In these turbulent times when everybody seems to be at somebody’s throat, when there are jobs to be had and people don’t want to work, when great riches are valued over a good name—I often take a break from my computer and repair to the swing that once held sway on my grandmother’s front porch.
That was when I reflected, even in my pre-teen years, about life and my world which didn’t extend much further than the boundaries of the neighboring counties.
Time spent in that swing, which a friend, Ned Hughes, restored, allowed for daydreaming as a bumblebee buzzed about the wisteria vine that climbed up the side of the house. The house was positioned where there was always shade on the porch from the giant oaks which stood nearby. The view across the front yard to the cotton patch was a reminder that our family expected to earn our daily bread by the sweat of our brow.
All we wanted was good health and intermittent rain which would sustain our crops until harvest time. If the Good Lord could take care of that, we would be happy to take care of the rest.
The swing croaked when I tried to make it go faster, bringing about a degree of excitement that caused me to daydream in what was my fast lane. I decided to read more. I aspired to someday visit some of the places I read about. Maybe New York or Boston or Chicago and to see a Big League baseball game. Then I wondered, how I would get there, and if I made it, how would I be able to afford a ticket to get inside?
I envied people who lived in the big cities and had Big League baseball at their disposal. From what I read, everybody seemed so happy and compatible in those expansive baseball parks. Night baseball had come about, but most games were played in the afternoon sunshine, especially the World Series.
Baseball’s long-time traditions were firmly in place. Fans went to the ball game for peanuts, popcorn and crackerjack. The big stars only played for one team their entire career—Joe DiMaggio with the Yankees, Ted Williams with the Red Sox and Stan Musial with the Cardinals.
Life was simpler then.
Look where we are today! Major league baseball came to us when the Braves, anchored in Milwaukee, saw a golden opportunity and great riches in the baseball starved South which had sent many outstanding players to the majors, but whose constituency seldom got to see games live and in living color. You had to have money and connections for that to happen.
Baseball, like all sports, has changed dramatically. Greed now triumphs overall sport, but while most of us can be disgusted at the conflict of ownership and labor, we can still enjoy a trip “out to the ole ball game.”
What is more troubling than the greed of sports are the other issues that dominate the headlines. Such as violent crime. In the era of my grandmother’s swing we had guns but only for putting meat on the table and protection against the home invasion which never happened. Farm families had a simple latch on the back porch.
You disagree with somebody today, even when you are blatantly right, and immediately, you could be facing a drawn pistol. Road rage has ensued into standoffs over the simplest of things. It is not uncommon for such entanglements to evolve into a shootout and murder.
Everybody can’t be affluent or rich, but all should be given the opportunity to enjoy life. I recall getting to know a London taxi driver, who loved the opera. He knew about all the famous operas and had once saved enough money to cross the English Channel and board a train to Milan to take in an opera at La Scala. He never owned his home, he didn’t have a weekend retreat in the country and he never had tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. But he enjoyed a good life, though it was modest and unassuming.
In these troubled times, the prevailing attitude seems to be that if you don’t have something you want, then take if from somebody who has it. If they resist, then shoot them.
The second amendment was put in place so that the right to bear arms allowed one to hunt for his supper and to defend his home. It wasn’t put in place to accommodate theft, rape and killing.
Lately, the way things are going, a resident of a big city can boast to his counterpart in another city: We have more gangs than you do; we committed more murders last year than you did.
Let’s give everybody an opportunity to enjoy life; let’s put up a swing on the porch and daydream. And respect people and their property.