04-11-2019 Letters and Commentary

CAROONIST NEEDED… I’m still looking for some local talent who likes to draw cartoons to do the same for the TCR. Please contact me at 463-6397 if you think you are that person.

IT’S GREAT TO BE A TIGERS FAN… when they are winning. That’s what the opening week had; Detroit Tigers won more games than losing. Which is certainly not the case for them the past few years. I think the last time they won a world series was in 1984 back in the 20th century, when the Bayers moved to Watervliet. At any rate the best way to enjoy the game, except for going, is to listen to it on the radio. When I was growing up, I would listen to the game with my mom and grandpa. When the team did poorly, mom would wander away. Grandpa held on through thick and thin, and would react the same no matter what it was. He’d take his pipe out his mouth and slap it down on the arm of the chair at the same time stomping his foot down. When the spittle and smoke abated, he’d reach for his tobacco pouch and a match to light up. In seconds, things would settle down. He’d sink back in his chair and lean over to the speaker. Mom would settle in on her favorite easy chair, holding the latest Reader’s Digest in one hand and a recently emptied ash tray in the other. Unless it was time to fix dinner, she would seldom move out of the chair except for an aforementioned bad play by the Tigers. She’d root and holler along with Grandpa for a great play or a win. Man, those were the years… all of the nineteen fifties, summer at the cottage ever year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Day after day of adventure in the woods north of Oscoda, swimming by the hour in Lake Huron and listening, everyday it seemed, to the radio, “This is WJR, voice of the Great Lakes and the Detroit Tigers.” Of course, there was spring training and fall ball, of which we’d watch the games on television. At the cottage we had no TV, but even when there was finally a broadcast signal that could reach Oscoda, I’m pretty sure my mom and dad, and grandpa enjoyed the radio more. Besides, it’s hard to picture the 16 Bayers squeezed in the cottage trying to watch a 10-inch black and white screen. There was a time that all the immediate family converge on the cottage, and by all reports, there were 29 of us sleeping over a weekend. There’s a great photo of all us kids (I was 9 or so) in a variety of cots, from the much sought-after roll-a-way to the ubiquitous U.S. Army cot of hard canvas and hard wood. I think the moms doubled the cots’ capacity of one standard soldier per unit by sleeping the toddlers and youngsters one from each end. That was because age rank… the older you were the better bed you got. At age nine I was in the nether world… not a youngster but not a teenager. I always got the clanking, squeaking, pinching chain link fold out cot. Mom had at least a dozen cots, of all varieties. But there was only one chain link folding cot. One would think such rarity would make it much in demand. Anyone blessed with a night on the chain link folding cot would always graciously decline the offer of another night of clinking, squeaking, and pinching… except for me. It seemed whenever there were a crowd looking for a place to bed down, I was always assigned the aforementioned “cot”. The only benefit, I can recall, was the “cot” was too dangerous to be used around the little ones… who subsequently were banished to the front porch where it was a little quieter and darker. So, I was always ensconced in the middle of the living room, which made me privy to all the news of the day, plans for tomorrow and what was to be for breakfast. If I got too nosey or noisy, I’d be banished to my parent’s bedroom to “get to sleep” and then woke up when the adults and lucky occupants of a bedroom came for a good night’s sleep. My solution was to feign sleep when any one would look my way before adding a funny story or juicy gossip to the sometime raucous crowd. One night I pushed it to the limit, pretending to be sleeping, but wanting a better view of the gaiety, I rolled over. In doing so and supporting my torso on an elbow to complete the maneuver, the elbow pierced the two-inch mattress and I got caught in the noisy chains underneath. Oh yeah, baseball on the radio… one fall day we were watching the Tigers on the TV, Mom and Dad, Grandpa and me… maybe others. My hero was outfielder/slugger Al Kaline, another was pitcher Hank Aguirre and Norm Cash, catcher “Storming Norman”. Grandpa, in his German accent, poor hearing and age, often made a hash of names. Baseball was no different, Al Kaline was “alkaline”, and Hank Aguirre was “hunggarry”. On occasions it was more fun to watch Grandpa, than the game on TV. Where the Tigers were concerned, he was exuberant when winning and merciless when loosing. There was a time when instant replay was just new; Norm Cash got called out at second base to lose the game. Grandpa went ballistic… “Look, look, that SOB Cash got caught trying to steal second base.” Then the replay came on… “Look that stupid hardhead did it again.” I listened to many baseball games, mostly on the radio… few, if any are remembered as vividly and warmly as those with Grandpa and my mom listening to the Tigers on the radio.

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