I suffered as a child… I was traumatized. Because of my father’s VERY strict upbringing, as children, my sister and I didn’t have much of a social life, or any social adventures. We went to school; we had piano lessons. We were even allowed to be Girl Scouts. There was church school and church choir… all the activities that my parents considered wholesome to a goodly upbringing. I never tasted a REAL pizza until late into my teen years. And McDonalds?? Heaven forbid! But I could mow our lawn in the wink of an eye. (Remember I mentioned always thinking that my parents were of original Puritan stock?) But there was nothing of a butterflies-are-free social life. Even in high school, I wasn’t allowed to “socialize” with the Fonzie-esk “hoodlums,” as my dad called them. Nothing that could be noted as just plain old fun.
Living in a New England climate meant the summer was THE season to experience the adventures of outdoor life – and FUN. Independence Day meant there was a two-hour parade in downtown and then the Firemen’s Muster (competition among the fire departments – volunteer and paid – throughout the county) and the Gillette Carnival. The parade originally was to display the fire engines and muster teams for the competition. These were places to spend your carefully saved allowance in one fell swoop. And then a huge fireworks display at night. Nope I wasn’t permitted to partake in any of these activities as a child unless my parents took me to the parade in the morning. Admittedly, that was fun.
Then this story took a peculiar turn. As I searched the web for pictures of our illustrious Fourth of July Parade, I found a blog written by a man from Arizona who actually went to and took pictures of my hometown parade last month. In fact, he was originally from my neck of the woods. You can visit his story and pictures HERE. At one time was one of the premier Fourth of July Parades in the U.S. For several years, it was broadcast on PBS. It is now listed as the sixth largest in the country.
Now, back to my story, Pittsfield, Massachusetts also has a baseball park which in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s hosted minor league baseball farm teams from the Red Sox, Senators (now the Nationals), Rangers, Brewers, Cubs, Mets and Astros (and probably a couple that I can’t remember). Wahconah Park One thing Dad allowed me was a baseball game or three during the summer… in his company, of course. If I remember correctly, I saw Carlton Fisk start his baseball career in double-A ball at THAT park; and Mark Grace too… Wahconah Park is a real one-of-a-kind place, and a throwback to another era. One of the last remaining wooden ballparks in the country, it's also one of only two in which the batter faces the setting sun in the early evening. Depending on your point of view, the ballpark is either a run-down relic ready for the wrecking ball or a charming, quirky slice of baseball history -- and I definitely subscribe to the latter interpretation. The main grandstand, complete with a full roof, really is constructed of wood. Plastic owls dangle from the rafters to thwart birds from nesting, and the "box" seats are simply folding chairs in the first few rows. With its ancient facilities and its setting in a mostly residential neighborhood, seeing a game here is a wonderful trip back in baseball history.
OK… I have gotten side-tracked a few times trying to get this written. We have gone from my not having a fantastically social childhood to the ballpark in summer.
Well, one summer the gal who baby sat for my sister and me when my parents, on a very few occasions, went out for the night was given one of the leads (Ado Annie) in the musical “Oklahoma!” This musical would be performed at the infamous baseball park. And guess what?? Dad said that Mom and I could go. It was a mosquito infested bleacher seat (the stage was in the home plate area) and they actually were able to have real animals in the cast. This production instilled in me a love of the musical theater. Alas, I never did land a part in a musical production myself, but in high school I did get a solo at our Christmas Concert. However, I certainly was the lil' devil in my parents' lives...