|Mom and Dad about 1959.|
On baseball nights, when Dad was going with his buddy, the grocery store meat market manager, to see the Augusta Pirates of the South Atlantic League, or “Sally” League (a team Ty Cobb had played for 50 years earlier), he’d be giddy, cracking wise and belting that big laugh out of his belly as Mom skittered around trying to get him out of the house.
Mom busied herself with boiled or roasted peanuts that she put into a mid-sized grocery bag, dad being a man of large appetite. Ball clubs let you bring in your own food in, which was a good thing because, with our limited income, Dad would likely have gone without. He never made much more than $5,500—little even by the standards of the time—and he sure worked for it.
Dad begged and pleaded for years for Mom to go to a ballgame with him, but she wasn’t interested, to begin with, and had all those danged children to take care of, besides. Then one night, I watched her get ready while the peanuts were roasting and asked, “Where you going, mama?”
“I’m going to the baseball game with your daddy and I want you kids to behave yourself and for you to watch Becky and Paul and don’t let them get hurt.”
“Me, why me?” I whined. “Why don’t you make Sandy do it?”
“Danny”—Mom was the last person on earth allowed to call me that god-awful name—“just do what I ask you to do this once without arguing about it. You know I never go anywhere and I want you to help me this once.”
That shamed me out of a comeback.
Next morning, about 7 o’clock, I responded to frying bacon and baking biscuits—God-almighty, her biscuits were good—by rolling out of bed and making my way to the kitchen before the other kids woke up. Mom was standing at the stove, pancake turner in hand signing a Vaughan Monroe tune, “Racing With the Moon”—she sang almost all of her waking hours—looked over at her half-awake son and smiled. “What brings you out of that warm bed before I have to threaten you?” she asked, a wide smile greeting me.
“How was the ballgame?” I said, more eager to know than I had imagined.
“Well,” she drawled. “We got there, sat down, ate some peanuts, talked a while, ate some more peanuts and talked some more. Your daddy went to the bathroom and when he came back, we ate some more peanuts and talked. Finally, after what seemed like hours, I said, ‘George, when is this game going to start?’
“He looked straight at me, sort of puzzled, and said, ‘Honey, it’s in the seventh inning.’ I never saw anything so slow in my life.”
‘Course, she didn’t go back, but that didn’t interfere with her serving as support for those of us who did.