Monday, June 16, 2008

Thunderbolt Kid

Thunderbolt Kid

Boy, the lazyass who runs this blog NEVER changes that shit on the sidebar. He's been reading Duma Key and Child of God FERFRIGGINEVER.

Well, laziness aside, I took Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid with me when I went to get new tires put on the truck this morning. Expecting to find a line, I figured I'd get half the book read before they finished with the Tommymobile.

And while I found myself first in line, and there for just an hour, I did read enough of Bryson's piece to find myself laughing out loud a couple of times.

Here were a couple of my favorite passages:

On following his father to baseball events, and the folks he got to meet:

Baseball, like everything else, was part of a simpler world in those days, and I was allowed to go with [my father] into the clubhouse and dugout and onto the field before games. I have had my hair tousled by Stan Musial. I have handed Willie Mays a ball that had skittered past him as he played catch. I have lent my binoculars to Harvey Kuenn (or possibly it was Billy Hoeft) so that he could scope some busty blonde in the upper deck. Once on a hot July afternoon I sat in a nearly airless clubhouse under the left-field grandstand at Wrigley Field beside Ernie Banks, the Cubs' great shortstop, as he autographed boxes of new white baseballs (which are, incidentally, one of the most pleasurably aromatic things on earth, and worth spending time around anyway). Unbidden, I took it upon myself to sit beside him and pass him each new ball. This slowed the process considerably, but he gave a little smile each time and said thank you as if I had done him quite a favor. He was the nicest human being I have ever met. It was like being friends with God.

On shoes and weekends:

The illimitable nature of weekends was both a good and a necessary thing because you always had such a lot to do in those days. A whole morning could be spent just getting the laces on your sneakers right, since all sneakers in the 1950s had more than seven dozen lace holes and the laces were fourteen feet long. Each morning, you would jump out of bed to find that the laces had somehow become four feet longer on one side of the shoes than the other. Quite how sneakers did this just by being left on the floor overnight was a question that could not be answered--it was one of those things, like nuns and bad weather, that life threw at you from time to time--but it took endless reserves of patience and scientific judgment to get them right, for no matter how painstakingly you shunted the laces around the holes, they always came out at unequal lengths. In fact, the more carefully you shunted, the more unequal they became. When by some miracle you finally got them exactly right, the second lace would always snap, leaving you to sigh and start again.

On the red berries of youth:

Only slightly less threatening that poison sumac were pulpy red berries that grew in clumps on bushes in almost everybody's backyard...interestingly, the berries weren't poisonous at all. I can say this with some confidence because we made Lanny Kowalski's little brother, Lumpy, eat about four pounds of them to see if they would kill him and they didn't. It was a controlled experiment, I hasten to add. We fed them to him one at a time and waited a decent interval to see if his eyes rolled up into his head or anything before passing him another. But apart from throwing up in the middle tow pounds, he showed no ill effects

Digging this one.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home