Childhood Dreams

From my earliest time of remembering I wanted to be three things, a cowboy [lol, cowgirl], a pro ball player, and a Marine.

I started playing ball in second or third grade. We lived across the street from my school. In the summer time, Little League Baseball always had games or practice. So I would watch. I loved the game. Then there was my Mom, who loved to watch the games on TV. She was quite a good ballplayer herself as a kid so she would get out on the ball field or in the yard at home. Often, we would be still playing after dark and the neighbors would have their porch lights on so we could see.

We also played a game called 500. If I remember correctly, one person would hit the ball to the rest of us out on the field. Then, they would lay the bat down and whoever caught the ball had to roll the ball in and have it hit the bat. The batter had to catch the ball before it hit the ground. It has been so long now, I can’t remember how one got 500 and their turn to hit the ball. But, I believe catching a fly ball gave you more points.

When there was no one to play with, I simply threw the ball up in the air, over and over catching it as it came down. I never got too tired to play ball. I drove the boys on the ball field crazy. They didn’t want a “girl” to play. Until they found out I was a good ball player, I was always chosen last. But even then some of the guys on the little league in my class would give me a hard time. The girls were the worse though. Girls didn’t play ball so they just wouldn’t talk to me. But, I didn’t really care as long as I could play ball.

Every year I prayed for a glove and a bat. Every year I got another damn doll for Christmas! I hated dolls. The only thing I wanted if I could’t have my glove and bat were those bags of Toy Soldiers, Cowboys and Indians, Lincoln logs, or Cowboy guns and holsters. But God how I hated dolls. Finally, my parents saved enough S&H Green stamps that I got a glove. I was left handed but I play ball right handed. Go figure! So my parents had to exchange it for the correct hand. And, I got a 32 inch Louisville Slugger. That Christmas I felt like I died and went to heaven. I didn’t care if I never got another thing for Christmas again as long as I lived. My dream had come true!

That damn bat was so big and heavy I had to drag it behind me. But, I didn’t care because it was all mine. I soon learned to choke up on the bat and then I could hit the ball. At first I used to practically beat myself up and stay covered with bruises. But once I figured out how to hold it just right I was ready for action. It had perfect balance. When I got a good pitch, I could really whack that ball out into the outfield. But that bat had one other advantage. It guaranteed I got to play ball. All the guys wanted to use my bat. If they didn’t let me play, I wouldn’t let them use my bat.

I played outfield. I could catch just about anything that I could reach. I took my glove and tightened the laces. Then I took saddle soap and cleaned the leather. I’d put my ball in my glove and put rubber bands around the glove so I had a perfect pocket. Then often I slept with my glove so no one messed with it. I took the football and threw it so I could throw the baseball further. I also played touch or tackle football. God, I was this skinny, quite, dainty little girl, that turned into a loud mouth monster on the ball field. Batters and umpires got no mercy from me. And, I could peg third base or home plate from left or center field. In high school I often had one or two home runs in a game.

When I wasn’t playing ball, I played soldier, cowboys, or cowboys and Indians. I could run up to a chain link fence on a get away and grab it with one hand and hop over it cleanly and escape. I used to keep one neighbor’s two boys and we played for hours. They always teased me that they never worried about the boys when I watched them. They knew we’d either play ball or cowboys. Or if they misbehaved I’d kick their butts. If anyone messed with them I’d kick their butts. Either way the kids would be OK.

You see I had a lot of fights because I played ball. Once the boys found out I finally got tired of being teased and would fight back they would always try to pick a fight. But that soon stopped when I learned how to kick their butts or they found out they couldn’t use my bat. Then I only had to contend with the older girls. But once they found out I’d ride my bike to the store after school and get them stuff while they were still in school and bring it to them on the playground during recess, they left me alone too!

Once a bully and his two brothers took my bike and my two sister’s bikes. I asked them to give them back. They refused. So I beat up his two brothers and they left. Then I beat him up too. He was bigger than me but by the time I got to him I was pretty mad. So I finally got him off me and sat on his chest. Then I put my knees on his arms so he couldn’t hit me any more and I let him have it. A neighbor saw it all. He had to drag me off him. I was so upset by them I pulled and kicked at him all the way home.

He was laughing as he told my mom what happened. She finally had to slap me to calm me down. Then she sent me to my room for a while to calm down. I wasn’t in my room any time before I heard a knock on the front door. My mom answered the door to a slightly prissy, snobby lady and a husky boy with blacks eyes and a split lip about three inches taller than me. She pulled her son forward and said,
“I just want to show you what your son did to my Chuckie!”

My mother asked her to hold on for a moment so she could get her “son.” She sent my sister to tell me to come to the front door. My mom said, “This is my son that ‘your’ son and two brothers fought.” “Chuckie’s” mom looked at me. Then she looked at Chuckie. She grabbed him by the ear and started storming off the porch toward their home. As they walked down the sidewalk you could hear her say, ‘Chuckie, you fought a ‘girl’ and you let her beat you up like this?” I went to school with Chickie for 2 and 1/2 years after that. Every time Chuckie saw me in the hall he turned around and went the other way. I never did tell anyone I beat him up.

The only fight I ever lost, and the last fight I had, because I went into middle school, I lost because I had on green tights. I hated those damn tights and when the boy sat on top of me to hold me down to fight I let him win. I couldn’t win without everyone seeing the bottom of my ugly tights. The poor dummy. When he slapped me for giving him back a comment as rude as his, he never expected me to hit him back. The guys urged him on. He would have lost face if he didn’t fight. But then he was taught not to fight, especially girls. So he felt really bad later.

Lol, I still won that fight. He just didn’t know it! That ended an illustrious career. My mom swore she went to school more for me fighting than all three of my brothers combined. I wasn’t a trouble maker. I would do anything to avoid as fight. But, once the other kids found out that they could provoke me they pushed the right buttons. Then I finally grew up!

Along with that momentous event came two sad revelations. I could not be a real cowboy and pro baseball was out. I could still play in high school and on summer leagues. That was a real letdown. But I still had my other dream. I could join the Marine Corps! I never gave up on that dream.

I really don’t know what made me want to join. Maybe it was all the war movies my dad watched with all those old stars who were bigger than life. Maybe it was because he was in “the war.” But dad never talked about the war except to let us know he hated camping and the Red Cross. He hated the Red Cross because they made the American soldiers pay for their coffee and doughnuts when they came into port. Supposedly that was because they charged the British troops. He felt they ought to give them to all the soldiers free.

Dad had a saying. Whenever we would talk about some kid’s dad from “the war,” Korea, or Vietnam, and their medals and how their dad was a hero, dad would always say, “Heroes don’t talk about the war!” They don’t talk about their medals. They don’t brag about killing. We didn’t know until after dad died about all the medals he had from the Philippines while serving under MacArthur or the ones he got under Patton later. He and my mom were married 35 years and even she didn’t know.

Actually, I think dad was right and wrong at the same time. He didn’t need to brag about the medals or even have to mention them. But, he might have had a less isolated life had he, like so many other soldiers from past wars, been able to talk about the war. Get rid of the excess baggage. But that was another time. Society wasn’t responsible enough, knowledgeable enough to realize or consider all that our troops suffered in silence.


~ by devildog6771 on March 2, 2006.

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