I’ve discussed in previous posts about my love affair with baseball. My Pa, my mother’s dad, was the person who held my hand as I took my first steps into this baseball life. Today is also Veterans’ Day. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my Pa this evening.
This is my grandpa. He served in the Army Air Corps. Pa worked as a firefighter during the Korean War. He died when I was nine years old, so my memories are hazy. However, there are a few things I remember vividly and will probably never forget.
Pa loved his Razorback football, his family, and the St. Louis Cardinals. His favorite players were Stan Musial and Bob Gibson. When I asked him why, he said, “A man should always be a gentleman and a badass, hon.” I’ve taken those words to heart ever since.
Growing up in rural Arkansas, my Pa would listen to Cardinals games on the radio. As far as I know, he never actually attended a game. He was one of eight children, and the family didn’t have a lot of money. Once he was old enough to work full time, he had joined the Air Corps. He married while in the service, and soon had his own children (four, including my mother). There probably wasn’t any money to travel to St. Louis and take in a game. He still loved his Redbirds, though, and was delighted that one of his grandchildren shared the same fascination about baseball.
He didn’t talk about his service often. He kept a scrapbook during his tour of duty in Korea, a lacquered hardcover book with brittle, yellowed pages. He didn’t want me to look at it, because “it’s not for sweet little girls to look at.” When I was 16, my mom finally showed it to me. It really wasn’t that bad. The worst were the photos of the flaming wreckage smoldering in the background. Mom said that it was the memories that the scrapbook gave him that were terrible, not the photos themselves. I wish I had been older, maybe he would have told me more.
My Pa’s story isn’t particularly special. He was a young man who sacrificed a portion of his life for his country, like all servicemen and women do. But he was kind to a small child who needed love, and today I will honor him, and others who are just like him.