Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Home Town

Ebbets Field, Brooklyn NY
I must admit to some fondness for my "home town" of Brooklyn, New York.

It has been a long time since I lived there - 35 years to be exact - but as they say, "you can take the boy out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the boy," or something like that.

So it was interesting that two Brooklyn related "events" affected me this week. The first was an article in the local Kennebec Journal, Augusta's city newspaper. The article in the Sports section - a section I rarely read - was entitled "No media circus greeted Jackie Robinson" and written by Jim Becker, a retired sports writer for the AP. Here is a link to the article on MSNBC (it's not on the KJ site). The article marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's arrival in the major leagues. The historic event of the first African-American major league player took place at Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The article goes on to describe some of the backstory which has been obscured by 60 years of history. It's a good read.

Jackie Robinson Regretfully, by the time I was "of age" to know and follow baseball, the Dodgers had moved to California and Ebbets Field had been raised and turned into an apartment complex. I actually know more about that than Ebbets Field. I do remember when they held a big auction at the stadium and pictures on the news of people walking off with memorabilia including tracts of stadium seats. I remember my parents were depressed of the loss of the Dodgers AND the Giants who had also run away from the city. Indeed I remember the prejudice at the time towards "Negros" with some blaming them for the loss of these two National League treasures. That was in the day when there wasn't much money to spend on stadiums and teams would simply change cities when they wore out their stadium.

I remember that they kept the flag pole from Ebbets Field and installed it in front of the Ebbets Field apartments...I think it is still there. But apparently the apartment complex has been renamed for Jackie Robinson. You can visit a memorial to Ebbets Field here. And there is another tribute site here which includes the memorable sound clip of James Earl Jones talking about the "the one constant through all the years" from the film Field of Dreams. Very fitting. I'll tell you about my encounter with James Earl some other time.

The other Brooklyn connection came last night when I visited Johnson Hall in beautiful downtown Gardiner, Maine and heard a three-piece band from Brooklyn called The Wiyos. Hard to describe, their website calls their music a mix of "Vaudevillian Ragtime Blues, Hillbilly Swing and Old Time Country." I call it fun. Great little band.

Although only one of the band members is actually FROM Brooklyn, they apparently all live there and Joebass, the guy I talked to after the concert lives on Classon and Bergen Sts. which is even closer to the old Ebbets Field site than where I lived in Clinton Hill.

And so it goes, Brooklyn has been on my mind. I wonder what that means?


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