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With the Gauls in Missoula

June 25, 2015
We played army, growing up in the shadow of WW II.

We played army, growing up in the shadow of WW II.

My grandparents were silver and beautiful. In Missoula in 1957 I wanted to impress grandpa that I played little league baseball.
I did not really play little league. I stole my brother’s mitt. I got signed for a team up thanks to my neighbor on the block, Jimmy Gaul, who did play. Jimmy tried to play catch with me but his baseball was hard and it hurt me when it hit me, bouncing off the right-handed glove that I tried to wear on the left. Into my face.
I didn’t like to play with Jimmy out in the hot sun where he hurt me with the hard baseball. I liked his sister Martha better, but Jimmy didn’t let me play with her. Also, Jimmy’s little brother Billy was too young to play. Jimmy was very good at baseball.
Here’s the rub: my silver grandparents were my late Uncle Bud’s parents, the ones who never talked about him, the ones who didn’t know what happened to him, other than he was lost when a ship was torpedoed in WWII in the channel. Here’s the rub: I now know more about Bud’s fate and his final months of army experience than his parents ever did. I’ve been to Cherbourg out in the channel in 2007. I’ve talked to his friends in Sarasota Florida in 2006. Finest guys I’ve ever met.
I didn’t stay with little league baseball more than a few weeks. My friend Jimmy Gaul broke the news to me that I was cut from the team.

“Don’t cry,” he said. I was nowhere near tears. I simply didn’t care and I was relieved that I would not have to go stand in right field near the fence any more. A kid who played on the team announced that his socks were rotten. I thought “that is what real players say.”

Ultimately I found Jimmy’s obituary. Sadly, in the Spokane paper.

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