Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Corn Cobs and Baseball

It is interesting to think about how I sought entertainment as a kid versus how a kid today keeps busy, and even more interesting to listen to the stories of how my dad used to. Coming from a place with no video games or TV, not too many kids his own age to play with, and only a pocket knife and farm animals in the general vicinity I know from experience that it was probably difficult to find things to do in Rugby. My dad was definitely more inventive than I was. In honor of the Red Sox winning the World Series, I am going to write a little bit about one of my dad's childhood pastimes because he seems to get such pleasure from telling shop visitors about it.

By the time I came around, my Granny's farm had shrunk to include only low maintenance animals; a few chickens and grazing cows to keep the field grass from growing up, and for a short time, the hateful turkey/my dad's bestie, Smedley. When my dad was young, the farm had, accompanying the chickens, milk cows and beef cows, horses, mules, sheep, ducks, and a pen full of pigs.

As I may have mentioned before, when my dad was young, there weren't many folks around Rugby who were my dad's age, and just like how I used to run around with my cousins, Lauren and Leah, my dad would run around with his cousin, (Lauren and Leah's uncle) Tex. A lot of times they would take over hog lot and take nibbled corn cobs from the trough with which they would play a game aptly dubbed corn cob baseball.

The object of the game was to hit the cob out of the hog lot and that feat would procure a run. The difficulty of the game was to actually hit the cob. The bat was usually a plank of wood about two inches in width, into which my dad would whittle a handle. Most of the cobs sent its way would shatter upon being struck, but every now and again the batter could hit the cob directly on its end and send it flying. Since there was no catcher or umpire, the cousins figured out a method to cut down on a lot of arguments that tended to arise regarding balls and strikes. They hung an empty paper fertilizer bag on the fence behind the batter, and if the cob hit the bag, which made a 'big racket' the batter was issued a strike, and if it didn't he was awarded a ball.

According to my dad, he had an advantage on Tex. Since he had the home team advantage and was able to have access to the hog lot and the corn cobs every day, he would practice for hours throwing a curve ball...er cob. He said he got it just right so Tex was sure it was headed right toward his head, but at the last second it would curve and hit the fertilizer bag. "That really burt Tex up," my dad said laughing, clearly proud of his skill.

The way he describes his game, it sounds like such a fun way to keep entertained on a little farm in the middle of nowhere. I mainly piled together sticks and other bits of kindling that I found in the woodshed and pretended it was a town or something.

This year I watched some of the World Series with my dad. It started out that he was watching it and I was just there, pinning recipes on Pinterest or something, but I became curious when he would get excited about something that happened on the screen. He explained plays to me, and when 'ol' Beardy' did something good, and I actually began to appreciate the game a little bit. The way he explained the baseball games to me was similar to the way I heard him talk about his corn cob game. He was so excited about it and I felt lucky to share that time with him, enjoying vicariously something he has loved for his whole life, almost as much as he loves guitars. I even watched the last couple games of the Series at home in Asheville, something I would never normally do, just because I felt like it was still something I was doing with my dad, and even though he wasn't physically there, it felt like he was.

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