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Monday! Oh Monday!

25980-Its-MondayAs Peoples Gas Co.’s contractors busily dig up the street, sidewalks and alley by DaWat’s Nest, we are…at least for now…enjoying a decently sunny morning. This, however, is only temporary as we are to receive some snow this afternoon…just a half-inch to an inch, which is more of a pain in the keester than anything else. AND, it downright pales in comparison  to what our Joe ‘n’ Whitney are facin’ out nor’east in N’Yawk ‘n’ Bahsten, where they are under blizzard warnings, which according to my “Weather Channel” app says they can expect anywhere’s from a foot-and-a-half to three-feet of snow!! Oh, yeah…as it’s a “blizzard” warning, that means the snow’ll be accompanied by very cold temps and high winds. More on blizzards later. Speakin’ of “high winds”, “TWC” also says Hotlanta, our very own, “Buck-Town”, is under a high wind advisory. Hey, it IS January!

 

OK, let’s get started.

WABBIT STHEASTHON

Hey, kids! What day is it? Why it’s…

 

“National Spouses Day”…Yes, this date has been set aside for all to recognize their spouses and all they mean to us. Not a bad idea. (BTW, the site which lists these “days”, generally lists the originator(s). There is none for this.)

 

…and…

 

“National Peanut Brittle Day”. Again, no source but my SnideySense thinks The American Dental Ass’n., just may be it.

:-)

 

…and…

 

“National Ellen DeJeneres Day”. Yep. You read that right. I like her. I think she’s funny. I don’t care that she prefers women to men. Why should I? Still, one may wonder the source of this. Well, it turns out that, and I quote: “National Ellen DeGeneres Day, an “unofficial” National Observance, is held annually on January 26th.  The registrar at National Day Calendar declared this day in January 2014 due to hundreds of thousands of requests via social media, email and phone calls .” So there.

 

 

 

Then we have our historical view of January 26th, which has some interesting entries courtesy of historynet.com and

HistoryOrb, as far as what’s happened on this date in…

 

1482,   “The Pentateuch” aka “The Torah” or “Jewish Bible”, was first printed in Bologna, Italy.

 

1564,   The Council of Trent made its proclamations as to the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

 

1788,   A fleet of “convict-ships” arrives in Sydney Harbor in Australia, which is now known as Australia’s “National Day”. Judging by the handsome devils they’ve sent here as actors, those convicts mustabeen what passed as 18th-Century “Teen Beat” cover-boys.

 

1808,   The “Rum Rebellion”, the only successful and short-lived, at best, takeover of the Aussie guvm’nt took place. Danged parolees!

 

1837,   Michigan entered the Union as the 26th State.

 

1861,   Luzee-anna seceded from the Union.

 

1871,   A date Grover Norquist reveres, the US Income Tax was repealed.

 

1915,   Rocky Mountain National Park was established. Had the opportunity to ride through it on an Amtrak train. It is beautiful.

 

1934,   The Nazis and Poland signed 10-year non-aggression pact. Those of us, “…of a certain age…”, will recall this quote from the ’60s: “Don’t believe everything you read”, though it seems not getting fooled again was something vowed many times before. Can ou sa, “Bliutzkreig”, Stasczu?

 

1940,   Nazis forbade Polish Jews from riding on trains. Well, not “all” trains, right? Keep moving. Keep moving. Nothing going on here.

 

1960,   While it took 23-votes, Alvin, “Pete” Rozelle was elected  Commissioner to the NFL. While George Halas began the NFL, Rozelle may be considered the “Father” of the modern, multi-billion-dollar organization, whose crowning glory occurs this coming Sunday. It was he who uttered these famous words:”…on any given Sunday…”.

 

1967,   Speakin’ of blizzards…”The Blizzard of ’67″ hit Chicago with 23-inches of snow, which effectively shut ChiTown down. Many reading this have their own memories, as we were kids…some college-aged, but kids nonetheless,,,who are welcome to share their memories. I’ll share mine after this section.

 

1986,   The Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, 46-10. Unfortunately, I was otherwise occupied on that day, thus only saw bits and snatches of DaBears only Super Bowl victory. This was pre-McCaskey Way.

 

 

BARRY, BIBI AND BONER…

-It seems many folks shared my thoughts on Israeli PM, Bibi addressing a joint session of Congress, at the invitation of Speaker of the House, No-Boner-Boehner. It reminded me of a story I’d heard about LBJ and Dem-Idaho Senator, Frank Church back in the late-’50s. Shortly after being elected, Church voted against a measure put forward by then Senate Majority Leader, LBJ. The story goes something like this…shortly afterwards,  a Senate-friend of Church’s  who needed LBJ’s help on a vote called on LBJ. At that point, LBJ is reputed as having told him to, “…go ask Frank Church”.

 

Last time I looked, Congress can do many things. It can limit the power of any President…which is its function. BUT, it cannot sign a law into effect nor send troops abroad for any reason…and even if it votes to declare war, it cannot send any troops anywhere. That’s the purview of the President, aka, the Commander-In-Chief, who has his limitations but can still do many things without any assistance from, and over any resistance by, Congress.

 

So, a “word to the wise” may be directed to Bibi, who seems to enjoy tweaking our President’s nose: Remember Frank Church. The last thing you’ll want to hear if/when it’s not “politically expedient” for you during an election cycle back home, is that the US help you need on a matter of national necessity is not met with  you being told to, “…go ask Boehner”. Just sayin’.

 

-Which brings me to one other thing. There are those…not me, necessarily…who wonder at the “risk/reward” of the US’ backing of Israel. There may be something to that. After all, when it comes to trade; energy; strategery, how much more do they benefit us than say, Britain, Spain, Italy, Greece, or any other members of the EU?

Of course, there are the rightie-tightie Fundamentalist Christians who believe with a zeal only they have, that there must be a free Jerusalem in order for the Second Coming of Jesus, through which they will receive Salvation. Of course, they do not mention to their Jewish brethren that at that time, Jesus will allow them…the Jews…to renounce the Torah, and convert to Christianity and join the F/Cs in being Heaven. Shall they not, they will be cast into Hell.

OK, enough on that.

 

THE BLIZZARD OF ’67.

-Here’s my retelling.

It was a blustery, Thursday morning. I had an 8:00 o’clock class at Northeastern Illinois State College, which was about a mile-and-half from home. I was a 2nd-semester Freshman and as such, had that 8 o’clock class, as y’see, back then, there were no online registrations; much less being computerized. It was a matter of gathering in a large hall; approaching the roster of available classes; figuring out which would work into your shcedule and then hoping against hope that by the time you got to the front of the line, all your classes were still available. Far too often, by then, most were closed. So, with that as a backdrop, the following may make more sense.

My Dad’s job took him right past NISC, so I’d asked him if he’d give me a lift, which he did. However, he started at 7:30, so I had to be read to leave by 7:00, which I was. As we left, there were some wispy, snow flurries in the air and as we got to the school’s parking lot, I watched a “snow-devil” form as the powdery, light fluff of the flurries were swept along the blacktop. I went into school and Dad went on to work. I had a routine on those Thursdays and Fridays when I’d had those 8AM classes. I’d head to the Caf; grab a cup of coffee and sit in a study carrel until it was time to head to class. At this time, I noticed the snow beginning to come down harder, so much so, that by then, it was nearly covering the grass. By 9, when class had ended, the grass was completely covered. Two buddies of mine and I decided to head over to an IHOP, nearby, in Tom’s car. It was  ’54 Merc, with stick…thankfully, it turned out. By the time we’d finished our repasts, the snow had gotten even deeper and, you guessed it, Tom’s car was stuck. (BTW, it was an awful pea-green color. We called it his Nazi-command car.) We pushed him out and headed back to school. The snow was well better than ankle-deep. Not having another class till 4PM…recall that “registration story”…I was left with not much to do. So, as any other red-blooded college freshman, I headed to the pool hall, which was located in the school’s basement,  and shot some straight-pool for a few hours. By the time I headed upstairs, the snow was halfway to covering the outside benches. Some classes began to be cancelled. To alleviate the boredom we were experiencing, many of us headed outside to play football, complete with “diving” catches, using the heavy snow as a “cushion”, if you will. As the afternoon wore on, eventually, my 4PM and 5PM classes were cancelled, so I began heading home. I took a shortcut across the faculty parking lot, when I saw a car stuck. Several of us walked over and helped push out the school’s President, who barely thanked us for that. Oh well. I then started on my trek home and by the time I’d gotten to my street, all I had to do was travel about a mile. Buses were nowhere to be seen. Cars and trucks clogged up the streets. I never thought about walking. Uh-uh. I stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride. Lo and behold, I got one and lo and behold, it was an uncle of mine who picked me up. It took close to an hour for him to get to my house. My dad told us that a “road-grader”, a YUGE piece of equipment used to, literally, “grade” raods to anb even surface, was being used to clear the parking lot at Continental Can. It got stuck. Amazing.

 

I have more but I’ll wait to hear from you to add. Needless to say, it was sumthin’.

 

 

***************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Not much in the way of entertainment nor sports from this past weekend other than…

 

FOOTBALL WITHDRAWAL…

-No football game yesterday. Sorry, the Pro Bowl’s not a football game. Couple that with a minor snowfall, which kept us inside, the only good thing about not having – a minimum of – 6-hours of sports time occupied with NFL football, MBH’s “mac ‘n’ cheese” made for some winter “comfort food”, which helped ease the ennui which we’ll face until Spring Training opens in a few weeks.

 

…and then…

 

 

ERNIE

 

I’ve read most of the obits. Some used the “Mr. Banks”, as is the procedure in same. However, to those of us who grew up in the ’50s and early ’60s, all anyone ever needed to say was, “Ernie” and we all knew who they meant. T’s, Tom and Bill can relate to my recollections, as we grew up together. T-Buck has us by 10-years, so maybe he can share some of his insights as he was a teenager+ to us grade-schoolers. Obviously, Ts Brewski, John, George,  Dave and Nick have their experiences. I’m confining mine to my days in the old neighborhood. Any and all should feel free to add, as Ernie’s popularit exceeded his playing days by decades..

 

A few non-baseball things about Ernie. When he broke in, late in ’53, he was the first black player join the Cubs…a full 6-years after Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in MLB. Six-years. But that’s another story for another day.

 

He grew up, literally, picking cotton in Texas. It’s no wonder that he enjoyed playing baseball in the summer sunshine in Chicago as opposed to picking cotton in the blistering, summer heat in Texas. He never seemed to lose that, either. I commented on m F/B page that on the same day his death was announced, the NFL also announced that any

crotch-grabbing by Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch during next Sunday’s Super Bowl would be met with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. How’s THAT for oppo-sides of the spectrum. A true gentleman and a miscreant of a human being.

 

As kids, we used to go to Cubs Park…we did NOT call it “Wrigley”. That was a Dallas Greenism…early. They used to open the gates much earlier back then and we’d go to watch BP for both teams. One day, I was able to get a “shag” ball that was hit into the bleachers. After the game…don’t recall if they won or lost; probably lost…I stood with about 50 other kids out by the players’ parking lot; waiting to get his autograph. Finally, he came out and I got his autograph on that baseball. I was in heaven! Well, until we were going to play baseball at the park but didn’t have a ball to use…not even one that we’d taped up with electricians tape. So, uh-huh, I went home; got that baseball and we played with it. It didn’t bother me. Hey! I was playing with a for-real Major League Baseball!

 

HOW GOOD WAS ERNIE?

-We’ve all heard about the 512,non-PED-aided homers; his fielding skills, etc. Although, at that time, there was another HOF SS in ChiTown. One Luis Aparicio, whom I consider the best fielding SS I’ve seen. yes, ahead of Ozzie. Li’l Looie played on grass. Oz played on turf. Big difference.

 

Anyway, back to Ernie. Those Cubs teams from the ’50s and ’60s weren’t very good. In fact, the weren’t much better than the planned-debacle of the past, three seasons. From ’55 to ’60, the finished 6th,8th,7th, 5th, 5th and 7th. (There were only 16 teams in MLB; 8-NL; 8-AL.) They won, ahem, 72, 60, 62, 72, 74 and 60 games. Pretty sucky, huh? However, in those years, with no one else in their line-up to speak of, he hit: .295, 44 HR; 117 RBI; .297, 28, 85; .285, 43, 102; .313, 47, 129 (MVP); .304, 45, 143, (MVP) and .271, 41 and 117. Compare those to the present and think of what today’s players get paid.

 

Those numbers average out to a .294 B/A; 41+-homers and 115+ RBI! No wonder kids copied his batting stance! He knew he didn’t need to hit the ball out of the Grand Canon, uh-uh. He knew, a hard hit line-drive that makes it into the bleachers was as much of a homer as any “tape-measure” shot. Yes, I recall the longest balls I’d seen hit but they still only count for one-run…just like those that’d land 5-rows into the bleachers.

As kids, we learned from Ernie…as well as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle…how to “swing level, snapping our wrists at the point of contact” to drive the ball a long way. Also, in his 19-season as a Cub, he struck out more than 90-times, only twice: 93 in ’67 and 101 in ’69, when he was still decent but past his prime. Otherwise, he only K’d 80+ times three times. Otherwise it was less. For a power-hitter, that’s something. (Hear that, Javy?)

 

Speaking of Aaron, Mantle and Mays, this was baseball’s “Golden Age”. It was pre-expansion, with 350-fewer players as now. Think about that. There are guys on MLB rosters now who wouldn’t even be in “A” ball then. Oh well, another story for another day. I’m not sure, but I think there may be more HOF players..perhaps not…from that era than any other, which make his numbers even more impressive.

 

ERNIE AS A MAN…

-He was a gentleman. He was also a gentle man. Those are compliments. He always knew how good he was, no doubt. But you’d never hear him refer to himself as the “straw that stirs the drink”; or read about his gonadal-grabs after a score or anything like that. He let his play on the field do his talking, as well as letting others heap praises on him, rather than he upon himself.  He never stood in the batters box; admiring a ball he’d hit. He knew where it was going and what it was. The crowd let him know.

 

It’s been said that when Leo Durocher took over, he didn’t like Ernie for whatever reason and let him know it. Did Ernie cry to the press? No. He just kept playing to the best of his ability. And after he switched to 1st from SS, he was about as good a fielding 1st-sacker as there was.

 

Cub fans will miss him as well they should. He always looked for the positive…despite how difficult that it’s been recently.

 

I’m going to close with these words I shared with MBH. If they could get some of his DNA; clone it and just “sprinkle” a little across all professional athletes, pro sports would be far more enjoyable to watch.

 

A class act is gone and we’re the ones who lose.

Take care. Have a great day and please, feel free to add your comments on the Blizzard and/or Ernie, while remembering that any day we wake up not staring up at daisy roots, is a good one…blizzard or no.

 

DaBigFatWat

 


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