important is that first, the street was really narrow and second, in the middle of any part of the game you could yell car and everyone had to stop and let it by and the play was a do over.  Most of the time there were few cars and the game progressed. Two swings, no pitching and the ball has to land on the street and not hit any car that is parked.

Although I was not a great catcher I was always a really good hitter.  At least when I could throw the ball up in the air and then swing the broom stick into it. I hit a lot of home runs. If there was pitching that was another story. I was not able to get the timing of the ball coming at me.  Maybe it was that I needed glasses and I did not know it until I was 10 or 11. Although the problem with pitching continued even as I got older with glasses. But my hitting progressed even to the schoolyard at Junior High School  172  where the home run became over the second fence and into the handball court; I was still able to hit that far and often.

It was about the only thing that I was able to keep up with with my friend Roger.  We would be on opposite sides and you could play beyond the first fence in the basketball court area and try to catch the fly balls that fell short of the second fence. By this time I had learned how to catch pretty well but still not as well as Roger.  He could grab a fly ball over the first fence out of the air with one hand and blindfolded.  Okay not blindfolded.  But he was good.  Actually it was Roger when we went to Alley Pond Park that taught me how to hit a pitched ball.  By this time I was wearing glasses and I guess I caught up.

I guess we took our bikes to the park and to the school yard.  The park was about a mile away but I remember it as being much farther.  It was huge in my mind.  I remember in the second section up the hill and in the wooded area there were picnic tables and a small pond.  The ground sloped down from all around the pond and you could go fishing there.  I was really young.  I remember my mom being there and I was fishing and caught a small sunfish which my mom took home with us and cooked and I ate it.  I don’t remember the taste but I can still see it frying in the pan. Another time we were at the pond and a big kid pulled out a giant goldfish.  This fish was the biggest fish I ever saw pulled out of any lake.  My mom probably asked about the bait or maybe I did.  He showed us a ball of bread squished around about 8 or 10 small hooks.  I guess the bigger the fish the bigger the bait it bites at.  He must have had some special white bread glue because when I tried it several times later the whole thing would just fall apart.

I did enjoy fishing. I don’t know if it was just the fishing itself or the image of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn that always came to mind. Much of that started during a camping trip at Rudd Pond in Millerton, New York.  I was about 8 and there was another kid there who was my age.  A group of older kids were going out at night to catch “night crawlers.”  These were worms that came out at night and laid most of their wormy body on the grass with just a small part still inside there worm hole in the ground.  We walked along the grass with flashlights partially covered by our hands.  You had to be careful so you didn’t spook them with too much light or noise or maybe vibration.  I don’t think night crawlers have ears. But with patience and practice  you can catch them.  Once you see one you swiftly push your hand down against the part of the worm that extends into its hole so that it cannot get back in.  Then you hold the free end of the crawler tightly and release the other hand.  The crawler tries to move down its hole and if you pull too hard they actually snap in half.  So you have to tease the worm up and down a bit.  Maybe they get tired.  But with a bit of gentle tugging up and down you can pull them out hole and they go into your worm can.  Such fun. Its almost as good as fishing. Although I went on more night crawling junkets I was never able to collect as many crawlers as this first trip with my 8 year old guide.

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