World was serious about the World Series

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

I loved the school cook.

If she hadn’t been married, I’d have been bringing flowers to her front door.

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She made Jell-O the way I liked it, without junk in it.

Hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes, tater tot hotdish, beanie weenies, pizza burgers, and goulash ruled while I drooled.

In grade school, I gave my teacher a pineapple. I figured if an apple placed me in a better light, a pineapple would make me shine like a gem. And no one was the wiser, especially me.

My bus driver loved the school bus, but only when it was empty. I rode that bus to school every day. I did my homework on the bus. It was nice to have an office with that many windows.

I became a passenger on an unfamiliar bus that was just like every other bus because I’d moved onto a different and larger school where I was required to move from one classroom to another. I was lucky that I enjoyed travel. I was supposed to learn things after all that traveling. The teachers expected a lot. Everything was a teachable moment.

I was in the 7th grade. No more pineapple presents.

I inherited older classmates who didn’t know the meaning of quit. That’s why they were still in school. They found that school was so much fun, they almost liked being there. One wasn’t particularly well behaved and he wasn’t a good student. He’d never experimented with homework. To make matters worse, he had perfect attendance.

We had first hour, second hour, third hour — you get the idea. Sometimes they were called first period, second period, third period, well, if you figured out the hours, you’ve likely got a good idea as to how the period thing went down. Each hour was a FLAP — Frantic Learning Activity Period. I had developed an appreciation for the fall classic, the World Series. The bell rang like an alarm sounding, alerting us to move from class to class. In English class, I’d learned that I’d be crestfallen if I were unable to listen to the World Series game. I’d already spilled my milk for lunch and struggled to stay awake during the digestion of food hour. That meant it was the World Series hour. English, science, history — were all a part of a World Series game.

I didn’t know if I was smart, but I’d reached that magical age where I figured I was smarter than my teachers. I was so sharp that I’d already considered college. I’d saved enough money to go to a fine university. No big deal. A bus ticket wasn’t all that expensive.

I owned a GE transistor AM radio. It was a tiny device with great reception capabilities and a white, genuine imitation leather outer covering. I fell asleep listening to it every night. I used an earphone as a supreme earwax remover. I listened to distant stations and received QSL cards from them as confirmation. This odd activity was called DXing.

I took my radio to school. I put it in my pants pocket, the pocket that didn’t contain my lucky rabbit’s foot and Barlow jackknife. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, even though it made me warm. I ran the earphone cord up from the pocket of my pants, under my shirt and through its sleeve to the palm of my left hand. I leaned my ear onto my left hand to listen while writing things with my right hand to appear industrious. That wasn’t an uncommon position for me. My hamster occasionally fell asleep at the wheel. I’d sit with the vacant look of a sheep following a serious dipping.

I had a grappling hook in my desk in case I needed to climb out the window of Room 243, the big study hall, to find a perfect listening point.

The hook wasn’t needed. My desk was in a strong signal area and it wasn’t hard to find a station carrying the World Series game.

I wasn’t aware of the personal blemishes of players in those days. They were heroes. It wasn’t easy listening to a baseball game. It’s difficult not to spit while listening to or watching baseball. Spitting was frowned upon in all but a couple of classes.

I listened to the game for an hour.

My teachers were smart, but not smart enough. I put things over on them.

As I left the classroom, smug in my superiority, my teacher asked, “What’s the score?”

Like a boy who’d been run over by a turtle, I had nothing to say.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.