Nils Peterson: Talk in the Reading Room
About Nils Peterson
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PART 1: GROWING UP
 The Reading Room
 Halloween 
 Xmas Eve at the Big House 
 Christmas Mysteries 
• 
Summers in Long Island 
 Father Arrives in the    Triumphal Car 
 
Yankee Stadium Gone 
• 
Sandlots 
 A Thing of Beauty 
 Learning From My Father 
 Learning From My Mother 
• 
The Bus

PART 2: COLLEGE

 Next Stop 
 Going to College
 My Lecture on Romanticism 
 A Story 
 Go Way From My Window 
• Singing in the Rain 
 On the Nature of Exposition 
 A Latin Class
 A Hero's Life
 Letter to Paul Cantrell
• Homecoming 
 The Moon and the Bulldozer
 

 

Yankee Stadium Gone — Impossible

It’s like going to your old hometown and finding your house — No! the neighborhood tarmacked over. Yes, we live in the world of Heraclitus, “Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” Flux is all.

The first time I went to Yankee Stadium, I lived in New Jersey and I went with Bunny Reid, a neighborhood friend who lived in a strange house filled mostly with aunts. It had a big, big yard, and in the fall we’d play football on the long open side yard. In the spring and summer we’d play catch with mitts which our hands had not yet grown into, or we’d throw a pink rubber ball against the side of a garage that had been a carriage house, keeping careful track of the balls and strikes. We were Yankee fans. His father, I think he had something to do with the railroad, wasn’t around much, but he me took to see my first major league game at Yankee Stadium.

We must have driven up there through the Lincoln Tunnel or over the George Washington Bridge, but memory isn’t certain here, because it was wartime and gas rationed and difficult to find, the speed limit 45 as I recall. I think I would remember train or bus. The great players were off playing for Uncle Sam, so likely this is 1944 or maybe ‘45 before VE and VJ Days. However we got there, that marvelous seemingly eternal Coliseum, the House That Ruth Built.

Bunny’s father got the tickets, gave me mine — and, all of a sudden my friend and his father were gone, Bunny and his father were nowhere in sight. There I was, 10 years old, 11 at most, 50 miles from home, maybe 50 cents in my pocket for a hot dog and a drink. Maybe there was a moment of panic. Maybe not. I took my ticket, asked an usher where my seat was, and went to it.

The field was the brightest green I had ever seen, and its proportions satisfied some inner longing for perfection. Everything was order and delight. When I got to my good seat (I almost said orchestra seat) the teams were warming up with a little hot pepper, a lot of infield chatter, and a few fungoes to the outfielders. I sat down, an enchanted boy who’d reached the Promised Land. Soon the game began and I became engrossed in the perfection of play. Pitchers pitched, batters came and went, time did not exist. Nor did Bunny and his father except when I would come around to a bit of wondering where were they, how could they miss all of this good stuff. They huffed down the aisle in the third inning, Bunny’s father relieved and angry in equal portions. (They had been searching for me all around, convinced I couldn’t find my way to my seat.)

After my family moved to Mt. Vernon, NY, a town just above the Bronx, I’d go to the games with Joe Mosca and his father. Joe and I didn’t like each other very much, yet I was the one his father asked out of the neighborhood boy rabble to go to the games. Not sure why. We’d take the trolley and then walk a couple of blocks to the 241st Street subway station, an elevated, really, and we’d catch the local up and ride in the air past mile after mile of tenement, peering into windows of what seemed like dark lives till we got to the Stadium. 1948 now, and the heroes back from war. Joe Dimaggio again in center field. We sat in the cheap seats so we could afford to come again, a couple of bucks, maybe less for the bleachers. The subway had just gone up to a dime. But from there we could really see the way Joe D covered the field, a glide rather than a run, moving to where the ball was going seemingly before the bat struck it. And when he was up, his swing, level and sweet, long arms wrapping about his shoulders with incredible torque when he missed, but when he struck the ball such a sweet sweet sound filled the place — now, the whole stadium is “going, going, gone,” as Mel Allen used to say when the Yankee Clipper got the good wood on the ball.

 


  © 2014, Nils Peterson
 

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