"Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad..."
A few years ago, Himself and I went to Cooperstown, to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (With a once-upon-a-time effort at a lit degree, I might be excused for explaining that it was baseball, not James Fenimore Cooper, what drew me there.)
"Just to root for the home town crew,
When you go in they have a small movie theatre that's decked out as a baseball stadium. There's a certain quaintness to it, to my mind, rather than corny or OTT tourist-y. They show a short film, a brief overview of the history of baseball, including B&W photos and clips from old newsreels and so forth.
"On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said 'No,
I'll tell you what you can do...'"
At the end they play a filmstrip with words on the screen, with musical accompaniment, and invite the audience to 'follow the bouncing ball.'
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.
Himself started looking around, first in surprise, then in near-amazement, as everyone in the audience joined in. Did we need the words on the screen? Nosireebob, WE didn't - HE would've. He'd never heard the song in his life, and had no idea that all these people would truly sing along. I assured him they would have, even without subtitles, lol.
There have been a few moments during our marriage when the differences in our backgrounds - our cultures, our nationalities - are called to my attention in a big way. That was one of them.
What brought this to mind now is our being in the midst of rerunning Ken Burns' documentary, 'Baseball.'
Each night, after we both get to bed (one of us being prone to keeping the computer on late - and no, taint me; I read), we watch television for a half-hour or so. We don't watch 'live' broadcasts, or even anything necessarily recent. We work our way thru our (somewhat limited) DVD library, re-watching favorite films, old sitcoms, documentaries, series we either recorded or were gifted.
A few days ago we finished doing another run-thru of 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' (The idea being we would go see #4 when we were finished, which we have not done and at this rate, it will be out on DVD by the time we get around to it, so we will undoubtedly end up with a copy and watch the first three all over again as a prelude. Not that I mind. I remember '21 Jump Street,' and a lot of John Waters' 'CryBaby' was filmed in my central-Maryland hometown. Those of you who follow Johnny Depp will get the connection. But I digress.)
The next night Himself said 'I thought we might watch the baseball series again.' Fine by me. I watched it when it aired on PBS (early '90s?), and after we bought it at Cooperstown (well, you gotta have a souvenir, right?), and we watched it once more after that, but it's been a while, and heck, that's why we wanted it in the first place, because we knew we'd watch it more than once.
I'd forgotten just what a lovely piece of work it is.
Baseball is one of the few 'real' sports I played when I was growing up. At my elementary school (a small one, with six classrooms, in a rural farming community) 'the boys' didn't question letting 'the girls' play baseball: if we hadn't had co-ed teams, there wouldn't have been any baseball. As it was we usually played one grade against another, just to get enough people.
[Note to BakerBarbara: yes, we played the grade ahead of us - Roxanne, Holly, and your brother were among the players I remember. And I'm telling you, Holly could knock it out of the diamond, field like a pro, and probably captained the team more than once. More than one baseball was lost over toward Mr Hoff's field, thanks to her.]
The school sports equipment provided softballs. Hah. We brought our own stuff in, and we played hardball. Softball was for wimps.
I don't remember a time I didn't know how to play. I can remember - just - watching one of my uncles (he's only eight years older than I am) play Little League. I was probably about four. And I remember falling asleep on summer nights listening not to music but to the broadcast of a baseball game, as my father tuned in.
Those were the days when local games would be 'blacked out' on television, and he was first and foremost an Orioles fan, so home games were only available by radio.
You native Baltimorons will know what I mean. Drifting off to the great Chuck Thompson, 'And it's a high fly ball, out to center field...'
There's a display at Cooperstown devoted to notable baseball announcers. And yes, Chuck is there, distinguished with a bio and a nice picture. (It was years before I knew what he looked like, but I'd have known his voice anywhere.)
All of this is so alien to Himself. He enjoys hearing about my memories of the game, and he has learned a lot of baseball lore from the documentary and from Cooperstown and so on. One of my stepsons even picked up an interest, and now plays baseball on a London team comprised of 'British fans of American baseball.'
Himself is as intrigued by, as curious about, Americanisms as I am by things British. What he doesn't recognize, though, can still surprise me.
I grew up in the mid-Atlantic region, and at this time of year, lightning bugs are everywhere. There are none in the UK. Since we've only visited America in the spring or autumn, Himself has never seen them.
Somewhere in the mid-1980s I was sitting in the backyard one June twilight with my ex-husband's mother.* My children were something like 3 and 5. For whatever reason, it was a good year for lightning bugs - they were all around us, twinkling lights everywhere. My mother-in-law swept her hand thru the air, and came up with the better part of a dozen, in one fell swoop, to the delight of the kids.
*She's gone now, Lord rest her soul. Since the ex and I were divorced long before she died, I've never been sure whether I should refer to her as 'my ex-late-mother-in-law' or 'my late-ex-mother-in-law.' I dislike referring to her as my mother-in-law, simply because I feel it somehow slights my current mother-in-law, who holds the title, even though she also is now late. Eh. The way my mind works.
I haven't seen any lightning bugs in well over ten years. Himself's birthday is in late June, and I've promised him one of these years we'll go to the US for his birthday, and I will show him real lightning bugs.
Sometimes - not often, but occasionally - I get just a little homesick, y'know?
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are.