Thursday, March 3, 2011

Transporting on the time machine

This column appeared several weeks ago in The Lebanon Democrat. I love the story for several reasons. Reports from home indicate J.B. Leftwich, a major character in this story is not doing well after several strokes at 90. He has been an incredible influence on my life and he and his family are as close to family as we can get. I am thinking of him as i post this.

SAN DIEGO – Occasionally in the Southwest corner, Captain Kirk’s transporter and H.G. Wells’ time machine have been combined to take me back home and the past.

Unfortunately, my transporting time machine has some dead zones. The contraption can take me to places I remember as if I am living in the moment again. Yet there are also many events I have forgotten completely. Then, beaming cannot be accomplished.

Folks in Lebanon, both friends and family, seem to recall a great deal more than me.
Perhaps the Star Trek transporter part is not required for those in Lebanon, and that function has some kinks in distances over 2000 miles.

In a quiet moment, my combo time-space travel machine will magically snatch me up and send me back to memories.

Just the other day, I went back to Tower, the Castle Heights building with cadet barracks on the upper floors. On the first floor, Major Lindsey Donnell’s classroom was located in the north front corner. Back of that room was Colonel Harvey L. Brown’s small classroom where the mustachioed colonel brought calculus and analytical geometry into reality.

The south side of the building belonged to Major J.B. Leftwich. His mathematics classroom was in front and the yearbook and newspaper office was in the back. A door connected the two so the major could easily access the two without passing through the hall.

I was transported to Tower on Thursday, October 13, 1960. Mike Dixon was sports editor of the “Cavalier,” the award winning newspaper. He and I skipped lunch formation. We hid in that office, turned on the radio at low volume, and put our ears close.

It was my first and last time to skip any formations in my four years at Heights. I believe it was Mike’s first as well. But our mission was important. We were listening to the seventh game of the World Series.

Mike and I were anomalies for Lebanon at the time. The majority of sports-minded citizens were St. Louis fans. The Cardinals were the closest major league team to the Southeast. There were Yankee fans, including my father, David Hall, the Cavalier editor, and Eddie Callis. I don’t know if Eddie skipped anything over at Lebanon High School to listen to the game. I hope so.

Mike and I had been died-in-the-wool Pittsburgh fans since the early 1950s. We could recite batting averages and earned runs of every Pirate and even mimicked their batting stances when we played our backyard whiffle ball baseball.

Thinking back, our knowledge was amazing considering we saw the Pirates only on rare “Game of the Week” Saturday broadcasts sponsored by Falstaff Beer and announced by Dizzy Dean (Pee Wee Reese joined Dean at CBS that 1960 season), and nearly all of our statistical information came from the weekly “Sporting News.”

In the previous six games, the Yankees had outscored the “Buccos” 52-10, but somehow our beloved Pirates had won three close games, forcing the final game in Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field.

The Pirates’ early lead vanished in the middle innings. We were quiet in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Yanks leading, 7-4. But the Pirates scored five runs in the bottom half. Our excitement grew but was quickly deflated when New York added two runs and tied the game at nine in the top of the ninth. With Pittsburgh at the plate in the bottom of the inning, Mike and I stood as Bill Mazeroski came to bat against Ralph Terry. On the second pitch, the Pirate second-baseman drove the ball over the left-field wall.

Pandemonium struck the 36,683 attendees in Pittsburgh. It also struck in the Cavalier office. Mike and I whooped and jumped up and down on the desks.


Major Leftwich also had missed lunch but to grade papers. He came through that door and caught Mike and me in the middle of leaps for joy.

I can still feel the shock of getting caught, but it did not dim the glow of victory. I was chagrin to be facing Colonel Dan Ingram, the commandant, the next day. Major Leftwich had put us on report. Fortunately, the wiry Virginian only gave me five demerits, two short of requiring me to march the “bullring” in punishment.

I blamed it on Mike.

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