Been on good old Route 66 since about middle of Illinois. Pulled into Chicago this morning. Jewels insisted that we make a slight detour so he could see Wrigley Field, probably for the last time in his life he said. On the occasions when he would visit his favorite uncle when he was a boy, they would both go to a Cubs game if they were in town. I saw no harm in it. Kyle had to set down anyway to refuel. There is a park with baseball diamonds east of the stadium. We decided to camp there. I've never been to Chicago so I played tourist while Jewels told us about the city his Momma and uncle had grown up in. The stadium long overdue for some renovations before, was now a sad sight to see. But looking at it through Jewels' eyes it was beautiful. He made a point of telling us about the scoreboard. It was pretty much exactly as it was back when it was built in 1937. No giant TV or LED displays. Just hand painted numbered cards changed by hand. The stadium lights were something of a controversy when they were installed in 1988. Traditionalists didn't like them but it did allow for the first night time game was started on August 8, 1988, but due to rain had to be finished the following night.
We let Dee and Emily run loose in the now overgrown outfield while Jewels partially fulfilled a life time dream of running the bases. He wasn't able to run them, but he, well hell, all of us walked the bases with him, as he recounted those glorious summer days he spent here with his uncle. They would eat popcorn, and he would drink pop while his uncle downed a few beers. They would cheer He would sometimes sneak a sip while his uncle was distracted. They would cheer on Dick Ellsworth, Ernie Banks and George Altman or hurl insults at the Mets if they happened to be playing. In my mind I could see the game being played out as Jewels wove a verbal tapestry. The hot summer sun, the smell of popcorn and beer and the crack of the bat. I was never much of a baseball fan, but right then I realized I would give my right arm just to sit in the nosebleed section of any packed stadium in the country and watch a ballgame.
On the way out of the stadium we made a point stopping by the souvenir stands and getting a ball cap for each of us. Yes even Katherine was wearing a cubs cap when we left. Kyle a die hard Yankee fan skipped getting a cap but did pick up some baseball cards.
Stacy was the first to notice the new bus parked next to Katherine's RV. It was an old yellow and black school bus just like the thousands of others we have seen sitting on the sides of roads or in parking lots. But this one had not been there when we parked here.
A man and six kids stepped out of the bus as we approached.
So we have almost doubled the size of our party now. The man's introduced himself as Mark Tyler. He seems quite eager to join our group.
The kids seem ok, but there is something I do not like about Mr. Tyler. Spidey sense is tingling. No wait that is just my butt falling asleep in this chair. Seriously though the guy just seems a little off to me.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride