THE DIVINE MUM of Crocus Hill has sent us her husband’s ‘Little League Coach’s Diary, Vol. X, Ch. 1′: “’And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon . . . . And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.’ — Terence Mann to Ray Kinsella, in ‘Field of Dreams’
“In 1911, the Minnesota State Legislature conveyed a large tract of land to the City of St. Paul on condition that it be used ‘for educational purposes, and as a perpetual play ground for the children of said city.’ Much of that land, just west of Central High School, became the fields on which the Midway baseball league began hosting games when the league formed 33 years ago.
“Our kids got to be part of good baseball on beautiful green fields, but in a recreational setting where they played against their neighbors and classmates, not against travel teams 20 miles away. Unfortunately, Midway’s enrollment began dropping eight or nine years ago, and after it canceled its season in 2020, its numbers fell off the table.
“On Friday, January 13th, the Midway league announced that it was closing down. This makes me so sad.
“No activity has connected me to more kids and more parents and more friendships than being part of the Midway league — not the kids’ schools, not my job, not coaching other sports, not anything.
“As a coach, I gave my time, but I was the one who benefited.
“I coached all three kids at Midway in literally hundreds of games. I am still in touch with many of the kids and parents — and when I see them around town, at restaurants or ballgames or the supermarket, it is always fun to say hello and talk about fun memories on the immaculate Jim Kelley and Billy Peterson fields. Many of those kids grew to love the game so much that they are still playing in high school, or college, or adult leagues.
“St. Paul has other excellent leagues where kids can play baseball. But the 100-year-old vision of a ‘perpetual play ground’ for the children of St. Paul that the Midway league fulfilled so well for thousands of families is diminished.
“For our family and many others, Midway was where it happened. It was close to home. The green grass, high mounds and manicured infields were better than I saw anywhere else in 10 years of coaching. The bleachers were full of conversation. Siblings often played at the same time on neighboring fields. A freeze pop in the concession stand behind home plate cost 25 cents. The Dairy Queen less than a mile away regularly was filled with kids wearing their Midway jerseys after games. It was fun, in every way.
“I remember the thrill every time I penciled in one girl to start at pitcher and her twin sister at catcher. I remember losing the 11U championship game 1-0 and the tears that flowed. I remember convincing a non-pitcher that he should pitch, and his grandparents’ coming to the game to watch it happen.
“Now it’s gone. We will never know the full extent of the loss. How can one count friendships that won’t develop, neighbors that won’t get to meet each other, and memories that won’t be made?
“I can only hope the next generation finds somewhere the joy that we found, as if we had dipped ourselves in magic waters, watching our kids grow up on St. Paul’s perpetual play ground.”
The vision thing
CEECEE of Mahtomedi: “Subject: The Old Salty Dog.
“TeeCee and I sat down in a booth at The Old Salty Dog restaurant in Venice, Florida. Shortly after being seated, TeeCee saw this image of the old salty dog itself in a knot in the wood of the table. It appears to have a broken nose and maybe a black eye.
“We think it is haunting the place!”
Then & Now
JOHN IN HIGHLAND writes: “Subject: Bring Back the Red Balls.
“As if driving in winter isn’t dangerous enough, the recent heavy snows have resulted in huge piles of snow accumulating at intersections and on sidewalks. When I walk my kids’ dogs, the sides of the walkways are so high with snow that they can’t be bothered to attempt to jump up and make a deposit in somebody’s yard, but do it right there on the sidewalk. [Bulletin Board is confident that JOHN IN HIGHLAND doesn’t need the obvious interjection called for here.]
“It is impossible for drivers to see cross-traffic when stopped at many intersections. You have to creep out and hope that some speed demon is not coming by.
“Back in the 1960s, some genius came up with the idea of putting a red ball on top of their car’s antenna so that other drivers could see that a car was coming. The practice caught on, and soon there were red balls going by everywhere. The Union 76 stations came out with their own version: orange balls with the number 76 on them.
“It’s too bad that cars today do not have external antennas.”
Life as we know it
GRANDMA PAT, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Often I look around my senior apartment and think: ‘Too much stuff.’ I am reminded of a homily that I heard many years ago in Western Wisconsin. The priest said: ‘Remember, behind the hearse there will be no U-Haul.’
“I have kept this in mind somewhat. Before I moved here, I dispersed so many items to sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. Many things were sold at garage sales and online, but still too much is left.
“Gone are the china, the silver, the wicker furniture, and the antique china cabinet. Even such things as wind chimes, bird baths, jars of buttons, and deer antlers which I had found in the woods were sold. Still too much is left.
“I look around now and ask myself: Do I really need the Irish egg coddlers? Probably not. Do I need the framed sheet music from Al Smith’s presidential campaign of 1928, the Marines’ WWII song ‘From the Halls of Montezuma,’ the Air Force song ‘Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer,’ or ‘Any Bonds Today’? Probably not. And yet these items bring back memories and make me smile. What to do?
“Wish me luck.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Good luck to you, GRANDMA PAT. Save everything that should be saved! Someday, many years from now, those things will bring back memories of you and make your family smile.
Joy of Juxtaposition … Or: Only a ______ would notice!
THE RETIRED PEDAGOGUE of Arden Hills reports: “Subject: A Biblical experience?
“As I looked around the table at a recent family gathering at a local restaurant, a feeling came over me that was hard to explain. It was almost as if I’d been transported to another place and time in history. It was pleasant and disconcerting at the same time.
“Then I realized what was causing the sensation:
“The server was Adam.
“A family member was Eve.
“We were eating in the Garden.
“I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but . . .”
CAUTION! Words at [email protected]@
BILL OF THE RIVER LAKE reports: “Subject: Family pride.
“Our family really enjoys watching various nature and vet shows on TV — so captivating, with amazing and patient camera work, also with closeups and drones.
“Some of our favorite animals are the lions. We know that they are very effective predators and take great ‘pride’ in their hunt. If they have a motto, I believe it would be: ‘The family that preys together stays together.’”
The verbing of America … Passive Division
Email from DONALD: “This verbing was used twice in photo captions in the Pioneer Press in reference to the winner of the Klondike Kate contest in connection with the St. Paul Winter Carnival:
“Front page on January 12: ‘Maret Bylander of Stillwater, right, this year’s Klondike Kate, is sashed . . .’
“Page A3 on January 15: ‘2023 Klondike Kate Maret Bylander of Stillwater waves to the crowd after being sashed . . .’”
There’s nothin’ like a simile! … In Memoriam Division
From ARON KAHN, “former Pioneer Press writer”: “Subject: Beautiful writing.
“Terrific guitarist Jeff Beck passed away in England. Sad, of course. Below is a beautiful paragraph from a quick New York Times obit, later updated: ‘Drawing on such techniques, Mr. Beck could weaponize his strings to hit like a stun gun, or caress them to express what felt like a kiss. His work had humor too, with licks that could cackle and leads that could tease.’
Could be verse!
From TIM TORKILDSON: “I like a bowl of chili upon a winter’s morn;
“with lots of cumin powder and gobs of peppercorn.
“It braces me for labor throughout the weary day,
“and with the fumes resulting, it keeps the bores away.”
Ah, the smell of it! … Plus: Now & Then
Both from KATHY S. of St. Paul: (1) “An observation about incense: Catholic funerals are where Lutherans go to find out they are allergic to incense.
“When I am stranded on the front steps waiting it out, I explain to them why they are wheezing. And they tell me they don’t have allergies.”
(2) “Subject: How times has changed.
“A recent email from Biblio.com highlighted Madonna’s book ‘Sex,’ currently worth much more than it sold for when new. To remind us how times have changed: I believe that is the book that the Minneapolis Public Library system bought one copy of, as the head of the system wrote to Madonna to explain that a copy was bought in the interest of free speech and intellectual freedom. The one copy of the book was immediately stolen, but never replaced. This all made sense to librarians of my generation, raised to protect free speech.
“Some other popular books that tended to be stolen covered symbols useful for tattoos, growing illegal substances, and Cliff’s Notes versions of books that students were required to read — but never did until it was too late.
“Anyone who believes the old stereotype of librarians as stiff old maids was woefully misinformed.”
Live and learn
From Al B of Hartland: “I’ve learned . . .
“In space, there are no sounds except those made by leaf blowers.
“Grandfathers are fathers with fewer rules.
“Mosquito repellent wears off before the mosquitoes wear out.
“Most people will try anything as long as it’s a free sample at a supermarket.
“The easiest way to be thought smart is to listen to others.
“Right this minute, most long-married couples are yelling “What?” from separate rooms.
“Only fools are certain. I’m certain about that.”
BAND NAME OF THE DAY: Klondike Kate & Her Stiff Old Maids
Sunday Bulletin Board: How hard can it be to lift your hand for a friendly little thank-you wave?
Sunday Bulletin Board: Why did a picture of a simple soup make this woman ‘grovel in shame’?
Sunday Bulletin Board: “Suddenly a green flash of light blinded Santa . . . “