It’s Baseball Season! And since the boys of summer are gearing up I thought it would be a great time to share a story that my dad wrote. By the way, I was named after my dad and as a kid they called him Rusty too. I guess it just stuck longer with me than with him. Anyway, this is a Christmas story but has a baseball theme. Enjoy!
“Hey, somebody wake that kid up so we can get the rest of you home,” yelled the school bus driver. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we all have some plans.
Rusty wasn’t asleep, he just seemed to be dozing. Actually, he was deep in thought, wallowing in self pity, and just being a typical twelve year old kid who was not going to get what he wanted for Christmas. Man, Daddy made enough money to get another new car so vacations and weekend trips would be more comfortable for the family so why couldn’t he rake up a few more dollars for a Wilson Trapper first base mitt.
Finally, an older boy shook Rusty and roused him from his trance, pushed him toward the door and started him toward his home. It was not a long walk, just down the drive past the milk barn through the yard gate and across the yard. Today it seemed like an eternity until he got inside the door.
Once inside the door, his somber would was shattered by Fran, the baby sister, who was watching the cartoon show that they both usually watched while they ate their snacks, and before Rusty began his daily dose of homework. Fran, a seven year old, never had homework and never wanted anything special for Christmas, just some other stupid doll or for Daddy to build her a dollhouse or doll furniture. Man, she had an easy life!
Mom seemed unusually excited today too. She was making supper early, was all dressed up and anxiously waiting for Daddy to get finished with the milking and the clean-up of the barn. Sure a shiny new 1953 Ford Station wagon was a big deal to both of them. It didn’t matter that the 1951 Ford car still looked new, or that it had only made two trips back to Oklahoma plus the weekend trips they both loved almost every Saturday – Daddy worked hard and liked his toys too.
That, unfortunately, became the family plan for Christmas Eve 1952. A trip to Phoenix to get the new station wagon, and to get the Christmas presents – new clothes for the second semester. Good-grief! That didn’t seem fair at all when for just a few dollars, actually three dollars and ninety-five cents, Christmas 1952 could have been completely unforgettable. With just some TuffNut jeans and some pull over shirts it was BLAH!
After Daddy showered and everyone ate, it was off to Phoenix. The little red car seemed perfect, but after signing some papers and a handshake, it belonged to the Ford dealer, and we drove to the other part of town to shop. This drudgery didn’t take long, and Rusty did get a trusty TuffNut pocket knife in the hip pocket of his jeans. But the thoughts of a seventh grader still using a fielder’s glove to play first base still overwhelmed him. Why couldn’t they see the stress this was causing?
Rusty hit the bed that night without the thrill usually associated with Christmas Eve. Fran was going to be excited in the morning. Mom was happy because Daddy was happy with his new car, but Rusty was wallowing in a bad case of spoiled brat syndrome.
“Get up you dummy!” it was Fran, shaking and hitting like a wild animal. “We can’t open presents until you get your lazy, crybaby self up!”
Finally, Rusty trudged into the living room to go through the motions of having an exciting Christmas morning. Mom had wrapped the jeans as one package, the shirts as another, and a third package appeared to be new shoes. Shirts first, and Mom and Daddy both yelled “Ooh”! Then the jeans, and they both yelled “Ooh”! Finally, Rusty opened the shoe box looking package and Fran yelled, “Now quit being such a crybaby!” That shoebox contained a present that is still in existence today, and although it is not used like it was for the first few years he owned it, still treasured. Yes it was the awesome Wilson Trapper model first base mitt!
1952 was also the Christmas that Rusty really awakened to the fact that Christmas is not just about getting presents, and that although they enjoyed practical jokes and keeping him off guard whenever possible, he did have truly wonderful parents.