What history is made of “Struck ‘em out, all of them.” Not boastful, Smitty spoke, history book style. Chances are that Smitty could have provided dates of those major league games, times too. But, after pointing to my very old picture of the Giant’s three Willies, McCovey, Mays, and Kirkland, he was leaving.
“Sure I knew Robin Roberts. A Philly teammate,” he’d told me, “and I roomed with Curt Simmons.”
In their eighties, Smitty and his friend, Ron, make a “southern swing” almost every summer for the golf. And to visit old friends. Fortunately, I’m one of them.
I’m not sure why. Nor do I ever know when they’ll appear. They seem to enjoy surprising me. That always makes for a joyous reunion.
“And each of us wants a copy of your book. Signed,” they’d told me. Honored that they’d want to read No Gold Stars, I did as they asked.
“Four books in one day!” I later told my mother, excited that one of the purchasers, Anita, had called from California.
Anita had asked me to be interviewed on her radio show. We’d talked about the Civil Rights era, our roles in it. She wanted to hear more. A friend of hers, an old customer of mine, a Vietnam War vet, Raymond L., had called her about No Gold Stars.
What I didn’t tell Anita was that my cousin Susanne, in Greenville, SC, may have located the wife of the fatherly Coach Walters in my novel. Although fond memories persist, the Coach (his real name, Joseph Mathis) has passed away. My hope is that his wife doesn’t mind that he is one of the heroes in my book.
According to my cousin, Coach’s granddaughter wants to talk to me. About her grandfather. Just the thought of sharing stories with her thrills me.
Next time I see him, I’ll have to tell Smitty about that conversation I hope to have very soon.
B. Koplen 9/22/11