2020: Y – April A to Z… Family Stories
I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I’ve racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…
Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!
From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat once resembled Coney Island… and even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories… remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!
My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
Come sit a spell and enjoy!
I was at Yankee Stadium when Roger Maris hit his 61st Home Run!
“The First baseball game I ever went to… was watching Yogi Berra (No 8). We had tickets right behind 1st base. In these photos, Yogi had just been up to bat, and was on first base… I took this photo with my Kodak Argus camera. No zoom features on those cameras… if you were far away… you were just far away!”
“I only went to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York twice – and only because Uncle Pete (Insalaco) was given free tickets from where he worked. The game I most remember was the one where Roger Maris (No. 9) hit his sixty-first home run and broke Babe Ruth’s record of sixty hits in 1927. I was there on October 1, 1961 (Sunday), sitting in box seats behind third base. It was the fourth inning of the last game of the season… between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Everyone stood up applauding as he walked into the dugout… and the fans kept applauding in wanting him to come back out; the players had to push him back out to take a bow… that’s how humble he was. I took a photo of him on the field that day and still have it today.”
“I don’t ever remember eating a hot dog at the games… things were too expensive to us back then… if you were lucky enough to go to the game, you enjoyed the game, not buying all the money making additions.”
I was at Yankee Stadium when Roger Maris hit his 61st Home Run on Oct 1, 1961 – it was a warm Sunday afternoon. We were behind 3rd base with box seats for this game.
“We had upper deck 3rd base box seats on the day of the game… Uncle Pete had gotten the tickets; he was a salesman and often was given tickets; I went with his sister Martha (my aunt). Martha drove her VW to cousin Horace’s house in New York, and he dropped us off right at the gate; the game was played at the Old Yankee Stadium… Horace only lived about 5 miles away.”
“New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris capped one of the most spectacular seasons in baseball history… with one swing of the bat, he became the major-league single-season home-run leader. Roger Maris retired in 1984… and the Yankees retired his number “9.” The fans called Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris the M&M kids. Mickey Mantle could bat right or left handed and even catch a ball behind his back. I was there the day he hit the ball out of the park… it landing on a street nearby. I even had the actual baseball card showing the ball on the street below his picture. He was one of the fastest runners in baseball.”
“For all its historic potential, the reported crowd was little more than a third of what the iconic Yankee Stadium could hold. But in its own way, that lackluster crowd saw history made when Maris broke Babe Ruth’s world record. It was the last game of the season… and his last time at bat. The Yankees went to the World Series playoffs the following Wednesday. The crowds were never in the stands back then like today, people weren’t that free with their money… there were never sold-out games.“
“I never sat in the house watching baseball on TV, I was always out and busy. I played the game, but I found it boring to just sit and watch. Going to the game was a different story though, you could look around and watch people… I’m a people watcher. It’s like going to church, you look around at people… who’s wearing what, and being a guy, I’m looking at women, which is what I’ve done all my life.”
“I remember when I wanted to try out for the little league team at school, my father said, “if you can’t play good enough to be professional, then don’t abuse your body. He felt that if baseball was going to be your life, you lived everyday with that ball in your hand. I guess he already knew about aches and pains and was trying to save me grief. I didn’t believe his thoughts, but I sure do now… but as a kid, old age seemed far away.. sure came quicker than I ever thought.”
Maris’ status as an emerging star was soon swept aside when the NY Yankees traded for him on December 11, 1959… trading from Kansas City Athletics… he had only been a left-handed hitting kid from the Midwest.
“My father went to see a World Series game in 1960 when the New York Yankees were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates; it was the third game and played on Oct. 8th. They beat the Yankees that night, 10 to 0. My father saw Bobby Richardson, a second baseman, hit a grand slammer… don’t see that often; but in the end the Pirates won the pennant. There was still snow on the ground when they went as we had just had a blizzard earlier in the week. That was another game Uncle Pete had gotten tickets for, but being a school day, I was made to go to school.”
“I had that very baseball card of Bobby Richardson… I had them all! I won so many baseball cards one day… and only started playing with 47… while another kid had a huge pile of cards. We called the game “Leanzees”…. one card leaned up against the wall… you’d throw your card, and if you knocked over the leaner, you won the pot. I won 400 plus cards that day… winning all the cards that day!”
“I never liked bubble gum, so I never bought many cards; they were like 2 cents a pack… money wasn’t easy to come by when I was a kid, and I didn’t have money to throw away on cards. I still had all those cards when I left for the Air Force. I kept all my things… kept in my drawer in a little box. But they weren’t there when I came home… my brother ransacked pretty much everything I had while I was gone. What I got the maddest over was how he took all my 45’s and cut a hole in those nice jackets so he could see the names… always too lazy to just put the record back in the correct/original jacket.”
“My favorite baseball player was always Yogi Berra – and I loved the song “YOGI” by the Ivy Three that came out in 1960. I heard it on the radio just the other day, and it brought back memories of when I used to hear it new; all the radio stations played it daily. I actually still have the 45 of it – Dolly gave it to me. The Ivy Three only made that one record… and then they never played together again.”
“Yogi Berra had quite a few sayings – one was “It ain’t over till it’s over”… and in the game of baseball that was very true. He also said “you learn a lot by watching people”… and that’s one thing I have always liked to do. You learn by watching, you don’t learn everything from books.”
“It was a Friday nite when I went to the game and the Yankee Clubhouse with my father and Uncle Pete… he always drove as he knew where to park. The Yankee Clubhouse was right across from the stadium and he took my picture in front of Babe Ruth’s retired No. 5.”
Uncle Pete took my photo at the Yankee Clubhouse… he had taken my father and I to the game to see the New York Yankees play.
© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved