Day 5: Commitment

Let’s talk creature comforts before we go back to Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. McCord has made sure there is a cooler full of ice and bottled water and she reminds us constantly that we need to drink it since we aren’t used to the heat and the humidity. And, there are snacks from chips, Fiber One Bars, brownies to many others. This is good planning since our meals are often far apart and we do get hungry.

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Looking for Sponsors

In April of 1965 I decided I’d go to the South to register black voters for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They sent each of us a reading list, a packing list and a note about how much money we needed. My parents sent me to the University of California during the fall of 1964. My mother gave up being a stay at home mom for a job at the post office to pay my college fees. I knew I couldn’t ask them for the money for the trip.

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Seeking the Path

One thing I know for sure: books evolve in their own way regardless of the author’s intention. The books that arrived on Januray 12, 2011, did not meet the plan Eleanor and I intended in spring of 2005 after she saw the video tape and said, “There is your book.”
We planned a book that spanned forty-five years made up of stories from 1965 to 2005. We proposed sharing the events of the summer of 1965 and to show how those events led to personal relationships with several families that have lasted more than two-thirds of my life.

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A Ghost from the Past

I knew your mother (sister, aunt, father, brother, uncle) and I have stories to tell you about her and pictures to share.” How would you respond to the offer? I ask because this is where I find myself. It’s not my family involved, but the families of others I met in 1965. I’ve written a book You Came Here to Die, Didn’t You and that book includes information about lots of folks. The book is not a lurid exposé. But it does disclose secrets.

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“Put me in, Coach. I’m ready to play today.”

I wasn’t born yet! (And I don’t say that often anymore.) So, although my parents were baseball nuts, I don’t remember the names of the 1919 White Sox, called the Black Sox, because they threw the World Series. But I do remember the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner’s character hears a voice in his cornfield demanding, “If you build it, he will come.” Passionate for the first time in his life, Costner builds a baseball field and waits. His reward is the arrival of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a member of the Black Sox, back from the dead ready to play ball. Joe Jackson is joined by Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, “Swede” Risberg and other once great players whose names no one knows. Costner’s sense of awe and his appreciation for the skill of the early players grows with the arrival of each one of them. (My awe as to how they arrived from the dead was not part of the movie.)

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